Guest Author - Christine Blachford
There have been plenty of rumours regarding who will be driving for which teams next year, and a lot of it seems to rest on where Fernando Alonso will decide to be. He has a few options open to him, and is currently yet to make announcement.
One less option, now, however, is Ferrari. Over the course of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, the team announced that they had extended Raikkonen’s contract until the end of 2010. We knew that he would be there next year, but it’s now confirmed that he’ll be partnered with Massa until the end of that season.
Raikkonen has himself been very quiet on the subject of his future, and rumours were beginning to surface that he might be considering retirement. His performance towards the end of this year has appeared lack-lustre, and although mathematically still possible, the 2008 drivers title is almost certainly out of his reach. Having achieved so much already, rumours were heard that he might just call it a day and step aside to let someone else have a go.
However, Raikkonen has been swift to deny these rumours, in fact going so far as to say that they were completely unsubstantiated, and just came from the press, never from anything he said. With this year’s championship drawing to a close, and the Finn so far behind his team mate Massa, it looks like he may be asked to act as a second. This isn’t something he’s had to do in the past, and although it’s not particularly visible, Ferrari may now start to favour Massa in terms of tyre choices, optimum strategies, and all out performance enhancements. Teams usually deny this up to the very last minute, but when it gets down to the wire, as it is between Hamilton and Massa, it makes sense for a team to favour their championship hopeful.
Whether Raikkonen will be positive about this and help Massa, we have yet to see. So far the pair seem to have been practicing very individual races, and very rarely with each other. Either way, whatever the team have decided, it’s obviously to Raikkonen’s satisfaction, otherwise he wouldn’t have re-signed. Personally, I’m glad he did, as he seems to fit with Ferrari very well, seems much happier there than he did with McLaren, and has results pouring in. This all makes for some great championship racing.