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Monday November 4, 2013 MYT 3:07:01 AM
Monday November 4, 2013 MYT 3:07:09 AM
by alan baldwin
Lotus F1 Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland (C) meets fans before the third practice session of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on Yas Island, November 2, 2013. REUTERS/Caren Firouz
ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Lotus are confident Kimi Raikkonen will race in the last two grand prix of the season after new investors in the Formula One team promised on Sunday to more than compensate the driver for unpaid wages.
Mansoor Ijaz, chairman of a consortium of private investors buying a 35 percent stake in the team, told reporters at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that talks with the 2007 world champion's manager had prevented a potential walkout.
He said also that, once the long-awaited investment deal had been completed in the next few days, the team expected to sign Germany's Nico Hulkenberg as the Ferrari-bound Finn's replacement for 2014.
"I met with Kimi's manager last night, Steve Robertson...I've apologised to Steve, we've apologised to Kimi," said Ijaz.
"We intend to not only make sure that they (the unpaid wages) are made whole, and then some, we are intending to also compensate our employees and management team.
"I am confident that he (Raikkonen) will run the last two races and fulfil his professional obligations to us and us to him," added the U.S.-based businessman.
Raikkonen, who retired after a first lap collision in Abu Dhabi, made headlines before the race when he turned up a day late and told reporters he had considered not competing because of unpaid wages and other issues.
He also held out the possibility of boycotting the final rounds in Texas and Brazil.
The Finn is returning to Ferrari, the team with which he won his title in 2007, next season.
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier told reporters separately that the problems with his driver had been resolved but would not go into details.
"I cannot say anything about what has been agreed because this is confidential between both parties but it is all settled," he added.
Lotus, owned by Luxembourg-based Genii Capital, have been waiting for months for the new investment to be finalised and Boullier was cagey about when the deal would be finally done.
However Ijaz, whose consortium has changed its name from Infinity Racing Partners to Quantum Motorsports to avoid any confusion with Red Bull partners Infiniti, said it was definitely happening and had been completed from their side.
"We're going to clear off the debt, and then we're going to bring very high quality sponsors which you'll see very soon," he assured reporters.
"Those sponsors will give us the longevity and capacity to compete at the top end of the business for a long time.
"They (the team) are going to pay a lot of bills this week, let's put it that way. We've asked them to make sure things get paid as quickly as possible."
(Editing by Josh Reich)
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