Kimi Raikkonen would be willing to consider a race seat at Mercedes Grand Prix next season – but only if the team could convince him it will be good enough to fight for race wins and the world championship.
Raikkonen is currently facing the prospect of taking a sabbatical from Formula 1 next year after he could not reach an agreement with his preferred option McLaren for a drive alongside Lewis Hamilton. With his talks there stalled, McLaren instead completed a deal with Jenson Button.
Although Raikkonen said recently that it was McLaren or nothing for him in F1 next year, Button’s shock exit from the former Brawn GP team may have changed the situation.
Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson said on Thursday that although a sabbatical remained the most likely outcome, the 2007 world champion would listen to any offer that Mercedes made if it was interested.
“This is Formula 1. If they can offer, or convince us, that they can provide Kimi an opportunity that Kimi is happy with, and that we are happy with, and he feels he can win races and the championship, then never say never,” Robertson told AUTOSPORT about the situation with Mercedes GP. “There is always a possibility.”
He added: “There are not that many teams that would appeal to Kimi because he is honest when he says he has got to have a car to win. He is not interested in the money.
“Of course, money is a part of it but he doesn’t need the money. He wants a car where he can show his talent. He was very frustrated this year by the fact that he could not win more races and challenge for the championship.
“When you have been in F1 for nine years and been a world champion then you need challenges – and for Kimi the challenge is to win championships and races.”
Robertson said that Raikkonen had the desire to compete at the top level in F1 and that even if he went off and did rallying for a year, he would definitely work hard to find a seat with a front-running F1 team for 2011.
When asked if Raikkonen had the hunger to get back into F1, Robertson said: “Yes. As far as Kimi is concerned he has unfinished business – if the opportunity is there to win races and another championship. That is his main goal.
“Now it looks like he is not doing F1 we will look at other options. Rallying, or something else – but there is nothing firmed up in that area yet because F1 has only just finished for us in the last few days. Now it is the time to discuss other things.”