Massa departure paves way for Kimi

Andover Advertiser: Kimi Raikkonen looks set for a return to Ferrari Kimi Raikkonen looks set for a return to Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen is likely to be confirmed as a Ferrari driver for the second time on Wednesday after Felipe Massa bade farewell on Tuesday.

Massa took to his Twitter account to bring the curtain down on his Ferrari career that will have spanned eight years by the end of this season.

In his place, and following feverish speculation in the Monza paddock throughout the course of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, Raikkonen looks set to partner Fernando Alonso from next season.

Massa, who has made 184 starts for Ferrari - winning 11 races - since joining them in 2006 from Sauber, said: "From 2014 I will no longer be driving for Ferrari.

"I would like to thank the team for all the victories and incredible moments experienced together.

"Thank you also to my wife and all of my family, to my fans and all my sponsors. From each one of you I have always received a great support!

"Right now I want to push as hard as possible with Ferrari for the remaining 7 races.

"For next year, I want to find a team that can give me a competitive car to win many more races and challenge for the championship which remains my greatest objective!"

Raikkonen is understood to have signed a deal with Ferrari on Monday, although president Luca Di Montezemolo refused to discuss the matter when questioned on Tuesday at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

It just remains for Ferrari, though, to finally let the cat out of the bag and bring to an end the long-running saga regarding the 33-year-old's future.

Raikkonen has been in the spotlight since Mark Webber confirmed at the end of June he would be retiring from Formula One at the end of this year.

Although Raikkonen held talks with Red Bull, he was overlooked as the team turned to another product of their young driver academy in Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo to partner three-times champion Sebastian Vettel.

When the Ferrari rumours first surfaced a return appeared unlikely given Raikkonen's seemingly ignominious exit at the end of 2009 as the team paid off the final year of his contract to sign Fernando Alonso.

Di Montezemolo has also previously expressed the likely difficulties in managing "two foxes in the same henhouse", as Raikkonen and Alonso would undoubtedly prove.

From Alonso's perspective, the Spaniard has also been accustomed to having a subservient team-mate over the last four years in Massa.

The 32-year-old, however, will now have to fight for number one status, a challenge he did not relish in the past when he was at McLaren in 2007 and going up against Lewis Hamilton.

As far as Massa is concerned, after 11 seasons in F1, he clearly has no intention of leaving, and may become a target for Lotus who will be eager to sign a top-level replacement for Raikkonen.

But the 32-year-old Brazilian has not won a race since his home grand prix of 2008 when he came within seconds of winning the world title, only to lose out to Hamilton.

In 2009, Massa was involved in a life-threatening accident in Hungary which resulted in him requiring emergency surgery and a titanium plate inserted in his skull.

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