Raikkonen's manager explains decisions behind Sauber F1 2019 return
|By Adam Cooper||Monday, September 24th 2018, 08:50 GMT|
Kimi Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson says the Finn is fully motivated to race for Sauber next season, and had no intention of retiring from Formula 1 had Ferrari dropped him.
Raikkonen, who turns 39 next month, agreed a two-year deal to return to Sauber - the team he made his F1 debut with in 2001 - earlier this month.
Many observers assumed Raikkonen would not want to join another if he left Ferrari but, explaining the decision to join Sauber, Robertson said the 2007 world champion's passion for F1 means he is not ready to stop or try another category.
"Kimi wants to drive F1 cars, he loves it," said Robertson.
"People are surprised because having driven for Ferrari for so many years most people expected him to retire, sit on his yacht, and enjoy the rest of his life.
"But he loves driving F1 cars, he gets a buzz from that. Kimi loves being on the edge. If he's not doing this he wants to ride motocross, but this is the pinnacle for him.
"And once we knew that it wasn't going to happen at Ferrari, he wanted to do a deal.
"You have to look at the situation of Sauber as well. They have some backers now.
"Two years ago would he have gone there when the team was hanging on? Firstly they couldn't even have afforded him, and secondly it was a ship that was sinking.
"Now they've taken on Kimi, an A-lister in F1, a world champion, and it shows their intent, where they want to be.
"The focus for him [is] is the team going to go forward, and do we have what we need for me to get the team further forward?"
Robertson is convinced that Raikkonen will not be frustrated by not having a car that is capable of challenging for wins.
"Personally I don't think that will happen," said Robertson. "Because he will work with the team to try and improve things.
"He knows realistically what he's going into. He doesn't have to do it, he does it because he feels he can help them.
"I think you have a different mindset. I would say now the gulf to the bigger teams has widened. If you could say right now take seventh places for the next two years - I'd sign it. Because that would be the absolute best.
"You've got to be realistic as well, and he'd take pride in that, to help them grow.
"He realises that the wins, unless it's an absolutely freaky race, are not going to happen. But in terms of development, he's got a lot to offer.
"He knows it's a different role from Ferrari. Kimi's know-how, his focus on development, he can really help them to get to where they want to be in a much quicker way."
Robertson also compared the Sauber switch with Raikkonen's time at Lotus, where he was given more freedom than he experienced at McLaren or Ferrari.