Lotus downplay Raikkonen rift

Friday 01-November-2013 11:03

Lotus chairman Gerard Lopez says there is no rift between Kimi Raikkonen and the Formula One team.

The driver and trackside operations director Alan Permane had a volotile exchange at the last race in India when Raikkonen was attempting to keep team-mate Romain Grosjean behind him.

The team later apologised, saying that the message to Raikkonen could have been "sent in a less emotional way."

However, a week later and Raikkonen was late to arrive in Abu Dhabi.

Instead of taking part in Lotus' media events on Thursday, Raikkonen only arrived at the Yas Marina circuit on Friday morning.

But despite the Finn's tardy arrival, Lotus are adamant that all is well between the team and the driver.

"I speak with Kimi more than a lot of people probably realise and we rarely speak about Formula 1," Lopez said.

"Of course, recently a lot was made about the comments between Alan Permane and Kimi during the course of a tense moment in a race, but this was just one exchange taking a matter of seconds in the course of a two-year relationship.

"It certainly wasn't the most beneficial few seconds, but you have to step back and accept that everyone is passionate about racing and sometimes these things do happen."

Lopez added that Raikkonen's decision to leave for Ferrari at the end of this season had no way changed Lotus' approach to the driver.

"For a long time we had the opportunity to keep him in our hands, but we weren't able to operate to the timeframe - or make the offer - that Ferrari were able to do," he explained. "For me this brought sadness, as it's like prodigal son leaving us.

"When we signed him there was a lot of criticism and a lot of disbelief. There were some people who were saying that he still had it in him and that he was one of the best Formula 1 drivers out there, but at the same time there were many people who were saying that he couldn't do it, that he was overweight, this, that and the other. But we believed in him and he delivered big time.

"The only reason we're fighting for second in the World Championship is because of all the points that Kimi has scored. We're doing everything we can to ensure Kimi and the team can continue to fight right up to the chequered flag in Brazil."

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