Kimi set for Ferrari return
Kimi Raikkonen (Getty Images)
Berlin - Kimi Raikkonen has signed a contract at Ferrari and his 2014 return to the Italian Formula One team as partner of Fernando Alonso, Germany's Sport Bild weekly said on its website Tuesday.
Sport Bild said it has learned that Raikkonen put pen to paper shortly before midnight Monday to take the place of Brazilian Felipe Massa in a move away from Lotus. The report said the deal was to be made official later in the week.
Neither Ferrari nor Raikkonen have confirmed a deal but there has been mounting speculation that it is imminent.
Autosport.com said Monday Raikkonen would decide within 48 hours while the BBC said Raikkonen "is on the verge of being confirmed as a Ferrari driver."
The Finn Raikkonen drove for Ferrari from 2007 and until 2009. His 2007 world title is the last for Ferrari to date. Raikkonen was paid off in 2009 to make way for Alonso's arrival, and returned to F1 racing in 2012 at Lotus after two years in rally events.
Raikkonen is currently fourth in the championship, 88 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. His contract at Lotus expires after the season, with no full assurances of competitiveness in 2014 and outstanding payments believed to be reasons for him to leave.
Ferrari expect Raikkonen to be more consistent than Massa and to push Alonso, who has been critical of Ferrari's efforts a few times lately, to new heights in what would be a fierce rivalry within the team. Massa has been at Ferrari since 2006.
"Ferrari chose Raikkonen because it doesn't count on Alonso," Italy's Corriere della Sera paper said Tuesday.