Felipe Massa’s Ferrari exit paves way for Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus departure
- Credit: PA
Lotus appear to be left looking for a new driver after Felipe Massa's Ferrari exit freed up Kimi Raikkonen to return to Maranello.
Massa will see his eighth season with Ferrari as his last, after taking to Twitter on Tuesday night to confirm his departure this winter.
'From 2014 I will no longer be driving for Ferrari,' said the Brazilian. 'I would like to thank the team for all the victories and incredible moments experienced together.
'Thank you also to my wife and all of my family, to my fans and all my sponsors. From each one of you I have always received a great support.
'Right now I want to push as hard as possible with Ferrari for the remaining seven races. For next year, I want to find a team that can give me a competitive car to win many more races and challenge for the championship which remains my greatest objective.'
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Massa made 184 starts for Ferrari, taking 11 races since joining in 2006 from Sauber.
His exit came after 36 hours of speculation suggesting an announcement of Rakkonen's return to Ferrari was imminent.
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The Finn, who returned for Formula One with Lotus following a two-year stint in rallying, won his won drivers' title with Ferrari in 2007 before relations turned sour and he quit the sport.
In fact, the 33-year-old had to be paid to leave Maranello as the team fulfilled its desire to bring in Fernando Alonso – the man destined to be Raikkonen's team-mate next season in a mouthwatering driver line-up. Raikkonen's future could be confirmed on Wednesday.
After 11 seasons in F1, Massa has no intention of leaving and may now become a target for Raikkonen's vacated seat at Lotus – as will Sauber racer Nico Hulkenberg.
The 32-year-old Brazilian has played second fiddle to Alonso over the past four years, having come within seconds of winning a world drivers' title of his own with Ferrari on home soil, in 2008 – before losing out to Lewis Hamilton.
In 2009, Massa was involved in a life-threatening accident in Hungary which resulted in him requiring emergency surgery and a plate inserted into his skull.
Since his 2008 victory at Interlagos however, Massa has failed to win a race and been on the podium on just nine occasions in 78 attempts.