Kimi Raikkonen will be racing for Ferrari again next season after the Italian Formula One team announced on Tuesday a contract extension with the Finn for 2018.
The popular 2007 world champion, who will be 38 in October, would have been out of contract at the end of this year with plenty of rivals eyeing up his seat at the sport’s most successful and glamorous team.
Raikkonen has not won a race since he was at Lotus in 2013 and is currently fifth in a championship led by German team mate Sebastian Vettel, who has won four of the season’s 11 races to date.
Vettel is also out of contract at the end of the season and the short Ferrari statement did not mention him. However, he is expected to remain once a longer and more lucrative deal has been hammered out.
The timing of Ferrari’s statement was earlier than expected since the team has often made such announcements at their home Italian round at Monza which follows on from this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
They had also been tipped to confirm both drivers at the same time.
Vettel, a four times world champion with Red Bull, has also been linked in some media speculation to champions Mercedes where Finland’s Valtteri Bottas has yet to be confirmed for 2018.
By opting to keep Raikkonen, Ferrari has gone for an experienced driver who is still quick and who will not rock the boat in what is likely to be his final season. He first raced for Ferrari between 2007-9 and then returned in 2014.