The problem for Kimi Raikkonen
Scuderia Ferrari
The problem for Kimi Raikkonen
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Nov 2009   |  12:03 pm GMT  |  266 comments

There are a number of drivers in play in the current unfolding situation between McLaren and Brawn. There are three seats as yet unconfirmed and four drivers to fill them.

Attention for the moment is focussed on Jenson Button, with some commentators predicting that he will imminently sign a three year £6 million contract with McLaren, leaving the team he has been with in various guises for seven years.

Nico Rosberg is involved, but his position is clear; he has already signed a contract with Brawn, which was taken over yesterday by Mercedes and will become its works team next year. The team has been monitoring him closely and liked what they saw this season enough to take him on. Nick Heidfeld is talking to both teams and hoping that a space will open up at one of them.

It's a nail-biting time for Raikkonen (Photo:Darren Heath)

It's a nail-biting time for Raikkonen (Photo:Darren Heath)

And that leaves Kimi Raikkonen, Formula 1’s great enigma. It’s quite clear from reading the many comments on this site that Raikkonen has a huge fan base. People like his uncomplicated, non PC style and his raw talent. Many fans are suspicious of the media and the agendas it serves some times in its reporting and like the fact that Raikkonen gives the media short shrift.

But many Raikkonen fans are puzzled as to how he could have got himself into a situation where from being world champion two years ago with Ferrari he is now in real danger of being dropped out of F1.

Let’s deal with the contractual side first. He had a three year contract with Ferrari, which had an option clause in it for 2010. This option was taken up towards the end of 2008, even though Raikkonen had had, by his standards, a poor season. However Ferrari’s senior management, led by Luca di Montezemolo, then had a change of heart and decided that Fernando Alonso was a better long term bet. The arrival of Banco Santander as a sponsor for 2010 played a role in that too.

So negotiations took place to end Raikkonen’s contract a year early. As I understand it the deal is that if he leaves F1 he will receive €17 million in severance pay, which is half of the €34 million he’s been earning per year at Ferrari. However if he drives for another team in 2010 he will get just €10 million.

So that is why his manager, Steve Robertson, has been looking for a deal which makes sense. The McLaren offer is understood to be around €6 million, similar to the money Button is being offered. So he would earn more money sitting on his sofa in Switzerland than he would racing for McLaren.

Now you might argue that having made the hundred million plus he has made over the years, he should accept the inevitable and drive a potentially winning car next year, collecting €16 million in the process, which is still not a bad return. But it is not happening.

Unfortunately for Raikkonen, the mood has changed among teams now in terms of spending money. The resource restriction agreement, a legally binding agreement between teams to cut costs, does not include driver salaries. But it represents a state of mind as much as anything else and when teams are set to lay off many hundreds of people over the next couple of years and cut costs down to around €50-70 million per year, they do not feel inclined to pay out for drivers like they did pre-credit crunch.

Raikkonen has slipped behind Button in McLaren’s pecking order. Button offers three years of stability and marketability for Vodafone. Raikkonen would be a more temporary move.

Brawn do not seem to be interested, partly because of the money, but also, I suspect, because of what Ross Brawn has gleaned about his performances from his old colleagues at Ferrari.

But it is not just about money. Luca di Montezemolo went on record several times, criticising Raikkonen for his lack of commitment, once famously wondering whether another Raikkonen had turned up to race, rather than the driver they thought they had signed.

Ferrari never knew from one race to the next, which Raikkonen was going to turn up. This is not my opinion, it is what I gleaned from Ferrari over the last couple of years.

The next few days are critical. If Button jumps ship to McLaren it looks like Raikkonen’s F1 career may be over. He may call it a sabbatical and attempt a return in 2011.

Or he may take up rallying. From what I understand the WRC is keenly anticipating having Raikkonen and Valentino Rossi in its ranks in a couple of years time, which would certainly get the series some much needed attention.

