Ferrari has ended the speculation surrounding the future of Kimi Raikkonen by confirming it has retained the Finn’s services for the 2016 Formula 1 season.
A host of names have been linked with the seat over the past few months, notably Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg at Force India and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
But the Scuderia has decided to take up the option on Raikkonen’s contract for next season and the 2007 world champion will again partner Sebastian Vettel.
The statement read: “Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen. The driver line-up next season will still consist of the Finnish driver and Sebastian Vettel.”
Raikkonen has been outperformed by Vettel in the wake of the four-times title holder’s arrival from Red Bull at the start of this season.
Vettel has won two grands prix, in Malaysia and last time out in Hungary, as well as stepping on to the podium on five other occasions.
Raikkonen, however, has made numerous errors this year, mainly in qualifying, leading to the 35-year-old claiming a sole podium place by finishing second in Bahrain.
At present Vettel has scored more than double the number of Raikkonen’s points total – 160 to 76.
Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene, however, has long stated Raikkonen’s future was in his own hands, and that provided he showed enough desire and performed to a high enough level.
Raikkonen made clear only last month his desire to stay, while Vettel also spoke highly of his team-mate.
With Ferrari and Raikkonen teaming up again for next season, it is the first major move in the driver market from which there will now likely be a knock-on effect.
The most significant is that Bottas, tipped as Raikkonen’s likely replacement, will be expected to remain with Williams for next year.