Following Ferrari’s announcement today that Kimi Raikkonen will be rejoining the team on a two-year deal from 2014, Raikkonen has expressed his enthusiasm for his historica return to the famous Italian team. Raikkonen told the Ferrari website:
“I am really happy to be returning to Maranello where I previously spent three fantastic and very successful years. I have so many memories of my time at Ferrari, memories which have stayed with me these past years, first and foremost, winning the World Championship title in 2007, which was really unforgettable.
“I can’t wait to be driving a Prancing Horse car again and to reacquaint myself with so many people with whom I had such close links, as well as working with Fernando, whom I consider a great driver, in order to bring the team the success it deserves.”
Raikkonen’s future partnership with Alonso will be watched with interest, as it is expected that Alonso will have a much harder time establishing himself as Ferrari number one with Raikkonen in the team, particularly as Raikkonen has already won the World Championship for Ferrari, whereas Alonso’s two titles came before he joined the Scuderia.
2014 will provide a concrete indication of just how quick Raikkonen is on his return to Formula One. After leaving Ferrari at the end of 2009, Raikkonen spent two season rallying before returning to F1 with Lotus in 2012. He has won two races (in Abu Dhabi last year and Australia this season) and consistently delivered strong points finishes for Lotus, but has had a relatively inexperienced team-mate in Romain Grosjean, which makes it difficult to establish just how well he is driving.
Alongside Alonso, however, measuring Raikkonen’s performance will be no trouble at all. Alonso is considered one of the top drivers in Formula One, and is in perhaps the best form of his career. If Raikkonen can match or beat Alonso, it will confirm the consensus that Raikkonen came back to Formula One perhaps even better than he was before.