Popularity nothing to do with Raikkonen's new deal - Ferrari

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Ferrari insists that Kimi Raikkonen was given a new Formula 1 deal because he was the fastest man available, not because he was the most popular or the cheapest option.

Raikkonen's future with Ferrari had been the subject of intense speculation for months on the back of a difficult start to the campaign.

But despite Ferrari sounding out Williams about how much it would cost to buy out Valtteri Bottas's contract, the Italian team in the end elected to take up an option it had on Raikkonen.

Speaking about the reasons for the decision, Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene was insistent that money - not the fact Raikkonen is F1's most popular driver – were factors.

GPDA Survey

Making reference to the GPDA Global Fan Survey, which was conducted in association with Motorsport.com, Arrivabene is well aware about Raikkonen's impact with the fans.

"The GPDA did some very serious and careful research about who the most popular driver was – and Kimi came out first," said Arrivabene.

"So whoever says that Raikkonen does not like the fans clearly does not understand anything about marketing.

"But it is also obvious that we have not confirmed him for this reason – or even that he has blue eyes and blonde hair.

"He was renewed because when you are putting together a young team, you need to find a balance. I consider Kimi a champion, who works very well with Sebastian [Vettel] and gives a big contribution to the growth of the team."

No cheap option

Arrivabene also dismissed suggestions that Raikkonen was kept on board because he was the cheapest options.

"You have low cost flights, but low cost drivers at a high level I have not seen many," he said.

"This applies to players, drivers, and generally for top athletes in many different disciplines."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen
Teams Ferrari
Article type Breaking news