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Raikkonen opted to leave Lotus over payment dispute

Lotus Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland speaks during a news conference ahead of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix September 19, 2013.
Lotus Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland speaks during a news conference ahead of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix September 19, 2013.

By John O'Brien

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Kimi Raikkonen made the decision to rejoin Ferrari next season after Lotus failed to pay his salary, the Finn admitting he would still fulfill his duties over the final seven races of his contract because he "loved to race".

Last week, the 33-year-old agreed to replace Felipe Massa as Fernando Alonso's team mate at Ferrari, setting up a formidable partnership of former world champions at the prestigious Italian outfit where he won the title in 2007.

"I like to race," the Finn told reporters at the Singapore Grand Prix on Thursday when asked why he was seeing out the last seven races of the season despite not being paid.

"That's the only reason why I am here. It doesn't matter which team it is but the reason I left Lotus was purely on the money side. It's an unfortunate thing but I want to help the team as much as I can and as I just told you, I like to race."

The Finn suggested that had Lotus matched his demands he may not have left but was happy with the decision now that it had been finalized.

"There were a lot of things they could have done to keep me and they know what it is," he added.

"It's hard to say which way I would have gone had that happened but the deal is done now and I am very happy."

ALONSO RELATIONSHIP

Having two high-profile drivers in one team has often led to problems in the past and when news of Raikkonen's move back to Ferrari filtered through the paddock, a number of his rivals were quick to pour scorn on the prospect of a harmonious union.

Raikkonen, however, believes that age and experience will be a key factor in making his relationship with Alonso a good one.

"I can see plenty of reasons why it will work. We are old enough to know what we are doing and the team is working to make sure everything is fine," he said.

"If there is a problem then we can talk it through. I may be wrong but I am pretty sure things will be okay."

Raikkonen ended his first spell at Ferrari in 2009 with some reports it was an acrimonious departure, a view not shared by the Finn.

"I always had freedom (at Ferrari). Don't always believe what you read. We had a great time and I am sure I will have a great time again," Raikkonen said.

"I know the team but obviously some new people have joined since I left but it is virtually still the same. So I don't think it will be too difficult to go there.

"The cars will be different and that will be the biggest challenge to get them running reliably, and who ever makes the best car will make the best out of it."

(Editing by Alison Wildey)

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