Kimi signs Ferrari deal - reports UPDATE #8 Kimi Raikkonen has fended off fresh speculation that his switch to Ferrari in 2007 is now signed and sealed.
Germany's 'Bild' newspaper reported this week that the presently McLaren-driving Finn will earn $150 million over the next five years at Maranello, complementing reports that Michael Schumacher has penned a new $91.2 million deal to stay in red until the end of 2008.
26-year-old Raikkonen, however, denied the latest gossip, which now includes reports that his managerial team may have visited the Toyota HQ in Cologne.
''I have not signed a new contract with anybody,'' Kimi said, '(and) this Ferrari thing is written again and again, but there is nothing new (to report).''
Indeed, according to the 'Sport1.de' publication in Germany, Kimi might have baulked at news that Schumacher - with a definite 'number one' clause in his existing Ferrari contract - is eyeing a new deal.
Kimi reportedly said: ''I will not play second fiddle to anyone.''03/14/06 German media reports that Kimi Raikkonen's move from McLaren-Mercedes to Ferrari in the new year has been finalized.
Bild newspaper quotes an unnamed "McLaren insider" as saying that the Finn has made up his mind -- in favor of Ferrari.
If other rumors can be believed, it looks like it will be a powerful Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen lineup at Ferrari in 2007. Schumacher's manager Willi Weber said at the Bahrain Grand Prix that although the timetable had not changed, he had made an arrangement to discuss the issue with Ferrari about Schumacher's re-signing with the Scuderia.
"There will be no announcements before summer. But it is clear that positive results, like the one in Bahrain, will have a positive effect on any discussions," he told Bild.
In Bahrain, McLaren boss Ron Dennis admitted in that Raikkonen could be departing from the silver team at year's end.03/03/06 Kimi Raikkonen has feebly countered near-overwhelming speculation that his pen has now sealed his switch to Ferrari in 2007.
"If Kimi or Juan Montoya thinks their future is best served by driving for another team that's what they should do," he said. "But it's a two way street: if we think our future is best served by contracting another driver for next year, that's what we'll do."
After Finnish, Spanish and German sources concurred this week that the McLaren driver is sure to leave Woking based McLaren at the end of the year after signing a contract, a sound bite reportedly attributed to the taciturn Finn has now cropped up in the 'Ilta-Sanomat' newspaper.
Raikkonen, 26, apparently said: ''I'm not a Ferrari driver -- not yet.''
More vehemently, however, he also denied gossip that where he ends up will depend on Michael Schumacher's mid-year decision about his own career at Ferrari.
''What Schumacher does has no influence on my future,'' Kimi reportedly added. 03/02/06 (GMMf1NET) The sports press in Finland are adamant that Kimi Raikkonen will wear red next year.
Newspapers 'IS Urheilu', 'IS Veikkaaja' and 'Ilta Sanomat' carried headlines this week insisting that the 26-year-old Finnish McLaren driver has now signed a contract to switch to Ferrari in 2007.
Furthermore, Fernando Alonso's former manager Adrian Campos has told Spanish radio 'Cadena SER' that he is certain of Raikkonen's McLaren exit.
''Kimi will not be Fernando's teammate next year,'' Campos said, ''that's absolutely for sure.''
Even the German press is getting involved with the Raikkonen saga. Cologne based 'Express' quoted an unnamed Ferrari engineer as also confirming that Raikkonen is Maranello-bound.
He said: ''Ferrari could now publish the (2007) contract with Kimi, but we do not want to make the error that McLaren made (with Fernando Alonso) of announcing it too early.''
Michael Schumacher's manager, meanwhile, explained that his charge would not be 'afraid' of Raikkonen should the Finn arrive in red.
''Michael has always been able to beat his teammate,'' Willi Weber said.
But, asked about Kimi's speculated switch, the 63-year-old German manager told Stuttgarter Zeitung: ''I don't know anything about it.''02/02/06 Bernie Ecclestone has only fuelled speculation that Kimi Raikkonen's future is red.
As gossip reigns that the Finn will leave McLaren at the end of the year, Ecclestone - the F1 supremo - was asked by German magazine 'Sport Bild' what he thought of the prospect of Kimi in a Ferrari.
''He would be an absolute superstar,'' said the 75-year-old.01/22/06 McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen will not necessarily switch teams at the end of 2006.
That is the insistence of Mercedes' F1 chief Norbert Haug, who played down speculation that Ferrari or Toyota are more likely future employers for the star Finn.
''Just because we have got (Fernando) Alonso for 2007,'' Germany's Haug told the 'Stuttgarter Zeitung' newspaper, ''it does not mean that Kimi is moving to another team.''
Even Norbert Haug, however, is stirred by the thought of an all-new driver pairing at Woking based McLaren -- world champion Alonso and seven time title winner Michael Schumacher.
Ferrari's Schumacher recently left a one per cent window open that he could move teams at the end of his 2006 deal.
Haug admitted that the Schumacher-Alonso combination would be one that 'many wish for', but denied that the team was actively trying to sew up the deal.
''In this direction there are no discussions and no intentions,'' he insisted.”01/05/06 According to a report in this week’s Autosport magazine, besides Ferrari there is another unnamed team also in the hunt to sign Kimi Raikkonen, the UK magazine quoting an unnamed source close to Kimi.
"There have been talks with Ferrari, yes, and it is an option to consider. Kimi wouldn't deny that. But nothing is in ink or decided. At the moment Kimi wants to keep his options open,” the source was quoted as saying. "Other teams have made a huge point of expressing an interest as well – two in particular – so it's a case of making sure that Kimi has all the bases covered in the event that he does not stay at McLaren. At the point in time he is staying."
However, while the money being offered is definitely a strong lure, at this stage it seems as if the one with the best chance for the championship will get his services.
"It is important to ensure that he's properly paid but Kimi's ambition is the win the world championship and that has to be the key factor in any decision about the future."12/26/05 While Kimi Raikkonen might have the offers of McLaren, Renault, BMW and now Toyota on his table, the signs are still pointing to a done Ferrari deal for 2007.
Significantly, the Maranello team's president did not deny that an agreement with the Finnish driver had been struck, when asked how Raikkonen's renowned off-track lifestyle would fit in Italy.
''There are no night clubs here in Maranello,'' Luca di Montezemolo said at the team Christmas Party, ''and (Jean) Todt would keep him in check about the drinking.
''There wouldn't be a problem.''
So why, if the Kimi-Ferrari deal is struck, hasn't the team - in Alonso-McLaren style - already let the world know?
Montezemolo insisted: ''Everything should come at the right time. To announce today he will race for us in 2007 would go against nature.''12/26/05 Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo got in a shot at possible future Ferrari racer Kimi Raikkonen when he made light of his wild side and how it would be taken care of if he were to join the Scuderia. "There are no night clubs here in Maranello and Todt would keep him in check about the drinking," said the Ferrari boss.