Lotus hail 'prodigal son' Raikkonen

Fri Nov 1, 2013 9:16am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Lotus moved to smother speculation about a breakdown in relations with 'prodigal son' Kimi Raikkonen on Friday by highlighting how much they will miss him when he moves to Ferrari next season.

Speaking on the day the Finn showed up for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after missing Thursday's media activities, Lotus chairman Gerard Lopez took to the Formula One team's website (www.lotusf1team.com) to calm the situation.

The partnership with Raikkonen, he said, had been a 'perfect fit' for Lotus.

Far from being the taciturn 'Iceman', thwarting the global media in its search for a soundbite or penetrating insight, Lopez presented the Finn as "actually a very talkative, very friendly guy.

"One of the unfortunate things about being in the limelight is that people are always trying to make it look like there are huge fights going on," he added.

"We discussed the fact that Kimi was signing for Ferrari between the two of us and it was a very frank discussion.

"The whole Iceman thing actually prevails on the track from where he is very cool-headed and a very good driver. In reality he's a kind guy...and over the two years I've gained a friend in Formula One which is a difficult place to do so."

Last weekend's Indian Grand Prix triggered fresh speculation that the relationship was on the rocks after track operations manager Alan Permane was heard swearing at the Finn as he told him to get out of team mate Romain Grosjean's way.   Continued...

Lotus F1 Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland drives during the first practice session of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi November 1, 2013. REUTERS/Steve Crisp