A smudge over three years ago to the day Kimi Raikkonen made one of the most famous radio messages the sport has ever seen at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, that race ended on victory, as did the season opener in 2013, however the following season he moved to Ferrari, to date after nearly 2 seasons this stint with the team looks like the first one since his debut season with Sauber in 2001 which hasn't resulted in a victory. Considering how his team mate last season Fernando Alonso wrestled his uncompetitive car to second place at Hungary, a race he could have won, and this season new team mate Vettel has won three Grand Prix's, only one fewer than Nico Rosberg in a dominant Mercedes whilst Kimi has managed a mere two podiums, so to activate a renewal clause for 2016 despite only two podiums in two years and in both stints with the team only once beating a Ferrari team mate* (Felipe Massa in 2007) *2009 has been discounted as Massa failed to complete the season and up until the Hungarian Grand Prix when Massa had his accident he was ahead of Kimi in the standings* this came as a surprise to many who expected Kimi's last season with Ferrari and possibly the sport to be this year.
Winners: Kimi Raikkonen
Quite obviously the Finn wins by having another season at the top level in a top car, quite wether he can turn his form around to win races and compete for the title is different but still never say never.
Believed to be courted by both the Scuderia and Mercedes the Toro Rosso driver is still under contract with Red Bull, with Toro Rosso believed to use Ferrari power next year a strong season with a stronger engine could be what it needs to tip the young Dutch teenager into a Ferrari seat next season. Another good point is considering how quick Max has been this year he could go beating the works team in a Ferrari powered car he could make headlines, and we all know Toro Rosso tend to make strong chassises.
Williams F1 Team
One name mentioned in the rumour mill was that of fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, for the Williams driver the lure of the sports oldest team would more than certainly be tempting even before the chequebook opens. Thanks to Kimi being retained for a year it means Bottas will be in the white Martini livery for at least one more year.
Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez
The two HAAS boys who are effectively running Ferrari sister team cars will be considered for the seat in a way nobody could, the entrance of the HAAS team is likely to be a major reason behind Raikkonen staying at Ferrari as it gives the team at Maranello to analyse their drivers even more. The main question though is will they stop at HAAS or will one shine through to occupy a 2017 Ferrari seat.
Verstappen and Ricciardo's names have flown around the Ferrari prospectus and with another year before we know whose in the seat it makes there names more likely yet either would be a huge loss to Red Bull, although as we've seen with Vettel, Webber and Coulthard they always seem to have someone in the wings for any departures.
Yes had RoGro gone to Ferrari they'd have lost him anyway however you feel that of they produce a good car next season as Renault then Grosjean would be the man to bring the best out of it, thankfully for the Enstone based team it's a new Brit in Jolyon Palmer who if you watched in the feeder series you will know he certainly doesn't lack the racing speed. No Pastor you can't take out your team mate.
The Williams driver was the star of 2014 a subdued 2015 season far from stopped the mighty Maranello from touting the possibility of swapping one Finn for another. Wether Bottas wanted to leave we may never know however the possibility was there and the lure of Ferrari is well and truly tempting.
With the HAAS seat supposedly a dogfight between K-Mag (Kevin Magnussen) and a driver of Ferrari's specification. It was announced before the Mexican Grand Prix that a Ferrari driver would occupy the seat and the man who would take it was Esteban Gutierrez, the killer blow for Vergne is that Palmer took the other vacant Lotus seat and the only way back into F1 from the Formula E championship is that HAAS have a vacancy when Kimi does call quits and he gets that.
The ex McLaren driver has spent his 3 weeks finding out he was released by McLaren despite a debut podium in favour of the Belgian young gun Stoffel Vandoorne, he then lost the HAAS seat so a driver who has scored fewer than 10 points over two seasons (six to be exact) and only one sole points finish, whilst his team mates have accumulated 51 points, over eight times his total, in identical machinery. So what seats are left for a crippled Dane who had a better start to his career than triple champion Lewis Hamilton? One vacancy is at Toro Rosso however it is believed Carlos Sainz Jr will retain his spot in the team, the only other two are at Manor Marussia who we believe will employ Pascal Wehrlein as part of their Mercedes engine deal, that leaves one place left, due to the Manor budget issues, a top Mercedes engine and a long time to build a 2016 chassis after not bringing out a 2015 car their jump to the tail end of the midfield could be on if they employ a pay driver who also has talent, and the issue? K-Mag isn't a pay driver, so where he will go next is something we don't know.
So have Ferrari made the right call? Time will tell however when yuk consider the form of Kimi compared to his rivals you would cast doubt over the move, let us remember before we act in haste he drove a superb second place in Bahrain and is still in the hunt for a fourth place which is in line with the objectives set for him, so let's wait and see who can cut it for 2017.
Matthew Gannon- F1today
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing