Kimi Raikkonen: Ferrari retain Finn to partner Sebastian Vettel

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen returned for his second spell with Ferrari in 2014, having previously raced for the team between 2007 and 2009.

Ferrari have decided to retain Kimi Raikkonen as Sebastian Vettel's team-mate for the 2016 Formula 1 season.

The team had been considering whether to drop the 2007 world champion following concerns about his form and had explored other driver options.

But on Wednesday Ferrari said they had renewed their "technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen".

It means Valtteri Bottas, who had been of interest to Ferrari, is likely to stay with Williams.

"For me, to be able to stay another year at Ferrari means that the dream goes on," said Raikkonen.

"The Scuderia is my family, as I always said, it's here I want to end my career."

The Finn had been one of a number of drivers Ferrari had considered following concerns that Raikkonen's form, particularly in qualifying, had not been good enough.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg were also among the options appraised by the team.

Raikkonen at Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen is in his second spell at Ferrari, having initially raced for the team between 2007 and 2009, winning the championship in his first year
After two seasons away from Formula 1, Raikkonen returned to the sport in 2012 with Lotus, before rejoining Ferrari in 2014
The Finn has yet to win a race in his second spell with the team and has achieved just one podium in 19 races - second at this year's Bahrain GP in April

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said earlier this summer that Raikkonen's future was in his own hands - a clear message to the 35-year-old Finn to up his game.

Raikkonen started the season strongly but suffered a dip in form following the first four races of the year. As this followed a 2014 in which he was comprehensively out-performed by Vettel's predecessor Fernando Alonso, it caused disquiet within Ferrari.

But after high-profile errors in the Canadian and Austrian races in June, Raikkonen performed more strongly in the subsequent races in Britain and Hungary before the summer break that comes to an end with this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

That was enough for Ferrari to decide that retaining the Finn was their best option and take up the option they had to retain him as they focus on improving the team sufficiently to make a credible title challenge to Mercedes in 2016.

The decision was also influenced by the fact that Ricciardo signed a new four-year contract with Red Bull last winter and that Bottas was under option with Williams.

Trying to sign either driver would have cost Ferrari millions of pounds as a result of trying to negotiate a severance deal with their current employers.

Formula 1 standings
Drivers' championshipConstructors' championship
1. Lewis Hamilton 2021. Mercedes 383
2. Nico Rosberg 1812. Ferrari 236
3. Sebastian Vettel 1603. Williams 151
4. Valtteri Bottas 774. Red Bull 96
5. Kimi Raikkonen 765. Force India 39

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