/ Motorsport

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen returns to Ferrari as replacement for Felipe Massa

Updated: Wednesday, 11 Sep 2013 14:34 | Comments

Kimi Raikkonen (left) will join Fernando Alonso at Ferrari next season, while Daniel Ricciardo will link up with Sebastian Vettel (right) at Red Bull
Kimi Raikkonen (left) will join Fernando Alonso at Ferrari next season, while Daniel Ricciardo will link up with Sebastian Vettel (right) at Red Bull

Ferrari have confirmed Kimi Raikkonen will return to the team as the replacement for Felipe Massa from the start of next season.

Raikkonen, 33, won the world title with Ferrari in 2007 but left the team just two years later for a new challenge in rallying.

He has impressed since returning to F1 at the start of 2012 with Lotus and has now agreed a return to Maranello on a two-year deal.

The move pairs the rapid Finn with two-time world champion Fernando Alonso in what will arguably be the strongest driver line-up in the sport.

"Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has reached an agreement with Kimi Raikkonen," read a statement on ferrari.com. "The Finn will join alongside Fernando Alonso in the driver line-up for the next two seasons."

Raikkonen contested 52 grands prix for Ferrari between 2007 and 2009, winning on nine occasions. Six of those victories came in his first season as he beat McLaren duo Alonso and Lewis Hamilton to the world title by a single point.

However, he failed to replicate his 2007 performances in the two seasons that followed, with team-mate Massa enjoying the upper hand.

Raikkonen negotiated a release from his contract a year early at the end of 2009, with the Scuderia bringing in Alonso as his replacement. Two largely unsuccessful years in the World Rally Championship followed, and it was a reinvigorated Raikkonen that returned to F1 with Lotus in 2012.

Raikkonen, who began his F1 career with Sauber in 2001 before spending five seasons at McLaren, had been linked with a move to world champions Red Bull in the wake of Mark Webber's decision to retire, but was overlooked in favour of Australia's Daniel Ricciardo.

Ferrari's decision to part with Massa ends the Brazilian's eight-year stint driving for the Prancing Horse, during which time he lost out on the 2008 world title by a single point and suffered a fractured skull in a freak accident in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Massa, who has made 184 starts for Ferrari - winning 11 races - has indicated he is keen to continue in F1 next season and has been touted as a possible replacement for Raikkonen at Lotus.

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use
Powered by NewsWhip