Sauber, McLaren in discussions over Raikkonen

Motorsport.com - Peter Sauber, the team principal of the Sauber Formula One team, has confirmed that he is in discussions with Team McLaren over Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen signed a three year contract with Sauber late last year, coming directly...

Motorsport.com - Peter Sauber, the team principal of the Sauber Formula One team, has confirmed that he is in discussions with Team McLaren over Kimi Raikkonen.

Raikkonen signed a three year contract with Sauber late last year, coming directly from Formula Renault. Due to his inexperience, FIA president, Max Mosley, was reluctant to grant him the requisite superlicence, and the FIA placed him on a three-race probation at the beginning of the season.

However, the young Finn impressed from the start, scoring 9 points so far this season for Sauber, making few mistakes, and attracting the attention of the top teams.

"Yes, McLaren is interested in Kimi," Sauber confirmed in an interview with RAI, the Italian TV network. "There will be negotiations in the next few weeks."

McLaren had been expected to continue with its longtime driver pairing of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. Although both drivers have variously been rumored to have signed definitive agreements with McLaren, though, the team has yet to announce its line-up for 2001.

Although Raikkonen would not be keen on it, it is also possible that the Woking team would assign the youngster to testing duties for one year, allowing him to hone his skills without the pressure of competition.

However, it is doubtful that Sauber will let go of a promising future talent inexpensively, and he confirmed as much in the TV interview. "Kimi is a driver of the future, and we will, for sure, take that into account."

With Sauber already set in the engine department with Ferrari customer engines, the most likely exchange is expected to involve cold, hard, cash, allowing the Swiss team to fund further chassis development for 2002.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Peter Sauber
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren