It's Make Or Break Time For Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari Career
Kimi Raikonen. Ferrari's star driver and their only world champion driver this millennium, other than The Great Michael Schumacher. Widely regarded as the fastest man on the grid. Also, it is speculated, the highest paid.
So why are Ferrari set to dump him?
Rumours are rife that Ferrari are unhappy with Raikkonen's performances and are offering him half his contractual wage to leave the team at the end of the season, with one year left for him to fulfill.
The main reason is that they are unhappy with his lackluster drives, both this year and last. Add to that the growing whispers that Fernando Alonso is aiming for Raikkonen's seat at Maranello, and these rumours start to assume a little bit of credibility.
Maybe Kimi's performance in Hungary was to show his team he is still worth the money. Maybe it was just because he sniffed an opportunity to win and decided to push.
The problem with the Kimster is that too often last season he barely featured in any Grand Prix, yet continually set blistering times on his final laps of the race. This shows that Raikkonen clearly still has the speed required to be a Ferrari star driver, and maybe future World Champion.
It's a simple lack of motivation.
Take Singapore GP 2007. F1's first ever night race. Raikkonen, not doing his best ever, just drove into the wall.
Now I know that even the best drivers have their "off" day's, take the famous Wall Of Champions in Montreal. But this is a continuing theme for Raikkonen, he doesn't seem to finish enough races. When he does finish, he barely scrapes through into the points too often.
Alonso, on the other hand, has continuously shown his true pace, even when in an inferior car. After crashing out during qualifying in Singapore last season, he later went on to win the race, which no-one could have predicted.
Hungary too, he was set for the win until the wheels came of the Renault pit operations. Perhaps, having lost out at the Hungaroring, he will be more hungry for the win at his home race in Valencia.
I feel that a win for Alonso in Spain this weekend would seal Raikkonen's fate.
So what would the future hold for Kimi if he was bought out of his seat and replaced with Fernando? Well, he hasnt been linked with any specific team's on the F1 grid (to the best of my knowledge), although Raikkonen has stated recently that he is not finished with F1 yet.
Yet, Kimi has always insisted that he would never stay too long in F1.
Rallying? Before crashing out in Finland, he was seriously quick. And he has pointed to rallying as a possible future career path.
Who knows what will happen? I certainly don't. But I can almost guarantee that we will all have a better idea by the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, later next month, where Ferrari traditionally announce their driver line up for the next season.
I, for one, shall be waiting with baited breath.
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