Elementary…

Kimi Raikkonen c/o James Moy Photography

Kimi Raikkonen
c/o James Moy Photography

There’s a lot more to this Kimi Vs Lotus debacle than meets the eye. Actually, let me rephrase that. There’s a lot less to this Kimi Vs Lotus debacle than meets the eye.

OK, so here are the facts.

Kimi hasn’t been paid. Kimi is off to Ferrari. Kimi’s patience was tested by a frantic radio message from the team in India, made out of exasperation at him not heeding team orders to let his team-mate through, who was faster at that point in the race but critical on engine. Kimi had serious words with the team after the race. Kimi failed to turn up in the Abu Dhabi paddock today.

All would seem to be deeply unwell with the relationship, and there is no doubt that there are serious strains between the Finn and the team which brought him back to F1 just under two years ago. The relationship may be at breaking point. Kimi may have been on the verge of deciding not to race in Abu Dhabi this weekend. Kimi may yet fail to see out the season with Lotus.

But Kimi was not in the paddock today because he had never had any intention of being. And this decision was taken long before he was told to get out of the effing way.

On Sunday morning in India a few colleagues and I had a coffee and a croissant at Lotus hospitality and were chewing the fat with someone at the team whose job it is to know where the drivers are and what they are doing. We were talking about travel plans to the next race and when we would all be getting to the UAE. Romain was getting there early and would be doing a bit of PR work in the week. And Kimi? Kimi was going back home to Switzerland. He would be flying to Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“On Thursday?” we asked, “Isn’t that a bit late… for media and stuff?”

“Well yes, but it wouldn’t be the first time he’d missed it, would it?”

This was Sunday morning. In India.

So why was Lotus making media notifications that included interview slots for the Finn when he would either be at the airport or in the sky? Why was no notification given to the media that these interviews were not going to take place?

Perhaps this team member had got things wrong. But I doubt that as he had no reason to tell us false travel plans, and would have been well within the loop of who was going to be where and when.

Perhaps Kimi changed his travel plans late in the day to arrive in time for media sessions but then thought better of it and switched them back again. But that seems like an awful lot of hassle for a man famous for not being a massive fan of hassle.

Davide Valsecchi, the man Lotus would rely upon to stand in for Raikkonen if he fails to race this weekend, entered the paddock precisely at 15:00 today. That is precisely the time when Raikkonen was due to be in media interviews. Every other driver, be they reserve pilot or world champion, had long since been in the paddock. So why the precise timing of 15:00?

To me this entire thing smacks of the creative PR for which Lotus has marked itself out. It smells like a team trying to keep a headline going, trying to keep the wheels on a story that keeps them top of the twitter trending tree.

Social media is a critical tool for Lotus. Some are fans of the way they go about it. Others not. Sources tell me that after the Indian Grand Prix and the manner in which the team spoke to Raikkonen, the team’s social media pages took a hammering both from comments and depleting numbers of followers or fans. The team’s hasty apology to Raikkonen midweek seemed to have been an attempt not to curry favour with their driver, but simply to stem the flow of social media fans away from their pages.

Pages which, if we are honest, will heamorrhage fans when Kimi moves to Ferrari anyway, and the Finn’s ardent supporters go with him.

What was it Arthur Conan Doyle wrote to come from the mouth of Sherlock Holmes? “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Something like that, I seem to recall.

While there is no impossibility in the factors around Kimi’s travel plans having changed since Sunday, I for one do not buy the explanation. Because as I understand it this is the way it was always supposed to be.

As such, the only truth I can garner from anything today is that while Kimi and Lotus’ relationship is strained, and while there is a chance he won’t see out the season, today has got absolutely nothing to do with it.

He was never supposed to be here. The fact that he isn’t, simply isn’t a story.

Image discovered via @jamesmoy twitter feed.  Source unknown.

Image discovered via @jamesmoy twitter feed.
Source unknown.

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21 thoughts on “Elementary…

  1. Thanks Will. Finally a bit of sense is talked.
    Lotus’ clever social media strategy got painted into a corner by a swearing ex-mechanic in India. Hundreds of rather superficially-informed fans took umbrage. They’d bought the goody-2-shoes team image and Permane put paid to the picture. When you tread the PR line online with goofy graphics, don’t be surprised at a backlash from the uninformed.
    Kimi just wants to get on with driving cars. Somewhere else, the motives are less Clear.

