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Kimi Raikkonen addresses departure from Ferrari: ‘It’s not my decision’

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SINGAPORE — Kimi Raikkonen was hardly in the mood to talk about why he’s leaving Ferrari next season.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix, he reverted to his typically monosyllabic and nonchalant style when asked about the reasons for his departure. It was announced this week that Ferrari will not be renewing the Finnish driver’s contract in 2019.

“This is what happened. It’s not up to me and it’s not my decision,” Raikkonen said on Thursday. “This is the outcome. At least we have an outcome.”

His seat is going to Charles Leclerc. The 20-year-old from Monaco is joining from Sauber, while Raikkonen is heading to Sauber on a two-year deal.

Raikkonen was asked if he was happy to join a lesser team like Sauber, where he started his F1 career in 2001. He replied bluntly, while staring ahead with his piercing gaze.

“Why not?” Raikkonen asked the news conference interviewer. “Because I want to go. Why do you make it so complicated?”

Raikkonen won F1 in 2007 driving for Ferrari, and has 20 wins among his 100 career podiums.

Aside from driving skills, he has become a huge hit with fans for his sense of detachment and disinterest when talking about himself. He even seemed to be reveling in his role this time, veering into sarcasm as he fielded a question regarding his age.

Raikkonen will be 39 when he takes the grid for Sauber next year, making him comfortably the oldest driver on the grid.

Asked if he is still passionate about racing, despite his advancing years, he replied stone-faced: “No, I’m not, actually.”

Raikkonen was informed of Ferrari’s decision a little less than two weeks ago, during the team’s home race at the Italian GP in Monza.

After finding out, he quickly turned to some old friends at Sauber and contract discussions proved straightforward.

“I obviously know people from the past and it started after that,” he said, adding that this will likely be his last contract. “There’s a big chance for sure.”

Raikkonen lies third in the ongoing series.

“I will stop (racing) when I feel it is right for me.”

Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel has enjoyed a trusting relationship with Raikkonen, and will miss him.

“The most important thing as teammates is the respect you have for each other,” said Vettel, a four-time F1 champion. “Obviously, it’s a great chance for Charles, but sad to know Kimi’s not there anymore, because we get along very well even though we’re different.”

Dean Wilson’s life as a privateer reconnects the rider to his roots

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One of the added benefits of subscribing to NBC Sports Gold is the in-depth interviews from each Saturday’s action. Last week between the first and second rounds of qualification for the Glendale Supercross race, a relaxed and confident Dean Wilson joined Race Day Live’s Daniel Blair and Jim Holley to review his fourth-place finish in the season opener and his mindset moving forward.

Losing factory support from Rockstar / Husqvarna at the end of 2018 was not exactly what Wilson had in mind, but after getting off to a great start in the first two races this season, it may well have been a blessing in disguise.

The life of a privateer is not exactly relaxed, but it affords a rider the opportunity to call his own shots. For Wilson, it is also a way to reconnect with the grassroots feel that attracted him to Supercross in the first place.

“I think that’s what I like,” Wilson said on Race Day Live. “I think that’s the environment and atmosphere I like – it’s just more low key. At Anaheim I, you would think I was local racing at Glen Helen. I had a Sprinter and I had another trailer just to chill in, do my spins. It was so cold I had a little propane heater to warm me up. But I like that. That’s what works for me.”

MORE: Dean Wilson’s Cinderella story at Anaheim 

The program Wilson was able to put together during the offseason produced back-to back top 10s – a much better start to the 2019 season than he experienced last year.

In 2018, Wilson did not score a top 10 until his fourth feature at San Diego. His first top five would not come until late March in Indianapolis.

This year Wilson got the hole shot and led 14 laps at Anaheim in the opener before finishing fourth. Last week in Glendale, he finished eighth.

“What was going through my head was ‘it’s about time; it’s about five years too late to lead some laps here,’ ” Wilson described his emotion as he led at Anaheim. “It was nice because I did a lot of work in the off-season and my starts were really good. The thing is I haven’t over-analyzed my starts and practice.”

At Anaheim I, Wilson struggled with visibility as his goggles began to get fouled by mud. A once comfortable lead was eroded by Justin Barcia. With pressure from behind, Wilson made a minor mistake that was then compounded by lapped traffic.

“I was leading my laps; I was just trying to hit my marks. I was doing really well until I made a couple of mistakes. I couldn’t hit that middle double, double … the rut was getting real chewed out, but I was already on the right side where you couldn’t double the middle part so you had to go roll, roll, roll – and Barcia was already on me.”

Wilson’s pair of top 10s was enough to keep him fifth in the standings, three points behind Glendale’s winner Blake Baggett.

For more, watch the video above.

Next Race: Anaheim II Jan. 19, 11 p.m., NBCSN

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