F1 Winter Break
Raikkonen and Domenicali differ on reasons why he was dropped
Scuderia Ferrari
Raikkonen and Domenicali differ on reasons why he was dropped
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Oct 2009   |  11:35 am GMT  |  139 comments

Today has been a very interesting day in the Suzuka paddock. It was one of those days when there is a real buzz in the air and some paddock theatre going on.

Kimi Jap press
With the announcement last night of Kimi Raikkonen’s removal from Ferrari and Fernando Alonso’s arrival, it was clear that their respective press briefings and the one of Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali were going to be interesting.

Kimi looked rather crestfallen today, as you would expect, but he was very dignified in the way he carried himself publicly. He did not criticise the team and they did not criticise him. It was not an easy job to sit in front of the assembled media when you have been dumped by Ferrari. He has said many times in the past that he would end his career at the team, but now he is having to rethink that. In doing so he has left himself the option of quitting F1 at the end of the year. He had always rather implied that he would stop when his Ferrari contract expired at the end of 2011.

Meanwhile Alonso looked happy but not triumphant. He spoke with enthusiasm, but judged the tone just right. I’ll deal with him in a separate post.

Judging from the comments section on this site, many fans are struggling to understand Ferrari’s decision to drop Raikkonen for Alonso. So are a lot of journalists in the F1 paddock and the question kept coming in, phrased differently each time, but always with the same thrust, Why do the team feel that Alonso is a better bet than Kimi?

Both Raikkonen and Domenicali were asked this and Raikkonen took the tack of implying that the decision was based on commercial considerations, in other words on the arrival of Santander as a sponsor of Ferrari,
“There are many reasons. In F1 there is always a lot of money and there can always be different options. That’s what happened in the end. It’s nothing to do with racing or what I do in the team.”

I have heard suggestions that Philip Morris is paying the severance money to Raikkonen and that his salary at McLaren is being paid by Santander, although the numbers doing the rounds for next year’s driver salaries are vastly inflated according to Domenicali.

He was then asked how much his departure had to do with the arrival of Santander. He smiled in that involuntary way, and gave a look which spoke volumes, but all he said was, “You’ll have to ask the team….” there was a pause in which he almost said something further, then decided against it.

An hour or so later I said to Domenicali that Raikkonen had implied that the decision was commercially motivated. He firmly denied it,
“No it is not correct that it was a commercial decision.”

Asked repeatedly why Ferrari thought that Alonso was a better bet than Raikkonen, Domenicali said,
“When you have to take the decision you think that the couple of drivers for the future should be the best that it is possible to have.”

He made it clear that as boss of the team, it had been his decision and certainly my Italian colleagues say that Domenicali is the one who pushed very hard for this transfer to happen. He has to think of his own future. After two seasons as team boss he has won one constructors’ championship and had a poor year this year. He needs the team to return to the top level and he wants all the elements in place to achieve that.

Dom Jap press
He also revealed that the team had signed a deal with Alonso for 2011 during the summer, but then because of Renault’s problems over the Singapore race fixing scandal, there was a possibility to bring him to Ferrari one year early.

As for the risk of holding on to Felipe Massa when it is not yet clear that he will be able to drive, the team is confident that Massa will be back to the same level, but it seems to me that they have options. For one thing, Giancarlo Fisichella will be there, should Massa struggle very badly. Beyond that Robert Kubica looks set to sign a deal for only one year at Renault and would be potentially available for 2011. But Ferrari is determined that Massa will be back and will be every bit as good as before.

Raikkonen was clear that, although things didn’t work out in the end and he would like to have won more races, on the whole he was happy with his three years at Ferrari and had no regrets,
“I’m happy with what I have done. I think I will still have a good future.” He said he had no regrets and wouldn’t have changed anything about the decisions made and contracts he signed.

On a possible return to McLaren he said, “I still have a good relationship and of course there is a chance, but I have time to make my decision.”

But crucially he then went on to say that he may not even carry on racing,

“I haven’t decided yet whether I want to race or what I want to do,” he said. “I had a contract for next year, now I don’t any more. That changes things, so maybe I will race, maybe I will not. There is a chance (he’ll do rallies) but there is a chance I’ll do Formula 1 too.”

From what I’m hearing I think he will carry on and do a season at McLaren, maybe two. He has a point to prove and he will push Lewis Hamilton very hard indeed in proving it, which is precisely what McLaren want.

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Fair play to Kimi although he tneds to say little in press conferences (televised ones) he is dignified and uses mature responses. I just hink he is someone that lets his driving speak and has little time for politics/games etc off track.

he is hugely talented and it would be fantastic to see him in a McLaren winning races/championship(s) at the expense of the Prancing Horse. (although I have nothing but admiration for Alonso as a driver)


Sorry should have added to the above

I would love to see kimi win all the remaining races for his own satisfaction.


I'd like to see Kimi in a McLaren beating Alonso to the championship. I reckon he'll be more comfortable back at McLaren.


my one concern about Kimi is this:

Why would any team pay the huge sums of money to a driver who isnt even sure he wants to race?

surely the desire is one of the most vital aspects of a racing drivers make-up - to sign a driver who is, to say the least, non-commital regarding his future in the sport would seem to be ridiculous

i hope McLaren see sense and avoid signing Kimi and possibly have a driver that doesnt really WANT to be there - in this situation they'd be better off keeping Heiki on board


That may have been positioning rather than a statement of intent. Kimi is probably just trying to keep his options open.

Even a demotivated Kimi is better than an "on it" Kovy right now

Paige Michael-Shetley

Having re-read his comments, I interpret him saying that he would stay in F1 if he could get a ride with a competitive team and would quit before getting a ride with an uncompetitive team. So he still sounds like he wants to win races and go for championships in F1, but if he doesn't have the opportunity to do this, then he'll just hang it up.

That's my interpretation, at least.


Up to a point, but he did say quite clearly that he hasn't decided yet whether to carry on racing. I think he will because this is no way to make your exit

Paige Michael-Shetley

The flip side is that he expressed good feelings about McLaren specifically and the possibility of going back there.

