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Raikkonen hints at end of time in F1
4 November 2012
Kimi Raikkonen has raised speculation that his F1 comeback might be a relatively short-lived one, with the former world champion suggesting that he is already looking at the end of his time in the sport.
"I don't know how long I will be driving for," he told the press this weekend ahead of the 2012 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. "Maybe I don't drive for many more years."
Raikkonen returned to F1 this season after two years away from the sport, during which time he competed in the World Rally Championship and even dabbled with a few outings in US stock car racing in NASCAR.
However, an offer from Lotus was enough to lure him back to the F1 Grand Prix paddock at the start of 2012, and he's just confirmed a one-year extension to that deal to ensure he stays with the team into 2013.
But Raikkonen has also hinted that at 33, he knows that his time in the sport is nearing its end.
“I'm not a very young guy and you never know, maybe I want to do something else," he said. "Maybe I want to stop in one year."
Raikkonen also suggested that opting for a one year renewal was also a help to keeping his motivation levels up. "I don't see a point to do a longer contract right now," he said.
"If I feel I want a new contract I'd better try well enough so that they want me," he told Abu Dhabi-based sports newspaper Sport360°
on Saturday at the Yas Marina Circuit. "I'll try to finish this year as well as I can and then do better next year and then see what happens.”
While Raikkonen's comeback to the sport has been more successful than that of Michael Schumacher's return from retirement, the Finn is still lacking a win with Lotus this season and currently trails Sebastian Vettel by 67pts in the world championship battle.
Talking with the press at the launch of the CSR initiative “Helmets for Heads” by Unilever, Raikkonen admitted that winning a second title to go with his 2007 championship was his primary reason for coming back to the sport with Lotus.
"You want to win a championship every year when you race because it's a waste of the year when you don't win," he told Sport360°
. "It's disappointing not to be in a better position for the Championship but we have to keep trying."
That suggests that Raikkonen is as much auditioning the team on a year-by-year basis as they are evaluating him as a driver. At this point, he clearly likes what he sees sufficiently to commit for another 12 months at Lotus - if not more.
"We have the people, we have the capability of making a good car, so I don't see a reason why we shouldn't have a good chance next year," he said. "But the fact is, until we ride the car for the first time we don't know how good the car is going to be."
While walking away from F1 for a second time would be entirely in character for Raikkonen, it also wouldn't be a surprise if he was to move across into another F1 team if Lotus didn't live up to expectations and give him the equipment he needs to challenge for the title in 2013.
“Ferrari could have ended in a slightly nicer way but the people I worked with who are still there, I had a very good relationship with them and go and talk to them still,” he told the Daily Telegraph
. "It's not like I had some fight against somebody. I'm okay with everybody it's just that things could have ended in a nicer way. But it doesn't mean that I couldn't go back there."
Even a return to McLaren in the future wasn't ruled out, with Raikkonen saying that he had never fallen out with then-team principal Ron Dennis despite the newspaper speculation: "I have never had a fight with him. There is nothing wrong with our relationship. People just try to make [expletive] stories."