Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has apologised for the heated radio messages that were exchanged between the team and Kimi Raikkonen during the Indian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen was struggling on worn tyres and was told to “get out of the f***ing way” by one Lotus team member.
Raikkonen, who sent back a similarly angry reply, was battling with team-mate Romain Grosjean for third place, with Felipe Massa close behind.
Grosjean eventually finished the race in third, while Raikkonen was forced to pit for fresh tyres and came home in seventh.
“Romain was 2 seconds per lap faster than Kimi at that time, so it was not even a team order,” said Boullier.
“By asking Kimi to let Romain pass, we just made the obvious choice, as Massa could have stolen our podium. With hindsight, this radio message could have been sent in a less emotional way. There was a lot of tension, a lot of potential technical problems, and some of the words that flew around were simply not appropriate.”
“I know that quite a few people were surprised and I can only apologise for that on behalf of the team. It won’t happen again.”
Boullier conceded that Lotus was far from perfect in India but reckons that both Raikkonen and Grosjean performed brilliantly.
“We scored well, but it wasn’t a perfect performance as we messed up Romain’s qualifying and Kimi had a brake problem in the race,” he said.
“These are two areas we need to address, but on race day everyone performed brilliantly. Romain had a very strong drive and managed to conserve his tyre performance right to the end.”
“He was fast despite having to nurse his engine, and being on the podium was a good reward for the whole team. Obviously it was disappointing that the tyres couldn’t last long enough for Kimi, as being third and fourth would have been an amazing result for the team and very useful in the Constructors’ Championship, but he managed his car’s brakes well to take a solid points finish.”