Ferrari to announce Raikkonen on Wednesday (13th Update) UPDATE #13 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's news.
09/10/13 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.
Felipe Massa announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he will no longer be a Formula One driver for Ferrari next year.
"From 2014 I will no longer be driving for Ferrari," said Massa on his official @Felipe1Massa account.
"Right now I want to push as hard as possible with Ferrari for the remaining seven races," Massa said. "For next year, I want to find a team that can give me a competitive car to win many more races and challenge for the Championship which remains my greatest objective!" 09/08/13 Finnish F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen will reportedly leave Lotus at the end of the season and return to Scuderia Ferrari," according to Pohl & Uhl of BILD. Ferrari President LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLO has decided on Raikkonen as Fernando Alonso's new teammate. During Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, the two sides "reportedly reached a breakthrough in negotiations."
Raikkonen won the 2007 drivers' title with Ferrari.
Current Ferrari driver Felipe Massa will reportedly be informed about his removal on Wednesday." Massa has been driving for Ferrari since '06, but has not won a race since '08. Former F1 world champion Niki Lauda said, "Kimi would also be my personal choice. He immediately helps the team forward." BILD
(GMM) Rumors were swirling in the Monza paddock on Sunday, and the buzzword was 'Wednesday'.
|Raikkonen (R) to replace Alonso (L) at Ferrari if Alonso goes to Red Bull to replace Webber. Or will Raikkonen replace Massa?|
The big talking point was whether Kimi Raikkonen in fact agreed a 2014 deal to rejoin Ferrari next year on the Wednesday of last week, or whether the Italian team will announce it formally on the coming Wednesday.
Perhaps both are true. Perhaps neither.
Felipe Massa will be hoping the latter is true, but he admitted on Sunday that a cloud does hang over his formula one future.
"We're still discussing it," he said of his talks with Ferrari about next year.
"This race was important, not only for the contract with Ferrari but to show other teams what I'm able to do," Massa, who finished fourth on Sunday, told the BBC.
Another driver hoping Ferrari's 2014 deliberations involve him is Nico Hulkenberg, who had a sensational weekend at Monza for struggling Ferrari-powered Sauber -- qualifying third and finishing fifth.
On the possibility of joining Ferrari, the German said: "It's definitely something I wouldn't deny which I'm definitely interested in -- it's a no-brainer.
"There has been lots of talk but at some point the talking has to stop and the decisions will be made," added Hulkenberg.08/25/13 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today. As a weekend of fever-pitch speculation nears an end, the Finnish driver's manager Steve Robertson has now clearly denied rumors Raikkonen has inked a Ferrari contract. "It's a load of rubbish," he told the broadcaster MTV3. "We are in the same place as we were a month ago in Hungary -- we do not have an agreement," Robertson insisted.
08/22/13 Germany's Sport Bild even reports that Raikkonen recently admitted to friends during an alcohol-fuelled night out in Helsinki that he will be wearing red again in 2014.
Reporting about the Helsinki party, the German broadcaster RTL suggested Ferrari has put a EUR 11 million contract on the table, including bonuses and sponsorship of his motocross team.
As ever in the 'silly season', though, there are conflicting reports.
Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat is now quoting Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson as saying the driver actually wants to stay at Lotus in 2014.
"Kimi likes it at Lotus," said Robertson. "But we are waiting for information on certain issues that are still outstanding.
"About Kimi's future, the ball is in Lotus' court."
And the German newspaper Welt reports that talks between Ferrari and Nico Hulkenberg, about replacing the Brazilian Felipe Massa, have now kicked off.08/21/13 Kimi Raikkonen will commit to a fresh deal at Lotus if the team provides him with the assurances he is seeking about its future.
After a wave of speculation this week linking the Finn with Ferrari in the wake of talks with Red Bull coming to an end, it is emerging that Raikkonen's priority is indeed to stay put for 2014. The former world champion is relishing his place at the team and the way it is working for him, but wants to know it can keep its current status as one of the top teams.
Rather than be actively chasing a move to Ferrari as some have suggested, Raikkonen is in fact waiting on Lotus to deliver him the guarantees he wants about its future financial and technical platforms. If the team can do that, then Raikkonen will agree to a fresh deal.
Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson said Lotus was well aware of the situation, and knows what it needs to do in order to retain the Finn.
"Lotus holds the key to Raikkonen's future," Robertson told AUTOSPORT. "If the team can provide him with the answers he is seeking, which will ensure he has a car that can fight for race wins and the championship, then he will stay." Racer.com08/20/13 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen's manager is not ruling out a return to Ferrari for the 2007 world champion.
