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Raikkonen signs on with Ferrari for 2018

80   //    22 Aug 2017, 16:05 IST
kimiraikkonen - Cropped
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen has signed a new contract with Ferrari, tying him to the Italian constructor for the 2018 Formula One season.

The Finnish driver's old deal was set to expire at the end of the current campaign and criticism from president Sergio Marchionne earlier this year led to rumours that Raikkonen may be replaced.

However, Marchionne recently stated his desire for both Raikkonen and F1 world championship leader Sebastian Vettel to prolong their stay with the Maranello-based team.

And Ferrari confirmed an extension for veteran Raikkonen on Tuesday, with a short statement reading: "Scuderia Ferrari has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen.

"The Finnish driver will therefore race for the Maranello team in the 2018 Formula One World Championship."

Ferrari had been tentatively linked with a move for Red Bull's teenage prodigy Max Verstappen for next season.

However, the renewal of Raikkonen's deal means the team's immediate priority is likely to centre on tying Vettel to a contract.

Vettel is in the last year of his current deal at Ferrari and rumours have suggested he could make an audacious switch to rivals Mercedes, although Silver Arrows team boss Toto Wolff has rubbished those claims.

Raikkonen returned to Ferrari in 2014 having enjoyed an initial two-year stint between 2007 and 2009, during which he won his only F1 world title.

Vettel leads the drivers' standings by 14 points from Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, while Raikkonen is down in fifth and 86 points adrift of his team-mate.

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