Gerard Lopez, the head of Lotus
' team owner Genii, might be among the cynics after news broke that Kimi Raikkonen
will sit out the rest of the season. The Finnish driver and his management say Raikkonen must undergo back surgery to end a run of worsening pain and ensure he is ready to return fighting fit for the start of his Ferrari
return in 2014.
The cynics, however, might wonder if the timing of the surgery is related to Raikkonen's pay dispute with the financially-struggling Lotus outfit. The timing is also interesting, given the fact Ferrari is locked in a battle with Lotus in the lucrative constructors' world championship with just two races to go.
"Primarily this is about Raikkonen's health, and I wish him a speedy recovery," Lopez told the German newspaper Die Welt. "But the operation comes at a very unfortunate and unsuitable time for Lotus. And I also know what sport we are in," he added, in an obvious reference to the sceptics' doubts.
Lopez's frustration is perhaps understandable, given that despite Lotus having one of the very fastest cars on the grid, every headline is focused on the team's money problems. "Again and again I read these negative headlines," he said, "while no one seems to care that we decided to save a company and about 500 employees.
"Of course we know that formula one is not a charitable organisation, but there are huge differences in how the teams are financially supported by formula one. It is not about the other (top) teams managing to get more investment, but the fact that they simply get more money," argued Lopez. "And not because they are better, but because they are apparently more important. We begin our 100 metre race at the 200 metre point," he added, "and still we make it to the podium." (GMM)