I think he could be trying to leverage a bit for a better salary.


james do you reckon raikkonen will be there racing next year

i really feel he should stay here and surely teach ferrari a lesson. he isnt over the hill and still a great driver.

is his linking up with mclaren for sure or just a rumor?

if yes then we could have a cracker of a season next year.


Hey James,

Do you think there was a good chance that Luca Di Montezemolo was pushing for 3 drivers over a month ago to keep Kimi and sign Fernando with the excuse of Schumacher to drive as the distraction?

Going to really miss Kimi at Ferrari but will welcome Fernando too. Just seems to be a lot of drama that happens around Fernando.


Fernando "Trouble" Alonso 😀

Fernando "Drama" Alonso...

I think Trouble sounds better


"Judging from the comments section on this site, many fans are struggling to understand Ferrari’s decision to drop Raikkonen for Alonso."

Granted I've seen a few of these, but I think the majority of F1 fans who've followed F1 since Kimi began his career can see his motivation dropped hugely once he bagged the WDC. It's only returned in the last few races and even then without Massa as the consistency yard stick how are we to know if Kimi is back on it or if the Ferrari has improved ? Fisi and Badoer can't be used for comparative purposes.

Over the last three or four seasons everyone has seen Alonso prove time and time again he's absolute quality. So I'm not struggling to understand the decision at all. Some would argue Ferrari should have dropped Kimi after his incredibly poor 2008 season. Much as I like Kimi that WDC has really taken the edge off his driving IMO. Lets hope a return to McLaren and a point to prove against Lewis and Ferrari will re-ignite it because on his day he's the fastest guy in the sport.

Ahmad Albashrawi

".. and even then without Massa as the consistency yard stick how are we to know if Kimi is back on it or if the Ferrari has improved ? Fisi and Badoer can’t be used for comparative purposes .."

Using this logic, how can you tell that Alonso is fast? I mean he was never more than three tenths faster than Fisi even though the grid was not as competitive as today and a top driver used to find bigger margin of speed than today.


The best bit is "It’s nothing to do with racing or what I do in the team". And this is called sport...


It's amazing for me to realise that should Kimi not be there next year, I will no longer watch the sport. This sport has suffered at the hands of those that chose to be power-mad and political. Kimi always seemed to rise above it by not being a part of it. As many have said, he is a racer, raw, no BS. This is what i admire. And although I also admire Alonso, his "business-side" is too shadowy and political for my liking. Lewis, also very admirable, is too well orchestrated, too clean-cut. Kimi for me is the pedal-to-the-floor driver, who can hold his booze. That's what i want to see in a champion. Not a politician, and not a member of a boy-band.


Nicely put. But 1 pt I disagree with is Hamilton being too clean-cut. If he is then he is the only clean-cut guy who was caught and penalized for lying and drove on his rookie year and almost got a WDC driving a cheater.

I will also stop watching F1 when Kimi stops racing.


Couldn't have put it better myself. Thank you. There are a lot of spoilt brats in F1 but Kimi is like a breath of fresh air!


Nicely stated. I think many F1 fans are tired of the megalomania and packaging. Kimi is in the best sense a pure racer. Maybe F1 no longer has room for someone who is unwilling or unable to play the corporate game?


Kimi is the only true racer left. He's a "gentlemen start your engines" type of guy. I really do belive that he is the fastest of them all when he hits the sweet spot. I'll join you in not watching F1 should it loose Kimi.


Very good comment. I suspect you summed it up for a lot of us, cheers for that.


totally agree with you dan.

might stop watching f1 if he leaves


Great comment. Agree.

Ahmad Albashrawi

I agree too.

Alistair Blevins

I'm glad these questions are being asked, as otherwise there's an entire chapter in F1 that I missed the bit where Kimi fell spectactularly from grace and Alonso ascended to the role of racing deity.

I always assumed they could be talked about in the same breath, so am at a loss to explain how Kimi has suddenly been usurped by what I see as an 'equal' - at great financial cost too.

Not that I have anything against Alonso. I look forward to his passion coming to the fore at Ferrari.

I'm continue to be fascinated by the ever-shifting sands of F1.

It's a sport like no other.


would it not be great to see ron dennis and kimi together again? kimi is at the stage in his life where he can race for fun. he has his championship. he has all the money. how cool it would be to see a rejuvinated kimi go head to head with lewis! hope it happens....


"He had always rather implied that he would stop when his Ferrari contract expired at the end of 2011."

Ummm... no.


Ummm no.

At least in Finnish he has been saying that he doesn't know the future. He wants to decide when the time comes.


Kimi said he will see if he wants to continue after 2010, he never actually said he will stop racing.


Well I heard him say several times last year that he wasn't sure whether he would race after 2011


There are a couple of things which are very interesting James.

1) What was Michael Schumacher's perspective on hiring Alonso? Was he favourable or did he object to it?

2) Do you think it would be at the back of Alonso's mind that MSC's presence in Ferrari garage is something he might not appreciate? Do you think he will cope with this part of life in Ferrari?

3) Reading what Alonso has said in his interview (on Autopsort), he is preparing the ground really well for his arrival at Ferrari. As I mentioned in one of my comments earlier, Alonso would have learnt from the MM debacle in 2007 about preferential treatment and so on. He is already talking about being a team player and helping Ferrari's chances to win as most important. That is a considerable change in attitude (master tactician at work?). Do you think he will be able to rally behind him the support that MS was able to or is the repeat of something like that not possible because a) Ferrari would not like to openly favour one driver b) with this kind of set-up Ferrari would not like to ensure a comparison b/w Alonso and MSC as Ferrari learnt that expecting someone to achieve what MSC has achieved in improbable in current F1 scenario?

4) How do you think the Massa camp will react to having Alonso in the garage? I have always thought that if necessary, Massa is willing to play politics to swing the balance in his favour.

Just to analyse the situation at McLaren and Ferrari. Ferrari needed some experience post Schumacher to restructure themselves to be able to design the team structure on new ways to achieve the championship without MSC/Ross Brawn/JT/Rory Byrne. They had Kimi, Massa and SD and came away with 3 titles since the start of 2007. Now they know what they need and have hired Alonso for the reasons they know best.

McLaren on the other hand needed to stabalise after 2007. They had a poor season in 2006, and a great on-track season in 2007. They hired HK, achieved a very important title for McLaren and Hamilton in 2008. Have had to re-structure themselves post the Dennis era and look well poised for the future.

