It's finally become more apparent why renowned ‘Iceman’ Kimi Raikkonen hasn't been in more haste to secure a ride in Formula One of late. According to reports Raikkonen is standing to receive an estimated 17 million Euros should he decide to sit out 2010 and not drive for another team. Great work if you can get it.
The special provision in Kimi's contract with Ferrari will secure a payment of â‚¬7 million for him to step away from his Ferrari car and give it up for 'Maestro' Alonso. That's on top of a salary of Ten million Euros the company already owe him. The alternative offer from Mclaren is in the region of five million Euros, and should the Finn accept that offer and drive for 'Team Hamilton' in 2010, he'd actually be losing a substantial amount of money and gaining a whole lot of extra pressure to boot.
Most commentators have come to know Raikkonen as a fairly reticent individual, with great driving ability and a penchant for ice-cream; but, his general aloofness puts many ill-at-ease while trying to predict what his next move will be. Comments attributed to the Finnish driving ace have suggested that it's either Mclaren or bust for 2010, because he wants an F1 car that will be able to compete on the track. There have also been comments about NASCAR and the WRC by Raikkonen over the past few months.
Regarding Mclaren specifically, the money remains a crucial issue, but not necessarily the only issue. There's been talk of internal team politics. Word is Mercedes, represented by Norbert Haug head of Mercedes Motorsport would prefer to see Mclaren employ a German number two Driver. Haug has played down the enormous influence that the Mercedes engine has had on the 2009 season, but he might want to make some request now the seasons over. Besides, there'll be the return to Formula One of another big name engine OEM in 2010 in the shape of 'Cosworth'.
Despite manufacturers dropping out of F1 at an alarming rate, emphasised by the departure of Toyota, (and possibly Renault if rumours are to be believed), Mercedes Motorsports' stock has gone up in Formula One under Haug, as has Mclaren's under Martin Whitmarsh .
The FO108W V8 Mercedes Engine built in Brixworth England has been responsible for some phenomenal performances by the BGP001, the MP4-24 and the VJM02 (Force India); providing an astonishing and undeniable level of extra reliability for those cars.
Beyond racing, since the Brazilian Grand Prix, Brawn GP has been embroiled in a salary dispute with the new F1 World Champion Jenson Button; while Force India is currently being sued by the Italian company Aerolab for what it has termed as Force India's “persistent breach of contract” regarding the use of its wind tunnel.
On the other hand the Mclaren teams' ability to turn things around was demonstrated by Lewis Hamilton's end of season competitive consistency. Hamilton had nothing positive to say at the beginning of the season, but by the end, he was quite content and somewhat relieved to no longer shoulder the burden of a champion.
Hamilton was recently full of praise for Mclaren, suggesting that no other team could have reversed his bad fortune from beginning of the season the way Mclaren did. This reference by a former World Champion might have further strengthened Raikkonen's intransigence on the matter. With all these factors spread across the board, it's fair to assume that unlike new arrivals to F1 like Grosjean and Kobayashi, Raikkonen can afford to breathe a lot easier while negotiating terms. It isn't about the money for Kimi, it's the buzz of competition.