Motorsport.com - According to reports in Die Bild, Europe's largest daily newspaper, and the German TV station DSF, Mercedes is also now involved in getting Kimi Raikkonen to switch from Sauber to McLaren. The rumors swirling around the future...
Motorsport.com - According to reports in Die Bild, Europe's largest daily newspaper, and the German TV station DSF, Mercedes is also now involved in getting Kimi Raikkonen to switch from Sauber to McLaren.
The rumors swirling around the future of the young Finn have intensified since Peter Sauber's interview with Italian TV at last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, and McLaren's still-pending 2002 driver lineup is not quelling any of those suggestions.
According to Die Bild, Mercedes' Jurgen Schrempp has already offered Peter Sauber US$10 million for the rights to Raikkonen's five-year contract, to ensure, in part, that Ferrari does not recruit him instead.
It is a bitter pill to Mercedes that Michael Schumacher, a former Mercedes junior driver in sports cars, is now a four-time World Champion and a driver for arch-rival Ferrari.
While founder and team principal Ron Dennis makes operational decisions at McLaren, Mercedes' 40% ownership of the team gives the German manufacturer a great deal of influence in strategic decisions.
McLaren is already believed to have taken up the option for Mika Hakkinen's services for 2002, but it is possible that the two-time World Champion may choose to retire instead if his young compatriot joins the team.
An alternative may be to have Raikkonen work as a McLaren test driver for 2002, although this is a role that the Finn does not relish. However, it would give him valuable in-car experience in prepapration for joining the team in 2003.
Meanwhile, Ferrari's Ross Brawn has admitted in an interview with DSF that the second yound Sauber driver, Nick Heidfeld, could become Schumacher's successor at the Italian team. Will Sauber have any drivers left?
However, hard facts are naturally difficult to get at this point. The situation will not become clear until McLaren announces its 2002 driver choice -- something that was expected already in July, but which now may drag on much longer yet.