The 2 best teams have had the necessary experience in the past 3 years to revitalize themselves and come back strong in the future.


Schumacher's position will be interesting. There is no love lost between him and Alonso, but one imagines both will be professional about it. Kimi didn't have anything to do with him.


Time will tell but I have the feeling that unlike Kimi Fernando

will be interested in listing to Michael's input. That does not means he'll use Michael's tips if given any but I think intellectually he'll find it interesting. To have them discussing tactic and compare their respective approaches to the sport would be like witnessing Rommel and Montgomery discussing Military tactics. The are old adversaries yes but also in awe and respectful of each other's brilliance. Fernando is not a guy who would miss a chance to learn something useful and has great intellectual curiosity. Felipe and Giancarlo will also benefit from listening to Fernando and Michael confronting their opinions. I would love to be invited to their technical meetings.


I don't usually feel that sorry for the drivers, mainly because they earn so much money why shouldn't they have a bit of grief in their jobs. But I do feel sorry for Kimi.

What I find really odd is that they knew they were committed to paying Kimi for 2010 so why did they sign Alonso up for 2010 as well.

Were they going to run both drivers in 2010 and drop Massa?

On Alonso. Why not sign him up from 2011. He wasn't going to go and drive for anyone else was he.

As usual, you could conclude that some teams have had so much money it has burnt a hole in their pocket....

Can't wait for 2010 and see a Ferrari struggle against Brawn, McLaren and Red Bull.


I don't think the hiring of Alonso has anything to do with Kimi's performance. It has a HUGE SANTANDER all over it.

Does Santander prefer an Alonso-Kimi pair up? (I don't think they like that)

Is Santander willing to pay Kimi his 2010 wages? (Rumors says they are paying his wages for 2010)

We can all feel bad for Kimi because he is a great driver yet everyone thinks he was dropped because Alonso is better. They are both good.

Kimi has leverage provided by his contract. Alonso with leverage provided by Santander. Money wins. Alonso goes red.

It has nothing to do with Massa being 100% fit too. They can always hire another Barichello willing to drive as bridesmaid for most of his career.


They are taking a gamble that Massa will be 100%


Very good analyse and informations, as usual. It's clear Domenicali's own situation is a bit unconfortable (lots of team mistakes these last years) and therefore needs to protect his job... As many others, I think Ferrari without Todt and Brawn will slowly but surely return to its old mistakes and italian crazy management...

Kimi's still got plenty to do and win in F1... would like him sign at least a 2 years contract with McLaren.

Sorry for my potential english language mistakes, I'm french!


Kimi Raikkonen: Class driver, class act. Most respectful and loyal to his team. Is in the sport for the love of racing. I haven't heard him once criticise the team, despite how his current employers have treated him. We saw what a pip-squeak like Piquet Jr. said and did to his team after he was dropped. And he isn't an iota of the driver Raikkonen is. On the other hand we have Raikkonen: WDC in 2007. Lost 2008 because of and ill-handling car & bad luck and then shows what he can do in a dog of a car in 2009. He is dropped by Ferrari and still there is no criticism from him. The only thing he seems to have negatively suggested is towards Alonso insofar him getting the Ferrari drive a year in advance due to commercial reasons. Nothing wrong with that.

I think a lot people in F1 can learn how to be professionals and sportsmen from this guy.

As I have said earlier in one of my comments, I hope Kimi gets back at McLaren and that McLaren produces a stonker of a car. Then he can answer his frineds at Ferrari what mettle he has and McLaren can tell Hamilton to keep his ego & loud mouth in check and just shut-up & drive.


Good post Amritraj, Kimi won the admiration of many people by taking Ferrari's decision with such dignity and always behaving like a true pro during his spells at the various teams he drove for. I am sure he'll give is best to help Ferrari beat McLaren during the last 3 remaining races of 2009 but he will also give his best to beat them next year like the true pro he is.

Also the guy is so cool he should be disqualified as he is an illegal cooling device on his own and also because he now wears baggy overalls a la Jacques Villeneuve 🙂


"He also revealed that the team had signed a deal with Alonso for 2011 during the summer, but then because of Renault’s problems over the Singapore race fixing scandal, there was a possibility to bring him to Ferrari one year early."

So, it wasn't just the sponsors who dumped Renault ungraciously, but their No.1 driver too - nice!


Great article James, very insightful stuff!

I recall being surprised when Kimi signed a year extension late in the '08 season. Was that compensation to support Massa's championship charge?




I have to admit I thought that at the time, but the option lay on his side anyway, as it turned out.


I wonder if he foresaw this. Even after the first few races of 2007 I think that Ferrari were expecting more than they got. I feel that they believed that they were getting a driver at the same level as MSC, and ended up with an equal for Massa. All the way along Kimi has quoted his contractual position when asked about these moves as if he was speaking to Ferrari's legal team.


Mmm can a driver just renew his own contract? Ferrari is a powerful organisation with many lawyers, surely they would have a say in any contract renewals?


In a way its understandable that Domenicali wants the Alonso/Massa pair-up as he pushes to usher Ferraris post Schumi/Todt 'era'...both drivers are committed to F1 for a while, italian speaking, media-friendly and above all quick...It would just be gutting if this brought on Kimis departure from F1 for good, especially as the circumstances are beyond his control.


Kimi Raikkonen is just such a legend. The way he carries himself in front of the media is just unbelievable. I know some people hate it, but if I was massively well-paid and hugely famous I would love to act in as laid back and nonchalant a manner as he does. He doesn't get angry, doesn't lose his temper, doesn't bicker with team-mates, and after winning the WDC just quietly thanked his family on Finnish TV before leaving the circuit. I know that some people like the Andy Murray, McEnroe, Alonso, Hamilton fire, anger and passion, but for me there's a passion and fire of a different sort in Kimi Raikkonen. The ability to turn up on the day and perform, sometimes better than anyone else in the entire world, and not let that affect the rest of your life is admirable. I only wish I could be so restrained, non-competitive, and rounded as an individual. Unfortunately, were I famous, I am pretty sure that I would get competitive with my team-mate, lose my temper if I lost, and play Massa-esque mind games with the media. People talk of Raikkonen being boring, Bernie Ecclestone talks of F1 needing champions with 'personality' like Hamilton and Alonso, but if Kimi leaves F1 it will probably stop me watching the sport. He's as cool as Ronnie Peterson, and as individualistic as James Hunt, and to have a personality like that at the sharp end of the grid is just the most amazing thing for the sport. The British and Spanish might not like it, but the rest of the world loves Kimi. At the Belgium grand prix this year, and at Monza last year I saw about 1 Massa piece of merchandise to every 9 Raikkonen ones. I'm not saying he's that much more popular, but I think his attitude to sport makes real fans passionate about him. I hope he goes to Mclaren and challenges Hamilton in an honourable and sporting manner which is more than we got with Fernando.