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F1 is commercial world. You breathe when and how your team tells you, or you’re not welcome. This is not about Kimi’s driving abilities, which are second to none (let’s be frank) it’s more about Kimi doing what he likes. He’s a Finn, which means “that if you drive F1 you’re not good enough for WRC”, and (we all agree)F1 is just getting boring. Overtaking is penalized, “Overtaking Group” did not find the way to make racing interesting, rules are unclear… F1 is going down. Why not to get more money driving WRC then a full F1 season in mediocre car? Red Bull link means Vettel out, Kimi in. It’s just dull and character free…


my guess is this:

nico rosberg will be traded by mercedes for lewis hamilton of mclaren because mobil 1 will be following mercedes in their team and mclaren is loosing sponsorships by having 2 british drivers – and cost of salary of rosberg to hamilton is way cheaper for mclaren.

now that hamilton is in the cards of mercedes, he will now then be traded to red bull for sebastian vettel – THE MAN’ THAT NORBERT REALY WANTED FOR HIS TEAM. a german driver with years of commitment.

Then the other driver must be a top driver, with much experience, goes along with vettel, coming from a top team for info resources, and if possible a former world champion with also a very good fan base for sponsorship appeal…this points out to Kimi Raikkonen!

– if you are redbull, would you heistate to trade vettel for hamilton?

this is an idea for me. i hope you may agree a little. thanks.


[Mercedes’ Norbert Haug indicated that he is keen on Kimi Raikkonen. “He has my number. He can call me at any time,” Haug said.]

As long as Mercedes havent confirms their driver line-up next year without Kimi. I still think that is a extremly high posibility that Kimi will stick with F1 driving the possible best car on track!

By the way, who is better than Kimi competing for that sit? Nick Heidfield? Could be if Mercedes not thinking of winning any title!


It’s a shame if Kimi can’t be on the 2010 grid. F1 will be a little bit more boring without him.

He has shown that he is a superb pilot (better than Alonso IMO) and I was hoping to see him beating Ferrari next year…

Anyway, Good Luck to him in his new endeavors, and thanks James for all this info. 😀


Hi James

You wrote

“Ferrari never knew from one race to the next, which Raikkonen was going to turn up. This is not my opinion, it is what I gleaned from Ferrari over the last couple of years.”

What is your personal opinion on Raikkonen?

Best regards!


I’ll write that soon


Goodbye F1 – Welcome WRC 😉


The replies on here really do show the extent of Kimi’s cult following… No wonder I get my head bit off on the various forums of the world when I dared to mention his name in vain. The end of an era I guess! I wonder what fanbase will fill the vaccum? I reckon there’s a good chance that the Alonso “fans” who buggered off when he ended up in a crap car will magically return. In that case i’d better dust of the old tin hat – although I can see most of the fireworks happening between those lot and the Massa fans of this world. Maybe sitting back with a Coke and a Magnum would be more appropriate lol. Interesting times ahead!


I think in some backroom somewhere Bernie is busy arranging a deal for Kimi its very much in his interest to have Kimi in F1.

Don’t be surprised if that last seat at Brawn goes Kimi, well here’s hoping

Even if Steven Roberts has already hinted that Kimi will taking a sabbatical year off.


I’m sure you all remember that Button took a large pay cut to help BrawnGP even exist. It’s not greedy to ask for a decent F1 salary now. He would still be making less as current world champion than some drivers are making with no title(from what I’ve read elsewhere). I really think that Mercedes, with taking over BrawnGP, wants an all German driver lineup anyway.

And I thought that Kimi was aiming to drive S2000 class when it came to WRC.


Like the man himself said (monosyllabically)

earlier this season, Kimi does has options to remain in F1 for next season if he wants to – he could quite probably secure a drive at either Brawn or McLaren if he was prepared to reduce his asking price. Kimi is not being forced out of the sport – if he leaves, it will be on his own terms.

I am as much a fully paid up member of the Kimi Raikkonen fan club as anyone else here (including Charlie!), but if Kimi really cannot motivate himself to stay in F1, then I don’t want to watch him qualify eighth and trundle round to an anonymous seventh race after race next season. Sure, it is a waste of an awesome talent but he will not be the first, or the last, driver to do that.


Looks like Kimi not being on the grid next year is already official…


looks like Kimi is out…..


with sponsors leaving mclaren.. they need a good PR driver like button.. Kimi not wanting to do pr work.. pretty much sums it up


First of all, James, when you wrote “Many fans are suspicious of the media and the agendas it serves some times in its reporting and like the fact that Raikkonen gives the media short shrift.”, I don’t know if you were referring directly to one of my last comments when I said “his seeming indifference to the media forces journalists such as yourself to work much harder to get a juicy quote or story out of him, but I think that is another reason he has endeared himself to his many fans”, or to other similar comments, but as to my comment I did not mean to imply I like to see Kimi snub you or the rest of the media simply because we do not like or trust the media.

