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Kimi Raikkonen confirms Ferrari have an option for 2016

Scuderia expected to retain Finn - if Hamilton signs new Merc deal

Image: Kimi Raikkonen: Maybe not heading for F1 retirement at the end of 2015 after all

Kimi Raikkonen has confirmed Ferrari have an option to retain him for 2016 – and admitted he would like to stay on with the team for another season.

The former world champion rejoined the Scuderia in 2014 and admitted last summer that he would “probably” quit when his deal with Ferrari expires.

Although his existing contract nominally runs for two years, Raikkonen has revealed that his deal also includes an opt-in clause that would enable Ferrari to secure his services for another season. 

Sky sources have reported that Ferrari are ready to exercise their option on Raikkonen - but with the likely proviso that the veteran Finn will only be retained if and when world champion Lewis Hamilton signs a new deal at Mercedes.

“That is up to the team to decide,” Raikkonen told the official F1 website when asked about his future in the sport. “They have an option on my services - so go and ask them!”

Asked if he would like to continue, Raikkonen replied in typically laconic style: “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t like it!"

Fitness trainer Mark Arnall with Kimi Raikkonen
Image: Fitness trainer Mark Arnall with Kimi Raikkonen

Raikkonen has struggled to match the results of new team-mate Sebastian Vettel so far this season, with the Finn’s outstanding race pace neutered by a series of qualifying mistakes.

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In addition to the first tentative suggestions that Hamilton could be on Ferrari's radar, Valtteri Bottas, the Williams driver who is believed to be out of contract at the end of the year, has already been touted as a potential successor to his compatriot should Ferrari seek a younger – and cheaper – replacement for Raikkonen. Romain Grosjean may also come into the frame if the Frenchman can transform the E23’s hitherto latent speed into a spell of eye-catching results later in the season.

It emerged over the winter that Jules Bianchi, a graduate of Ferrari’s young driver academy, was set to drive the Ferrari-powered Sauber this season, suggesting that the Frenchman, who remains in a coma after his horror crash in last October’s Japanese GP, had already been earmarked as Raikkonen’s long-term successor prior to his accident at Suzuka.

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