I couldn't have put it better myself!...I too would probebly stop watching F1 if Kimi were to leave.


You know you wouldn't, so, no need for all that pathetic stuff.

He simply isn't the driver Ferrari needs and that's all.


I would. Who else would I support? If you can name another complete maverick who doesn't lose his cool when he's under pressure, doesn't play up to the media, and just does his job quietly and amazingly then I'll support him...but there isn't anyone like that. Vettel's probably the closest thing and he lost his cool in Turkey, and is a media darling.

Whatever. I would stop watching races. I'd still follow the sport though. At the moment I book in F1 weekends to make sure I don't miss them. Without Kimi I'd not bother.


It was as many other Ferrari decisions an emotional one. They see Alonso in the same way they saw Schumacher. As for Kimi I'm sad to see him leave Ferrari. He's great as far as I'm concerned. I think he'll do well at McLaren. Otherwise he leaves the F1 paddock as the coolest Finn ever!


Firstly let me say that of the message boards/blogs I visit as I scavenge for news on F1 this is the most informed/informing one of them all. That's a credit not only to you, James for the articles, but to all the regular contributors who by and large make this an excellent place for ideas/thoughts/theories to be exchanged. Hope I can dip my toe in the water on a few more occasions and add something worthwile to the ongoing commentary.

As for this specific article, having read a full transcript of Kimi's interview, I thought he was very respectful, although disappointed and probably more open about a topic/situation than I have ever heard from him. A full and frank discussion on his future plans/options and I for one would be sad if he turned his back on F1 to go Rallying. Plus I'm loving his new wild-boy haircut - how will that fit in with the suits at Mclaren?!! 🙂


Norbert Haug recently said that he liked Kimis new haircut!


I couldn't agree more about the readers' contributions, Neil and I'm always very grateful to the readers for keeping the level of opinion and insight very high. Thanks again to you all. I learn quite a bit from some of the comments and I always get a great feel for current public opinion, especially on the big stories


James your turning into a legend.

Great articles, no bs just lots of insight.

Thanks very much.


I think that's really important James. Honestly, the amount of pundits who have absolutely no idea about the fans is insane. I mean, the FIA consistently overlook the fans opinions as the media so often do. I think it's nice that you can pick up on all the (pretty insightful!) comments on this great blog.


Well, I think we can all agree that despite Renult’s mistake, Alonso did manage to beat Michael Schumacher in what was clearly the inferior car for the 07 title. And most in the paddock would testify to Alonso’s worthiness having worked with him or seen what he can do.

He even came good against lewis in mclaren and had he ben more composed in reaction to the injustice of Ron Dennis not delivering on his promise of No1 status, he might not have blocked Lewis in Hungary which could have resulted in a 3rd title.

Renault were punished, Alonso was cleared, I think its time to move on.


I could feel the tension and excitement in your article. Awesome article, its not only informative, but makes it seem like an emotional ending from a soap-opera. I feel for kimi, he had a contract with Ferrari for 2010, and suddenly everything changed. Its sad, but as JA said, Alonso to Ferrari should be exciting for the sport. Bring on 2010!


He is a typical, stubborn Finn. And he is one of the best in F1 today, even if he has a bad car right now, he has been able to do some great races recently. Of course he will stay, simply to show his potential and going back to McLaren is the ideal move.


Although only having seen F1 on television to me he just never appeared totally comfortable at Ferrari.


Great post, James, as always.

I've been an Alonso fan since the moment he started in F1, and I'm so happy he's finally driving for Ferrari - but I feel awful for Raikkonen.

Ferrari are in an awkward position anyway with Massa, but I don't understand why they didn't keep to the contracts they had in place - keep Massa & Raikkonen for 2010, bring Alonso in when he was originally supposed to be brought in and honour everyones contracts, as they have been bleating on about doing since the Alonso-to-Ferrari story started all those months ago. 'Both our drivers have contracts, we intend to honour them' etc. Load of rubbish!

I know that's kind of idealistic, and had Renault been out of F1 with the hearing then I could understand the decision they've made, but Renault have made a commitment to stay, they're announcing their drivers next week - it looks like they will still be in for 2010 so...what changed so dramatically over the past few days/weeks that made this happen?

Fernando Alvarez

I can't believe Ferrari is making such a terrible mistake...


James Im struggling to understand why people who know F1 are questioning why Ferrari chose Alonso over Raikkonen. Alonso is a double world champion who raced wheel to wheel with Michael Schumacher and beat him.

Raikkonen is a very talented and quick driver and of course a WDC. But he has tended to drift over the course of a season and only really showed us what he was capable of when Massa got injured and when he knew his seat was in jeopardy.

I think Ferrari know that with Alonso he will be the complete package and perform consistently during the season.

Basically Ferrari want a leader, a driving force in the team and with Alonso they have got it.


a lot of people are quick to forget that kimi finished the '05 season 2nd and scored the same number of wins as FA. He may have not won the WDC that season but he also scored more points than MS. But only FA gets the praise. mmmm...


Kimi also had a total of 40 grid spot penalties from the crazy engine change rules they had that year


I don't think motivation that his 'seat was in jeopardy' has anything to do with it. It never has. Without Massa Ferrari started to function properly, that's all. Just like Schumacher was a number 1, all of a sudden Kimi was and they started getting good results. I'm tired of hearing about Raikkonen's 'motivation'. The guy's still rapid, but circumstances were not right at Ferrari. I'm amazed he was so good in 2007 to be honest. I'm curious to see how he'll be against Hamilton. I suspect that Hamilton will kick up a fuss if he isn't winning...but that said, I think Mclaren will be more amenable to Raikkonen that Ferrari were. They'll try and help him more than Ferrari did. (Can't remember anyone really trying to solve the tyre problem in 2008 - they were too interested in Felipe Baby.)

