x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Finn’s salary not received from team but Massa’s replacement next term at Ferrari will continue to race for remainder of campaign.

Kimi Raikkonen speaks to the media ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix. Clive Mason / Getty Images
Kimi Raikkonen speaks to the media ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix. Clive Mason / Getty Images

SINGAPORE // Kimi Raikkonen made the decision to rejoin Ferrari next season after Lotus failed to pay his salary, with the Finn saying he would still fulfil his duties over the final seven races of his contract because he “loved to race”.

Last week, Raikonnen, 33, agreed to replace Felipe Massa as Fernando Alonso’s teammate at Ferrari, setting up a formidable partnership of former world champions at the Italian outfit where he won the title in 2007.

“I like to race,” the Finn said at the Singapore Grand Prix yesterday when asked why he was seeing out the last seven races of the season despite not being paid.

“That’s the only reason why I am here. It doesn’t matter which team it is but the reason I left Lotus was purely on the money side. It’s an unfortunate thing but I want to help the team as much as I can and as I just told you, I like to race.”

The Finn suggested that had Lotus matched his demands he may not have left but was happy with the decision now that it had been finalised.

“There were a lot of things they could have done to keep me and they know what it is,” he said. “It’s hard to say which way I would have gone had that happened but the deal is done now and I am very happy.”

Having two high-profile drivers in one team has often led to problems in the past and when news of Raikkonen’s move back to Ferrari filtered through the paddock, several of his rivals were quick to pour scorn on the prospect of a harmonious union.

Raikkonen, though, believes that age and experience will be a key factor in making his relationship with Alonso a good one.

“I can see plenty of reasons why it will work. We are old enough to know what we are doing and the team is working to make sure everything is fine,” he said.

“If there is a problem then we can talk it through. I may be wrong but I am pretty sure things will be OK.”

Raikkonen ended his first spell at Ferrari in 2009 with some reports it was an acrimonious departure, a view not shared by the Finn.

“I always had freedom [at Ferrari]. Don’t always believe what you read. We had a great time and I am sure I will have a great time again,” Raikkonen said.

“I know the team but obviously some new people have joined since I left but it is virtually still the same.

“So I don’t think it will be too difficult to go there.

“The cars will be different and that will be the biggest challenge to get them running reliably, and whoever makes the best car will make the best out of it.”

* Reuters