F1 Driver Kimi Räikkönen Says Money Was Reason He Quit Lotus, Joined Ferrari
F1 driver Kimi Räikkönen "could leave his Lotus team with a bill for millions of pounds in outstanding wages after revealing he has not been paid by the team," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. The depth of the financial crisis in F1 "despite the vast wealth pouring into the sport has been laid bare by Räikkönen’s departure to Ferrari for next season." It seems "unimaginable that Lotus could outbid Ferrari in any department but going unpaid clearly did not help relationships." Räikkönen is thought to have "been given his basic salary but is a victim of his own success." Performance bonuses "were built into the deal that brought the Finn back from two years out of the sport," but Lotus "probably had no idea that they were hiring the most consistent driver in the history of F1," scoring a record 27 consecutive points finishes. The Lotus accountants "have simply been unable to keep up with Räikkönen’s remarkable high-scoring" as he finished third in the championship last season, while he is fourth this year and won the first grand prix of this season (LONDON TIMES, 9/19).
MOTIVATING FACTOR: In London, Tom Cary reported Räikkönen described it as "unfortunate" and admitted that the state of affairs was "largely behind his move" to Ferrari. Räikkönen, who had been open in recent weeks about the "assurances" he would have needed to stay at Lotus, admitted that "money was a major motivating factor." Räikkönen: "The reasons why I left from the team are purely on the money side, and the things I haven't got, my salary. That is an unfortunate thing." Lotus' "parlous financial position is symptomatic of a wider issue" in F1, with many of the smaller teams "struggling to keep their heads above water" (TELEGRAPH, 9/19).