Ferrari Expects Both Vettel and Raikkonen to Stay on Board in 2018
Will the former championship drivers stay put in Maranello?
The future of Ferrari's driver team has caused speculation among Formula One fans since the start of the season. With the contracts of both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen expiring, many have rumored that they could be on the move or that Ferrari has plans of replacing them completely. However, a recent news report said the Maranello team expects the two former champs to return for the 2018 season, putting talks of relocation on hold.
As Autoweek reports, Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne released a statement on the situation claiming that he believes his team has good relations with the pair.
"They are great together so it would be a risk to change the game now," Marchionne said. "Let's see if we can keep them for 2018. I think they want to stay. We should be able to announce our drivers at Monza. Nothing is signed yet but we are talking to the drivers and the agreement may be close."
Vettel was reportedly offered a three-year, $138.5 million contract extension, though he has not accepted it yet. Additionally, Vettel added that he wishes for Raikkonen, his longtime friend, to be given a contract as well.
Team lead Maurizio Arrivabene mentions that this is a good idea as the duo have worked well in the past.
"Do not forget that he is the last Ferrari world champion and today he showed that," Arrivabene said of Raikkonen. "Only a champion like him could defend his teammate like a Viking, with no tricks and no deception."
Kimi showed a strong example of teamwork at Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, agreeing to follow team orders and work in cooperation with Vettel.
Rumors swirled that Vettel had signed a "pre-agreement" to drive for Mercedes Benz in the future, to which Marchionne replied, "If he does not want to stay, then we will find a different solution and life goes on, because this is Ferrari. But if I look at Sebastian, then in a lot of ways he is already more Italian than many of us."
Vettel and Raikkonen are yet to release a response to this, and as the season reaches the halfway point, it's unlikely we will hear anything from the two until later on in the year. As Vettel leads the drivers' championship by 14 points over Lewis Hamilton, he will certainly be focused on returning strong at the end of this four-week break.