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Ferrari prepares to announce signing of Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen is widely reported to have agreed terms with Ferrari on Monday and his confirmation as Fernando Alonso's team-mate for 2014 is expected to be announced within a few days.
Throughout the Italian Grand Prix weekend the team officially said it had not yet made a decision with Nico Hulkenberg also in the running while Felipe Massa on standby if terms could not be agreed with a replacement. As late as Sunday night team principal Stefano Domenicali said the management would take "appropriate time" before making a decision.
"We will announce and say something on that as soon as we have finalised it," Domenicali said. "It's not an easy decision for us."
Raikkonen had an option to remain at Lotus but he was unable to get reassurances that it had the necessary technical and financial resources to enable it to challenge the leading teams next year. It has also been reported there have been delays paying Raikkonen's salary this year.
His return would mean Ferrari are re-employing a driver who they paid off at the end of 2009, a year before the end of his contract, to make way for Alonso. As a former world champion, he is unlikely to accept No. 2 status, raising questions over Alonso's next move if a deal is done. Mounting tensions between Alonso and Ferrari have peaked in recent weeks as Sebastian Vettel has extended his lead in the championship, but Domenicali said the Spaniard is still the driving force within the team.
"There is no doubt that Fernando is a leader, and Fernando with a Ferrari is moving the mountains," he said. "Fernando knows that very, very well. We stay focused on the objective that we have, which is basically to win together."
The likely announcement will signal the end of Felipe Massa's eight-year spell with Ferrari. Inconsistent performances in recent seasons have meant his position has been the subject of consistent speculation.