I only meant that he seems to regard dealing with the media as an undesirable chore that comes with being an excellent race car driver (the reason he ended up in F1 in the first place), and not the other way around like some drivers who appear to value and nurture their careers as media stars more than as drivers. As a racing fan first yourself, I am sure at least part of you admires that honesty in character, even if the journalist in you would prefer someone more open and quote-worthy.

Secondly, I have made some comments about Kimi’s personality and even speculated on why he may no longer desire to be in F1, or at least not be desperate to stay there. But let’s put all that aside.

I am a Kimi fan partly because I am an ex-speed racer who, like him, raced not for money or trophies or any other outside rewards, but for the inner rewards of the sheer thrill of going fast and the challenge of pushing myself to the ultimate limit. I only mention part of my past because this is why I understand why someone like Raikkonen is misunderstood. Winning and trophies and recognition and all the rest of it are merely secondary to the true reason why we love to race, and many people simply cannot believe that inner motivations can possibly be more important than outer ones. Downhill skier Bode Miller also comes to mind when thinking of an athlete/racer with obscene talent who often frustrates and confuses fans and media.

But you don’t have to be an ex-racer to appreciate these qualities about Raikkonen. All you need is your own two eyes open to a degree. If you take away the influence on the fans’ or the media’s loyalties to drivers or teams based on their allegiance to their country of origin, this explains why Raikkonen is so popular worldwide. Regardless of what country you’re from or what team is your favorite, he is easily the most exciting driver to watch, even if he is inconsistent. That’s just part of the mystery and excitement of watching him. Lewis and Vettel and Alonso are very, very good, but they simply lack that little something extra that makes Kimi a driving rockstar and a legend.

If he is pushed aside by F1 for politics, economics or whatever other stupid reason, it will be just another glaring example of Formula One shooting itself in the foot in recent years. How the people who run the sport think they can keep fans interested while they continue to neuter the sport that used to have the most interesting athletes on the planet risking their lives to entertain us is beyond me. With Raikkonen gone, I gotta say whoever wins the WDC next year should have an asterisk next to their name because only with a championship being contended with all four(!) currently competing world champions racing against each other, along with the other few excellent contenders can the winner truly be deserving of the title.

Thanks again for an excellent website, your well thought out analysis and for giving us armchair pilots a chance to spout off.

Crid [CridComment @ gmail]


Just read the news that Kimi’s sitting it out, just as you suggested he might. You really nailed this one! Nailed it to the wall. I’d have never understood what was going on without having read this blog post. Well done.


So that’s it then. Heikki Kulta confirmed tonight that Kimi won’t be in F1 next year (his manager said so) and have followed it up.

Goodbye F1.


And if he’s out of F1 next year, I doubt he’ll ever come back.


We are in no position to comment/criticize any drivers. We are just fans who watches the race and are amazed when we see some exciting stuffs. Those drivers race for passion not for money (they are risking their life, according to me no money is worth your life),So there is no point in saying that he’s is greedy or he not worth the money. Likewise,we are not there during their negotiation process. We just comment on rumors, we don’t know for sure what is happening there. We have waited this long, its not gonna hurt if we wait little longer.

By the way, I am a huge KIMI fan.

Great article James. I would like you to write a article comparing Kimi,Lewis and Alonso. You are in a better position to judge than most of us here.




On other forums it’s being reported that Robertson confirmed to TS in Finland that Kimi is out of F1.

If this is true, so am I.

Cheers then.


Kimi is taking a year sabbatical. Will he end up like Häkkinen?


What, divorced…working for Johnnie Walker …in what way do you mean?


It seems like in the F1 world today, there might not be a place anymore for a driver like Kimi.

Kimi is a real throwback to way that racing use to be. These days F1 drivers are just that; F1 drivers, with media personalities that constantly have to think about their image, the press and thanking the team. So few of them still show a bit of character, and few as often as Kimi.

Kimi is a racer and a gentleman at the same time, a very fair but hard racer who never says anything bad about anyone. It is somewhat ironic therefore that people or the press always have a lot to say about him. Kimi has a lot of integrity, something that seems to be sorely missing these days, although not just in F1.

And apart from that he is also a terrific racing driver, he has shown this year once again that he can wring that something extra out of a car.

Kimi is properly one of the most misunderstood figures in the paddock, after nine years in F1 many people are no closer to understanding Kimi then when he entered F1. Recently I watched an interview of him before he entered F1, and the man hasn’t changed one bit. He is very grounded, and he has never fallen for the usual trappings of wealth and F1. It takes an exceptional person and a very strong character to remain so steadfast, when everyone around you always wants you to change. Kimi is his own man and he has managed to figure himself out a long time ago. He will do what he thinks is right and he will have no regrets about it.

During the season F1 became pretty tedious at times. We had the liegate scandal, diffuser controversy, wars of bureaucracy between the FIA and FOTA, manufactures are running away in droves and to top it all off, a bit of race fixing. F1 is a wonderful sport but at times it becomes unbearable, and you sometimes wonder if it is really worth all the trouble and effort to follow it so feverishly.

But then you look at someone like Kimi Raikkonen, so uncomplicated and brilliant at the same time, and you see the way that F1 could be, and should be. Like the way he has handled his sacking from Ferrari, with so much class, something that is rarely seen these days. Or racing the fifth or sixth best car and placing it on the podium and even winning a race. Or thinking back to kimi and Lewis going for, giving it their all, on the last lap around a wet Spa. Or Lewis out qualifying the rest of grid by almost a second at Abu Dhabi. That is what it’s suppose to be about!

But that also makes it difficult for a person like Kimi, he loves racing and winning, and he will properly always be racing something. Therefore I dont think Kimi will ever be unmotivated when it comes to racing, but then F1 is hardly about any racing these days, is it? I can therefore quite easily understand Kimi’s love-hate attitude when it comes to F1. Politics and PR have taken over a lot of the sport.

Kimi and his managers have said a few times now that it is not about the money, and I for one believe him, he never given me any reason to have doubts about what he says. It seems that to some degree it also have a lot to do with sponsorship and what they perceive as their target audiences, and unfortunately Kimi comes from a small country with population of 5.5 million people.

It certainly would have been fantastic to see Kimi and Lewis going head to head at Mclaren, and hopefully this option is still open…

But luckily Kimi will always be racing, and therefore we will always be able to see him in action going out and giving it his all. I know I will certainly be watching Kimi tackling the WRC. It will certainly be very tough and difficult to find a foothold there, for a driver with almost no experience, but if there is someone who would be able to it, it has got to be Kimi Raikkonen!

Meanwhile, allow me to feel a bit saddened as F1 could be losing one of its last best components. F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and it is suppose to be about the best competing against each other, Kimi may perhaps not be out and out the best driver, but he is certainly one of the best, not to mention that he is still a lot better then many others who will still be around.


Kimi’s manager, Steve Robertson, has confirmed to Finnish Turun Sanomat that negotiations with McLaren have ended without a solution and Kimi will take a year off F1, concentrating on other challenges. At least a few rallies and Le Mans 24 hour race is mentioned. He says Kimi still wants to race in F1 if he can find a seat for 2011 with which he can fight for WDC.…eilu/89167.html

I think he just needs a new manager!


TS is reporting that Kimi is out for a year at least. It’s a real shame, the best out there just pushed out of the sport, it won’t be the same again, you’ll see


Thanks for your input! I guess your not allowed an opinion these days


It would be a shame to see Kimi go, every team has to have at least considered it. McLaren is where he belongs and he is the only person who can go there without ruining his career. Macca could also take him but they want Rosberg as their number 1.

I’m sure that if Kimi had a contract that was right he would have taken it. He obvously hasn’t (and it’s not all money). Kimi is misunderstood and deserves a place on the grid next year, but it is looking less and less likely.


Hi James,

How do you rate the Robertsons as managers? Are they in the sport to give serious talent a chance or are they using Kimi him to make some money (if they haven’t already)?

I am not sure if Kimi is the one who is hungry for money? Has he completed alienated himself from dealing with the teams for a drive for next year(s)?

Your insight on this matter please.

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