Kimi Raikkonen has admitted he could be set to walk away from Formula 1 at the end of his current contract with Ferrari next year, with the Finnish driver desperate to try his hand at different forms of racing. The 2007 World Champion is currently midway through a dismal first season back in the Ferrari car, managing to pick up just 19 points from the year’s first eight races and failing to challenge the likes of Mercedes anywhere near as much as he would have .
The lack of a competitive car as well as his desire to sample some racing outside F1 has led Raikkonen to admit his current contract with Ferrari, set to expire at the end of next year, could well be his last in the sport as he prepares to return to rally driving and the freedom that gives him to pursue his other hobbies.
While Raikkonen was allowed to indulge in extra-curricular racing outside F1 during his previous spell with Ferrari, the rules changed dramatically following Robert Kubica‘s life-threatening rally crash in 2011 – with teams decidedly nervous about the prospect of their highly-paid and highly-important drivers whizzing around rally tracks midway through a Formula One season.
But Raikkonen has admitted his frustration at being restricted to just driving in F1, and the sport could be set to lose the Finn for a second time as he revealed this would be his final contract in Formula One.
“Until my contract is finished, and then I will probably stop. That is what I think is going to happen. I’ve tried many things and there is no harm in it, it doesn’t take anything away doing it at the same time as Formula One, I think it can only help and for sure it does not harm,” said Raikkonen.
“You always learn when you drive different things but the problem is that the teams are scared if we get hurt so there is a big conflict on that. It would be nice, not just for us, but for the fans and the spectators seeing us doing many things and mixing them up.”
With Ferrari already well out of the minds of Betfair punters in terms of this season, it would take something spectacular from Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso to salvage anything out of this season. But if he does decide to walk away from the sport at the end of next season, Raikkonen will be desperate to leave on a bang and not a whimper. With the Mercedes-powered teams way ahead of Ferrari and the Renault engines of Red Bull in the Betfair odds, Raikkonen might not be the only one keen to get this season over and done with and start focusing on how to rebound next year.
This won’t be the first time Raikkonen has walked away from the sport, spending two years trying his hand at a variety of different racing sports when he left Ferrari at the end of 2009 before returning to F1 at the start of 2012 with the Lotus team. His first year back in the sport showed just why everyone had missed him so much, producing some clinical driving displays to finish the year third in the driver’s standings while maintaining a level of cool unsurpassed in modern sport. And all done in a Lotus that had been written off by a lot of Betfair fans.
Never one to ever truly show his emotions – unless those are his true emotions – it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Raikkonen hasn’t looked overly happy being back in the red of Ferrari this year. After it became clear Ferrari were going to continue viewing Alonso as their number one driver, Raikkonen’s time with the team always appeared in danger of being a short one. But while the Spaniard finds himself in a significantly better position than Raikkonen, with 79 points and just one visit to the podium all year, being a number two driver has been a much smaller issue for the 34-year old than driving for a team that hasn’t been challenging for race wins all year.
Betfair tipsters have continued linking drivers with Ferrari in spite of Raikkonen returning to the team this year. While it may be unlikely that Ferrari would be looking to bring in a new driver before Raikkonen’s contract end, but that’s not to say the Italian team won’t already be putting together a shortlist of names in preparation for Raikkonen’s departure at the end of 2015. By then, Ferrari will be hoping they have cut the gap between themselves and the likes of Mercedes, but at the moment there are much bigger issues for the team to address than who will replace Raikkonen when he packs his bags for a life of rally driving, pool parties and looking annoyed.