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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.”

Previous F1 competition doesn’t guarantee IndyCar success at COTA

Manor F1 Photo
Manor F1 Photo
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AUSTIN, Texas – Familiarity does not breed success, according to three NTT IndyCar Series drivers who have previous experience at Circuit of the Americas in the Formula One United States Grand Prix. Several other drivers, including IndyCar Series rookie Patricio O’Ward, competed in the LMPC IMSA race in 2017.

Although the course is the same – 20-turns and 3.41-miles – the cars are completely different. The highly-advanced, technologically-driven Formula One cars are advanced beyond the realm of anything allowed in the NTT IndyCar Series. It’s more about the driver in IndyCar, which uses an impressive, but simpler formula to help showcase driver skill more than technology in its races.

Money buys speed in Formula One, but an IndyCar team doesn’t need a $400 million budget to go racing. It can get by on $5 millions to $10 million a year and contend for plenty of race victories and championships.

Andretti Autosport star Alexander Rossi drove in five Formula One races with Manor in 2015. The above photo is from his only F1 contest at COTA that season. He was the first driver ever to turn laps at COTA shortly after it was constructed in 2012.

Rossi had his best F1 finish in the 2015 United States Grand Prix when he started 17thand finished 12th.

“When I’ve come here in the past, I came into the weekend fully knowing that there was no chance to ever really do anything from a results perspective,” Rossi said. “To could come here to a track that I’ve spent a lot of time at, not necessarily driven a whole lot, but spent a huge amount of time at. To come into this weekend’s race, competing on a level where we have as good a shot as any, to win the race would be pretty cool.

“There’s kind of an almost unfinished business box that we’d like to tick here in some way. I’m very excited to get the weekend started.”

Chilton raced the entire F1 season in 2013 and 2014 with Marussia. He started 21stand finished 21stin 2013. He started in the first 16 races during the 2014 F1 season but was out of a ride by the time F1 arrived at COTA that season.

Me and Alex probably had pretty similar experiences,” Chilton told NBC Sports.com “Obviously the more laps are better — but the car we were in, we weren’t doing much racing, so the sort of racing experience part isn’t going to help.

“It’s good to be back. I first came here in 2013 for the (United States) Grand Prix. I loved the track. I love the city. I really enjoyed the whole facility, the race track. It’s a pretty long track in an Indy car but it’s got lots of overtaking potential for us and hopefully we’ll put on a great show.

“It’s great to have an English band like Muse on Saturday night, as well.”

Marcus Ericsson of Sweden has the most experience at COTA of any driver in the field for Sunday’s INDYCAR Classic. He competed in 97 F1 contests from 2014-2018 before becoming an IndyCar rookie with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this season.

Ericsson was 15thin 2015, 14thin 2016, 15thin 2017 and 10thin last year’s USGP.

“I’ve been here quite a few times,” Ericsson said. “It’s one of the best tracks on F1 and I think it’s great we are going here with INDYCAR. It’s going to be a great weekend.

“The racing should be very good. It’s already good on F1 on this track and from what I’ve done in INDYCAR, it’s going to be a really good show from everyone and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Ericsson emphasized that the his F1 experience does not necessarily give him any type of advantage in an IndyCar.

“I think for me I was here a couple months ago in F1 doing the race in ’18. I had all my reference points and then I did the first run and realized that didn’t really work,” Ericsson explained to NBC Sports.com “So I don’t know that the experience — it’s good to know the track, but then the Indy cars are very different cars to the F1 (car) so you have to sort of drive it quite differently and in the end, I think it didn’t really help the maximum amount in my opinion.

“The problem is we had two days of testing already in IndyCar. If we had come here straightaway without any testing it would be an advantage of one hundredth approximate. But now, if you don’t get the track in two days, I don’t think you would be in IndyCar.

“I don’t think it’s a big advantage now going into the weekend.”

But every little bit helps and if all of those little “bits” of information are added up, previous experience can provide a benefit in the race.

“For sure there’s things I can bring from my experience there that helps in INDYCAR, but the Indy car to drive today is different than the Formula One cars with the power steering and everything,” Ericsson continued. “I think it’s two different cars and what I found here on the test; things that worked in the F1 car didn’t really work in the Indy car. I think both cars of very difficult to be fast in but in different ways.

“For sure my experience in F1, it’s helped me to get into INDYCAR.”

James Hinchcliffe, who has never driven in Formula One, or at COTA, believes he has the best experience of any driver in Austin this weekend.

“I know where the restaurants are, so that’s cool,” Hinchcliffe said.