On Monday, Steve Robertson admitted talks with Red Bull about Raikkonen replacing the Le Mans-bound Mark Webber had been "unsuccessful".
But the 33-year-old Finn, who currently drives for Lotus, has also been linked with a return to Ferrari, despite the Italian team having replaced him with Fernando Alonso with a year to run on his contract at the end of 2009.
Asked if Ferrari is an option, manager Robertson told the BBC: "Until they confirm their seats, my job is to speak to all the teams and see what's available."
Robertson also told Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper on Monday that Raikkonen has more than one alternative to Lotus for 2014.
"I'm not worried," he said, "because we have other options -- plural."
Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio said Red Bull's Christian Horner and Christian Horner pushed hard to sign Raikkonen, but Dr Helmut Marko ultimately got his way.
Marko reportedly convinced team owner Dietrich Mateschitz that Red Bull should take young Australian Daniel Ricciardo, because it better balances the lineup alongside the likely reigning quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Ricciardo's signing also proves the worth of the Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso, and gives the next rising youngster, Antonio Felix da Costa, his 2014 debut.
Meanwhile, a post on Twitter by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso might be seen as a return of fire, after Luca di Montezemolo publicly criticized the Spaniard's outbursts in the wake of the recent Hungarian grand prix.
Reverting to the wisdom of the Samurai, Alonso said: "The warrior that uses the sword when insulted cannot be considered brave.
"Brave man does not flinch, because he has higher goals."08/19/13 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen's manager on Monday confirmed reports the 2007 world champion is no longer in the race to move to Red Bull in 2014.
Earlier, amid reports Daniel Ricciardo has been signed to replace the Le Mans-bound Mark Webber, Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko insisted he is "not nervous" Ferrari seems to have won the race for Raikkonen's services next year.
"I'm not nervous," the Austrian told Bild newspaper. "Don't forget that we still have Vettel."
Speaking to Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat on Monday, Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson admitted the current Lotus driver is not moving to Red Bull.
"The negotiations with Red Bull were not successful and ended some time ago," he is quoted as saying.
Robertson did not mention whether Raikkonen would stay at Lotus in 2014 or return to Ferrari, but he admitted it is 99.9 per cent sure the 33-year-old will still be on the grid next year.08/15/13 (GMM) Ferrari has repeated its denial, as reports Kimi Raikkonen could return to the Italian team in 2014 persist.
Two weeks ago, when the Raikkonen rumors first emerged, a Ferrari spokesman insisted the Maranello outfit "has no interest in the driver market right now".
Now, the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat claims the 2007 world champion has decided to accept Ferrari's offer.
And Ferrari has issued a near-identical denial.
"Right now," the spokesman told the BBC, "we're really not giving any thought to the driver market situation."
Interestingly, however, Ferrari seemed to rule out the reported scenario that, if Raikkonen does arrive, it could be to replace the Red Bull-bound Fernando Alonso.
"Drivers are not a problem for us," said the spokesman, "even if we were to change Felipe (Massa)."
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport points out that Raikkonen's management could see the Ferrari rumor as mere leverage amid the more realistic talks about 2014 with Lotus and Red Bull.
"It is important for Raikkonen to keep a third option open," said correspondent Michael Schmidt.08/14/13 (GMM) 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen has decided to return to Ferrari next year, the major Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat has reported this week.
The Finn, whose two-year rallying sabbatical began after Ferrari ended his contract and signed Fernando Alonso for 2010, had been more strongly linked with a move from Lotus to Red Bull.
Ilta-Sanomat said its report was based on the information of its "sources".
The newspaper added that Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz is keen to sign Ferrari's current number 1 Fernando Alonso for 2014, despite the Spaniard's long contract.
Many in the paddock, however, see the prospect of Alonso's pairing with reigning multiple world champion Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull as highly unlikely.
"I was surprised by these (media) reports," admitted Daniel Juncadella, a young Spanish driver who is being linked with a future at the Williams team.
"It's quite hard to believe," he told Russia's Championat. "Of course he would have a very good chance to become world champion again if he was at Red Bull -- but we'll see."08/01/13 (GMM) Ferrari has dismissed as "fantasy" reports a lucrative 2014 offer has been made to former team driver Kimi Raikkonen.
Those reports had followed suggestions the Maranello based team might lose its current number 1 driver, Spaniard Fernando Alonso, to Red Bull.
But Ferrari's communications boss Renato Bisignani told Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo the rumors are "the typical fantasy in this period of rumors".
