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Santander to pay for Raikkonen transfer to McLaren UPDATE #3 This is getting pretty interesting now - Button or Raikkonen at McLaren.  The likelihood of a return to McLaren for Kimi Raikkonen has stepped up a gear this week.

It is reported by ITV as well as the Evening Standard that the former Ferrari driver's managers met in recent days with McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh at the team's Woking headquarters.

The news is likely a blow to Jenson Button, because his negotiations for a bigger retainer at the Brawn team for 2009 were bolstered by McLaren's apparent interest in the new world champion.

Raikkonen, managed by father and son duo David and Steve Robertson, has also been at odds over money with his desired team for 2010.

"I've been racing for nine years in formula one now," the 30-year-old Finn wrote in his final blog for Ferrari.

"I still want to win races and titles, but I'll only stay in F1 if I can find a team that can guarantee me a car I can use to fight for victory.

"Let's see what will happen in the upcoming weeks," he added.

10/26/09 Apparently, Kimi's move to McLaren is not a sure thing, unless he can convince them that he wants to win, and not just get a fat paycheck. Kimi's motivation has been in question more than once in recent years. This was echoed in a masked stealthy statement by Mercedes-Benz’s head of motorsport Norbert Haug, who has given the clearest indication yet that McLaren is still looking for a second driver for 2010. Haug’s remarks, to Autosport magazine, are a big surprise as it was thought that Kimi Raikkonen had the drive and would not have left Ferrari without a solid contract for the future. Raikkonen will be paid in 2010 by Ferrari but he and his management appear to be rather greedy and want a lot of money as well as the Ferrari pay-off. It is clear from Haug’s remarks that the Finn is dreaming if he thinks he can dictate terms.

“Kimi is an option,” Haug said, “but there are lots of options around. One thing is for sure, though – guys who are out for money are not the right ones for us, whoever it may be. I won’t name anyone, but we want to have full commitment from someone who is success-oriented and not someone who is saying, ‘I am a big name, pay me a lot of money and I will drive for you’. The team has to be convinced that a driver is hungry, motivated, focused and that his first thought is not to get more money. We have shown our level of competitiveness – Lewis has scored race wins and podiums and beaten the guys that have been going for the title this year. It shows that we are going in the right direction; we have stabilized this year and we have a seat to offer in a race-winning car – there are probably three, four or five teams, maximum, that can offer that.”

The message in this is very simple. Raikkonen can forget it unless he is willing to bring down his price. The Finn has had a similar response from Toyota and if he and his management are not careful they may end up without any decent option for 2010. It is amazing that Kimi agreed to leave a solid contract at Ferrari and put himself on the market without a deal in his pocket. This will inevitably be interpreted as a further sign that Raikkonen does not really care about F1 and is simply cashing in – whether that is true or not.
10/08/09 McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said the Finn would be a good fit at the team if they "choose to go down that route."

"The answer is simple. We have not determined a driver line-up yet and we haven't set a timetable for doing so," he told the official F1 website. "We now have clarity about Ferrari's drivers and we know now that other drivers are available.

"We try and give Heikki every opportunity to do a good job, Heikki is a very committed driver and a lovely chap, and we would like him to get some good results over the rest of the season. We are focusing on that and are not announcing a driver line-up for the moment.

"We have not made a decision on timing. We will continue to review the situation and, once we know, we will announce it."

The odds are hedging in Raikkonen's favor, though, as Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug has said he would welcome the Finn back at McLaren. Haug added that he's confident McLaren could handle having two star drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Raikkonen, on the payroll.

This is a sentiment backed up by Whitmarsh, who reckons Raikkonen would be a good fit at McLaren, especially given his future desire to beat Ferrari.

"Kimi is a fantastic driver, and I like him and know him well. He was with the team for five years," Whitmarsh said.

"He is quick, he is committed and I think he probably would be very committed to beating Ferrari in the future - knowing him.

"All these are attractive things with Kimi. He is not political. He is absolutely straightforward - what you see is what you get with Kimi. And on top of that everyone knows that he is a winning driver.

"I think he has been underestimated technically. He is a very good racing driver and I think he would fit well in this team, if we choose to go down that route."

09/26/09 (GMM)  The wheels of speculation regarding the futures of Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso continue to spin in Singapore.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, who has Raikkonen under contract for 2010, on Friday admitted that "the situation has changed ... in the last couple of days".

At the same time, Alonso revealed that he has made his mind up about his plans for next year, while the Raikkonen camp admitted that contracts can be broken.

Germany's Sport Bild now reports that mutual team sponsor Santander, keen to make room at Ferrari for Spaniard Alonso, has agreed to pay McLaren 25 million Euros if it will give Raikkonen a race seat for 2010.

And in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Alonso was asked what he thought of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo's comments about Ferrari hoping to announce its drivers for 2010 "soon".

"He (Montezemolo) said it is going to be soon but I don't know when," the 27-year-old responded.  "I have taken my decision more or less, but there are several options, not just one."

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