Kimi Stays for 2016

Posted on August 20, 2015.

kimiContrary to many expectations Kimi Raikkonen has been retained by the Scuderia team for the 2016 season. Despite having been overshadowed by his last two Ferrari teammates he has retained his seat for another season.

His previous partner in Ferrari, Fernando Alonso, outqualified him 16-3 and current partner Sebastian Vettel did it by 8-2, and race results reflected a similar picture. But the Scuderia has obviously opted for continuity through the 2016 season until the driver market unfolds for 2017.

Nico Hulkenberg has been touted as a replacement but reports have indicated that he did not convince the Ferrari hierarchy who had followed his data-logging traces when he drove the Sauber-Ferrari. Valtteri Bottas was much fancied to take the seat but would have been expensive to buy out of his Williams contract before it expires at the end of 2016. And to give the Williams team a lot of money would not have suited the Scuderia right now…

Even the 17-year old Max Verstappen has been viewed as a replacement for Kimi in 2016 but the jury still remains out as to whether he would be a plausible pick at this time. So, everything has been postponed until the 2017 season.

Ferrari’s announcement about Kimi was rather terse :  “Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen. The driver line-up next season will still consist of the Finnish driver and Sebastian Vettel”.

Maurizio Arrivabene added: “We believe that extending Kimi’s contract into the next season will provide further stability to the team. This has been our guideline, also considering the very good relationship between Kimi and Seb. On our side, this shows our great confidence in him, and I expect this confidence to be well rewarded”.

And Kimi made the following comment:  “What can I say… For me, to be able to stay another year at Ferrari means that the dream goes on. The Scuderia is my family, as I always said, it’s here I want to end my career. I am more committed than ever and I want to say thank you to the people who gave me this chance. Also, a big thank you goes to all my Ferrari fans, for their continuous support”.

It seems that Ferrari has hedged its bets for 2016. In Vettel it has a recognised world-class driver, and it obviously hopes that Raikkonen can reverse his two-year run of bad luck to produce enough results for the manufacturer’s world championship. But for 2017 things will change hugely throughout the F1 grid…

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