Lotus F1 Team now finds itself with a vacant seat after Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari announced earlier today that they have signed a multi-year agreement for the Finn to race at the Scuderia.
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier took this into account, and the team never made it a secret that it was working on a backup plan in the case Raikkonen decided to leave. It is however still a disappointment for the Frenchman.
"Of course this is a disappointment to all of us, and we’re sure you will agree that Kimi has been nothing but brilliant since he joined us.", he said. "In the same breath, Enstone has once again proven its pedigree; providing him with two great cars and making his return to Formula 1 a success. It’s been a win-win situation right from the beginning."
"Two years ago, when we decided to sign him, quite a few people thought we were crazy. And what happened in the end? We’ve been working with an amazing racer, who scored points for the team 27 times in a row, won two races, put motivation at a very high level at Enstone, and got on very well with his team-mate. Now, it’s time to think about the future. You know, we remain a medium-sized team and there are some areas in which we’re not in a position to fight against the other top teams just yet. We've had Schumacher, Alonso, Räikkönen. New champions will join the list here soon I'm sure."
Even though the Finn is still racing for the Enstone based team for 7 more races, the Frenchman took some time to look back, and found Raikkonen's first race win with Lotus a highpoint for their relationship.
"If I had to pick one top moment, I would say that it has to be his first win with us in Abu Dhabi last year. After the long period of slowly building ourselves up and fighting at the top end of the grid, it was really a well deserved reward. To see Kimi on the top step of the podium for our team will be a memory that never leaves me."
Boullier finally also noted that the team is currently in discussion with "a few people", and that a decision will be made shortly.
"We are in the privileged position of being the most desirable team on the grid with a seat available, so we are therefore in no rush to announce anyone without establishing what will be the best for our team and the future."