Kimi Raikkonen will miss the rest of the 2013 season, Lotus announced on Sunday.
Some cynics were already expecting to hear that the Finn will not be in Austin or Brazil, following his pay dispute and deteriorating relationship with the Enstone based team.
But Lotus said the reason for Raikkonen's early exit is actually back surgery, after the 34-year-old suffered with pain throughout the recent Singapore grand prix.
His manager, Steve Robertson, told Turun Sanomat that Raikkonen will have the operation on Thursday in Salzburg.
"It is what the experts recommend," he said. Turun Sanomat said Raikkonen's problems flared up again in Abu Dhabi, where he could only sleep with the aid of painkillers.
"Kimi can not afford a further delay," Robertson, whose charge is switching to Ferrari over the winter, explained.
"It's incredibly important to get the problem under control now, so that in 2014 he can be healthy and fit to attack the season.
"It is obviously disappointing that the relationship with Lotus is ending this way after Kimi's return (to F1) over two successful seasons," he added.
It is expected that team reserve driver Davide Valsecchi will replace Raikkonen. Lotus said an announcement will be made "in due course".
Rosberg confident Mercedes can beat Red Bull in 2014
Nico Rosberg says he is confident Mercedes can end Red Bull's dominance ahead of the 2014 season.
At first glance, the German's prediction seems unlikely, given the way Sebastian Vettel is currently winning grands prix with a two-second per lap advantage.
"Well, I don't think it's two seconds faster," Rosberg is quoted by Brazil's Agencia Estado, "I think it's less than that.
"Ok, maybe it (the advantage) is that sometimes, but - either way - I'm not worried, because next year is a great opportunity where everyone will be put back to zero.
"Everybody starts from scratch," he added.
Actually, the claim that all teams will start 'from scratch' at the beginning of 2014 might not be completely accurate.
It is believed that, due to the complexity of the radical and all-new turbo V6 and 'power unit' regulations, one engine manufacturer might have a clear early advantage.
It is rumoured that engine marque could be Mercedes.
Reliability will also be crucially important.
"Whoever wants to win the 2014 title," Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali told Die Welt newspaper this week, "must have a reliable unit at the beginning of the season.
"Since fuel consumption will be limited, the engine must be powerful but still efficient," he added.
"The first races will be the most important next year," Domenicali claimed. "Whoever has the most wins at an early stage of the season will succeed in the end. I am convinced," he added.
Rosberg, meanwhile, said he is convinced Mercedes - who like Ferrari is the other engine rival for Renault-powered Red Bull - can do a good job ahead of the new era.
"Earlier this season, without the regulation change, we were sometimes the fastest car," he said.
"We did an amazing job last winter and I am confident we can do it again. Ok, this year we've had some weaknesses but we've learned from it.
"I am very sure we can have a good season," added Rosberg.
Ecclestone paid 'bribes' to F1 team bosses
Bernie Ecclestone's long reign at the top of formula one could end over an alleged multi-million 'bribe' paid to jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.
As the circumstances surrounding that payment are probed this week in London's high court, it emerged that more payments - which might also be described as 'bribes' - were paid by Ecclestone to well-known team bosses some years ago.
The court heard on Thursday that Eddie Jordan, now a BBC pundit, quadruple world champion Alain Prost, and the late Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw - all former F1 team owners - were each paid $10 million to sign the 1998 Concorde Agreement.
The money was reportedly paid straight from Ecclestone's Bambino family trust into the bosses' personal bank accounts, not to their respective F1 teams.
"They were paid to ensure that their teams did sign. Isn't that right?" the lawyer for German media company Constantin asked the F1 chief executive in court.
"Yes," Ecclestone agreed.
It also emerged on Thursday that, although Ecclestone claims he only paid Gribkowsky because he was threatening to tip off British tax authorities, Gribkowsky in fact felt physically threatened by the now 83-year-old.
Constantin's lawyer said Gribkowsky felt he was "under some sort of physical threat" from Ecclestone and had even consulted with Munich police.
Meanwhile, in another case of F1's past being dredged up in 2013, former Ferrari team manager Nigel Stepney this week claimed the Italian team knowingly cheated in order to win the opening grand prix of 2007.
The Briton, who was a leading figure in that year's infamous 'spygate' scandal, told Racecar Engineering that the car driven to victory by Kimi Raikkonen had an illegal moveable floor.
"I like to try to win on a fair basis but when I was there I disagreed with something that was going on within Ferrari," revealed Stepney, who now runs the sports car team JRM Racing.
Force India sent 'observer' to Red Bull test
Force India sent an observer to a 'filming day' conducted this week by world champions Red Bull.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Force India, the Silverstone based team, sent the observer because it suspects F1's dominant team may be exploiting a loophole in the strict testing ban.
Correspondent Michael Schmidt said that while teams are supposed to only run their cars for promotional and filming purposes, some teams including Force India suspect Red Bull might be testing new parts.
That suspicion was fuelled by the fact that, although ostensibly for filming, Red Bull usually runs all of its promotional test days at the same Rockingham circuit.
So Force India applied to be allowed to send an observer to Red Bull's latest Rockingham 'filming', which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
Another suspicion is that Red Bull, who this year took a big step forward in the second half of the season, might have found a way around the 'factory shutdown' period.
Dr Helmut Marko rubbished that suggestion, insisting: "If we were better after the summer break, it's because although the factory was closed, our brains were not."
- Interested in buying ? Visit our showroom for more information.