Kimi Raikkonen has made it clear that if he doesn’t get a ride with the McLaren team in 2010, he’ll retire from Formula 1. In the drivers’ press conference in Abu Dhabi, Raikkonen was asked pointedly about his plans for the coming year. As reported in The Telegraph, Raikonnen said, “If I want to drive [F1] cars, then McLaren is the only option. I should know the situation in the next few days.” It is Raikkonen’s contention that only McLaren can provide him with a car that would allow him to mount a challenge for the world championship in a serious way.
It has been reported recently that Toyota have made a bid for the Finn’s services. When asked about this, the Finn responded, “Toyota has not even been discussed.” This is contrary to previously published reports, in which Toyota team boss John Howett stated flatly that his team had made a specific offer to Raikkonen, which the Finn, or his manager, rejected as being unsuitable.
While Kimi might never have taken Toyota’s overtures seriously, according to Howett, the Cologne-based team have made overtures to the laconic Finn on more than one occasion.
Said Howett, “We are interested in Kimi although he has indicated that we hadn’t had contact and he is only interested in McLaren… Even two or three years ago we indicated that we would like Kimi and, if he was available, we would be interested. We’ve put forward what we felt was an offer that we could sustain regardless of the budget situation, and so far it was obviously not appealing enough. So fine.”
Meanwhile, Raikkonen seems to be waiting for McLaren to cut a deal that would meet his demands. It is understood that they already have on offer on the table, but according to rumor, they hasven’t met his $30 million salary demand. Mind you, he’ll also be receiving $20 million severance from Ferrari for next year.
Promotional appearances at sponsors’ events is another point of contention. McLaren generally require this type of dog-and-pony show from theri drivers, but Raikkonen would prefer to opt out. And more, he insists on being free to race in World Rally events when the Formula 1 schedule permits. McLaren generally forbid their drivers from doing any sort of moonlighting, if it involves wearing coveralls and a helmet.
In short, with apologies to The Godfather, Kimi might be making McLaren an offer they can’t help but refuse. It could be that Kimi will be free to do as much rally driving as he likes in 2010.
Image by ph-stop, licensed through Creative Commons.