Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne wants Kimi Raikkonen to make a step up in performance next year or risk being dropped
Kimi hasn’t really been in the best form since he rejoined Ferrari in 2014. There have been occasional glimpses of the Raikkonen we used to know, but he’s generally been pretty soundly beaten by his teammates and tends to have quite a lot of anonymous weekends.
At 38-years-old Kimi isn’t getting any younger either, and Marchionne has said that if he wants a chance to keep his seat beyond 2018, he’ll have to find a way to be more consistent.
“My personal opinion is that if we find the right key, Raikkonen drives like a God, but we need to find it. When things go right, it’s a pleasure see him driving. He has an incredible coldness. Otherwise, in other moments it seems like he takes a break.
“He needs more consistency in terms of performance, but it’s important to find the right key to make him driving like in Monaco also on other circuits. Probably this is the last season to find the right key and we must do it. I think that would be a shame if he would leave F1 without showing his real potential.”
Despite quite a few drivers being on the market for 2019, Marchionne said that the team would be looking to do the very un-Ferrari thing of going for a young driver rather than an established name, something it hasn’t really done since taking a punt on Felipe Massa in 2006.
“We see Leclerc, [Max] Verstappen and [Antonio] Giovinazzi, drivers with great skills, who can deliver a big change in the driver market. I’m still happy to have chosen Leclerc. I think that if we can not find the right key for Raikkonen, the choice will fall on a young driver.”
Verstappen has a contract with Red Bull until the end of 2020, so it won’t be him, and with Giovinazzi not in a seat this year it’d be hard to imagine Ferrari signing someone who’s basically a rookie.
Leclerc on the other hand will have had a year of F1 experience with Sauber and is incredibly highly-rated. So unless he totally screws it up, or 2005-era Kimi turns up, it’s looking pretty likely that the 2018 season could be Raikkonen’s last in F1.