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Indian Grand Prix: Lotus drivers fall out after clash

Kimi Raikkonen hasn't always had the smoothest of relations with the Lotus pit wall during past races, but on Sunday in India the situation broke out into open hostility between team and driver.
Kimi Raikkonen's been famously curt with the over-helpful Lotus pit wall in the past, but communications broke down altogether on Sunday at the Indian Grand Prix after the Finn's determination to hold on to a podium position at all costs sparked an all-out verbal war between the driver and his team.

Raikkonen was trying to stretch a one-stop strategy into a podium position when he came under pressure from his team mate Romain Grosjean, who was on tyres five laps younger than his own and therefore faster in the closing stages of the race.

But Raikkonen was insistent on holding on to the position, even forcing his team mate clear off the track at one point in his efforts to cling on - and encounter that could have resulted in a disastrous accident for both cars, and which was plainly enough for the Lotus pit wall.

"Kimi, get out of the f***ing way," warned an unidentified member of the Lotus crew, after Raikkonen refused to give way.

"Don't f***ing shout at me," shot back Raikkonen, as the radio communication broke up - probably fortuitously - to prevent the war of words building further.

Raikkonen finally yielded the position and Grosjean got by, and the Finn's tyres continued to degrade to such an extent that he was forced to pit on the penultimate lap, dropping him down to seventh place by the finish - although he consoled himself a little by claiming the fastest laptime on his new set of tyres.

"It was a little disappointing, to be honest. He knew his tyres were finished and there was no need to have a battle," Lotus' trackside operations director Alan Permane told Sky Sports F1 afterwards. "Romain was racing hard and I'm sure we'll have a chat in the office about it."

"We could have lost two cars," complained Grosjean. He was asked what he thought had sparked the spat, and replied: "No idea. Ask him, though I'm not sure he'd answer ... Honestly, I don't know. It's not my problem. I overtook him and thankfully we did not lose any points."

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier took a more conciliatory stance in his post-race comments: "It was a bit of a misunderstanding because Kimi didn't expect Romain to be so fast and we then had to cool them down on the radio," he said. "When you have ten laps to go, you never know how much your laps might go."

Raikkonen didn't hang around for post-race interviews, but subsequently calmly explained in the team's post-race press release that his Grand Prix had been badly compromised early in the race by overheating issues that had wrecked his hopes of making the second set of tyres make it to the finish of the race.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
26.10.2013- Qualifying: Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E21
26.10.2013- Qualifying: Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E21
27.10.2013- Drivers parade: Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E21
27.10.2013- Podium: Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E21 (3rd position)
27.10.2013- Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E21
27.10.2013- Race: Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E21
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October 27, 2013 5:24 PM

maybe the team should have pitted kimi when they saw him losing over a second per lap in the last quarter of the race. romain had fresher tyres for the race due to the strategic blunder in qualifying, they would have known that there should have been little defence from raikkonen on tyres that had done over three quarters race distance. they almost appeared have been favouring romain to pay him back for their fowl up the previous day

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