Brazilian Felipe Massa has announced he is to leave Ferrari at the end of 2013 to make way for Kimi Raikkonen as the second driver to partner Fernando Alonso at the Scuderia.
The news came at the end of a day of speculation that saw the Finn rumoured to be the most likely candidate to take the seat – the German news station Bild earlier posted a story claiming the deal was as good as done.
Massa’s news became public on his Twitter page in which he thanked the team for the time he has spent with them.
The popular Brazilian has won nine races for the Scuderia since joining Michael Schumacher at the team in 2006, and famously mounted an unexpected bid for the world title in 2008 only to miss out in the final seconds. His last victory came in his native Brazil in the very same event that saw him lose the championship to Lewis Hamilton, and his form seemed to suffer after a horrifying accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix that left him fighting for his life.
Raikkonen has left current team Lotus to pursue a one-year contract at Ferrari with an option to extend into 2015 should 2014 go according to plan. The move makes Ferrari a ‘super-team’ in the eyes of many, but some are still critical of the Scuderia’s decision to choose experience over youth.
“If Kimi went to Ferrari, would Alonso deliver as well as he has based on him being the chosen son, so to speak?” said triple World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart before the announcement was made.
“It would be a very confusing element within that team for them to have Kimi and Alonso, who I doubt would really like to have Kimi there.”
Alonso is known to have made remarks to the effect that he would prefer Massa to stay, but has since back-tracked and fallen in line with Ferrari management’s decision.
“I am really happy to be returning to Maranello where I previously spent three fantastic and very successful years.” said Raikkonen in a piece of Ferrari PR work.
“I can’t wait to be driving a prancing horse again and to reacquaint myself with so many people with whom I had such close links – as well as working with Fernando, whom I consider a great driver – in order to bring the team the success it deserves.”
Raikkonen won the title for Ferrari in 2007, but was paid to leave Ferrari a year early at the end of 2009 to make way for Fernando Alonso – the very man he will now share a garage with.