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Raikkonen to miss USA and Brazil

NEWS STORY
10/11/2013

Finnish media reports that Kimi Raikkonen is to miss the two remaining races of 2013 in order to have surgery on his back in preparation for 2014 when he (re)joins Ferrari.

"The experts were recommending the surgery, and it will be done next Thursday in Salzburg," Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson told Finland's ever reliable Turun Sanomat.

"Obviously, it is a disappointing way to end the relationship with Lotus after two successful seasons on Kimi's return to F1," Robertson continued." However, Kimi cannot afford to delay anymore. It is crucial to correct the problem now to start 2014 fit and healthy."

The Finn's back problem first made the news ahead of the Korean Grand Prix weekend when the Finn revealed he'd suffered for many years but the pain was further aggravated by the bumpy surface of Singapore's Marina Bay street circuit.

"Right now it is okay," he told reporters in Korea, "but it is always difficult to say until I drive and I see how it is, but I don't think it will be a problem. This isn't the first time I've had to deal with it and I'm sure it's not going to be the last. It's something I've had to deal with for a long, long time, and sometimes it gets bad, sometimes not.

"I've been okay every year I've been racing, but sometimes I have to deal with the pain," he admitted. "Obviously with every year you get older you seem to come up with more issues. I'm sure we can deal with those things."

However, for many, the key word in Robertson's statement is sure to be the word "afford", for it was only a week ago, after Raikkonen revealed that he had come close to boycotting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix because he has not been paid "a single euro this year" that the team and its investors claimed that matters were in hand.

Indeed, on the day of the race - in which the Iceman crashed out at the first corner - Mansoor Ijaz, chairman of the consortium, Quantum Motorsports, which is supposedly buying a 35% stake in the team insisted that everything would be sorted in the coming days.

"We're going to clear off the debt, and then we're going to bring very high quality sponsors which you'll see very soon," he told reporters. "Those sponsors will give us the longevity and capacity to compete at the top end of the business for a long time.

"They are going to pay a lot of bills this week, let's put it that way," he added. "We've asked them to make sure things get paid as quickly as possible."

Asked about the situation with Raikkonen, he said: "I met with Kimi's manager last night. I've apologised to Steve, we've apologised to Kimi. We intend to not only make sure that they are made whole, and then some, we are intending to also compensate our employees and management team."

Referring to Raikkonen's threat that he may boycott the remaining two races, Ijaz said: "I am confident that he will run the last two races and fulfil his professional obligations to us and us to him."

For Raikkonen to have made such a move, which could, assuming he has been paid, in accordance with Ijaz's promises, leave the Finn open to legal action and possibly even issues with the FIA which could side-line him even in 2014, one must assume that the promise hasn't been kept and that he remains unpaid. Which, of course, raises serious questions about the future of Lotus and its whole involvement with Quantum Motorsports.

Lotus has yet to comment on today's news however, if true, the most likely replacement for the back-to-back races would be reserve driver Davide Valsecchi. Though in F1 anything could - and probably will - happen. Indeed, it was only on Thursday that Raikkonen, making a valiant effort in overcoming the pain, had his seat fitting for the 2014 car at Maranello.

Are we about to say some frantic, high octane musical chairs ahead of the Austin race?

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