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Risking Your Life … for Free

November 1st, 2013 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Motor racing, UAE

This was the sports story of the day, here in Abu Dhabi.

Kimi Raikkonen, former Formula One world champion, defending champion of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix … showed up a day late at the track here in the UAE today and dropped a bombshell.

He said he has not been paid by his team, Lotus, all season.

So, basically, Lotus is asking him to go out there and risk his life … for no money.

We might never have known this, but for an episode at the Indian Grand Prix last week.

Raikkonen, who already has announced he will drive for Ferrari next year, was asked by his team to move over and let his teammate, Romain Grosjean, pass him.

Kimi is not bashful about letting people know how he feels, and the Lotus request apparently was met with a string of obscenities.

Which comes as no surprise in Abu Dhabi, where Kimi dropped an F bomb or three while celebrating his victory here a year ago.

After the India blowup, the team issued an apology for his language, and the next obvious friction became apparent on Thursday, media day in the F1 world, when Kimi was nowhere to be found. One of only two drivers not available at the track. (The other, Nico Hulkenburg, begged off on account of illness.)

Then, earlier today, a Lotus official tried to downplay the problems between team and driver. Which was shown to be some primitive spin-doctoring when Raikkonen finally got to the track, had the fourth-best practice time, and came out and spoke.

As noted, he said Lotus had not paid him all year, and he also said he had not decided if he would drive for the team in the final two races, in Texas and Brazil.

Anyway, it makes you wonder about F1.

Its fans will tell you, reflexively, that it is “the highest form of racing in the world” blah, blah, blah, but it is a sport where apparently something approaching half the drivers have bought their seats — by bringing his own sponsors to the table — or the driver just doesn’t get paid, which is Raikkonen’s situation.

Think about it. A former world champion, a winner this season and last, and he is expected to work for free?

Doesn’t happen among any of the serious Nascar teams, I’m sure.


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