Lotus F1 Team chairman Gerard Lopez has insisted that he maintains a good relationship with Kimi Raikkonen, amid speculation of problems after the Indian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen was reportedly unhappy at being sworn at over team radio during the race as he battled with team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Raikkonen will move to Ferrari next season but Lopez says that Raikkonen is still committed in the fight for second in the constructors’ championship.
“I speak with Kimi more than a lot of people probably realise and we rarely speak about Formula 1″, said Lopez.
“Of course, recently a lot was made about the comments between Alan Permane and Kimi during the course of a tense moment in a race, but this was just one exchange taking a matter of seconds in the course of a two-year relationship. It certainly wasn’t the most beneficial few seconds, but you have to step back and accept that everyone is passionate about racing and sometimes these things do happen.”
“From my perspective, Kimi is often misunderstood.”
“He’s actually a very talkative, very friendly guy. One of the unfortunate things about being in the limelight is that people are always trying to make it look like there are huge fights going on. For instance, we discussed the fact that Kimi was signing for Ferrari between the two of us and it was a very frank discussion.”
“It was factual, emotional at the same time and although it’s funny to say, he’s a very human human-being. The whole Iceman thing actually prevails on the track from where he is very cool-headed and a very good driver. In reality he’s a kind guy, he’s a very talkative guy and over the two years I’ve gained a friend in Formula 1 which is a difficult place to do so.”
Lopez admitted sadness at Raikkonen’s departure to Ferrari but says that Lotus is only in the fight for second courtesy of Raikkonen’s efforts.
“For a long time we had the opportunity to keep him in our hands, but we weren’t able to operate to the timeframe – or make the offer – that Ferrari were able to do.”
“For me this brought sadness, as it’s like prodigal son leaving us. When we signed him there was a lot of criticism and a lot of disbelief. There were some people who were saying that he still had it in him and that he was one of the best Formula 1 drivers out there, but at the same time there were many people who were saying that he couldn’t do it, that he was overweight, this, that and the other. But we believed in him and he delivered big time.”
“The only reason we’re fighting for second in the World Championship is because of all the points that Kimi has scored. We’re doing everything we can to ensure Kimi and the team can continue to fight right up to the chequered flag in Brazil.”