Kimi Raikkonen says Lotus's failure to pay his salary triggered decision to quit for Ferrari
Finn says Lotus knew what they needed to do to get him to stay
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 19/09/13 6:11pm
Kimi Raikkonen has revealed he decided to quit Lotus for Ferrari at the end of the season as "I haven't got my salary".
After months of frenzied speculation, the in-demand Raikkonen's plans for 2014 were finally confirmed last week when Ferrari announced the Finn would return to Maranello to partner Fernando Alonso.
Although Raikkonen as made no secret that he has enjoyed his time at Lotus since returning to F1 with them in 2012, the prospect of him leaving for a rival had appeared to increase after reports first emerged several months ago that the team had slipped behind in their payments to him - suggestions subsequently confirmed by both Raikkonen and the team themselves.
Lotus, however, remained adamant that Raikkonen could be convinced to sign an extended contract provided they assured him of their capability to continue fighting at the front of the field into next season.
But last week's news that the 2007 World Champion had agreed to return to Ferrari appeared to confirm that those assurances had not been given in time, and speaking for the first time in public about the reasons behind his decision in Thursday's Drivers' Press Conference in Singapore, Raikkonen pointed squarely to financial concerns for his impending move.
"I like to race, that's the only reason I am here," he said.
"But the reason I have left the team is purely from the money side. I haven't got my salary."
Raikkonen, who was believed to be seeking both financial and technical reassurances from Lotus, also made clear that the team's hierarchy had known what they needed to do to placate him.
"There was a lot of things and for sure they know what it is," Raikkonen added.
"It's hard to say which way it would have gone if that would have happened, but the deal [with Ferrari]'s done now and I'm very happy we've done a deal."
With his return to Ferrari after four years now duly sealed, the main talking point in the paddock has centered on how Raikkonen will work alongside fellow World Champion Fernando Alonso in the same team.
Next year will be the first time either driver has been team-mate to a fellow title winner, with Ferrari themselves having not adopted such a bold driver policy since 1953.
However, although some are already predicting potential fireworks between the 'A-list' pair, Raikkonen himself is confident he and Alonso can coexist harmoniously at Maranello.
"I don't see the reason why it wouldn't work. We are old enough to know what we are doing and the team is working for the right things to make sure," he insisted.
"If there is something I'm sure we can talk it through. It's not like we are 20-year-old guys anymore. I might be wrong, time will tell, but I'm pretty sure all things will be good.
"For sure, there will be hard fights on the race circuits, and sometimes things go wrong, but I'm sure we will be okay."
In characteristically laid-back fashion, Raikkonen also played down the notion that it might take him some time to reacclimatise at Ferrari, adding that he fully expected to perform well provided the team's all-new 2014 car and engine was competitive.
"I know the team, I know the people. Obviously there are some new people and some more have left since I was there," he acknowledged.
"I don't think it will be too difficult to go there and do well. The cars will be obviously different and so I think that's the most difficult thing, to get the cars right, and get them running reliably. Whoever makes the best car will probably make the best out of it."