Kimi Raikkonen’s Outrageous Pay Incentive Almost Bankrupted Lotus

When Kimi Raikkonen returned to Formula 1, no one quite knew what to expect. After his shortlived departure in 2009, the Iceman tried his hand at rallying, then NASCAR, before signing a two-year contract with Lotus in 2012. Expectations were soon shattered, and as it so happens, the Finnish talent’s stellar performance almost cost Lotus far more than they had anticipated.

According to journalist Heikki Kulta, Raikkonen had negotiated an insanely lucrative pay incentive of €50,000 per point. This was, of course, agreed upon as no one expected him to perform so well. But perform well he did – in 2012 and 2013, Raikkonen secured 15 podiums, 2 race wins… and collected 390 points. In terms of dollars and cents, these points translated to a whopping €19.5 million. And keep in mind this was on top of his base salary.

Kimi Raikkonen Lotus

“Team boss Gérard Lopéz certainly did not expect such a result and the deal he had made to pay €50,000 per point almost led to bankruptcy, the points bonus alone guaranteeing Raikkonen €19.5 million.”



As detailed in the book The Real Kimi Raikkonen – a Finnish perspective of the Iceman written by Kulta, Kimi Raikkonen is still owed around €6 million. Ever the graceful champion, he considered the wider implications of Lotus folding, and never pursued the matter to ensure no one lost their job. Though I’m guessing it also had something to do with the fact he was doing just fine without another €6 million.

“It is hardly an exaggeration to say that Raikkonen is the most honest driver that has ever taken part in Formula 1,” writes Kulta.

Shortly after, Kimi Raikkonen would part ways with Lotus to sign with Ferrari, where he spent the next five seasons but only secured a single race win during the 2018 US Grand Prix.