MOTORSPORT : Kimi Raikkonen will take a sabbatical from Formula One next year after talks over a return to McLaren broke down, his manager has revealed in a newspaper interview.
Kimi Raikkonen will take a sabbatical from Formula One next year after talks over a return to McLaren broke down, his manager has revealed in a newspaper interview.
The 2007 world champion had been in discussions with McLaren after being released a year early from his contract with Ferrari, the Scuderia having signed Fernando Alonso to partner Felipe Massa from next season.
McLaren were viewed as the 30-year-old’s sole option to stay in the sport next season but his manager Steve Robertson revealed the negotiations have come to nothing and told Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper: “The options in F1 were with McLaren next season or not at all. Kimi and McLaren were unable to reach an agreement, so he will not drive at the F1 level – at least not next year.”
He added: “Kimi still exudes passion. A gap year does not mean anything in that respect. He is more interested in fighting for wins and the world championship.
“F1 will miss Kimi. He worked hard over the summer – doing things in a Ferrari that only the best drivers are capable of.”
The decision to call a halt to Raikkonen’s negotiations with McLaren would appear to smooth the way for world champion Jenson Button to move to the team next season, with reports this week indicating the Briton is on the verge of signing a three-year deal.
Raikkonen’s plans for 2010 could include involvement in the World Rally Championship following his impressive debut in the series in a one-off outing earlier this year, while he has also been linked with a drive in the annual Le Mans 24 hour race.
The Finn could return to F1 in 2011, with Red Bull Racing already being touted as a possible destination.