Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has insisted that the relationship between Kimi Raikkonen and the team is still good despite the on-going saga surrounding the Finn’s payment.
Raikkonen is set to leave Enstone at the end of the season in favor of a return to Ferrari with whom he won the 2007 drivers’ championship, but he explained to journalists in Abu Dhabi that he could walk away from Lotus before the end of the season unless he is paid following a series of disputes. Following the Finn’s exclusion from qualifying in Abu Dhabi and early retirement, his relationship with the team does appear to be at an all-time low. Nevertheless, Boullier believes that Raikkonen is still “on side”.
“He is completely on side,” Boullier said. “We all spoke in Abu Dhabi to make sure we know where we’re going – and how we’re getting there – for the final races of the year. Our focus is first on a good performance in Austin, and then the focus becomes getting a good result in Brazil.”
Raikkonen said that a deal had been brokered between himself and the team to ensure that he would take part in the final two rounds of the season, and his presence in Austin for the United States Grand Prix is important for the fans who were so desperate to see him at the Circuit of the Americas. Boullier is looking forward to the race, believing that tapping into the American market is crucial for the sport.
“It’s a market where Formula One should be,” he said. “It’s a land of tremendous opportunity for Formula One and we hope to build on this opportunity in the future.”
Lotus head into the final two rounds of the season vying for second place in the championship alongside Mercedes and Ferrari, as all three teams look to finish as runners-up to Red Bull.