Raikkonen will miss out on final two races of the season for back operation
10 November, 2013
Kimi Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson has confirmed that he will not be racing in the final two races of the season for Lotus or Sauber, thus ending a week of intense speculation surrounding the Finn’s plans before he returns to Ferrari for the 2014 season.
On Sunday afternoon Raikkonen’s management team released the following statement: “Kimi Raikkonen will undergo back surgery this coming week, the consequent four weeks recovery time forcing him to miss the forthcoming United States and Brazilian Grands Prix.”
“Kimi suffered from issues with his back earlier this year at the Singapore Grand Prix and a reoccurence of this problem forced him to have surgery now to help prevent ongoing problems in the future, and to ensure that he is at full fitness for the 2014 season.”
“Kimi and his management are saddened that he will not be able to complete the 2013 season with Lotus F1 Team where he was fighting for third position in the Drivers’ Championship. They would also like to thank all fans for the thousands of kind messages received since the news has emerged.”
Turun Sanomat was the first to report that Raikkonen will undergo back surgery, to address a long standing injury which resurfaced in Singapore this year, and got to the point that in Abu Dhabi he had to take pain-killers to allow him to sleep.
Thus while teams compete in the Americas, the Finn will be in Salzburg for his back operation, from which he will require about a month to recuperate fully.
Roberston explained: “Experts have recommended surgery. Of course it is disappointing to end the relationship with Lotus in such a manner. But Kimi can no longer afford to waste time and needs to sort out the injury. It is important that he starts the 2014 season healthy and in top condition.”
The decision to skip the final two races comes hot on the heels of confirmed reports that Raikkonen has not been paid by Lotus this year, and that he nearly skipped the Abu Dhabi GP as a result.
He revealed in Abu Dhabi, “Sometimes it’s not very nice when you hear that you don’t have the interests of the team and then you’ve been paid zero euro the whole year.”
Raikkonen’s salary is reportedly €8-million plus bonuses of €50,000 per point he scores. Therefore Lotus are said to owe him over €17-million euros for the season thus far.
After two years with Lotus, in which he won two races, Raikkonen announced in September that he would return to Ferrari to partner Fernando Alonso in the team with which he won his F1 World Championship, in 2007.
Lotus released a brief statement after the news broke: “Lotus F1 Team can confirm that Kimi Räikkönen will miss the final two races of the 2013 Formula 1 season to undergo, and recover from, back surgery. The team will make an announcement about the replacement driver for the United States and Brazilian Grands Prix in due course.”
It is not certain how the latest development will impact on Raikkonen’s unpaid earnings which were all but guaranteed by head of Quantum Motorsport – the consortium planning to buy 35% shares in Lotus – Mansoor Ijaz, who said in Abu Dhabi, “I am confident that [Raikkonen] will run the last two races and fulfil his professional obligations to us and us to him.”
Earlier, speaking ahead of the weekend in Texas, Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said of the relationship with his star driver, “He is completely on side. We all spoke in Abu Dhabi to make sure we know where we’re going – and how we’re getting there – for the final races of the year. Our focus is first on a good performance in Austin, and then the focus becomes getting a good result in Brazil.”
Lotus reserve Davide Valsecchi could be called on to replace Raikkonen in the team for the last two races, but there is also speculation that Nico Hulkenberg, who apparently has also not been paid by Sauber, may drive the Lotus in Austin and Sao Paulo. (GP247)
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