GP Singapore, commenti giovedì–19/09/2013
Kimi Raikkonen: money prompted Lotus exit and Ferrari F1 switch
Kimi Raikkonen has revealed that money was the key reason why he turned his back on Lotus to join Ferrari for the 2014 Formula 1 season.
The Finn had been open with Lotus in demanding financial guarantees for the future if he was to commit, against a background of delayed salary payments.
Speaking to the media for the first time since it was confirmed that he was leaving the team for Ferrari in 2014, Raikkonen said it was the cash situation that prompted his switch.
"The reasons why I left from the team are purely on the money side, and the things I haven’t got, my salary," said Raikkonen. "That is an unfortunate thing."
When asked if there was anything Lotus could have done in the end to convince him to stay, he said: "There were a lot of things, I am sure they know what there are.
"It is hard to say which way it would have gone if it would have happened, but I am very happy [with my decision]."
AUTOSPORT understands that while Raikkonen has received his basic salary, the issue is over performance-based bonus payments.
Although some rival drivers have suggested that the partnership of Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso could lead to trouble, the 2007 world champion doubts there will be any issues.
"I don’t see the reason why it will not work," Raikkonen said. "We are all old enough to know what we are doing and the team is working to make sure, if there is something, that we can talk it through.
"It is not like we are 20-year-old guys any more. I might be wrong, but time will tell.
"I am pretty sure all things will be good. For sure there will be hard fight on the race circuit, and sometimes things go wrong, but I am pretty sure it will be OK."
Raikkonen also thinks he will have little trouble adapting to life back at Maranello – as he dismissed suggestions he will need to ramp up his work ethic.
"I know the team, and I know the people, although obviously there are some new people and more have left since I was there," he said.
"I don’t think it will be too difficult to go there and do well. The car is different, and the most difficult thing is the cars [in 2014] are different. Whoever makes the best car will make the most out of it."
When asked if he was ready to spend more time at Maranello to push the team forwards, he said: "There are lots of stories, but I think we did pretty good in this team [Lotus] from where we started and I don’t see reason why we should not be able to produce a very good car next year and keep improving it.
"It is a new challenge for all the teams but I have no worries about these things."
Lotus F1 team ‘turning page’ after Raikkonen’s exit to Ferrari
Lotus now has to "start a new story" without Kimi Raikkonen, says team boss Eric Boullier, as he insisted there was a long list of potential replacements.
Speaking to AUTOSPORT ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, Boullier was adamant that he did not regard losing Raikkonen to Ferrari as a blow.
"It is paddock life," he said. "I am happy that two years ago we gambled on Kimi, and it was a nice honeymoon story for two years.
"Now he is moving up to Ferrari. That is life. The combination of Lotus F1 and Kimi worked well in terms of popularity and also sporting-wise, on track.
"It is in some ways disappointing but it is not a blow. Let’s turn the page and start a new story."
Nico Hulkenberg heads the list of contenders for the vacant Lotus seat, but Boullier said the shortlist was "quite long, actually. With some funny names… [from] surprising teams."
He added: "It is true that the people you can see, [Felipe] Massa and Hulkenberg, are on the market – so it is true that we talk to them.
"But the list is much, much longer."
lthough Lotus is still shoring up its financial future, aiming to close a deal with investor Infinity Racing and increase engine supplier Renault’s support, Boullier denied the team needed Raikkonen’s replacement to bring funding.
"It is [more] important if he comes without sponsorship," he said.
"I am doing racing to win; not to make money. This is my wish as a team principal, but the right strategy for an F1 team is you want to choose your drivers or merit, because he fits your strategy or sports model, not because of sponsorship."
Ferrari sure Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen won’t clash in 2014
Ferrari has laughed off suggestions that Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will clash when they are Formula 1 team-mates in 2014.
The Finn will join the Spaniard from Lotus to form Ferrari’s first line-up two world champions since the 1953 season.
Alonso’s current team-mate Felipe Massa said earlier this week he expected the duo ‘to collide’ next year, echoing others’ predictions of tension.
Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali said such talk was just part of F1’s "psychological war".
"Maybe they have fear because we are strong," said Domenicali on Thursday. "It’s part of the psychological war that is part of this game. It’s not really interesting for me because I don’t listen. Everyone can say what they want, but that’s it.
"I will not change the way we handle the situation from a team point of view. Funnily enough, you will never see me speak about other team."
Alonso also said he did not see any problems with having Raikkonen as a team-mate, as he considers Massa a top-class driver too.
"I don’t think anyone will push me more than what I push now," said Alonso. "Two world champions, I don’t think it makes any difference.
"You keep writing these things, which is exactly the same as when I arrived here, with people saying it would be a disaster with Felipe, and after four years he’s one of the best friends I have here.
"For next year it will be the same, but that’s something you will probably not write. I consider Felipe a world champion as well.
"I don’t think a title will change the relationship, or in the team, or in terms of pushing. Felipe was a world champion when he crossed the line in 2008, so it’s not like he’s a rookie driver."
Although Massa has played a supporting role to Alonso during the four seasons they have been together at Ferrari, Domenicali insisted the arrival of Raikkonen does not mean a change in the way the team will operate.
"I don’t think it’s a change of philosophy," he said. "All the drivers who have worked at Ferrari know that there is the main interest of the team, and they consider that as a priority.
"It’s normal, and absolutely imperative, that everybody does the maximum, but this is the way we have been working in our history and this is what will happen in the future."
Alonso insisted he was aware of the possibility of Raikkonen arriving, and he believes the Finn is the best possible choice to replace Massa.
"I was always informed about the team movements and it’s true that I think until the last moment the team didn’t make a decision, and when they decided that it was better to change Felipe they asked me what was my opinion," Alonso added.
"My opinion was that Kimi was the best out there in the market and especially with a championship with many changes for next year, so a team-mate with many years of F1 was important. The team chose him so I’m happy."
Hamilton believes Ferrari will have the strongest line-up in 2014
Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari will replace Mercedes as the team with the strongest driver pairing in Formula 1 next year.
Mercedes is the only team to have had both its drivers – Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – win a race this year.
But with Ferrari replacing Felipe Massa with Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton thinks that his Italian rivals are set to deliver the best pairing.
"We want to beat them," said Hamilton when asked for his thoughts on Ferrari’s decision to sign Raikkonen.
"This year we can beat them in the constructors’ [championship] but at the end of the day it is going to be a stronger team.
"Kimi is driving sensationally well this year, so I assume he will do the same next year. Fernando is driving sensationally well.
"They talk about us having the strongest driver line-up, and now I think it has switched over to them."
Hamilton has said he is intrigued by how the Raikkonen/Alonso partnership will work though, with several people suggesting it could lead to friction inside the team.
"I think it is great," he said. "You have two of the best drivers in one team at Ferrari. It is interesting to see the dynamics and how it will play out. I will sit back and watch…I am not going to say anything to add to any suggestions!"
Hamilton does think, however, that Alonso will probably deal with intra-team rivalries better than when he clashed with Hamilton at McLaren in 2007.
"I feel we have both grown and matured quite a lot," he said. "Our relationship, as you know, has improved quite a lot.
"I am sure he has had a great relationship with Felipe and I assume he will have the same with Kimi."