Kimi Raikkonen says Alfa Romeo’s competitiveness, or even lack thereof, will not be a factor in his decision to continue in Formula 1 in 2022 or retire.
Raikkonen first arrived in Formula 1 in 2001 and now is competing in his 19th season in the sport.
The Finn, who won the World title with Ferrari in 2007, is the most experienced driver ever, with this weekend’s Imola Grand Prix marking his 331st race start.
But at 41 years of age, and these days racing closer to the back of the field than the front, questions are being asked about Raikkonen’s future in F1.
While many thought he would step down at the end of a difficult 2020 season, he opted to continue with Alfa Romeo for another year.
He has yet to say whether 2021 will be his last season but insists Alfa Romeo’s competitiveness will not influence his decision.
“I doubt it will make any difference on what happens next year,” Raikkonen told RacingNews365.com.
“But obviously the better we can do, the more fun it is not just for us as drivers but for the team and everyone is more happy the better you do.
“When you’re not exactly where you want to be, it’s always long years, it’s not as much fun and you can see it on everybody’s faces.
“We keep working and improving and hopefully be up there where we want to be, hopefully regularly challenging for the points.
“But for sure it won’t be easy. Everyone wants to be there, so we just keep working.”
Celebration mode 🏆🎂 pic.twitter.com/6x1asGOS59
— Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN (@alfaromeoracing) March 28, 2021
Although Alfa Romeo, with their updated Ferrari power unit, did not score at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, there were signs of progress.
Raikkonen and his team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi both made it through to Q2 on the Saturday before finishing P11 and P12 respectively in the race.
Raikkonen is happy with the upgrade Ferrari have delivered, with the engine said to have been the biggest hurdle for Alfa Romeo and the other Ferrari-powered teams to have had to overcome the previous season.
“For sure, we got a bit more horsepower,” said Raikkonen. “Definitely it is a step forward and a step in the right direction.
“You always want more, but it’s going in the right way.”