Brought to you by TJ13 contributor, Fortis
After a dismal year in 2014 where Kimi was soundly beaten by former Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, many believed that this year would see the resurgence of the ‘iceman’ in a James Allison designed Ferrari.
Yet just eight races in to the 2015 F1 season and we see the Finn trailing his new teammate Sebastian Vettel by 48 points. Kimi does have a podium finish this year with his second place in Bahrain – but he has been out qualified 7-1 by Vettel.
This has lead team principle Maurizo Arrivabene to issue a warning to Kimi that he’s currently driving for a contract extension with Ferrari: “We were very, very clear – and we meet time and again – and I say to Kimi,’look it depends on your performance’.
Given Raikkonen’s lack lustre results, it would be easy to conclude he is on his way out of Ferrari at the end of 2015.
However, Arrivabene remains positive: “He has demonstrated that he is a great driver, so if you are asking me now if he deserves the option today then [the answer is] yes.
Kimi is giving the best when he is a bit in trouble – this is a psychological approach so the paper at the moment is white.”
Though being candid, the Austrian GP was a disastrous weekend where Raikkonen failed to make it out of Q1. He then proceeded to bin the car only 2 corners into the race and Sport Bild are now reporting that Ferrari have launched a bid to replace Raikkonen in 2016 with the highly rated 25 year old Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.
Williams does though have an opinion to retain Bottas’s services for the 2016 season and there is no apparent reason why the team from Grove will part with the highly rated younger Finnish driver.
“It would be a pity if he leaves the team,” said technical boss Pat Symonds. “I know he feels very comfortable here, and he is an important part of the team.”
Ferrari though are willing to compensate Williams with a €4m payment to release Bottas from his current contractual arrangement.
Interestingly, Claire Williams is playing cute on the matter and demanding a sum in the region of 15m to release Valterri Bottas, a number at present not palatable for Arrivabene.
For many there is a more obvious choice to replace Kimi at Ferrari who are averse to recruiting drivers with little experience.
Le Mans winner, Nico Hulkneberg is said to be in the frame, but rumours suggest Ferrari are not happy with an all German driver line up.
Should Bottas join Ferrari, then it’s possible Hulkenberg would return to the Williams team, whom he drove for last in 2010. Whilst this would be a step forward for Hulkenberg, rejoining Sir Frank’s team would also carry with it greater risk.
When all is said and done, right now Kimi Raikkonen’s F1 future looks bleaker by the race weekend.