Lotus F1 team owner Gerard Lopez has issued a fascinating post on the team’s website, seeking to throw a fire blanket over the fallout with his lead driver Kimi Raikkonen after the exchange of profanities on radio during the Indian Grand Prix and Raikkonen’s proposed “no show” this weekend.
Raikkonen had to be persuaded to come and participate this weekend, after the latest difficult moment between team and driver in what has been a tricky period since he announced he was moving to Ferrari next season.
Raikkonen has gone public again this weekend on the fact that the team has not paid him this year and relations are also strained because he is moving to a rival team next season, while Lotus want to bring Romain Grosjean through as a challenger. The team is locked in a championship battle with Mercedes and Ferrari with around $20 million the difference between finishing second and fourth in the constructors’ championship. Lotus needs both drivers to perform at a high level for the remaining races to achieve that.
Contractually he had to drive this weekend, but he made the team sweat, not appearing on Thursday for media commitments. Meanwhile his manager Steve Robertson told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, “I’ve never heard of a driver being spoken to like that.”
In today’s post from Lopez, the team boss says,
“Of course, recently a lot was made about the comments between Alan Permane and Kimi during the course of a tense moment in a race, but this was just one exchange taking a matter of seconds in the course of a two-year relationship. It certainly wasn’t the most beneficial few seconds, but you have to step back and accept that everyone is passionate about racing and sometimes these things do happen.
“One of the unfortunate things about being in the limelight is that people are always trying to make it look like there are huge fights going on. For instance, we discussed the fact that Kimi was signing for Ferrari between the two of us and it was a very frank discussion. It was factual, emotional at the same time and although it’s funny to say, he’s a very human human-being.
In the same post on the Lotus website, Lopez says he still believes that the long awaited investment deal from Middle East/American consortium Quantum will go ahead, allowing the team to move ahead with its plans.
“We have preliminary agreements with the company we want to partner with, and we’re just waiting for this to be concluded,” said Lopez. “This is a very detailed process.”
“The history is that we decided to offer a minority stake to an investor. We consider this approach as the best way forwards, just like any other Formula 1 team.”
As the waiting goes on, Lotus is believed to be close to a deal with Pastor Maldonado, with Nico Hulkenberg’s signature being dependent on the Quantum investment. This is the bottle neck in the driver market at the moment.
Read the full post on Lotus F1 site Here