Lotus seeking long-term replacement for Raikkonen

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Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has said that he is seeking a long-term replacement for the outgoing Kimi Raikkonen, not a driver who would merely act as a ‘stop gap’ for a year or two.

Raikkonen confirmed earlier this month that he would be leaving the team to return to Ferrari in 2014, partnering Fernando Alonso. As a result, ‘silly season’ has turned its attention to his vacant seat at Lotus, with Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg thought to be the two prime candidates. However, Boullier has said that he will not rush into any decision.

“When it comes to drivers, we are not simply looking for a short-term replacement for Kimi,” Boullier explained. “We are looking at where we are going to be in the next five years. We can afford to be patient.”

Despite the team’s financial uncertainty, Boullier is not looking for a pay driver that could bring in a great deal of sponsorship, instead favoring the man with the greatest amount of ability.

“I hope not to have to take into account commercial considerations when making decisions on drivers because we have worked hard to build our financial strength without having to rely on sponsorship from a driver. We want the strongest line-up possible to continue the progress made in recent seasons; that is the priority.”

Boullier confirmed in Singapore that Romain Grosjean would continue to drive for the team next season, believing that the Frenchman has a bright future at Enstone. Grosjean has not shown a great deal of emotion over Raikkonen’s departure, explaining in Singapore that their relationship has not been overly close in the past two years.

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

IndyCar St. Pete fans
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”