The team said simply: “Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has reached an agreement with Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn will join Fernando Alonso in the driver line-up for the next two racing seasons.”
It’s believed that it is a ‘one plus one’ deal, with the second being an option.
It became apparent over the Italian GP weekend that a return to Maranello was becoming increasingly likely for the Finn, and by Sunday night team sources confirmed to this writer that the deal was indeed happening.
Last night Ferrari allowed Felipe Massa to break the news that he was leaving after he’d been told that his tenure with the team had finally come to an end.
The news means that Ferrari has an awesome line-up of two World Champions as the team prepares for what will be a difficult first season with the new breed of turbo powertrains, when experience will clearly count for a lot.
As noted here yesterday Nico Hulkenberg had long been the preferred choice, and a contract was apparently ready to be signed, but after the Hungarian GP the team switched its focus to Raikkonen. In August Red Bull in turn lost interest in Kimi, leaving Ferrari as his only realistic alternative to Lotus.
Ferrari was in contact with Kimi last year about replacing Massa for 2013. Given that Lotus was behind with his payments, he could have walked away from his contract, but he chose to stay loyal.
This time around his decision to move on has been swayed by the ongoing financial squeeze at Lotus, and presumably the team has not been able to give him any guarantees that the situation will improve. His faith in his current team was also damaged by the departure of James Allison to Ferrari.
Allison meanwhile would have been able to give the Italian team a good insight into Raikkonen’s current form, and what he brought to Lotus.
He’s also being reunited with Pat Fry, with whom he worked during his McLaren career.Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Formula 1, Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus