Fer­rari will re­tain Räikkö­nen for 2016

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Sta­bil­ity is key at the Scud­e­ria as they fo­cus on their car

Kimi Räikkö­nen’s For­mula 1 ca­reer has been ex­tended by at least one more year af­ter Fer­rari de­cided to keep him along­side Se­bas­tian Vet­tel for the 2016 sea­son.

The de­ci­sion came af­ter lengthy de­lib­er­a­tion over whether they should drop him due to in­con­sis­tent per­for­mances. Fer­rari en­tered 2015 in­tend­ing to take up their op­tion on Räikkö­nen pro­vided he could re­cover his lost form af­ter a poor 2014 in which he was com­pre­hen­sively out­per­formed by team-mate Fer­nando Alonso.

The early signs this sea­son were good. Räikkö­nen, who nds it harder than Alonso to adapt to a car that does not suit him, has been much hap­pier with the han­dling of the 2015 Fer­rari. He per­formed strongly in the rst four races of the sea­son, nish­ing a close sec­ond to Lewis Hamil­ton in Bahrain.

Rocky per­for­mances in the next few races put his po­si­tion in doubt. His qual­i­fy­ing form dipped and there were er­rors in races, in­clud­ing a spin that cost him third place in Canada and a rst-lap col­li­sion with Alonso in Aus­tria. This prompted Fer­rari to is­sue a public warn­ing to Räikkö­nen to up his game, with chair­man Ser­gio Mar­chionne say­ing that Räikkö­nen’s fu­ture was “in his own hands”.

The team be­gan to con­sider Daniel Ric­cia­rdo as their pre­ferred re­place­ment. How­ever, ex­tract­ing Ric­cia­rdo from a Red Bull con­tract that runs to the end of 2018 would have proved pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive. Their sec­ond choice was Wil­liams racer Valt­teri Bot­tas. Like Ric­cia­rdo, he was un­der con­tract, but un­like Red Bull, Wil­liams were will­ing to sell. Fer­rari opened dis­cus­sions with Wil­liams, but it be­came ev­i­dent that free­ing up Bot­tas would cost over $10m. They then noted that 25-yearold Bot­tas was not per­form­ing as well against team-mate Felipe Massa as he had in 2014.

With Se­bas­tian Vet­tel mak­ing it clear he was happy with Räikkö­nen as a team-mate, Fer­rari de­cided sta­bil­ity was best at a time when their fo­cus is on im­prov­ing their car to a level where they can com­pete con­sis­tently with Mercedes.

Räikkö­nen said: “I’m very pleased that we can be work­ing to­gether next year again. I re­ally feel that we are go­ing in the right di­rec­tion and we can do great things in the fu­ture.”

Wil­liams are now al­most cer­tain to keep hold of Bot­tas and Massa for a third sea­son.

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