According to an article in the American publication National Speed Sport News by Dan Knutson, Ferrari has offered to buy out the remaining year on Kimi Raikkonen’s contract. NSSN’s sources close to the Scuderia tell them that Kimi declined their offer stating that he would like to remain with the team through the remainder of his contract.
The source also divulged that Fernando Alonso is under a lucrative first option contract with Ferrari this season and will be paid a full salary for 2010, reportedly in the 30 million dollar range even if he doesn’t actually drive for the Maranello squad.
Personally, I am surprised to hear that Kimi may have turned down a contract buyout offer from Ferrari. The team is currently in shambles, with their chance at the 2008 WDC shattered by reliability problems and pitroad mishaps. And now the team is struggling mightily with an unresponsive chassis and a governing body that clearly has indicated that they would prefer new privateer teams over the longstanding manufacturers.
Kimi’s stay at Ferrari so far has been less than prolific. Granted, he won a driver’s championship, but that was by default because Hamilton threw away his dominant points lead in 2007. Kimi is not a development guy, he just drives the car fast when it is good. If the car isn’t good, then Kimi shows ambivalence by getting wasted on his yacht or sucking down an ice cream.
In this current era of F1 where the teams have no in season testing, Ferrari cannot afford to have drivers who are not helping develop the car. This probably would precipitate the choice to buy out Kimi instead of Massa. Bringing in Fernando would probably be one of the best moves that Ferrari could make given how fantastic Alonso is at car development.
But regardless of the information from the unnamed source, the story that Alonso is going to Ferrari has been rumored for a long time. There may just be something to it, but I will believe it when I see it. We still have to get over this FOTA/FIA hurdle before we truly know where all the players will be next year.