Lacklustre Räikkönen to remain at Ferrari
The troubled team recognise they have far more pressing concerns to attend to than driver form
Kimi Räikkönen’s disappointing performance since his eagerly anticipated return to Ferrari has led to speculation that he could be dropped at the end of 2014, a year before the end of his contract. However, F1 Racing understands that as things stand, Ferrari has no intention of dispensing with his services this season.
Räikkönen’s form has been extremely disappointing. As F1 Racing went to press, he had yet to beat Fernando Alonso in a race and has, more often than not, been way off his pace. But Ferrari have accepted that Räikkönen needs the car to behave in a certain way to be able to deliver at his best, and they understand that this has not been the case with the F14 T.
More importantly, they realise they have far bigger problems than their drivers, having embarked on a programme of reform that will reorganise the team from top to bottom. There also remains, the problem of Alonso’s long-term commitment to Ferrari – something that was a signficant infuencing factor in signing Räikkönen in the first place.
If Alonso leaves for McLaren, either at the end of this season or next, Ferrari cannot afford not to have a recognised talent in the team. Räikkönen, however, has no intention of throwing in the towel. He has made it clear he will see out his current contract, which will probably be his last in F1. And his manager Steve Robertson has been disseminating the same information behind the scenes.
So does this mean one or two more years at Ferrari for Räikkönen? His contract, signed in September 2013 to start in 2014, was for two years, with an option for 2016. But there is doubt as to which side that option lies.
Some sources believe it is entirely Räikkönen’s decision whether to stay for 2016. This seems unlikely, but cannot be ruled out. If it is Ferrari’s choice, and Räikkönen’s form continues to be as lacklustre as it has been this season, it seems unlikely the team will keep him on.
But if Alonso leaves, they may have no choice – unless they can action what is believed to be a long-term understanding with Sebastian Vettel that he will join them when he leaves Red Bull. If they still want Vettel, that is…
Is a Vettel/ Räikkönen Ferrari pairing on the cards if Alonso leaves for McLaren?