Kimi Raikkonen will not race any further in 2013 for Lotus F1, according to the driver's personal manager Steve Robertson quoted by Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat
on Sunday morning.
According to the report, Raikkonen is to have surgery to address the serious back problems originally stemming from an old racing accident that flared up again in September and nearly forced the 34-year-old out of the Singapore Grand Prix.
The back surgery will take place this Thursday in Salzburg, and will leave Raikkonen out of action for at least four weeks of recuperation before he can start physical rehabilitation to prepare him for the 2014 season when he moves to Ferrari
to partner Fernando Alonso.
That means Raikkonen will not be able to participate in the final two Grand Prix events this year at Austin in Texas, US and Sao Paulo in Brazil. It will almost certainly cost him third place in the drivers championship where he currently has 183 points, only eight more than Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton
in fourth with Red Bull's Mark Webber
and Hamilton's team mate Nico Rosberg
also within reach of overhauling the Finn in the final two races.
's report about Raikkonen stepping down from race duty for the remainder of 2013 was subsequently carried internationally by Reuters
. BBC Sport
received confirmation from Lotus F1 team boss Eric Boullier who said that he had learned of the situation only on Saturday evening, while Autosport
also confirmed the story after speaking directly with Robertson who told the magazine that Raikkonen had pulled out "due to the severe pain." The driver has not been able to sleep in recent days without strong painkillers, Robertson revealed.
However the decision to call time on his 2013 season also comes immediately after a major public falling-out between Raikkonen and Lotus over unpaid wages for the season. Raikkonen said in Abu Dhabi that unless he reached an agreement and started receiving some of the back pay he was owed, he would not race again for the team.
It had appeared that the two parties had made progress in negotiations over the race weekend at Yas Marina and had reached an understanding to allow them to see out the remainder of the season together. Raikkonen was even quoted in the team's PR releases in the last few days as saying how much he was looking forward to returning to Austin for next weekend's penultimate Grand Prix of the year.
"After going there for the first time last year - like everyone - I'm particularly looking forward to this one," he had said. "I like the American atmosphere, it's just a relaxed environment. They know how to have fun, and most of all they love racing." Raikkonen added he'd selected to stick with the shorter wheel-base model of the E21 for the event.
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier told the media at the end of last week that "He [Raikkonen] is completely on side."
Boullier also insisted that: "We all spoke in Abu Dhabi to make sure we know where we're going – and how we're getting there – for the final races of the year. Our focus is first on a good performance in Austin, and then the focus becomes getting a good result in Brazil."