Abu Dhabi: A certain gentleman from Quantum Motorsport had made the trip from England for an important meeting with the Lotus Team on Sunday. However, he stood at one of the Yas Marina entrances — rather annoyed — as the electronic gate simply would not validate his entry card.
Someone from Lotus hurried to the spot to get the electronic entry card issue sorted out. Cash-strapped Lotus, who are desperately looking for a lifeline to stay in business, may have reached an agreement with Quantum Motorsport by now — though the last hasn’t been heard on the subject.
Somewhere at the same time, a sulking Kimi Raikkonen sat in a lonely corner of the Lotus team’s hospitality area. The Finn had somehow been convinced into making the trip from Zurich for race weekend, but he was no longer in the running for the second spot in the Drivers’ Championships. He had had his tiff with the team during the course of the Indian GP, when he was ordered to make way for teammate Romain Grosjean to take a podium spot. Raikkonen had been livid, and with good reasons.
Raikkonen, who has an outstanding salary estimated at around $15 million (Dh55.08 million) from Lotus, had been carrying on gamely until Ferrari signed him on for two years last week. The ‘Iceman’ had since turned his attention to the issue of his overdue salary but the slight from the team at the Indian GP was like adding fuel to the fire.
Last week, Raikkonen headed back home with reportedly no intention of returning. It was only on Wednesday that Lotus Team’s Luxembourg-born chairman Gerard Lopez managed to convince Raikkonen to travel to Abu Dhabi. The rule is pretty simple: no driver show-up, no money.
To his credit, Raikkonen fared quite well in his car during Friday’s practice and Saturday’s qualifying to come fifth on the grid. However, the drama started unfolding later on Saturday when he was disqualified from the Pole run and was placed at the back of the start grid for reported changes on the car chassis.
The entire world then witnessed how the Abu Dhabi defending champion went on to clip one of the Caterhams, stopped his car, pulled away his steering and walked away.
His job had been done. As per rules, Raikkonen had come to Abu Dhabi, took part in practice and qualifying and started off from the grid before retiring following the dash with the Caterham car. It was the shortest drive following a long flight.
Perhaps, Jessie J sums it up well in her hit number ‘Price Tag’ when she sings ‘It’s about the money, money, money…”
Welcome to the other side of motorsport.