Anyway. I reckon Mclaren are in a pretty good situation. I don't like the look of Massa and Alonso next season. It's going to be messy messy messy. Should be fun to watch Ferrari self-destruct while Kimi runs away with the championship though...

Daniel Babineau

Absolutely gutted that Kimi has been dropped. Up until the announcement, I was probably one of the few people who refused to believe that it was happening.

I truly hope that he gives McLaren a go. If it's true that McLaren's cars are better suited to Kimi's style of driving, then maybe the old Kimi stands a chance at making a comeback?


I share your feelings Daniel, you're not alone. I wouldn't be surprised if the entire tifosi population were split right down the middle with so many equally gutted to see Kimi go and appalled to have Alonso on board. It took a while and a lot of success before the tifosi fully warmed to Michael when he replaced Alesi in '96. Just as Alesi and Michael before him Kimi has cemented his place in the hearts of most tifosi and it'll also take some time before they fully warm to Alonso. ...Only time can tell if I could personally bring myself to join in the Alonso welcome bandwagon but as it now stands it's highly unlikely. ...Forza Kimi!!!!


Kimi's future?

My advice: a haircut. (And some fabulous seasons in a McLaren)


"There are many reasons. In F1 there is always a lot of money and there can always be different options. That’s what happened in the end. It’s nothing to do with racing or what I do in the team.”

Seems like it's all about the money Santander offered to Ferrari for this....


Kimi looking crestfallen in front of the media is probably nothing new, he does not like to be the center of attention and prefers eating icecream somewhere in the back of garage... 😉

Why should Philip Morris be paying the severance money for Kimi? Are they terminating their sponsorship deal with Ferrari early?

It is in the interest of Ferrari to have Ferdinando as early as possible, because they see him as an important part of their long term future.

It is clearly in the interest of a Spanish bank to sponsor a team with the best Spanish driver.

It is probably in the interest of Philip Morris to get out of a sponsorship deal that is rather useless to them given tobacco advertisind law.

This might have created a situation in which the team was able to find enough money to terminate Kimis contract early.

The team might not have an immediate commercial advantage, but the current situation and the interests of key players might just have made it possible.

Somehow I have the feeling that Kimi has to leave against his own will, even in case of him having an option to go to McLaren and probably getting a lot money.


Kimi must have a contract in his pocket by now at least a strong option, I cannot imagine Robertsons not to put everything its place before quitting Ferrari. It would be a mistake to quit after this year, he deserves a fast and reliable car at least for one or two more years. Let`s say one year and an extra optional. Otherwise he has made a mega-deal he could buy a whole team for himself.


I am 100% sure he has a few offers on the table. He is just mulling over which one to sign.


How much do you think Mr. Anthony Hamilton can influence the decision on Kimi with McLaren?


Hi James,

Although an intriguing idea, why would Kimi return to the McLaren environment after he seemed so keen to move in 2006? In other words, what's changed at McLaren to make him interested in returning?

The departure of Ron Dennis/arrival of Martin Whitmarsh?

Having an uber-media/ sponsor friendly team mate in Hamilton, which means Kimi can hide?


There is one aspect that has not been mentioned in any of the reports outside of the commercial reality and that is simply that Alonso appears to be a much better "cultural" fit with the Scuderia. In the 3 years at Ferrari Kimi has not be willing to engage with the fans, media, italian or even gobal public who demand to see some degree of passion from him if he is driving for such an important part of Italian racing heritage. All the other drivers appear to want to relate to their fans by engaging with the media outside of their normal contractual obligations. I have found the past 3 years with Kimi frustrating as a Ferrari fan not so much because of his inconsistency but because I could never really judge the passion within him. Alonso is a double world champion as was Schumacher when he joined from the same de facto team therefore all the signs are there for Ferarri. The key will be for them to get the psychometrics back to the Todt, Brawn and Schuey days and Alonso, I feel, is a big piece of the jigsaw.


I don't get it when people judge passion by the number of times they appear in front of the media or maybe exchange words with their teammates or intentionally impede other drivers from getting good lap times. The last time I checked that is not how passionate is define.

Kimi loves racing. You don't judge passion for racing in a press conference.


You know, actually it was very fascinating for many tifosi to look for sparkles of passion in Kimi and discover them...


Must have hurt Domenicali so much to watch Kimi win at Spa this year. Like pushing drawing pins into the soles of his own feet. Likewise the rest of the Ferraristas, legends included.

And with KR threatening to do more of the same, it's clear they had no option but to bring forward Alonso's transfer


I personally think the move is just a way for Domenicali to cover his own incompetence. I am not sure it is a driver's responsibility to lead a team. As the boss of Scuderia, it is his job to lead, inspire and direct. In the past two seasons he clearly failed. However, in order to hold on to his job, he needs a scapegoat, hence Kimi, who never cares to defend himself. I think Ferrari's problem is not drivers but management. Sadly the italians will never to admit it. For me it is an easy decision: I will pull the order for 458 and get an MP12-4C instead.


I completely agreed with your coments, the only one who it's paying the mistakes for the very Bad management is Kimi, all the silly's mistakes the team did and with the cleary intentions not to follow the develoment requested by Kimi. For sure Domenicali use Kimi as a scapegoat.


Don't cancel the Ferrari, I will look after it for you;)


haha. Seriously, Kimi's departure will have an impact on Ferrari's brand. I am speaking of this as a long-term owner. F1 aside, Alonso is simply not as "in" or "cool" from a fashion point of view. In my part of world, he doesn't even come close to Kimi in terms of marketing pull.


Interesting point of view. I can see your point in terms of residuals. Although for new sales another WDC next year would help.

Not strictly on topic, but.....

To be honest all the mid-engine supercars are about to take a tumble in 2nd hand values with the release of the 458. I didn't think there could be a better looking car than the 430, clearly I was wrong.


