Date: 11th November 2013 at 8:35am
Written by:

Kimi Raikkonen has raced his last race of 2013 and his last race for the Lotus F1 team.

The news that 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Raikkonen will miss the United States and Brazilian Grand Prix’s brings a sad and disappointing end to his career with the Lotus team.

After going into a Formula One exile following his departure from Ferrari at the end of 2009, it was Lotus that brought back the now 34-year-old.

Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus appeared to be the perfect match, with Kimi able to perform at his outstanding best and Lotus able to push forward and compete with the likes of Red Bull Racing, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes.

Two Grand Prix victories have followed and Raikkonen has consistently been one of the ‘best of the race’ in the competition to come second to Sebastian Vettel.

But ever since the decision to leave Lotus for Ferrari, his relationship has gone downhill.

Despite not being paid until the end of the 2012 season, Raikkonen opted to make his pay dispute with the team for 2013 public.

The Finn is owed in the region of £14.5million, but as was the case last season, Lotus fully intended to pay him following the climax of the season on return of their prize money from Formula One and sponsorship deals.

Team and driver then had a spat during the Indian Grand Prix with a swear-word filled radio exchange, which forced both sides to apologise.

Then in the build up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Kimi threatened to boycott the final races over his lack of pay.

But with the Quantum Motorsports investment almost complete, the argument over pay is almost resolved.

So why is Raikkonen not racing? According to his management team his old back injury which he aggravated at the Singapore Grand Prix now requires surgery.

‘The experts recommend surgery. That will take place on Thursday in Salzburg, Austria.

‘The most important thing right now is to sort out the back problem. Then Kimi can go into next season in the best of shape.’
Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat as quoted by the BBC.

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier was only informed of the decision late on Saturday.

The team now have less than a week to decide who will replace Kimi in Austin.

Lotus have been holding talks with Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and Williams’s Pastor Maldonado ahead of a move to the team for 2014, but it is highly unlikely that either driver will be able to get out of the current contracts early to make the move ahead of the end of the season.

The most likely scenario is that 2012 GP2 Champion and Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsecchi will get the seat for the final two races.

‘The team will make an announcement about the replacement driver for the United States and Brazilian Grands Prix in due course,’ a Lotus team statement told Sky Sports.