Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Yas Marina, 2012

The Iceman leaveth: Raikkonen’s Lotus career in pictures

F1 picturesPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

2013 F1 season

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

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

  1. Thank You Lotus for bringing Kimi back.

    1. Yes. Could have had a better farewell though.

    2. Indeed.

      I admit that I was one of the more sceptical people about his return, but it did prove to do a lot for all fans of F1.

  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.

    1. Yeah I agree, look at Schumi …

      But in fact I preferred the Kimi from his first career, he looked faster and was better in qualifying :/

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. @force-maikel

        a salary they were unable to pay him in 2012.

        Can you source this please.

      2. 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.

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

    3. 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. “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. 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. 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.

    1. @colossal-squid Or if Bianchi had put the handbrake on his Marussia in Germany this year!

      1. Heh yep, that’s definitely a massive ‘if only’ moment this season!

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

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

  8. 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!

    1. The illness I think is real BUT the surgery for sure it could be postponed. In my oppinion if Permane wouldn’t be swearing, nobody would have know the salary problem, and Raikkonen, would be racing to the end.

    2. If you don’t get your salary for year to date, you might prefer to burn your office rather than declare flu.

      1. What a lovely thought.
        “Okay, Boss. Here’s my letter of resignation, effective at the end of the month. And the hidden incendiary devices go off at five minutes past midnight.”

        1. *Cough*
          “Unless i get the cheque for my back pay. Immediately.”

  9. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      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.

    3. 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 :)

    1. and what about kimi raikkonen space? ;)

  11. 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.

    1. 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 ;).

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

  12. The last picture is very fitting.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      12th November 2013, 16:43

      +1 – He’s riding into the sunset!!! Fantastic picture especially given the low light…

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

    1. Ivan Capelli?

  14. 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)
    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.

  16. Kimi Raikkonen has beaten the odds twice with his entry into F1 and again with his re-entry. Skeptics said he was too inexperienced before his initial foray and some said on his return that comebacks don’t usually pan out. In both cases conventional wisdom might usually prevail, but Raikkonen proved to be unconventional in multiple ways. First and foremost, he is a winner and very consistent points scorer. His iceman persona aside, he may be different personality wise than other F1 drivers, but those who know him say he is a warm engaging person. In any case, his on track performance ranks him among the best F1 drivers of all time and many teams would still be happy to have a driver of his calibre on board. F1 as a sport has benefitted from his presence.

    Nice tribute in photos @keithcollantine . Hope to see more from Kimi in 2014 and beyond.

  17. Btw, it is confirmed the Hulk will not race for Lotus this weekend :(

  18. It is a sad end to what has been a really great 2 season partnership. Back in January 2012. I wasn’t convinced Raikkonen would perform that well nor that Lotus would provide him with that great a car but it’s been a brilliant partnership even though they should have perhaps won a few more races had Lotus been smarter on strategy and Kimi qualified better (Bahrain and Hungary last year as well as Germany this year spring to mind).

    I don’t think either have come out this ending well though…

    Lotus do remind me of a football club that have over-spent on players and then discovered they don’t have the financials to commit to their contractual obligations – Raikkonen has been the primary reason (together with Allison-designed chassis) the team have got the profile and the results over the past two years so there is an element of feeling like they’ve taken one of their primary assets for bit of a ride. No top-line driver I can think of would have put up with it either. I don’t think the India radio messages were that big a deal but the rumours that Kimi was accused of not being a team man by the race team were a bit out of order given his performances over the past two years.

    Kimi meanwhile I think could have handled post-India so much better too. Given his name is the Iceman, there was something a bit hysterical about his threat to not race and airing his dirty laundry in public. It is blatantly obvious too that he’s decided to have an operation early as he’s annoyed with the team. I find it all a bit Diva-ish, especially given that he wasn’t paid until the end of the season last year either.

    I think both will be weaker next year too – Lotus will miss Raikkonen’s consistency (yes Grosjean looks good now but next year he will be EXPECTED to beat his team-mate and lead the team and do so consistently. His whole career has shown he is gifted, fast but bit of a win it or bin it racer).

    Raikkonen meanwhile will have a shock next year against Alonso – yes he will beat him on occasion but I think Fernando’s relentlessness in races and work ethic in general will see him defeated. I see shades of Prost v Mansell in 1990 here. Closely matched on speed but Prost’s intelligence (and being prepared to work with his engineers whilst Mansell was off playing golf!) meant he won easily.

    1. @danieru – I agree that the partnership came to a sad end for what was mostly a successful endeavor. Probably one reason Kimi decided to go public with the finances is that last year he was still signed with Lotus and now for next year he is not. Also, the financial situation at Lotus seems more uncertain now. We still don’t know if he will be paid and he like;y figured after the season there would be no leverage short of a possibly fruitless lawsuit. I think the unprofessional cursing over the radio by Permane, an upper level manager, and Kimi’s reaction to it showed that Kimi is indeed human. It was demoralizing when Kimi has 2 wins, 27 consecutive point scoring races at a stretch, the majority of points scored for Lotus over the last two seasons and yet not been paid anything for this season, to be publicly humiliated like that. The iceman persona notwithstanding, everyone has a breaking point.

      My anticipation of the matchup between Alonso and Raikkonen for 2014 is palpable. It has the kind of legendary possibilities that do not come our way often enough in F1. Many feel that Raikkonen will be “shocked” by Alonso, but we don’t really know. That is what makes it fascinating to watch and see what develops. Kimi may surprise some people, we shall see. My hope is mostly for the Ferrari to be competitive next season and then to watch the drama unfold.

  19. Thanks for a very balanced iceman-article @keithcollantine. Honestly I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, considering your previously stated distaste. Great point about Lotus managing to inspire the rather laid back Finn through humor, and whether Ferrari will have learned anything from that.

    The only thing I might have added would maybe be the low-hanging Lotus during practice as the reason for the back injury to break up again in the first place.

    Looking forward to see Kimi in equipment equal to Akibisi’s – a lot more so than “back at Ferrari” of whom I have never been much of a fan.

    For me personally 2014 will be rather special as it will mark the first season in several years in which I can fully appreciate more than one driver.

    1. @poul

      your previously stated distaste.

      I have no idea what you’re referring to.

      1. In that case; my sincere apologies @keithcollantine. I specifically remember the word “distaste” for Räikkonen in a comment to an article about the “swearing row” in Abu Dhabi last year. I must have mistaken it for being you.

  20. 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.
    Very well said! I am an American who loves F1, and Lotus’s presence on the web should be a model. I like Kimi but am amazed at what he gets away with in terms of avoiding media days. That Lotus tolerated it and found a way around it through their social media is genius.

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