Kimi Raikkonen set to join Fernando Alonso at Ferrari
By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Kimi Raikkonen is on the verge of being confirmed as a Ferrari driver for next year's Formula 1 season.
The Finn's deal to rejoin the team for whom he won the world title in 2007 is said to have been completed on Monday and could be announced imminently.
Best championship position:
Raikkonen, 33, will be team-mate to Fernando Alonso, world champion in 2005-6, completing arguably the strongest driver line-up in Formula 1.
The decision would end Brazilian Felipe Massa's eight-year spell at the team.
Ferrari had been weighing up whether to bring back Raikkonen to the team, sign the promising Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg or retain Massa, who has performed inconsistently as Alonso's team-mate.
The Ferrari team had wanted to replace Massa with someone who would provide more reliable performance, and have for some time considered Raikkonen to be the best candidate.
But the decision needed to be approved by Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo, which is now said to have happened.
Raikkonen wins world title in Brazil
Raikkonen had the option to remain at Lotus but the team were unable to provide him with the reassurances he requested that they had the technical and financial resources to compete at the front next year.
They have lost their highly rated former technical director James Allison to Ferrari and there have been delays paying Raikkonen's salary this year.
Raikkonen's return would mean Ferrari are re-employing a driver who they paid off at the end of 2009, a year before the end of his contract, to make way for Alonso.
At the time, the team preferred to keep Massa. The Brazilian had out-scored Raikkonen on points in 2008 and through 2009 until he suffered a fractured skull in an accident at that year's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Although there were question marks about his recovery, the team felt they could not cast the Brazilian adrift in the circumstances.
But he has been inconsistent for the last few seasons and the Ferrari team believe Raikkonen will provide more consistent support for Alonso and prevent any possibility of the Spaniard not producing his best.
In a Q&A with fans on his
on Monday, Alonso said: "I said yesterday to the media it's not possible for me to talk of any name for next year because I have a lot of respect for Felipe.
"We've been working very hard and close for four years to give Ferrari the maximum.
"Whatever decision the team will take will be good for me and we will keep working to give Ferrari the best results possible."
Lotus are expected to replace Raikkonen with Hulkenberg, who starred at the Italian GP with a third place on the grid for Sauber and a fifth-place finish.
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