Sunday 19 November 2017

Formula One: Raikkonen in line for shock return to Ferrari

Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen
Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen

Tom Cary

Ferrari are expected to announce the identity of their second driver for next season imminently, with Kimi Raikkonen now heavily tipped to make a sensational return to his former team.

Rumours were rife at the Italian Grand Prix over the weekend that the Finn, a world champion with Ferrari in 2007, had already agreed a deal with the Scuderia, and those rumours began to snowball yesterday.

Ferrari insist that no final decision has yet been taken but their president, Luca di Montezemolo, said on Saturday that there was nothing precluding them from hiring a driver who left in awkward circumstances at the end of 2009, when Ferrari opted to buy him out of the final year of his contract in order to make way for Fernando Alonso.

Di Montezemolo suggested that Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg was still in contention, while Felipe Massa could yet be handed another season. Both men had strong weekends in Monza but the Brazilian's chances in particular are thought to be minimal, with Ferrari wanting a new face in the car.

Raikkonen is now understood to be the Italian team's preferred choice but Lotus are still desperately hoping that they may be able to convince him to stay.

The 33-year-old has said repeatedly that he would be happy to do so if Lotus can give him certain technical and financial assurances, thought to centre around commercial partnerships and increased backing from Renault.

Another rumour has Alonso making a switch with Raikkonen and taking his Santander backing to Lotus, while it has also been speculated that his potential availability might be the reason McLaren are waiting so long to take up their option on Jenson Button. It is not called the silly season for nothing. © Daily Telegraph, London)

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