November 11, 2013 11:07:13 am
Kimi Raikkonen has pulled out of the last two races of the Formula One season in Texas and Brazil after deciding to have back surgery next week,the Lotus driver’s management said on Sunday.
The decision ended the 2007 world champion’s two seasons with Lotus on a controversial note,with the Finn already warning the team a week ago that he could walk out if his wages were not paid.
Raikkonen is returning to Ferrari next year,the glamour team with which he won his world title,and had a seat fitting with them last week.
Manager Steve Robertson said in a statement that Raikkonen would have surgery this week with “the consequent four weeks recovery time forcing him to miss the forthcoming United States and Brazilian Grands Prix.
Raikkonen has a long-standing back problem,which flared up in Singapore in September and is understood to be a legacy from a crash he suffered in testing with Sauber during his 2001 rookie season.
“A reoccurence of this problem has forced him to have surgery now to help prevent ongoing problems in the future and to ensure he is at full fitness for the 2014 season,” the statement added.
“Kimi and his management are saddened that Kimi will not be able to complete the 2013 season with Lotus.”
However,the Finn has also complained about Lotus’s failure to pay his wages,telling reporters at this month’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that he had received “zero euros the whole year”.
Raikkonen added that he had considered not racing in Abu Dhabi,where he ultimately retired at the first corner after a collision having been sent to the back of the grid,and could skip the last two rounds if the problem was not resolved.
“You have to put the line somewhere and if it goes over that…it’s not really my fault any more,” Raikkonen,who is currently third in the championship,had said.
There was no immediate comment from Lotus,who have been trying for months to finalise an investment deal to secure the team’s future.
The team have Italian Davide Valsecchi,last year’s GP2 champion,as their reserve. If handed Raikkonen’s seat for the last two rounds,he would be the first Italian on the grid since Jarno Trulli in 2011.
Lotus said in a statement on Sunday that they would make an announcement on who was to replace Raikkonen “in due course”.
Mansoor Ijaz,chairman of a consortium of private investors that has said it wants to buy 35 percent of Lotus,told reporters in Abu Dhabi Raikkonen’s situation had been resolved and he would be paid in full.
“I am confident that he will run the last two races and fulfil his professional obligations to us and to him,” the businessman declared last weekend.
Lotus principal Eric Boullier also told reporters in Abu Dhabi that he was confident Raikkonen would race and the problems had been settled.
The team had also issued on Friday a preview for next week’s race in Austin,quoting Raikkonen saying how much he was looking forward to it.
“After going there for the first time last year – like everyone – I’m particularly looking forward to this one. I like the American atmosphere,it’s just a relaxed environment. They know how to have fun,and most of all they love racing,” the Finn had said.
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