Raikkonen set for Formula One sabbatical in 2010 18 Nov 2009
Kimi Raikkonen will be missing from the grid in 2010 after failing to agree a deal to drive for McLaren, according to his management. Raikkonen, who has a keen interest in rallying, is expected to pursue other options next year as he looks to secure a winning drive for 2011.
The Finn, 2007 world champion with Ferrari, agreed to leave the Italian team at the end of this season despite having a year of his contract still to run, in order to make way for Fernando Alonso. He has always said he would only contemplate staying in the sport with a top team.
"The Formula One alternatives for next season were McLaren or nothing, Raikkonens manager Steve Robertson was quoted as saying by Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. Kimi and McLaren could not reach an agreement, so he will not drive at F1 level - at least not next year."
Raikkonen previously spent five seasons with McLaren, from 2002 to 2006, winning nine Grands Prix and twice finishing runner-up in the drivers championship. He moved to Ferrari for 2007, taking the title that year, but was overshadowed by team mate Felipe Massa the following season.
This year Raikkonen has experienced mixed fortunes, with pundits repeatedly questioning his level of motivation. He won the Belgian Grand Prix, but was subsequently hampered by Ferraris decision to halt development of their 2009 car.
He also made his World Rally Championship debut at his home event in August, setting competitive times before crashing out. He could now return to that series next year, although Robertson hinted his drivers Formula One career is far from over.
"Kimi still lives and breathes driving ambition, he added. In that sense a year off means nothing. More important is to find a place for Kimi where he can fight for victory and the world championship."
Its hard to believe that I have been in Formula One for nine years already, was Raikkonens own take on the situation earlier this month. I am very motivated to win races and a championship again and will only remain in Formula One if I can race for a team that can give me a car to fight at the front.
Raikkonens apparent removal from the running for a 2010 McLaren seat has already boosted media speculation that the British team could sign reigning world champion Jenson Button to partner Lewis Hamilton next season.