Massa Confirms Ferrari Exit as Raikkonen Set to Step In
Berlin (dpa) - Kimi Raikkonen is set to replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari next year as partner of Fernando Alonso. Massa confirmed he would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the season, and Raikkonen’s return to the Italian Formula One team was being widely reported in British and German media.
Germany’s Sport Bild said on its website it had learned that Raikkonen put pen to paper shortly before midnight Monday to take the place of Massa in a move away from Lotus. The report said the deal was to be made official later in the week. Neither Ferrari nor Raikkonen have confirmed a deal but Massa confirmed on his Twitter page he would be leaving at the end of the year. ”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,” he said.
Massa joined Ferrari in 2006 but was always seen as number two driver partnering Michael Schumacher, Raikkonen and Alonso. ”Right now I want to push as hard as possible with Ferrari for the remaining 7 races,” his statement 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!”
Autosport.com had said Monday Raikkonen would decide within 48 hours, while the BBC reported that Raikkonen “is on the verge of being confirmed as a Ferrari driver.”
The Finn drove for Ferrari from 2007 and until 2009. His 2007 world title is the last for Ferrari to date. Raikkonen was paid off in 2009 to make way for Alonso’s
arrival, and returned to F1 racing in 2012 at Lotus after two years in rally events. Raikkonen is currently fourth in the championship, 88 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. His contract at Lotus expires after the season, with no full assurances of competitiveness in 2014 and outstanding payments believed to be reasons for him to leave.
Ferrari expect Raikkonen to be more consistent than Massa and to push Alonso, who has been critical of Ferrari’s efforts a few times lately, to new heights in what
would be a fierce rivalry within the team. Massa has been at Ferrari since 2006. ”Ferrari chose Raikkonen because it doesn’t count on Alonso,” Italy’s Corriere della Sera paper said Tuesday.