I find Ferrari's blasé approach here very strange. There is no guarentee whatsoever that Massa will be any bit the driver he was before his accident. Did anyone see the pic of him in the go-kart recently? His left eye still looks a mess and his doctor was quoted as saying Massa was concerned about the pressure of the helmet against the point of impact on his face. Given the high demands on F1 drivers, worrying about your helmet is something you don't want to be thinking about. I know he's bound to be worried and it will play in the back of his mind for some time, but it's a big risk on Ferrari's part. Had they kept Kimi, they were guarenteed 2 of the top 5 drivers in F1 in its current climate. Fisi is no Kimi and should Massa not return, everything will be on Alonso's shoulders. A responsibility I'm sure he would cherish should he get it.

My point here is, if you threw a neutral into the fray here and asked them who they would keep, Massa wouldn't make the cut. I think Ferrari are getting sentimental in their old age and it could prove costly next year.


Kimi to win the world championship with Mclaren in 2010. He deserves to be a 2 time world champion. Mclaren let him down twice in the past, 2003 and 2005, now its time to deliver the reliability and complete car package.


I think Ferrari are trying to recreate what they had in the Schumacher days, a really strong number one driver who will gather the team around them and lead them to victory, backed up by a solid number two. They expected Kimi to do that when he arrived but it emphatically didn't happen - he's just not that sort of driver which they hadn't understood. Either that or they hadn't recognised their own needs.

In a way, Michael's success did Ferrari no long-term favours because of the way he did it. It was so dependent on the key members (himself, Ross, Rory to name a few) who are not there any more, that Ferrari didn't have to develop the in-depth management and technical strengths that other teams like McLaren and Williams have. Those kind of teams are happier with a driver who turns up, always goes as fast as possible, tells the engineers how it was and then gets out of the way and goes home. Just like Kimi in fact - which is why he's such a good fit at McLaren.

Massa stepped in and did the one big family thing pretty well but he's not a number one. (Sorry to his fans but you're not a number one if you need continual coaching from your engineer, even as you drive.)

Alonso has done it at Renault and clearly intended to do the same at McLaren but he misunderstood the team; the Big Daddy was always Ron's job and anyway, the family is built around Lewis.

The other aspect of the Schmacher era was the clear driver hierarchy. That's why they don't want to pair Raikkonen with Alonso. Massa is a gamble as his fitness is currently unknown but he's a proven number two driver and even if it doesn't work out, there are plenty of other good number twos out there.

The big question is will Ferrari's strategy work?


nicely put.


It saddens me to read that Kimi looked rather crestfallen during the press briefings, James. Kimi honoured his 5 year contract with McLaren despite the reported difficulties towards the end with Ron Dennis, and looks set to continue to honour his contract with Ferrari, but it wasn't to be.

Yes, a lot of fans are not happy with Ferrari's treatment of Kimi but I see your point that Stefano has to prove his tenure in their current slipping form. It seems they need a driver with leadership skills, and Fernando is supposedly their man.

And to deny that Kimi's termination is not due to commercial consideration must come under the heading of lie-gate, no ? Everything about F1 IS COMMERCIAL !! Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the saying goes something like...Race on Sunday, Sell on Mondays..??

Now it seems Kimi may not even continue in F1 next year!? What about the highly touted theory that Kimi is heading to McLaren ? Is the stumbling block something by the name of Hamilton ?

Kimi is a star attraction of F1 and I don't think F1 should see him leave just yet. There is something about Kimi that despite his nonchalance, it's exactly this attitude plus the inestimable X-factor that's what's most appealing to his fans all over the world.

James, having read your excellent book The Edge of Greatness, have you considered writing a book on Kimi Raikkonen ? Every chance it will be a thin book without much controversy, but judging by the support Kimi's getting, I'm sure there's a huge ready market for it. Get cracking, PLEASE ! It'll sell like hot cakes, for sure !


I agree that there is something about Kimi that makes the fans love him and gives him star quality. It seems that many in the media aren't too fond of Kimi, although I can't quite put my finger on why. My quick take on it comes from having met Kimi several times. I had the good fortune of staying in the same hotel as the Ferrari team in Montreal in 2007 and 2008. In '08, I had the pleasure of meeting Massa as my group was having drinks in the lobby. It was exciting to us all as F1 fans, and Massa was very charming and chatty. However, a few minutes after this encounter, Kimi stepped off the elevator and into the lobby. He hung around waiting for someone for a few minutes, then sat down to read a magazine. I can only describe that everyone seemed almost stunned, with silly smiles on their faces. It was really like being starstruck. There is just something about him, some sort of innate "coolness", that is undeniable. When asked, he took some photos with people and was very personable. I think he doesn't particulary like dealing with media, but he's great with this fans. I met him again this year in the paddock in Hungary, and he stopped to talk to my 12 yr old daughter, therefore making her immediately starstruck also. There's just something...and yes, James, he does have "plenty of support, it seems". A huge amount of support at every race I've ever been to. Ferrari is going it alienate a lot of people with this. Big mistake in their handling.


Mmm he certainly has plenty of support, it seems. Would be quite a difficult subject.


How about a picture book with speech bubbles that readers can fill in themselves?

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

It looks like Kimi will sign a 2-year deal with McLaren with an option to leave after one year. If he is outpaced by Hamilton my guess is that he himself will admit that he is not motivated and will quit to go rallying (strange, as Montoya did the same when outpaced by Kimi and went to NASCAR).

James, what are McLaren's options should Kimi say no? Rosberg is going to Brawn. Surely they can't keep Kovi on? He cost them the WCC last year.


Anyway, Kimi deserves a drive for next season and the best option for WDC is Brawn IMO!

James, what is your opinion? Will Kimi leave F1 and go somewhere else? Do you have some information has he signed for McLaren or Brawn? Is there any other team in option?


I think it's McLaren or rallying.


If Kimi goes rallying he should go to Citroen and replace Seb.

Kimi to Citroen and Loeb to McLaren would be nice isn't it!?


Kimmi is always talking straight and in a mature and no-nonsense way. Hope he will race for McLaren and give mr H. a lesson or two.


