One of the rumors regarding the open seat at Mercedes GP is showing all the signs of a short lifespan. Earlier in the week, on the heels of Jenson Button’s announcement that he was jumping ship to join McLaren, gossip surfaced that Kimi Raikkonen might be in line for the drive that Button was vacating.
This rumor was given fuel by certain remarks that Raikkonen’s manager, Steve Robertson, had made, to the effect that Kimi was more interested in a competitive car than an exhorbitant paycheck (contrary to previous stories about his aborted negotiations with McLaren).
As reported in The Guardian, Robertson said, “This is Formula One, if they can offer, or convince us, that they can provide Kimi an opportunity that Kimi is happy with, and that we are happy with, and he feels he can win races and the championship, then never say never. There is always a possibility.”
However, any speculation that Robertson’s remarks might have generated seems to be wide of the mark. As Raikkonen told the official Formula 1 website, “No, I have not held talks with Brawn. I feel they will run two German drivers next year now that Mercedes are involved.”
The Finn further reiterated that he had narrowed his options to a single team for 2010, and barring that choice he would go on sabbatical for at least a year. Said Raikkonen, “I felt McLaren offered the best opportunity to win races and challenge for the Drivers’ Championship and if that would not work the one-year break is the result. And to be honest, I will only return in 2011 if a competitive drive is available.”
Regarding his alternate plans for 2010, Raikkonen said, “I will look at competing in rallying. Again, naturally I want to drive a competitive car. If not I will spend more time with my family and friends.”
That would seem to be a reasonably definitive pronouncement on the Finn’s plans for next year. As definitive, at any rate, as one might expect from the laconic Finn, who never reveals more than necessary. If he ever decides to give up driving altogether, he might consider a second career in championship poker. He certainly has the demeanor for it.