By opting to have back surgery this coming Thursday, instead of 12 days later after the season ends, Kimi Raikkonen has given the finger to the Lotus F1 Team and created an opening for the F1 driver dominos to begin.
It's not as if Raikkonen couldn't have waited. According to his manager, the recovery period for the surgery is approximately four weeks. But there's more to it than that. Lotus hasn't been paying him and although, reportedly, this had all been straightened out last week, it's getting so you can't believe a word about anything that people in F1 say any more.
If, in fact, back pay had been delivered to Kimi's bank account and assurances given that everything would be current at season's end, why the rush for the surgery? Yes, if it would require a convalescence of two or three months, there would be no time to waste. But four weeks?
More likely, it's all B-S. More likely, Lotus remains as broke as it was when it wasn't paying his salary and will probably never be in a financial position to settle accounts with him. So Kimi opted for the knife, rather than make Lotus look good at the final two races of the year at Austin, Tex., next weekend and at Brazil a week later.
By taking his leave early, of course, this opens up a seat at Lotus for a big-paying driver and, although it might very well be coincidence, I find it amusing and curious that McLaren has suddenly turned sour on Sergio Perez and his Mexican millions.
Whether there is a tie-in or not, the stories are already circulating that raw rookie Kevin Magnussen (Jan's kid) is being considered for a seat at McLaren next season.
What this means is that there will be lots to report on the driver front in the next two weeks. Kimi Raikkonen's decision to sit out the last two races of the year is just the first of several pennies to drop.
Whether it was because of orders from the Canadian Grand Prix organizers themselves, or sub-contractors anxious to get on with the job, but whatever: there sure seemed to be a rush last June 9 to wind up the F1 race in Montreal before it was even over.
This was the day that marshal Mark Robinson was killed while helping to remove a car from the side of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve shortly after the race received the checkered flag.
But even before the race was half over, construction workers were disassembling portions of the infrastructure. For instance, a pass gate separating the paddock from the suites grandstands was dismantled while the race was going on. Even portions of the grandstands themselves were being taken apart.
And as the photo with this column shows, there were still race cars on the circuit when a crane was dispatched to remove the car left on the side of the track by Sauber driver Eseteban Gutierrez.
Rush, rush, rush. And Robinson, 38, an experienced race marshal and acknowledged F1 "fanatic," paid for this haste with his life.
This past week, Quebec's workplace health and safety board released a report of its investigation into the circumstances of Robinson's death and concluded that any safety training conducted had not been sufficient and that the method of operation to remove the abandoned race car was dangerous.
The crane was moving too quickly (11 km/h), the board ruled, and the car was hanging too high off the ground. Nobody should have been in front of the crane, the board found, although Robinson and another worker were ahead of it in order to stabilize the car as it was being taken back to the pit area.
At some point, Robinson tripped and was run over by the crane. He was taken to the track's medical facility and then to hospital in downtown Montreal where he was pronounced dead.
"The method ... is dangerous," said the report. "Safety management is inadequate, especially with regard to risk identification, assessment of track workers' skills and education and training of forklift drivers."
According to a report in the Montreal Gazette, the safety board concluded that Groupe de course Octane inc. and Automobile Club de l'Ise Notre-Dame compromised the safety of workers and a fine of between $15,000 and $154,000 will be levied.
Organizers of the Grand Prix say they will implement the safety recommendations the board has put forth, specifically that mobile cranes not be used to remove race cars.
Said promoter Francois Dumontier to a CTV News reporter: "We did that operation probably 100 times over the years, going to get a car on track with safety and nothing happened."
They say nothing's over till it's over but I think that unless complete and total disaster takes place at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Sunday, it's safe to say that when the final checkered flag has flown, Jimmie Johnson will have won his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in the last eight years.
The only problem is that "Six Time" just doesn't have the same ring as "Five Time," which - when said with a drawl - sounds like "Prime Time" and if anybody is Prime Time in NASCAR these days, it's Johnson.
Johnson went into Sunday's AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway leading Matt Kenseth by seven points and Kevin Harvick by 40. When the race ended, with Harvick the winner and Johnson third, Harvick had closed the gap by an amazing six points.
See what I mean when I say it would take a miracle for anybody to beat Johnson? As it is, if Johnson finishes 23rd or better in south Florida next Sunday, he'll be the champion regardless of how Kenseth (who finished 23rd Sunday and is now 28 points behind the leader) or Harvick finishes.
Between Harvick (who inherited the lead when Carl Edwards ran out of gas on the last lap) and Johnson was Kasey Kahne. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fourth and Kurt Busch fifth. Positions sixth through tenth: Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Ryan Newman.
Harvick himself ran out of fuel during the race and that's what gave Edwards the lead. Edwards finished 21st after he ran out.
Speaking of Kyle Busch, he won the Nationwide Series race on Saturday.
NOTES: I say this just about every year now. I can't understand why NASCAR continues to allow drivers to cut the corner between turns two and three at Phoenix International Raceway. . . Daniel Ricciardo says Kimi Raikkonen isn't the only F1 driver who hasn't been paid this year. He wouldn't be specific but suggested that the Grand Prix Drivers Association, which has discussed this, knows of at least one other. . .
- NORRIS McDONALD