After months of speculation, and silly season reaching fever pitch at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari have finally confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will return to drive for them in 2014.
The Finn’s return signals the end of Felipe Massa’s eight year stint as a Ferrari driver. The Brazilian took to Instagram last night to post a poignant photograph, following his win at the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix. He accompanied the picture with the following message:
From 2014 i will no longer be driving for Ferrari. I would like to thank the team for all the victories and incredible moments experienced together. Thank you also to my wife and all of my family, to my fans and all my Sponsors. From each one of you I have always received a great support! Right now I want to push as hard as possible with Ferrari for the remaining 7 races. 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! Thank you all. Felipe
Massa is the second longest serving Ferrari driver, behind only Michael Schumacher. He joined Ferrari as a race driver in 2006, partnering Schumacher first, followed by Raikkonen and finally Fernando Alonso. During his time with the team he has secured 11 wins, 36 podiums, and 15 pole positions. He narrowly missed out on becoming world champion in 2008, after Lewis Hamilton’s famous last corner overtake on a struggling Timo Glock. Massa was gracious in defeat and had done everything that he needed to do to win the title – pole position and race win.
Raikkonen joined Ferrari from McLaren in 2007 and won the championship that same year. He was the outsider going into the final races, but closed the gap to Alonso and Hamilton to take the championship by one point. His initial stint with Ferrari ended in 2009, a year earlier than his contract was due to run out. Ferrari chose instead to put Alonso in his seat, and the Finn spent two years in the WRC. He returned to Formula One with Lotus in 2012 and has challenged for the championship in both seasons.
The short announcement about Raikkonen’s return simply read:
Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has reached an agreement with Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn will join Fernando Alonso in the driver line-up for the next two racing seasons.
Ferrari will be looking to field a strong challenge as the regulation changes (including new engines) could shake up the grid. It is the first time they will have fielded two world champions in over 50 years.
All eyes will now turn to Lotus to see who they choose to replace Raikkonen with. Also, will Massa get a drive with another team? Silly season still has a way to go…