Kimi Raikkonen will embark on an impressive 19th season in Formula 1 in 2021 after agreeing to extend his deal with Alfa Romeo for another, with the Finn to be joined once again by Antonio Giovinazzi.
Ahead of one of the last of three home races in 2020 – the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola – Alfa Romeo took the opportunity to announce their driver line-up, confirming their current pairing will stay together for a third season.
2020 has been a challenging season for the team, who currently sit eighth in the constructors’ championship having scored just five points. However, that has seemingly not dismayed Raikkonen, holder of F1’s all-time race starts record, who proved the fire still burns brightly in the last race in Portugal by passing 10 cars on a brilliant opening lap.
The 41-year-old will thus stay on with the team with which he made his debut in 2001 (when they ran as Sauber), with Alfa Romeo saying they were keen to retain his speed and hugely impressive technical feedback.
“Alfa Romeo Racing is more than a team to me, it is like a second family,” said Raikkonen. “So many of the faces that were around me when I made my Formula 1 debut in 2001 are still here and the unique atmosphere of this team is what gives me that extra motivation to keep going in what will be my 19th season in the sport, next year.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in the team’s project and in what we feel we can achieve together. This is a team that values hard work over words and this fits well with my style: I am looking forward to next year and hopefully making some steps forward towards the front of the midfield with the team.”
Ferrari junior Giovinazzi’s future was less certain, but both Alfa Romeo and their technical partner Ferrari decided the Italian was the best man for the job next season, when chassis will be carried over, albeit with aerodynamic changes.
“The team has put a lot of faith in me and I have done my best to repay this confidence with hard work and commitment,” said Giovinazzi, who has two top-10 finishes to his name so far this season. “We have achieved some good results and I feel I have done my part to make the team progress, but the road ahead is still long and there is much more we want to achieve together.”
Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur added: “I am very pleased for the team to continue working with Kimi and Antonio for another season. Kimi is a driver who needs no introduction: his talent has been clear to everyone since 2001 and I still see the passion and motivation in him every time I see him at work.
“He can be trusted to deliver 100% of what the car can produce and he is a true leader for the people working around him. Antonio finished last year’s campaign strongly and he picked up where he left off and kept improving throughout 2020.
“From the track to the engineering briefings, Antonio has played a crucial role for our team and he has thoroughly deserved a new contract for 2021. His work ethic, commitment to the team and contagious enthusiasm are a huge asset for Alfa Romeo Racing.”
Alfa Romeo’s news means that there are now just four teams – Mercedes, Red Bull, AlphaTauri and Williams – who have yet to formally confirm full driver line-ups for the 2021 season.