After failing to find a car for 2010, Ferrari’s world champion has announced that he is to leave F1 for rallying.
The laconic Finn’s premature exit was the talk of the sport for most of the year, especially after Ferrari’s 2009 car turned out to be quite a dud. Nowhere was Räikkönen’s indifference more stark than at the Malaysian Grand Prix, where during a break forced by torrential rain, he wandered about the pits with a bar of ice cream instead of remaining by his racing car:
Räikkönen was forced to leave Ferrari at the end of the season to make way for Fernando Alonso. There were talks with Toyota, hampered by Räikkönen’s high price and ultimately by Toyota’s exit from Formula One, then there were talks with his former team McLaren, which fell through. One has to wonder whether Räikkönen’s exorbitant salary demands—rumored to be close to $50 million, very much not in synch with his performance over the last two seasons—were a deliberate move on his part to ease his exit from the sport.
Going where many Finn have gone before, Räikkönen is set to continue his career in rallying. He has, in fact, already debuted in the World Rally Championship: Räikkönen drove a Super 2000 class Fiat Grande Punto Abarth for Tommi Mäkinen Racing at this year’s Rally Finland in August.
He leaves the sport after nine seasons, with occasional displays of devastating speed and a lucky world championship in 2007, when he exploited the rivalry between McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton and the hubris of the latter to beat both at the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix, claiming the title which had eluded him at McLaren.
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