He may be insisting that he is still as 'hungry for success' as he has ever been, but Kimi Raikkonen has dropped a further hint that the end is nigh for him in Formula 1 – by claiming that Ferrari will 'probably be the last team he races for'.
There has been fevered speculation in the paddock surrounding the 2007 F1 World Champion's future for the past eight months, following a distinctly lacklustre 2008 campaign during which his motivation appeared to have fled him and he was routinely out-paced and out-performed by title-challenging team-mate Felipe Massa.
So poor did Raikkonen's form get, indeed, that Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo quipped that it had in fact been the Finn's 'twin' in the car for much of the season, and the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali joked that the 29-year-old often appears to be 'on his own planet'. Not so, the man himself insists.
“It doesn't bother me,” Raikkonen told news agency ANSA
when asked about Domenicali's remark. “The important thing is that I'm here.”
“I wouldn't be competing if I wasn't hungry for success,” he added in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur
The 17-time grand prix-winner – who has not now triumphed since the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona all the way back in April – also stressed that he is 'not concerned about these rumours' linking fellow former world champion Fernando Alonso to a future in scarlet, most likely in his place [see separate story – click here
“Sooner or later Alonso will end up with Ferrari,” the sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone had told Italy's Sky TV
. “Fernando is probably the best in the world right now, and I would be very pleased if it happened. I think he's faster than Lewis [Hamilton], Felipe and everyone else.”
Whilst acknowledging the Spaniard as 'a good driver', Raikkonen pointed to the fact that he has a solid deal with the Maranello-based outfit until the end of the 2010 campaign – and besides, he has more pressing concerns on his mind right now, he stated, chief amongst which is getting behind the wheel of Ferrari's new F60.
“I don't know what the car is like yet,” he is quoted as having said by The Associated Press
. “I've got to wait until the first tests in Portimao to give a better review.
“This will probably be the last team I race for. I don't want to go elsewhere. I'm happy where I am and I have another two years on my contract.”