Unpaid Formula One drivers have threatened to take evasive action with a strike if their financial issues go unresolved.
The report comes from German magazine Sport Bild, via motorsport.com, which claims there are several big-name racers who are waiting on overdue payments, including Kimi Raikkonen.
The Finn made the switch from Lotus to Ferrari at the start of the season, but he is reportedly still waiting for full payment for the 2013 season from Lotus.
Raikkonen scraped a point in the recent Bahrain Grand Prix with a 10th-place finish, but it was his manager, Steve Robertson, who made more of a stir as he was seen arguing with Lotus team boss Federico Gastaldi in the paddock, per the Sport Bild report.
The pair were rumoured to have clashed due to Robertson’s driver’s lack of payment, but the issue doesn’t stop at Raikkonen.
Sport Bild also claimed that Romain Grosjean, Adrian Sutil, Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Hulkenberg have unpaid wage issues, with the latter speaking to the magazine to voice his concerns:
The teams are aware of the situation—the driver can be easily replaced. Maybe not with the same quality, but they (the teams) do take advantage of that. They are not doing it (failing to pay drivers) for fun. The money just isn't there. The sport is too expensive.
A strike would leave the “expensive” sport in turmoil just three races into a season that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are dominating.
Hamilton picked up his second consecutive grand prix victory in Bahrain, as the Huffington Post reported:
However, as the report noted, the 29-year-old has reportedly refused to sign the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association’s document that threatens strike action if drivers continue to go unpaid, despite being one of the highest earners in F1.
Next up on the calendar is the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, where Hamilton will be chasing his third win in seven seasons and third overall at the venue to eclipse Fernando Alonso’s record of two grand prix victories there.
Alonso, together with the apparently out-of-pocket Raikkonen, is yet to record a podium finish for Ferrari this season and Sky F1's Ted Kravitz noted his frustration:
“He is more fed up than anyone that Ferrari are, once again, unable to deliver him a race-winning car."
For his partner Raikkonen, though, issues go deeper than just taking to podiums; and if his reported financial rift with Lotus continues, he can forget about taking to his car, let alone a podium.