Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen will forgo the final two races of the season with Team Lotus and undergo back surgery, according to Turun Sanomat via Sky Sports.
Raikkonen’s back surgery is scheduled for next week. The 34-year-old legend will miss the Grand Prix of the United States and the Grand Prix of Brazil to close the 2013 season.
He currently sits in third place on the overall standings table, but has no chance of winning with championship leader Sebastian Vettel holding a commanding 130-point lead over second-place driver Fernando Alonso. Raikkonen finished third overall in 2012 and currently sits in third for 2013, though he will likely fall for failing to participate in the final races.
According to Andrew Benson of BBC, Raikkonen has already been fitted for his seat and car with his new Ferrari Team and looked to have the surgery now in order to be ready for the start of the 2014 campaign.
While there will inevitably be some backlash against the veteran for leaving the Lotus seat early, Raikkonen's manager, Steve Robertson, told Turun Sanomat, “In an ideal world it would have been nice to finish the season with Lotus. However, due to the severe pain that Kimi is having, sadly it is not possible.”
The former 2007 Formula One champion has enjoyed a great season—amassing seven podium finishes and a victory in the opening race of the season (Australia)—but will be moving back to the manufacturer where he found his most success.
Raikkonen’s previous title came with Team Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, and he will look to capture that same success with his new team in 2014.
While the sport will miss the veteran in the last two races, a healthy and focused Raikkonen next year is good news for the fans and bad news for Vettel and the rest of the competition.