F1 Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier Says Team's 2014 Financial Footing Key
Despite battling for second place in the constructors' championship "heading into the final three rounds of this year," F1 team Lotus' "off-track predicament is more uncertain as they continue bidding to tie up an investment deal with the Quantum consortium," according to James Galloway of SKY SPORTS. That challenge has been "compounded by relations with their departing lead driver Kimi Räikkönen." After failing to "appear for Thursday's media day at the Abu Dhabi GP," Räikkönen confirmed on Friday that he had "contemplated not racing this weekend owing to unpaid wages and would consider sitting out the final two grands prix if 'an understanding' between him and the team was not respected." Although Romain Grosjean is "all-but assured of retaining his place in the team" for '14, the "decision over Räikkönen's replacement is thought to rest on whether or not the money from Quantum comes through." Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier said, "I've been clear. We are talking to bring the team to the next step in terms of finances and resources. Quantum is the one today that is the priority because we need to close this deal and if we cannot we have to find another way to protect our employees and we nearly have it. But depending on the scenario it may change the driver line-up. So this is why we have to fix the scenarios" (SKY SPORTS, 11/1).
RÄIKKÖNEN REBELS: In London, Kevin Eason reported Räikkönen "flew in at the at the last minute to step into the cockpit of his Lotus and set the fourth fastest time of the day on a circuit where a year ago he gave Lotus the first Grand Prix victory of their modern era." Räikkönen "clearly believes that there has been little thanks from the team in the form of cash and a blazing row with his pitwall last weekend in India simply turned his mood to rebellion." Lotus Chair Gerard Lopez put out a statement on the team website "full of praise for Räikkönen," talking of him as the "prodigal son" who was "leaving for Ferrari." Räikkönen might have "preferred ten pound notes to words as a sign of good faith." Räikkönen: "I came here only because, hopefully, we found an understanding on the certain issues we have been having. Hopefully it will be fixed and we can finish the season as well as we can. I enjoy racing, I enjoy driving but a big part of it is business and sometimes when that is not dealt with like it should we end up in an unfortunate situation. You have to draw the line somewhere and, if it goes over that, it is not really my fault anymore" (LONDON TIMES, 11/1). Also in London, Byron Young reported F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has backed Räikkönen's threat to "walk out on Lotus over not being paid." Former F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve has "waded into the row" and accused Lotus bosses of "taking the p***." Ecclestone: "He has signed a contract with somebody and they need to pay him. I feel sorry for him but he should have been a little more sensible when he signed the contract and knew what he was signing for. If he drove for me, I'd have paid him." Villeneuve said, "If that had been me I don't know I would have been so patient." Boullier said Lopez "was waiting on money from new investors" (DAILY MIRROR, 11/2).