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Raikkonen to extend sabbatical

Turku, Wednesday: Former McLaren and Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen’s manager revealed to a Finnish newspaper yesterday that he is to extend his sabbatical from Formula One for another year.

Goodbye: Raikkonen turns his back on the camera

The driver was last seen in F1 in 2007, when he won the world championship for Ferrari at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Since then his continuing absence from the sport has been felt, especially by his employers who were less than satisfied at the weird blonde kid who turned up to replace the Finn and crashed a lot. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo famously asked for the real Raikkonen to return in 2009, to no avail.

Ferrari finally tired of waiting for Raikkonen to decide on his comeback, and earlier this year announced that he and his alter-ego would be replaced by Fernando Alonso for next season. Since then Raikkonen – or his slower lookalike, no one’s really sure – have been in negotiations with McLaren about a seat. However, the Woking-based team refused to bow to Raikkonen’s salary demands, leaving the Finn to conclude he might as well take 2010 off as well.

“Unfortunately Kimi has decided he’d be better off driving elsewhere for another year,” manager Steve Robertson told Finnish reporters yesterday. “It also seems that even his sporadically talented colleague is surplus to requirements too.” This leaves open the intriguing possibility that Raikkonen could be his own co-driver when he inevitably takes part in a few rounds of the World Rally Championship next year.

Raikkonen himself was impassive about the news, offering a “bemused grunt” for possibly the very last time ever.

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