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Ferrari president: Kimi Raikkonen must prove he deserves F1 seat

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Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne says that Kimi Raikkonen must prove that he deserves a seat with the Italian team in Formula 1 for next season.

Raikkonen’s current Ferrari contract expires at the end of the season, and is known to be at risk of losing his seat after failing to match teammate Sebastian Vettel across the opening eight races of 2016 despite showing an upturn in performance compared to the previous two years.

Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr. have been linked with Raikkonen’s seat, but with both firmed up at Red Bull and Toro Rosso respectively for 2017, the list of drivers that could replace the Finn is growing shorter.

In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy, Marchionne said that Raikkonen’s future was in his own hands and dependent on his on-track performances.

“It is up to him. Kimi’s time with Ferrari will depend on his performance,” Marchionne stated.

“He has to show he deserves to stay here, otherwise I think he won’t want to continue here as well.”

Raikkonen has stated that he would like to remain with Ferrari for 2017, while teammate Vettel is also keen of the Finn to stay on.

Should Raikkonen get a one-year contract extension, it would take his current spell with Ferrari into a fourth season, having also spent three years at Maranello between 2007 and 2009.

If Ferrari opts to replace Raikkonen, Force India’s Sergio Perez, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Haas’ Romain Grosjean are thought to be the leading candidates for his seat.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).