Earlier today Ferrari confirmed that their 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen will partner Fernando Alonso at the Italian team from next season. He replaces Felipe Massa, who yesterday announced his exit on Twitter.
Raikkonen, who was replaced by Alonso in 2010, has signed a two year contract after a four-year hiatus from the Scuderia. He returned to F1 in 2012, as a driver for Lotus F1 Team, following two years competing in rallying.
“I am really happy to be returning to Maranello where I previously spent three fantastic and very successful years,” said Kimi. “I have so many memories of my time at Ferrari, memories which have stayed with me these past years, first and foremost, winning the World Championship title in 2007, which was really unforgettable.”
“I can’t wait to be driving a Prancing Horse car again and to reacquaint myself with so many people with whom I had such close links, as well as working with Fernando, whom I consider a great driver, in order to bring the team the success it deserves.”
Can you imagine Kimi stringing that many sentences together? Me neither, nevertheless Ferrari have made him feel very welcome this afternoon in contrast to Lotus who tweeted the following message:
— Lotus F1 Team (@Lotus_F1Team) September 11, 2013
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Team Principal Stefano Domenicali thanked Felipe for his contributions during the past 12 years and welcomed the Iceman back to Maranello;
““Felipe has always behaved like a real team player. Together we have lived through some great times and also a few dramatic moments, which have helped to cement a truly unique relationship on both a professional and personal level. He will always be part of our family and we wish him all the very best for the future.”
Domenicali added (when speaking about Kimi), “I sense he is very happy to be returning to Maranello and very determined to tackle the work that awaits him in the best way possible.”
Fernando Alonso also paid tribute to his team mate, “I want to thank Felipe for all the support he has given me and the team during this journey we have made together over all these years. Come the end of the season, it will not be easy to say goodbye to a team-mate like him.”
Felipe Massa joined the Ferrari family at the end of 2001, after winning the European F3000 Championship. At the time he was seen as one of the best drivers of his generation, so Ferrari were eager to see him learn from its full-time F1 drivers, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.
He made his F1 debut a few months later at the wheel of a Ferrari-powered Sauber, racing there from 2002 to 2005 apart from spending 2003 as a test driver for the Prancing Horse.
Since then, he’s spent the past eight years racing for the Scuderia, completing 132 grand prix – second only to Schumacher’s achievement of 179 grand prix starts.
Only three drivers have scored more wins for the Scuderia – Schumacher with 72 wins, Niki Lauda with 15 and Alberto Ascari with 13, while only two drivers have held more pole positions than the Brazilian’s tally of 15 (Schumacher with 58 and Lauda with 23).
He has stood on the podium 36 times, set 14 fastest race laps and scored a total of 756 points for the team, so he holds a special place in Ferrari’s history with seven grand prix still to go this season.
Felipe’s message in yesterday’s tweet was typically magnanimous, “As from 2014, I will no longer drive for Ferrari. I wish to thank the team for all the wins and the wonderful times we spent together. I thank my wife and my entire family, all my fans and my sponsors. I have always enjoyed great support from all of them.”
“Now I want to push as hard as possible with Ferrari for these final seven races. For 2014, I would like to find a team that can give me a competitive car, capable of winning a lot of races and a Championship, which continues to be my greatest dream! Thank you everyone!”