Raikkonen confirms return ticket to Ferrari as Massa seeks new drive
Kimi Raikkonen is looking forward to renewing old acquaintances, after his return to Ferrari on a two-year deal was finally confirmed.
Raikkonen, who will leave Lotus to join Ferrari as the replacement for Felipe Massa next season, won the 2007 world championship during his first stint with the Italian team but left just two years later after apparently growing disillusioned with the sport.
Two indifferent years in rallying re-ignited his passion for Formula One, and he has impressed since returning at the start of 2012, winning two races and finishing third in the drivers' championship last season.
"I'm really happy to be returning to Maranello," Raikkonen said. "I have so many memories of my time at Ferrari, memories which have stayed with me these past years, first and foremost, winning the world championship title in 2007, which was really unforgettable," he added.
A Gift Voucher for a 2 hour SUP lesson on any of our programmed dates between April and September 2014. £19.50 for 1 person or £33 for 2 people with this voucher
Terms: Voucher must be present at point of sale. Standard MBC T's & C's apply please see our website for details
Contact: 01752 404567
Valid until: Tuesday, December 24 2013
The move pairs the Finn with two-times world champion Fernando Alonso in what will arguably be the strongest driver line-up on the grid. "I can't wait to be driving a Prancing Horse car again and to reacquaint myself with so many people with whom I had such close links, as well as working with Fernando, whom I consider a great driver, in order to bring the team the success it deserves," Raikkonen added.
Raikkonen contested 52 grands prix for Ferrari between 2007 and 2009, winning on nine occasions. Six of those victories came in his first season as he beat McLaren duo Alonso and Lewis Hamilton to the world title by a single point.
However, he failed to replicate his 2007 performances in the two seasons that followed and negotiated a release from his contract a year early at the end of 2009, with the Italy-based team bringing in Alonso as his replacement.
After returning to the sport with Lotus, Raikkonen finished in the points in 19 of his first 20 races – including a win in Abu Dhabi – as he finished the 2012 season in third place in the drivers' standings.
He began his 2013 campaign with victory in Australia, and has finished in second place five times in 11 races since.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali welcomed the return of Raikkonen, who remains the only man other than Michael Schumacher to win the drivers' title for the team since 1979. "I'm delighted to welcome back to Kimi in the Scuderia with whom he was crowned world champion," Domenicali said.
Raikkonen saw off the challenge of both Massa and Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg to land one of the most coveted seats in F1 and is sure to prove a thorn in the side of Alonso, who has enjoyed undisputed number one status alongside Massa since joining the team.
Alonso left McLaren after just one season after becoming frustrated with having to share number-one driver status with then-rookie Hamilton, and how the Spaniard copes with Raikkonen's arrival will be closely scrutinised next year.
Alonso did at least have warm words for Raikkonen, saying: "I'd like to welcome my new travelling companion. Together, starting next year, we will have to tackle a very demanding technical and racing challenge."
Ferrari's decision to part with Massa brings to an end with the Brazilian's eight-year stint driving for the team, during which time he lost out on the 2008 world title by a single point.
Massa, who has made 184 starts for Ferrari – winning 11 times – has indicated he is keen to continue in F1 next season, and has been touted as a possible replacement for Raikkonen at Lotus.