Only two seasons after his championship-winning year, Kimi Raikkonen was forced to take a sabbatical from F1 because of money issues.
The 2007 world champion was announced to be replaced by Fernando Alonso before the 2010 season, even though the Finnish race driver had a year left in his contract.
Ferrari then decided to pay Raikkonen around $10 million in 2010 to buy him out of the contract, provided he gets another F1 seat. Otherwise, he would have earned $17 million if he opted to miss out on the season.
Not thinking about an extra seven million, Raikkonen sought opportunities in other F1 teams. McLaren was the primary candidate, as they also wanted to have an ideal teammate for Lewis Hamilton, offering him only $5 million.
This offer by the Woking-based team infuriated Raikkonen’s management. His manager said that the extra money by Ferrari for 2010 was additional money and shouldn’t be paired with his yearly wages.
Raikkonen had offers from other teams, including former team Toyota. But the Finnish race driver opted to stall until he found out what was really happening with McLaren.
‘The Iceman’ ~ Kimi Raikkonen 💙 pic.twitter.com/vN19xtpjyg
— The Megs⁹⁹ met antonio 🍂 (@megslou99) May 11, 2022
In the end, McLaren decided to offer 2009 world champion Jenson Button a contract. The Briton reportedly took home a yearly wage of $6 million. In the end, the Iceman preferred to take a hiatus from F1, which indeed disappointed several F1 fans.
Kimi Raikkonen return to F1 and yet another money problem
In 2012, Raikkonen returned to F1 with Lotus. He finished the season at P3 on the drivers’ standings. Meanwhile, in 2013 he was fifth in the standings.
The Iceman overperformed in that Lotus. His performances were so brilliant that they left the team bankrupt. In his contract, over his base salary, for every race point, he was supposed to get €50,000.
Undoubtedly, the bosses at Lotus didn’t expect Raikkonen to amass mad numbers. But the Finnish got up two race wins and 15 podiums in his two seasons with them.
In terms of dollars and cents, these points translated to a whopping €19.5 million- a figure which doesn’t include his base salary. Because of these payment issues, Raikkonen decided to return to Ferrari in 2014, where he spent the following five years.