Kimi Raikkonen signs contract extension with Ferrari for 2018
Raikkonen signs one-year deal for third successive season; Still no Ferrari confirmation on Vettel's 2018 stay
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 28/08/17 8:25am
Ferrari have confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will race in red in 2018, with the Finnish driver agreeing a one-year contract extension.
It is the third successive year that Raikkonen has signed on for a single season with the Scuderia, though there is still no official confirmation regarding team-mate's Sebastian Vettel's new deal.
Vettel's current contract expires at the end of the year and though he is expected to agree terms, long-standing Mercedes interest means the length of the deal is unclear.
Raikkonen's renewal, however, is another sign of stability at a much-improved Ferrari team for 2017.
"Ferrari announces that Scuderia Ferrari has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen," a team statement read. "The Finnish driver will therefore race for the Maranello team in the 2018 Formula One World Championship."
Raikkonen has barely scored half the number of points the title-leading Vettel has accumulated this season and the Finn's future with the team was cast in considerable doubt when Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne described him as a "laggard" in July.
But Vettel openly stated he wanted Raikkonen to remain as his team-mate for at least one more year.
Ferrari's retention also seemingly closes another door for former Scuderia driver Fernando Alonso, who is actively seeking a competitive drive for 2018.
Sergio Perez of Force India and Haas' Romain Grosjean had also been linked with Raikkonen's seat.
Raikkonen, who won Ferrari's last Drivers' Championship in 10 years ago, began his second stint with the team in 2014 but has failed to secure a race victory since then, partnering Alonso for a year before Vettel's signature.
But he has served as a quick and consistent deputy to Vettel, especially in a 2017 season where Ferrari are finally competing for both constructors' and drivers' honours again.
Vettel currently leads the standings by 14 points, with a victory at the last race in Hungary aided by Raikkonen who kept both Mercedes at bay in a quicker car.
Raikkonen will now prepare for his fifth successive year with the Scuderia.
But what about 2019?
While it seems Ferrari have come to the conclusion that Raikkonen is the quickest driver available to partner Vettel for 2018, they may be blessed with several high-profile options the following season.
All of Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo's current contracts expire before the 2019 campaign, and Ferrari president Marchionne has praised all three in the past.
Raikkonen's repeat renewal is a blow for talented drivers who feel they are deserving of a bigger seat right now, such as Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz and Force India's Perez, but it may just help Ferrari in the long run.