RAIKKONEN EXTENDS HIS FERRARI DEAL
Finn’s contract is renewed at Silverstone but team struggles in the race
Ferrari bosses wanted to take pressure off Kimi Raikkonen by announcing his new contract for 2017 earlier than usual.
The Italian team usually waits until its home race at Monza to make driver announcements, but made the decision early to end speculation of who would be driving alongside Sebastian Vettel. A host of drivers, including Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas, had all been linked with the seat.
But Ferrari has decided to stick with the Finn for another year, despite his inconsistent form.
“We have two good drivers, that was not an issue for us,” said team boss Maurizio Arrivabene. “We remove all the pressure from the shoulders of Kimi.
“In the last two or three races, every time Kimi sat in a press conference, they asked about the contract. I know his nickname is the Iceman but he’s a human being.
“Even the Iceman is a human with emotion and I think he could feel the pressure.”
Raikkonen had claimed he had been driving the best in his career, prior to the announcement on Friday.
“I feel I drive as well as I’ve driven forever,” he said. “If I wouldn’t feel like I’m driving well, I’m the first one to go away and not do it, but it’s not that.
“If I wouldn’t be motivated, I would not be here wasting my own time or the team’s time.”
It was a difficult race for the Ferrari team, with Raikkonen struggling with a lack of downforce and Vettel hampered by a grid penalty for a gearbox change as they finished fifth and ninth.
“It has been a weak race for us,” said Vettel. “Today we seemed to lose a little bit compared to the people ahead.
“I’m pretty confident things will look different again in two weeks. This weekend was a step back for us in terms of competitiveness, not necessarily a step up for other people.”
Arrivabene added that the gearbox failures are a concern.
Vettel has now had three problems in the last two races with all of the issues thought to be different.
“It’s the third time we have this problem and it’s a concern,” said Arrivabene. “It’s something we need to solve as soon as possible.
“It’s early to give any specific news but I suspect that it is related to the material.”