Ferrari has confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will re-join the team in 2014 on a two year deal.
Raikkonen, 33, raced for Ferrari between 2007 and 2009, winning the title in his first season for the team.
Raikkonen left the team at the end of 2009 but returned to Formula 1 with Lotus at the start of 2012.
‘Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has reached an agreement with Kimi Raikkonen’, read a Ferrari statement.
‘The Finn will join Fernando Alonso in the driver line up for the next two seasons’.
Felipe Massa revealed on Tuesday evening that he would not be racing for Ferrari, while Nico Hulkenberg – set to replace Raikkonen at Lotus – was informed that the Scuderia would not be requiring his services.
It will be the first time since 1953 that two world champions have raced alongside each other at Ferrari.
“I’d like to welcome my new travelling companion: together, starting next year, we will have to tackle a very demanding technical and racing challenge,” Alonso said of Raikkonen’s return.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali thanked Massa for his services and welcomed Raikkonen’s return.
“I wish to thank Felipe with all my heart and also on behalf of all our fans around the world, for the extraordinary job he has done for the team over so many years,” he said.
“I am pleased to welcome Kimi back to the Scuderia, the team with which he won his World Championship title. I sense he is very happy to be returning to Maranello and very determined to tackle the work that awaits him in the best way possible.”
Raikkonen at Ferrari, part one
Raikkonen’s first spell at Ferrari began in 2007, having moved across from title rivals McLaren. Raikkonen won on his first outing for the team but slipped back mid-season and was, under the old points system, 26 behind Lewis Hamilton. But McLaren’s implosion and the Spygate scandal allowed Raikkonen back into the title hunt. Raikkonen won six races and snatched the title at the final round in Brazil.
His title defence in 2008 began strongly, with two victories, but an unfavourable car development direction, combined with issues in qualifying, scuppered the Finn and he had to play second fiddle to Felipe Massa. In 2009, Ferrari delivered a poor car in the F60 which meant that Raikkonen was never in the reckoning for the championship. He did, however, manage to win one final race in Belgium, before being ousted in favour of Alonso. He was paid off early and joined the World Rally Championship in 2010.
Raikkonen at Ferrari, part two
Raikkonen’s return alongside Alonso means that Ferrari will field two world champions for the first time since 1953. They are two of the biggest names in the sport and it promises to be a fascinating battle to see which of the contrasting personalities will edge out the other. Alonso has never dealt well with a team-mate challenging his authority, as seen most prominently alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2007 but also on occasion in 2005/6 against Giancarlo Fisichella and since 2010 with Massa. In theory, Alonso should hold the advantage, having been with the team since the start of 2010 but Raikkonen will prove a tougher challenge than Massa. Nonetheless, as shown in 2008, Raikkonen is willing to sacrifice his own chances in support of a title-contending team-mate.
But first Ferrari needs a car capable of delivering the title. They have not claimed a world championship since 2008 and have only infrequently had the best car across a race weekend. Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull have swept up since 2010 and the acquisition of Raikkonen sends out a message that Ferrari is ready for battle in 2014: they want to win the Constructors Championship, not just the drivers’ title. In spite of several years of failure, Alonso has twice come within a handful of points of winning another world championship. Their biggest challenge is likely to come from either Red Bull or Mercedes. Ferrari will hope that experienced drivers such as Alonso and Raikkonen can give them an advantage with the huge rule changes that are arriving prior to the start of next season. The arrival earlier in the year of James Allison, and the involvement of Rory Byrne, means that there will be few excuses for Ferrari in 2014.