The Iceman leaveth: Raikkonen’s Lotus career in pictures

F1 pictures

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Yas Marina, 2012Kimi Raikkonen’s Formula One comeback with Lotus has come to a disappointing end two races early.

But Raikkonen’s return to the sport with Lotus has been a clear success, including two grand prix victories and a record-breaking run of points finishes.

As Renault, Lotus had suffered a poor 2011 season, due in part to losing lead driver Robert Kubica during the off-season due to injury. After scoring podiums in the opening two races of the year they never troubled the top three again as their radical front-exiting exhausts failed to deliver the expected gains in performance.

For 2012 the newly-renamed Lotus team tempted Raikkonen back from a two-year sabbatical to fill the hole left by Kubica’s absence. It quickly proved to be a productive relationship.

Results didn’t come immediately: Raikkonen was eliminated in Q1 in his comeback at Melbourne and dropped out of the points with degrading tyres in China. But at the very next race he pushed Sebastian Vettel hard for victory and took second – the first podium since his return. Remarkably, it began a record-breaking run of 27 consecutive points finishes.

Consistent points-scoring kept Raikkonen in the hunt for the title against better-equipped rivals such as Vettel. All that was missing was a comeback victory and in Abu Dhabi it finally arrived.

Raikkonen was poised to pounce when trouble struck race leader Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages. After brushing aside the warnings of his race engineer to preserve his car with the immediately immortalised words “I know what I’m doing”, Raikkonen kept Fernando Alonso back to score the first win for a car bearing the name Lotus in 25 years.

He began his second season with the team on a similar high, winning again in Australia. Lotus’s championship chances looked very promising in the opening weeks of the championship as teams came to terms with Pirelli’s most aggressive generation of tyres. The E21 proved especially kind to them, but as the season progressed and their rivals grew more familiar with the tyres, Lotus’s edge gradually diminished, and they haven’t won another race since.

The mid-season change to a more conservative tyre construction on safety grounds did not aid their cause, particularly in the case of Raikkonen, who was doubly stung by new restrictions on camber and other tyre set-up variables. His increasingly confident team mate Romain Grosjean grew more threatening, particularly in Korea, where Raikkonen produced an inspired and opportunistic pass to take second place off the other Lotus.

Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, Korea International Circuit, 2013But what ultimately drove Raikkonen from the team was not performance but money. He admitted as much after his return to Ferrari in 2014 was announced, and on the Abu Dhabi race weekend revealed he had received no money from the team all year.

Frustrations had come to the surface in India where Raikkonen, increasingly troubled by his tyres, was slow to respond to his team’s instructions to let Grosjean through and forced his team mate off the road at one point.

Angry words were exchanged on the radio for which Lotus later apologised. That seemed a surprising step at the time as it’s not unusual for emotions to run high on the team radio, nor for colourful language to be employed. Once the context of Raikkonen’s payment shortfall was known Lotus’s eagerness to placate their driver made rather more sense.

Abu Dhabi, the scene of their shared victory 12 months earlier, turned out to be Raikkonen’s final race weekend for Lotus. It was an unmitigated disaster.

Raikkonen was thrown out of qualifying due to a technical infringement, one the team had fallen foul of previously with Grosjean’s car, but which the stewards were unwilling to tolerate a repeat of. Having chosen to start at the back of the grid rather from the pits, Raikkonen’s race ended when he nudged Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham at the first corner, breaking his suspension.

One week later Lotus confirmed his time with them was at an end, citing a need for Raikkonen to undergo back surgery before beginning his 2014 campaign with Ferrari. Under the circumstances it’s not surprising many have seen an element of convenience in the timing of the news, though Raikkonen did suffer back pain during the Singapore race weekend.

Raikkonen and Lotus always seemed well suited to each other. They understood his preference to turn up, drive and then leave, and accommodated it as far as was practical. The team’s irreverent social media presence perfected the art of bringing humour to anything involving their undemonstrative yet hero-worshipped star.

Whether Ferrari have taken note and are prepared to take the same approach to tease the best out of Raikkonen will be a fascinating storyline in 2014.

Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus, 2012-13 in pictures

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Images ?? Lotus/LAT, GP3/LAT, Korean GP/Sutton, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, MMP74

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47 comments on The Iceman leaveth: Raikkonen’s Lotus career in pictures

  1. Candice said on 12th November 2013, 9:34

    Thank You Lotus for bringing Kimi back.

  2. I’m a Kimi fan, but to be honest I was quite surprised at how well he did. Comebacks in sports are rarely this positive.

  3. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 12th November 2013, 10:18

    How pretty was the Lotus with true gold instead of that too-much-milk-in-my-coffee brown they use now.

    Anyway, I think we often overlook what a good job Lotus did to make Kimi comfortable with them. The salary bit is probably out of their control, as lack of founds are a current problem in F1.

    • Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 12th November 2013, 11:02

      They never had the salary thing under control, the gave him an opportunity to come back but they also promised him a salary they were unable to pay him in 2012. So in 2013 they took it to the next level and even offered him more with a bonus per scored point (50 000 €). So when you look at it objectively it seems Lotus was never in a position to be able to afford such an expensive driver in the first place.

      Look at the facts, the takeover (2012) cost Genii a lot of money, which transelated in a 120 miljon debt. A debt that is still around this day, but appartently Lopez claims there are reserves to deal with that. So why hasn’t that been done already? Lotus is running on fumes and needs money soon or else Enstone will be for sale again. They won’t survive 2014, not with the expensive new engines next year if they don’t get Quantum or Maldonado and his PDVSA onboard.

      • @force-maikel

        a salary they were unable to pay him in 2012.