I agree with Andrew in that Kimi has always let his driving do the talking. It is interesting in today's F1 that a driver like him who sticks to the fundamental historical principles of what an F1 driver should be is actually criticized for this. It shows where the sport's (or dare I say spectacle) priorities lie now.

Anyhow, for me as an Iceman and a McLaren fan it would be ideal to see him back in the silver arrows winning races and hopefully championships.

Go Raikkonen!

By the way, James assuming Massa will only stay in Ferrari for one year, who do you see joining Alonso at Ferrari in 2011? Will this be another case of getting a driver that can be relied on to win podiums but play second fiddle to Alonso (as in the Schumi years)?


Why assume Massa will stay one year? If he's fit and fast he'll stay longer


"If "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts, wouldn't it be a Merry Christmas?"

Big gamble keeping Massa, I think James. Ferrari are concerned about their image and potential negative press they would receive for dumping someone injured in the call of duty.


How about they are waiting for Vettel to replace Massa after next season, if necessary?

Surely they have an eye for someone younger already.


Vettel is tied in at Red Bull until 2012


Kimi, what a gentleman

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

He has behaved with sheer class. LDM seems like a bit of a sheister. He courts drivers and then falls out with them...remember Schumacher's body language towards him at Monza 2006?

I was not a huge fan of Kimi before, but given the way he has handled himself I now appreciate his uniqueness that makes him so strong.



You said yourself that Lewis is probably not thrilled with Kimi coming... any chance the Hamilton's could prevent the move and push for someone like Kubica who is fast but not fast enough to beat Lewis?

Kimi sounds like it's a top team or bust next year... no small teams as he put it and I don't blame him


You know you have heard rumors on the internet that Stefano has been less fond of Kimi since the middle of last yaer when Kimi went on his mid season slump. You never thought it was true because he would always defend Kimi when it came to the changes not suiting him, but you still heard that Stefano was never really fond. Now after reading this it has become apparent Kimi was Jean Todt's man. It makes sense for Ferrari, latin driver, latin team. As far as Alonso being any better, I mean he has not been head and shoulders above anyone this season. His 6 tenths went where? I know people didnt like Jean Todt and welcomed Stefano's warm and nice attitude, but this seems like something Jean Todt would do. Best of luck to Fernando and Ferrari especially if he gets Giancarlo as his number 2 in regards to Massa's comeback, and if Kimi goes back to McLaren or rally I hope he shows why he was labeled the fastest man in F1 from 2002-2006 in a McLaren.


It is nonsense for Domenicali to suggest this had nothing to do with Santander, their money, and them wanting a Spanish Driver. I thought he was brighter than to try and con the world when no explanation beyond the truth will appear plausible. It proves once again that when money talks, the driver walks, regardless of their talent. Kimi of course has ensured that he will be paid very handsomely for going.

I am very surprised at the suggestion that Philip Morris are picking up Kimi's severance. Is their relationship with Ferrari not about to end as previously reported? (about five years after Ferrari last agreed to discontinue tobacco sponsorship! )


i think hamilton would relish the opportunity to race against kimi. if lewis beats him, than what will all of you say then? he already beat alonso, kimi's the next best. i hope he signs that mclaren contract asap.


well, if hamilton was to go to renault to partner alonso, i firmly believe alonso would wipe the floor with him. team's support is very big factor.


Lewis is at a completely different stage in his carreer than Kimi or Alosno. He is expected to beat Kimi, but you`d better not take it granted in my opinion. Kimi and Alonso both were able to beat Schumacher and Montoya. Also Kimi is much stronger and cooler in the head.


Kimi is a class act.

He's been pushing a car that Ferrari has stopped working on, pushing for a team that has been pushing him out of the door since the start of the season. He's fifth in the championship behind two superior cars.

I hope to see him in a McLaren next year.


I think Kimi is speaking his mind here, no "political correct" stuff. I can imagine that he is upset because his plan is interupted. He has never hide his desire to rally after 2011, that was why he signed the contract. He said many times that there are many things he wants to do in life, F1 is just one of those....

I believe many of Kimi's supporters like him as he is. He maybe boring, not media-savvy, not so fan-friendly, but he this why he is called iceman and let his driving do the talking. Pure racer.

I have never supported Ferrari until Kimi drive for them.In fact, I support whichever team Kimi drive for since Sauber. Hopefully he will choose to continue, in a McLaren and fight for another WDC.


Kimi still has enough talent to win few races in a season and also try to win WDC. To show Ferrari his true talent should be enough motivation for the next year.

I hope Kimi stays in F1 otherwise it will be boring to watch.


Please don't leave Kimi!

Heres hoping you do land the 2nd seat at McLaren next year!

You are still one of the top drivers, its not your time to go yet.

Best of luck!

In regards to Ferrari, I still love their history and them as a team, but this driver pairing is going to be an absolute nightmare once the season is underway. Alonso and Massa are both very vocal and emotional, and one or the other is going to be rather hurt when the Luca's decided their #1...


"I really think that Ferrari will be my last team, as I said, leaving Ferrari to change teams is a step backwards."

Try telling that to Fisichella!

To be honest, I think getting out of Ferrari is the right move. The backroom politics have arrived back at Ferrari with avengeance, they haven't inspired confidence with their car improvement this year and with fuel economy being important next year I'd want a Mercedes engine.


"It is nonsense for Domenicali to suggest this had nothing to do with Santander, their money, and them wanting a Spanish Driver."

Yep, you're dead right. You can't ignore the politics in getting a race drive. Ferrari want Santander as a sponsor, especially in the current financial climate, and Alonso was always a part of that deal. The fact that he happens to be a decent driver is a secondary consideration really.


Although I think Kimi is a great driver, his returning to McLaren reminds me of Einstein's "The definition of insanity is doing the same think over expecting a different result."

Didn't Kimi leave McLaren because of his lifestyle clashing with the very straight-laced corporate image of the team? Has he given up on the lap dancers?


There is some concern with one prominent alcohol sponsor, I understand. But the pros outweigh the cons


No problemo, they should replace this sponsor by Haagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry's? Kimi would love it 🙂


If Kimi is a bit off balance now, although I dont believe the part with "a lump in the troat" then that's proof he's just not all ice. Hopefully that can transform into revenge served with a silver bullet in 2010.


