Kimi Raikkonen has admitted to quitting Lotus and re-signing for Ferrari due to a dispute over money. After failing to receive the assurances he wanted with regard to Lotus’ financial future, Raikkonen last week opted to sign a two-year deal with the team that made him world champion in 2007.
Asked why he was continuing to drive for Lotus, despite not being paid — the issue is understood to centre around performance-related payments rather than his basic wage — Raikkonen said: “I like to race. That’s the only reason why I’m here, it doesn’t matter which team it is.”
With refreshing honesty, Raikkonen added: “The reason why I left the team is really on the money side. The team said they haven’t got my salary. It’s an unfortunate thing.”
Raikkonen has indicated he might have stayed with Lotus if they had resolved their financial issues. The Finn said: “They know what it is. Hard to say which way it would have gone if it had happened, but the deal is done and I’m happy.”
In replacing Felipe Massa, Raikkonen is to partner Fernando Alonso from 2014, forming a partnership seven-times champion Michael Schumacher has already suggested could be “explosive”.
Whilst there is no doubt Raikkonen will not play a subservient role like Massa, he feels if there are issues between himself and Alonso then they will be dealt with in an adult way.
“I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work,” said Raikkonen. “We are all old enough to know what we are doing, and the team is working for the right kind of things to make sure.
“If there is something then I’m sure we can talk it through. It’s not like we are 20-year-old guys any more. “I might be wrong, time will tell, but I’m pretty sure it will be good. Of course, there will be hard fights on the circuit, and sometimes things go wrong, but I’m pretty sure it will be okay.”
Despite seemingly leaving Ferrari under a cloud at the end of 2009, with the final year of his contract paid off as the team brought in Alonso, Raikkonen feels all that went before is now water under the bridge. “I always had freedom there,” he said.