Raikkonen’s relationship with Lotus ends early

The relationship between Kimi Raikkonen and Formula 1 team Lotus has been through some difficulties this year, and now it’s come to an early end as Raikkonen will have back surgery this week and miss out on the Constructors Championship in Austin, Texas, next week and the Brazilian Grand Prix at the end of the 2013 season.

Although an old back injury has been blamed as the reason for his early exit, Raikkonen has not enjoyed his relationship with Lotus this year, claiming he hasn’t been paid all of his salary this year. In 2012, Lotus didn’t pay him until the end of the season and this year, it’s thought that Louts owes him 17.15m euros in unpaid salary and bonus.

Lotus hasn’t announced yet who will step in for Raikkonen at the Austin race. There are two drivers who look likely to replace him in the Lotus team next year – Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber) and Pastor Maldonado (Williams) – but neither is likely to be released from their existing contract early. So it looks like the Austin spot will become available for Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsechhi.

At the time of writing, Betfair has only given four drivers odds under 20/1 for being the winning driver at Austin. These are Sebastian Vettel (2/7), Mark Webber (5/1) and both Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean at 16/1. Grosjean is, of course, Raikkonen’s fellow driver at Lotus.

As for winning car at the Constructors Championships, Betfair has put Lotus in as third favourite – with odds of 10/1 versus the 1/10 odds for Red Bull.

While there’s an overall feeling in the motor racing world that Raikkonen’s early exit from the 2013 Formula 1 season is more about the difficult relationship with Lotus rather than a flare-up of an old back injury, that’s the party line that both Raikkonen’s management and the Lotus team are sticking to.

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