Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus will miss the final two rounds of the Formula One season in Austin, Texas and Sao Paolo, Brazil due to back surgery. It has been confirmed today that the Finn will undergo surgery on his back after a tough battle with a recurring injury that reared its head during the Singapore Grand Prix.
This surgery is taking place to ensure that Raikkonen’s preparations for 2014 at Ferrari are not compromised, even if it means doing so to the 2013 campaign. With tensions at an all-time high between Raikkonen and Lotus, that decision probably wasn’t very difficult.
Raikkonen’s absence has prompted the conspiracy theorists to suggest he is completely fed up with the team and his pay issues despite an agreement that was made on Sunday in Abu Dhabi last weekend. Team management and Kimi were in long talks about how to resolve the Finn’s pay delays and finally came to a preliminary agreement in Abu Dhabi that would ensure Raikkonen’s participation for the rest of the season.
With Raikkonen out, the team will quickly have to figure out who his replacement will be. The obvious choice is Davide Valsecchi, the 2012 GP2 champion and Lotus reserve driver. The Italian already has experience in the E21 chassis after participating in a day of preseason testing when Raikkonen was ill.
This development also seriously dents the team’s ambitions towards second place in the constructors’ championship, a position formerly thought of as attainable due to the team’s run of impressive finishes in the last four races. With Valsecchi potentially in the car with little experience, the team’s hopes for progress in the championship will take a blow.