Kimi Raikkonen confirmed Thursday that the financial situation at Lotus played a big part in his decision to move to Ferrari.
It’s no secret that the team struggled to pay the Finn’s salary and points bonuses last season, and has fallen behind again this year. Nevertheless, it was intriguing that he was so open about the issue in the public forum of a press conference. Now that he’s definitely leaving, he has no reason to be coy about it.
“There was a lot of things and, for sure, they know what it is,” said Raikkonen when asked what Lotus could have done to keep him. “It’s hard to say which way it would have gone if that would have had happened but the deal’s done now, and I’m very happy with the new deal.”
Later, he was asked why he continued to show up, given that he had not been paid.
“I like to race and then obviously that’s the only reason why I’m here; it doesn’t matter which team it is,” the former F1 champion said. “The reasons why I left from the team is purely on the money side, that they haven’t got my salary, so it’s an unfortunate thing. But like I said, I want to try and help the team as much as I can, and I like to race.”
Raikkonen seemed amused by the fuss about his return to Ferrari.
“I just have to say things change in Formula One a lot,” he said. “I never had a bad feeling with them, really. But, I mean, I still have a lot friends and good memories from there. I knew that my contract will end at the end of this year, so obviously I had to make some kind of decision what to do for next year, and now it’s been done.
“I know the team and I know the people. Obviously, there are some new people and some more have left since I was there, but most are the same. I don’t think this will be too difficult to go there and do well. The cars will be obviously different [in 2014], so I think that will be the most difficult thing, to get the cars right and get them running reliable, and whoever makes the best car will probably make the best out of it.”
Raikkonen says he sees no problems in the relationship with 2014 teammate Fernando Alonso: “I don’t see the reason why it wouldn’t work. We are all old enough to know what we are doing and, for sure, the team is working for the right things to make sure. If there is something, I’m sure we can talk it through. It’s not like we are 20-year-old guys anymore. I might be wrong, but time will tell, but I’m pretty sure everything will be good.
“For sure, you always learn from different teammates; everyone does different things. Maybe they do something better than you, but often there are a lot of things that only suit one guy and it doesn’t work if you try to do the same thing for yourself; it’s not going to work. I know the team, I know the people. Like I said, I have no worries to go there and have something that wouldn’t work. I don’t really worry about it; I’ve never worked with Alonso. I obviously know him from racing, but I’m sure it will be fine.”
Raikkonen is confident that Ferrari will have a good turbo package in 2014.
“Obviously, I hope so,” he said. “They built very good cars and engines in the past, they’ve won a lot of championships as a team, and then you have to look on the other side at teams like Red Bull or Lotus with Renault who have done very well. It’s very hard to say which way it’s going to go with the new rules and who’s going to have the best package.
“There are a lot of stories about certain engines that will be much stronger than others, but there are so many different things that you have to look at and go through and make sure that it works, that I have no idea which team will be strongest and which team will come out on top. We have to wait and see, really, for the first few tests.”