Kimi Raikkonen will drive for Ferrari again in 2014, it has been confirmed by the team. The initial agreement between Ferrari and Raikkonen will last two years – 2014 and 2015. The news comes less than a day after Felipe Massa confirmed on Instagram and Twitter that he will be leaving Ferrari at the end of the 2013 season.
Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari is unique in the team’s history. No driver in history has won the World Championship for Ferrari, left the team, and then returned on a permanent basis. It is also not normally Ferrari’s strategy to employ World Champions, although that trend has already been broken in the last two decades with the signings of Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.
In 2014, Ferrari will be in the unique and not necessarily enviable position of having two World Champions in the team – Alonso is a double World Champion and Raikkonen has a single title to his name. Having two such competitive drivers alongside each other in the team could create negative internal friction, as happened at McLaren in 2007 when Alonso partnered Lewis Hamilton (although Hamilton had not yet won the title). On the other hand, it could also launch Ferrari into an unparalleled period of dominance, as the red cars will be driven by two of the best and most in-form drivers in the world.
Alonso extended a word of welcome to his new team-mate, saying on Ferrari’s website: “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.”
Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali welcomed Raikkonen back to the team, saying: “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.”
Domenicali and Alonso also paid tribute to Felipe Massa, who has driven for Ferrari since 2006 and come closer than Alonso to winning the title for the Scuderia (he lost out to Lewis Hamilton by a single point in 2008). Alonso said:
“I want to thank Felipe for all the support he has given me and the team during this journey we have made together over all these years. Come the end of the season, it will not be easy to say goodbye to a team-mate like him. He has always been truly professional and loyal to the team and I am sure that right to the end, he will do his utmost for the Scuderia that he loves so much.”
Domenicali said, ““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. Felipe has always behaved like a real team player. Together we have lived through some great times and also a few dramatic moments, which have helped to cement a truly unique relationship on both a professional and personal level.
“He will always be part of our family and we wish him all the very best for the future. Now we must concentrate all our efforts on the remaining seven races of the season and we know that, as always, we can count on Felipe’s contribution, while we work together to reach our goals. Our determination will not waver one iota right to the very end.”
With seven races remaining in the season, Alonso and Massa are still in the hunt to secure the Constructors’ Championship for Ferrari and Alonso is still in with a chance, however slim, of taking the Drivers’ Championship. Massa, being the loyal Ferrari driver that he is, will no doubt be giving his all to make those goals reality before he departs from Maranello.