Despite continuing speculation to the contrary, reigning Formula 1
World Champion Kimi Raikkonen
has insisted that he fully intends to honour the terms of his Ferrari
contract and remain in the top flight next year.
Doubts persist about whether or not the Finn – currently jointly leading the 2008 drivers' standings, in company with Maranello team-mate Felipe Massa
and McLaren-Mercedes' British Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton
– will remain a fixture on the grand prix grid in 2009, with suggestions he could be replaced by fellow former title-winner Fernando Alonso.
Raikkonen has repeatedly refused to commit to any kind of long-term future in F1, but in an interview with Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport
, he sought to dismiss any suggestions that his days in the uppermost echelon are numbered.
“I have not broken a contract in all my life, and I have no intention of doing so now,” he told his countryman and journalist Heikki Kulta. “In 2009 I will be driving for Ferrari.”
The 28-year-old also sought to play down the form of chief competitors McLaren
at Silverstone, which has vaulted Hamilton firmly back into championship contention once more. Despite the Briton again comfortably setting the pace on the opening two days of pre-German Grand Prix testing at Hockenheim this week, some four tenths ahead of his Ferrari
rival on both occasions, Raikkonen insisted the Scuderia
cannot – and must not – be written off.
“I'm reasonably satisfied,” he related. “The speed isn't lacking, but sometimes we haven't managed to put together all the elements and have not succeeded in exploiting all the potential at our disposal.
“We haven't lost any speed; we just need a good, clean weekend.”
Meanwhile, the 17-time grand prix-winner has similarly attempted to pour cold water on a controversial incident at Silverstone, when he was caught on camera pushing over respected veteran F1 photographer Paul Henri-Cahier on the grid. Whilst he admitted to having down so, Raikkonen argued that he had been provoked when the Frenchman stood on his equipment.
“People try to make a big thing out of it,” he is quoted as having said by F1SA
, “but he shouldn't come on top of my stuff. It was just a small thing and people tried to make a big story out of it.”
“Photographers should respect the fact that Kimi is about to race and not get too close,” added Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson.
It is understood that Cahier does not intend to take any action over the incident.
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