There has been a lot of speculation about what will happen next for Kimi Raikkonen, who has had a difficult season since his move back to Ferrari.
He has not looked the same driver whose return to F1 with Lotus was so garlanded with podiums and race wins. He has had problems with various aspects of the Ferrari, particularly the feel of the car.
Today, in a frank admission, Raikkonen told reporters that he simply intends to see out the second year of his contract, when asked how long he plans to race on,
“Until my contract is finished, and then I will probably stop. That is what I think is going to happen,” said the Finn.
The notion of stopping at the end of 2015 isn’t all that surprising; the Finn will be 36 by then. More interesting is that he wants to make it clear that he will be in F1 next season, despite suggestions to the contrary.
Former champion Jacques Villeneuve was critical of Raikkonen last week, for example,
“If he can’t drive in F1 anymore, he should go home. He is a very experienced driver,” Villeneuve said, “So he shouldn’t be making excuses at every grand prix like a rookie does.
“He should take two or three races to change how he’s driving, and if he can’t, that’s a problem. You can’t go on like this when you’re a world champion.
“You have no right to make excuses.”
Raikkonen went for the offer made by Ferrari for 2014 because he felt the best option with a significant rule change was to be with a works team that has its own engine.
The Ferrari power unit has proved to be inferior to the Mercedes and even the Renault. Nevertheless, Raikkonen has just 19 points to team mate Fernando Alonso’s 79; his best result a pair of seventh places.
He was on target for a podium in Monaco but got a puncture after pitting under the safety car and lost the opportunity.
“The problem isn’t the brake by wire system,” Raikkonen said after the last race in Austria, “It is that the car doesn’t react the way I want it to. We have to improve the balance and the mechanical grip.”