        Can you source this please.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th November 2013, 13:29

        They did pay him @force-maikel. And they planned on paying him this year as well. But just as Kimi earned points for the team and they would get money from Bernie at the END of the year, they were planning on paying him once that money arrived. Kimi accepted it last year in the end, otherwise he would have been driving somewhere else already this year.

        Off course Kimi did not like the whole arrangement, especially when it looked more and more questionable whether they would have the money at all this this time.

    • Strontium (@strontium) said on 12th November 2013, 13:21

      I was thinking that about the livery the other day! Much nicer then than now

    • No one knows (and anyone who does is probably not allowed to disclose) but how do we know Kimi’s pay wasn’t tied to year end Championship payout timing. He simply said he hasn’t been paid yet. Did he agree to be paid at year end given the team’s financial challenges? Was his pay contingent upon his contribution to the Championship points? Hmm the young Frenchman started to out shine the old man and he started to have back problems…

      Now do I believe this – no not really but you never, ever should leap to what they want you to believe…it is usually furthest from the truth. Especially when there are a dozen PR agents spinning the story…

  4. wicklowboy said on 12th November 2013, 10:28

    “disappointing” for lotus not for Kimi. He’s off to bigger things.
    He has been fair to folks who are pocketing the wages he has earned fair and square. I’m certain they will not prosper. They are fools.

  5. ferrox glideh (@ferrox-glideh) said on 12th November 2013, 10:43

    Kimi was one of the reasons why I think that 2012 was one of the best seasons in recent times. I was glad to have him back, and I’m glad he’s going to Ferrari again.

  6. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 12th November 2013, 10:46

    It’s a pity that Lotus have only scored two wins in two seasons. Both Kimi and the team deserved more, and if the pitwall had made different decisions at times (Spain 2012 springs to mind immediately) then they probably would have added to their tally.

    I truly hope that Kimi’s leaving the team, coupled with the brain-drain going on with Lotus staff to other teams won’t have a huge impact on their performance in 2014, but I suspect it will.

  7. davros said on 12th November 2013, 11:52

    Next years gallery: The Iceman Regreteth joining Alonso at Ferrari.

    • Agreed – too many egos in the room… Both will go and sulk and the car will still let both drivers down…

  8. Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 12th November 2013, 13:14

    I’m not keen on come-back career’s either, Schumacher’s was anticlimactic at best, embarrassing at worst. But Kimi did well at Lotus and seems to have outperformed the team on several occasions, particularly the payroll department.
    But forgive me a bit of cynicism here. Kimi’s back problem; it is real is it? It’s not a diplomatic illness is it?
    It just seems a bit like resigning from your job and then having flu in the last few days so you don’t have to smile and shake hands with the people you resigned to get away from!

  9. Mach1 (@mach1) said on 12th November 2013, 13:23

    Can anyone explain – Mark Webber said it was technically his last day at red bull recently, massa has had a goodbye party….. is there some technical “end of term/season date” that is different to the actual F1 calender? Or is it just what is in each contract?

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th November 2013, 13:31

      With Webber it was more like that being the last day in the factory (they do not need a driver who will drive elsewhere next year having a good look at all their clever ideas, I guess) @mach1. I can imagine the same is true for Massa, although there it was certainly to do with Williams announcing their line up the day after Massa celebrated the end of his Ferrari career.

    • Todd (@braketurnaccelerate) said on 12th November 2013, 20:42

      Grand Prix of the Americas and the Brazilian GP are both fly-away races that are back-to-back. There’s not going to be any time from that point until the Brazilian GP is over, for the drivers to go back to the team’s headquarters. And once the race is over in Brazil, their contracts are done.

    • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 13th November 2013, 6:23

      It is probably to do with their duties at the factory itself, simulator work and such, rather than it being a mandatory, rule driven thing. The teams have switched their development focus to 2014 so they won’t want Massa and Webber to see any more of what they are doing than is absolutely necessary in case they tell their new employers what is going on. They are still under contract to their current teams, they have probably just informally agreed with their current teams that their duties will be to simply turn up for the next 2 race weekends, perform in a professional manner and then go home.

  10. Wonderful review F1Fanatic! A pleasure to read :)

  11. Dane (@n0b0dy100) said on 12th November 2013, 13:33

    I think Ferrari may have convinced him to do the surgery now. Kimi gets his seat fitted, Ferrari is under threat from Lotus and they see a way to get their future employee to help them out.

    • Not too surprised, Kimi won 2007 by 21 October and we are now 12 November and still 2 races to go, no time for recovery.
      No-brainer to accept the surgery..and perhaps some down payment from Ferrari ;).

    • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 12th November 2013, 17:44

      I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist but I do think that could be the case as well as not being paid.

  12. Rally Man (@rally-man) said on 12th November 2013, 14:56

    The last picture is very fitting.

  13. P. Vorster said on 12th November 2013, 15:11

    The best of Kimi is yet to come!
    Ferrari fancies him more than Alonso. He won’t regret going to Ferrari. Who ever will?

  14. Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 12th November 2013, 15:36

    I would also note that his move to Ferrari makes much more sense now as well. Ferrari would be among the last teams I would expect to fail to pay their driver due to lack of funds.

  15. Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 12th November 2013, 16:49

    I do not understand how one of the top teams in F1 does not have enough money for its driver. I just don’t. Isn’t F1 one of the most watched sports in the world? Does it not appeal to one of the largest industrial sectors across the globe?

    To me this is a just a matter of mismanagement. Real Madrid spent 91 million euro on Gareth Bale. How on earth can Lotus not be able to afford a driver like Raikonnen or Hulkenberg?

    Either Ecclestone has been getting a huge piece of the pie and is worth 20-30 billion euro and has hidden it or the teams are just not getting the correct money for the value they bring?

    If anything they shouldn’t know what to do with the money they get, much less not be able to pay $15 million (which is technically nothing) to their driver.

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