Kimi is F1 as it should be, and I'm not sure that I'd be interested in following this convoluted excuse for a sport anymore if Kimi leaves and Todt wins the presidency. It'd be tough enough with Bernie still pulling the strings and Ferrari throwing their weight around. But no Kimi and there's a complete vacuum in character.

I remember the time Kimi brought his grandmother to a race ( I think it was Monaco in 07, but it makes no difference) and there was mocking of him as a result in the press. In my opinion , Kimi is the kind of person we should want to be, were we in the same position. He's loyal to his friends and takes care of business on the track. Had he been availed to the reliability of the McLarens of the past 3 years when he was there, Michael Schumacher might be a few championships down as well as Fernando.

I thought that Kimi's going directly to the boat full of friends at Monaco after his falling out of the race was great. We should all have a friend as loyal. My guess is that his friends from childhood are the same ones that he has now.

But we all have images in our minds of what we think is positive and negative in people , so I want to make clear that these are some of mine. I do hope that Kimi stays for a couple of years with McLaren, and is again the fastest man in F1.

And speaking of F1, does anyone else think Beyonce could spell F1 without any coaching or the use of a dictionary? And F1.com videos, we all know what Anthony Hamilton looks like, so enough already. And while you're at it, why not make your videos 10 minutes long, rather than the length of whatever music you score it to.


"... I remember the time Kimi brought his grandmother to a race..."

Off-topic, but since you brought this up, his grandmother, who was a very important person to Kimi, just passed away last week. These have been tough times for him.


Here is what they must sing on Kimi's boat at Monaco when they celebrate Iceman's success 🙂

Kimi! KImi! KImi! a man after midnight!

Won't somebody help me chase the shadows away

Kimi Kimi Kimi a man after midnight

Take me through the darkness to the break of the day


Message to Nelsinho if he happens to be reading this blog:

Hello Jr, I think you should reflect on the immaculate way Kimi responded to the fact he was let go by his team. This showed his class. Iceman would have had much more valid reasons to be bitter or complain of his fate than you and he choose not to.

This shows the difference between a great champion and an also ran or simply between a well adjust human being and a very immature one.



This a Finnish thing called SISU (guts), that Räikkönen shows, and will continue to show. He will probably make the Italian and Spanish, also maybe British boys cry next year.

The Winter War: Finland vs. Soviet Union

30 November 1939 – 13 March 1940.

Check out the odds from wikipedia! (Overwhelming)

Finland was never occupied by the soviets, not during the whole period of WWII, nor afterwards.

Btw, Kimi is a reserve NCO in the Finnish Army.



Finland has the the highest number of fighter aces compared to population size!

Not to mention the number of F1 WDC compared to population size...(~5 million)

We are clearly the fastest and the most furious nation on earth!

Our blow is deep and our anger invincible!


So do not mess with us: (enter nation/person here)!

Seriously. Looking forward to a great season in 2010. I myself sincerely hope that the title fight is open and fair and may the best MAN win! Enough with politics and let the racing begin!


Thanks very much for that. Not sure why I have so many people from Finland reading this blog, but we love your 'Sisu'.


We read your blog, because:

1. It is brilliant.

2. We have only one proper journalist of our own - Heikki Kulta of Turunsanomat.

By the way, he apparently had the only private interview with Kimi yesterday. In it Kimi was saying: "If I really insisted, I probably would have been able to race for Ferrari also next year. But it would be pointless if that was against the will of someone in the team."

So, maybe there was some truth behind having 'decided together'...


Matti, I showed your comment to Heikki and he said, "Nice, thank you."


Kimi will end up at Brawn in 2010.


I don't think so.


Everyone goes one for days on this blog how Kimi just turns up and drives and "no BS".

Well, that's the problem.

Ferrari (and any other team) would like a bit more input from their star driver than that. He was being paid silly money, and you can't say that he was doing all he could for the team.

Let alone, being so inconsistent and needing "inspiration" (is he artist or something?), but all those comments only imply that there was much more he could do to push the team forward. Ron Dennis admitted himself that they had a bit of a "pulling teeth" trying to make Kimi do more testing for the sake of improving the car. If testing was so much of a drag for him, I doubt he ever dedicated as much time as MS and Alonso did talking to engineers and generally working with team.


so far as i can tell, the only real interest in kimi moving to mclaren is coming from santander. Mclaren do not let sponcors pick drivers...they havnt even let mercedes have any real input in that decission. I dont buy into it. i think mclaren will look to the future rather than have kimi in for a year...certainly not 2 yrs. i dont believe there is any appetite at mclaren for having kimi back...and im not convinced kimi would want to either.


I hope he comes back for at least one more year so we can have a heavy weight fight for the title, and the more the merrier


Love your blog James! Great insight and very good comments by the readers.

As i have been reading allthe comments i come to several conclusions: Kimi is very much à very cool and fast driver. I understand the emotions by most of him being sacked. But as we all know F1 is hard and about the best with à lot of wealthy stakeholders. Secondly would Kimi be sacked if he didn't have the slump last year when he was beaten by Massa? We should also realize that Kimi is not à very motivated leader as for example MS or FA. These 2 drivers just make their luck and even choose the people they want to work with. And that's exactly what Ferrari are looking for. And let's be honest he'll get more money than most of us will earn our entire life...Kimi won't leave us just yet. Hè's too young to quit. If hè does we'll definetly miss him....Hope he's cool enough to take up the challenge with à certain Lewis Hamilton. Very much looking forward to that!


It was a deal ferrari couldn't turn his back on.

They get a twice world champion, and the money is coming from a new spanish sponsor.

They are fixing a situation created by todt, who makes a deccision based more on his ego, than in the best interst of ferrari. With the agreement of schumacher, who should have recomended better his employer, on driver's choice. He knew better.


Having commented on Kimi going to Brawn in 2010, there's a few other alternatives...

- Mclaren

- Toyota

- Renault

Be good to see him at Mclaren again, however I believe he would be better suited at Brawn under the guidance of Ross Brawn. His relationship with Jenson would work better than, if he went to Mclaren, Lewis Hamilton.


Could be sweet revenge for kimi now...Alonso has to leave because vettel might join ferrari

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