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Lotus apologize to Raikkonen for wrong strategy

Second-placed Lotus Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland attends a post-race news conference after the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the
Second-placed Lotus Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland attends a post-race news conference after the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the

LONDON (Reuters) - Lotus have apologized to Kimi Raikkonen for an incorrect strategy call that denied the Finn a likely podium finish in Sunday's British Grand Prix.

Team principal Eric Boullier, who is facing a tug-of-war with Red Bull for the 2007 world champion's services next year, recognized in a preview for this week's German Grand Prix that the team had got it wrong.

"Our strategy was great until the last safety car. We should have called Kimi in to save at least one position and make the podium. Unfortunately we made the wrong call for which we apologized to Kimi and to the team," said Boullier.

"It was pretty obvious with hindsight that we made the wrong call. No team can say they make the correct call on every occasion, whether in race strategy, car design philosophy or any other aspect of the sport," continued the Frenchman.

"Kimi was pretty frustrated when he got out of the car which is understandable - we wouldn't want a driver who wasn't frustrated after what happened - but there's no point sitting in the corner sulking; we're focused on getting a good result in Germany."

Raikkonen finished fifth at Silverstone but could have finished higher had the team called him in for fresh medium tires when the safety car was deployed 11 laps from the end rather than keeping him out on hard tires.

Boullier was sure the former Ferrari and McLaren driver would not let a single incident influence his career decision and remained hopeful Lotus could convince him he was better off with them.

"One of his psychological strengths is that he clearly lets you know when he's upset about something, then he refocuses and gets on with the next challenge very quickly," said the team principal.

"He seems to like being with the Lotus F1 Team and we're doing everything we can to show him this is the place to be for next season and beyond."

On the plus side, Raikkonen set a record of 25 consecutive points finishes - although the 'Iceman' dismissed that in characteristic fashion.

"It makes no difference to the championship so I'm really not interested in that," said the Finn who has promised to reveal his radical new haircut - kept hidden under a cap and his helmet at Silverstone - if he gets on the podium at the Nuerburgring.

Raikkonen has raced 16 times in Germany but has yet to win there in Formula One.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin editing by Tony Jimenez)

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