Kimi Raikkonen will miss the last two races of the 2013 F1 season after a recurring back problem, that affected him in the Singapore Grand Prix earlier this year, required surgery.
The Finn was already in dispute with team Lotus after claiming the Enstone-based outfit had paid him ‘zero Euros’ for the duration of the season.
He joined Lotus in 2012 for his return to F1 after two seasons rallying in the WRC.
The news has set the rumour mill ablaze, with some suggesting the back injury is a convenient cover story for the real nature behind Kimi’s departure. In 2014, he will rejoin Ferrari with whom he claimed his one and only World Championship victory in 2007.
Davide Valsecchi, the team’s reserve driver, is widely tipped to step into the car to replace Raikkonen alongside Frenchman Romain Grosjean, but nothing has been confirmed with the US Grand Prix a mere week away.