  2. Spot on and it’s a pity that a team apparently so good at manipulating the media to make themselves look good, were unable even with the pulling power of Raikkonen to find a title sponsor. Their recent attacks on Raikkonen make them look very small minded, petty and unprofessional. Desperate measures in desperate times it may be, but whilst they are just looking desperate the Iceman retains his class and integrity.

  3. i think we all know Kimi enough. He is one no nonsense person, a raw racer and as he said last year in Abu Dhabi “Leave me alone, i know what i am doing”. Media should not spend their entire time only speculating and fueling non existent fire and focus on giving us real updates. Very well reported Will! Cheers!!
    Can we have your take on Fernando-Ferrari situation…i was standing about 5 feet away from him at the Indian GP when he made these comments but i felt that those were just him being transparent with the interest that other teams have in him. his and Ferrari’s relationship seemed very strong.

  4. Well said Will! I was wondering what was going on! Kimi is Kimi, and I absoutely adore that about him. Anyway, take care, enjoy Abu Dhabi, Austin, and Sao Paulo, and here’s hoping you come back to Indy for the 500 qualifying! :D

  5. How odd that Lotus didn’t seem to understand that Kimi is more popular than Lotus. If you get in a pissing match with someone like that, you’re going to lose no matter what.

  6. eh,eh; Will said, “effing”. But seriously, more great reporting, Will. I’m not sure where else we would find this type of reporting. Also, I am glad that you continue to get face as well as voice time. Early this season, I wasn’t sure you were even at the race.

  7. Well that puts a different slant on things doesn’t it, read Vettels words today about Raikkonen being straightforward and honest, an opinion not universally shared, but pretty widely so, blunt maybe, but at least honest, which presently seems to be more than you can say about the Lotus PR machine.

  8. Just wondering, how many people out there would turn up for work if you hadn’t been paid in full, or on-time? If indeed this is true about Kimi’s wage situation! It might have novething to do with it but, Lotus don;t really have a leg to stand on with all this shenanigans going on.

    And another interesting topic to ponder. Kimi is the outlier to all of his peers, who seem so pathalogically scared to step out of line, say something that might not be in line with the values of their sponsors or – goodness forbid – be photographed having a good time. Yet, Kimi is the driver who’s popularity continues to surge upwards. There’s a message in there, somewhere :)

  9. Will, you should write blogs more often, when the time is there, lol. Makes complete sense. We are all human, but since Kimi is leaving the team, i’m sure they are doing everything they can to make sure that Lotus stays at the top of trending twitter and any other social media. I will admit that I will be making the move to Ferrari, but I will also keep an eye on Romain, he’s getting better. The boyfriend got introduced me to Kimi and Felipe and then I stuck with that team until the comeback. I just can’t believe they said on the radio, but then again, you never know what Kimi will say either. Can’t wait till Austin when I am in the stands in Turn 11 once again. Maybe this time I will run into to you!

  10. I will be glad when all these Kimi/Lotus bandwagon fans go when he leaves…. I’ve been a Benetton/Renault/Lotus fan for over ten years and always will be, regardless of who is in the cars.

  11. Kimi drives a car well. That’s all. Yet so many seem charmed by the thought that he’d readily spit or pee on them if they said hello to him while crossing paths on the street. Pathetic.

  12. All over the Internet there is kick-back against anyone thinking Lotus is not being fair. And as for TV coverage, NBC should be ashamed (aside from the stupidity of switching Quali to CNBC).
    I take exception at the argument that us supporters of Kimi were unfair to employees at Lotus who have no one championing their non-payment plight (if it exists).
    1. Is there any evidence they also were not paid?
    2. Does Kimi know that? Do anyone have proof if he does?
    3. Why is Lotus being defended by anyone (especially Steve M.) when no one has sight of contracts, they do not know if Boullier or Permaine have been paid their money, etc. etc. If the ONLY thing we know for sure is as reported everywhere that Bouillier admits they are behind in Kimi’s payment, that is the only fact that matters that people can comment on.
    4. If it turns out that employees were also stiffed, someone tell us why… and how did the employees pay their mortgages, etc.?
    I smell a rat in the spin doctoring messages that Lotus are nice guys. If all they are doing is not paying Kimi (so far) that’s bad enough, but I wonder if the problem was much worse. If so, they are lucky ANYONE showed up for work.

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