"There is not the slightest foundation," he insisted. "We are united in this moment of loss of competitiveness and confident in the return to better ways."
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, however, reports that Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson was spotted entering Ferrari's motor home in Hungary.
Bisignani added: "For the German journalists who called us about the (Raikkonen) news, we officially deny it."
A Ferrari spokesman was quoted elsewhere as insisting rumors about Ferrari quite often turn out to be completely untrue.
"For all those with short memories," he is quoted by DPA news agency, "only a year ago everyone came up with a list of drivers who would replace Felipe (Massa)."
Meanwhile, Bisignani played down any suggestion its running at Magny Cours this week might be compared to Mercedes' highly-controversial 'test-gate' test.
"We have been testing for two days with our 2011 car and the Pirelli demonstration tires," he confirmed.
"The FIA was informed in advance of all the details, and (Ferrari) meets the requirements to be able to do it."
He added that the main goal of the test was to collect "data for several new programs of the simulator".07/31/13 (GMM) Ferrari on Wednesday played down reports it has made a lucrative offer to sign Kimi Raikkonen for 2014.
As Lotus and Red Bull tussle over the Finn's services, and amid wild rumors Ferrari number 1 Fernando Alonso is toying with a switch to Red Bull, the Raikkonen-to-Ferrari story was broken earlier by the German newspaper Bild.
A Ferrari spokesman told the German news agency DPA the team "has no interest in the driver market right now".
But with Felipe Massa's contract expiring, that might not be true. Indeed, the German magazine Sport Bild said Ferrari never lost contact with 33-year-old Raikkonen, who won the title with the Maranello marque in 2007.
Raikkonen's deal was ended a year early late in 2009, when Alonso arrived with crucial Santander backing. But Sport Bild says Raikkonen always maintained a good relationship with team boss Stefano Domenicali.
"I could very well imagine Kimi back at Ferrari," former driver and German-language Sky commentator Marc Surer said.
He said he doubts Raikkonen has ruled out Ferrari as an option simply because the team ended his tenure prematurely in 2009.
"At that time it was because of Alonso's sponsor that Kimi had to go," said Surer.
So as many muse the possibility of Raikkonen returning to Ferrari, others think a sensational switch from the Italian team to Red Bull for Alonso is also conceivable.
"The way I see it," grand prix legend Gerhard Berger said, "Alonso must react.
"He has been waiting (at Ferrari) over three years now for the title. Each time, Red Bull beating him. So he has to try to drive for them in 2014," added Berger, who is close to Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
"With the brilliant designer Adrian Newey, at least they (Red Bull) give him the guarantee to have a winning car."
But even Berger, a former Ferrari driver, acknowledged that Alonso will only be able to leave if there are "escape clauses" in his 2016 contract.
Surer, however, thinks Red Bull pairing Alonso with reigning triple world champion Sebastian Vettel would be a big mistake.
"If that happens, Kimi in the Ferrari is world champion," he said. "It would be like 2007, when Alonso and Lewis Hamilton fought so much (at McLaren) that Raikkonen had the last laugh even with an inferior car.
"So I doubt Red Bull would create a war like that."07/31/13 (GMM) The 2014 driver 'silly season' has taken yet another shock twist.
Germany's Bild newspaper claims Kimi Raikkonen, already wanted by Lotus next year and also in the running to switch to Red Bull, is now a contender to drive a Ferrari in 2014.
Raikkonen, who drove for the great Italian marque for three years and even won the title in 2007, left Ferrari one year early at the end of 2009 when the team replaced him with Fernando Alonso.
Alonso, however, although under contract through 2016, has been linked with a shock move to Red Bull, while Brazilian Felipe Massa's deal ends at the end of the current season.
Bild correspondents Nicola Pohl and Helmut Uhl report that Ferrari "has made the Finn an offer".
They claim the offer, "more lucrative" than what is being promised by Red Bull, was made to the 33-year-old on the Thursday before the Hungarian grand prix.
Bild says Red Bull's offer is a $15 million retainer, performance bonuses, and sponsorship of his motocross team.
The Raikkonen rumor could tie in with reports of a developing rift between Alonso and Ferrari, after president Luca di Montezemolo "tweaked his ear" after the Spaniard made disparaging comments in Hungary.
But a spokesman denied talk of a rift.
"The president is 100 per cent with Alonso," a Ferrari spokesman told Manuel Franco, the correspondent for Spanish sports newspaper AS.
"Montezemolo is the first one to support the call of our driver to improve, as soon as possible, the competitiveness of the car," he added.