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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Kimi Raikkonen signs new Ferrari deal for 2018 while F1 strike deal in principle to keep Chinese Grand Prix

Finn signs on for the 2018 season, but still no word on Vettel's plans with Italian team.

Kimi Raikkonen of Finland has signed a one-year extension to his contract at Ferrari and will race for the Italian team in the 2018 Formula One world championship. Frank Augstein / AP Photo
Kimi Raikkonen of Finland has signed a one-year extension to his contract at Ferrari and will race for the Italian team in the 2018 Formula One world championship. Frank Augstein / AP Photo

Kimi Raikkonen has signed a one-year contract extension with Ferrari for the 2018 season, the Formula One team announced on Tuesday.

"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's signature comes after he chased home Sebastian Vettel in a dominant Ferrari display in the Hungarian Grand Prix last time out.

Vettel, who increased his lead over Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton to 14 points, has yet to confirm his plans for 2018.

His contract expires at the end of the year but the German is expected to keep his easy partnership with the Finn intact for 2018.

"I think I have been public on the Sebastian issue, if he wants to stay he is more than welcome to stay," said Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne after Hungary.

For Raikkonen, 37, Tuesday's deal secures his fifth consecutive season with Ferrari after an initial spell at Maranello when he captured the world title in 2007.

He is placed fifth in the 2017 drivers' standings on 116 points ahead of Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

Meanwhile, a new deal to keep the Chinese Grand Prix in the Formula One calendar has been agreed in principle and will likely be sealed within weeks, a senior F1 official said Tuesday.

The sport, under ambitious new US-based owners, released its 2018 race schedule in June and Shanghai was only listed as provisional, along with Singapore.

That prompted speculation that both races might be axed from the roster.

But Sean Bratches, F1 managing director of commercial operations, told Agence France-Presse in Shanghai: "We've been working hard with Juss Event, the promoter, and we've got an agreement in principle.

"My suspicion is that it will be executed by the end of next month, fully executed."

Bratches said that F1 chiefs released next year's race schedule earlier than previously as part of efforts to make Formula One more fan- and sponsor-friendly.

"Next year the schedule will be released and there will be nothing provisional about Shanghai because we will have a long-term deal," he added, following talks in the city that pushed the agreement along.

The current deal for the Chinese Grand Prix is due to finish at the end of this year.

The Shanghai International Circuit held its first race in 2004.