Ferrari retain Raikkonen for 2016

2015-08-19 18:01
Kimi Raikkonen (AFP)

London - Ferrari's Formula One driver line-up will remain unchanged next season after the Italian glamour team ended speculation surrounding Kimi Raikkonen's future by confirming him for another year on Wednesday.

"Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen," the team said in a short statement ahead of this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

"The driver line-up next season will still consist of the Finnish driver and Sebastian Vettel."

Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion who returned to Ferrari in 2014, was out of contract at the end of this year although Ferrari had an option on his services and he had made clear he wanted to stay.

Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene had been keeping his options open, however, about one of the sport's highest paid drivers.

Had the 35-year-old Finn been ousted from a seat coveted by most of his rivals, it would have triggered a driver merry-go-round.

There has been mounting speculation for weeks about who might replace the 'Iceman' alongside four-times world champion Vettel, who moved from Red Bull at the end of last year and has already won two races for Ferrari.

Raikkonen's compatriot Valtteri Bottas, currently with Williams, had been considered a frontrunner after impressive performances for the former champions although his form has faded recently.

Speculation in the Finnish and Italian media has suggested Bottas has an agreement with Ferrari for 2017 if not next season.

Italy's Corriere dello Sport newspaper last month claimed Ferrari had agreed to pay Williams some 12 million for releasing Bottas early from an option on his contract so he could drive for them next year.

That is clearly not the case, and Bottas is likely to remain at Williams for at least another year.

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo are other names to have been linked to Ferrari in media speculation.

Raikkonen, eclipsed by Spaniard Fernando Alonso at Ferrari last year, has been outperformed by Vettel in 2015 with the German scoring 160 points to the Finn's 76.

The Finn, who can now look forward to his sixth year at Maranello after first joining from McLaren in 2007 and then being dropped at the end of 2009, has made just one podium appearance so far this year - a second place in Bahrain.

Read more on:    ferrari  |  kimi raikkonen  |  f1

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