A non-committal Kimi Raikkonen was enigmatic about his future in F1 following his ousting from Ferrari in favour of fellow former world champion Fernando Alonso, announced at Suzuka ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix – adamant that he will only stay if he has 'a car that can win the championship'.
As had been anticipated for some time now, Ferrari finally confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that it is ditching the man who claimed the coveted title in his first season with the Scuderia
in 2007 at the end of the present campaign – a decision taken, most believe, off the back of the Finn's poor 2008 as the defending champion, when he all-too often looked disinterested, demotivated and barely a shadow of the driver who had clinched the crown.
Not only was the seed of Raikkonen's departure then sown, but more significantly for his future prospects, the 18-time grand prix-winner's reputation similarly took a battering, and his stock within the paddock plummeted. Both McLaren-Mercedes – in-place of underperforming compatriot Heikki Kovalainen – and Renault have been mooted as possible destinations for 2010, and the 29-year-old is insistent that he will only hang around if he is in a leading team and behind the wheel of a competitive car.
“Maybe I will race, maybe not,” he is quoted as having said by The Associated Press
. “My only aim, if I am going to race next year, is to have a car that can win the championship – otherwise there is no point.
“I don't have any bad things to say about [McLaren] – we always had a good relationship. It's a chance, but so far I have not thought much about these things.”
Until the Woking-based outfit – for whom he competed for five years at the highest level from 2002 to 2006, triumphing on nine occasions – and Renault were mentioned in connection with Raikkonen, it had been suggested that the Espoo native would switch disciplines to rallying, in which he has dabbled increasingly of late. Again, the man himself is unwilling to give anything away.
“There is a chance,” he reflected, “but there is a chance to do Formula 1. I don't know what will happen. I will decide at some point – before the start of next year.”