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Ferrari retains Kimi Raikkonen for 2016

Mark Sutton/Sutton Images

Ferrari has confirmed Kimi Raikkonen will stay on as Sebastian Vettel's team-mate for 2016, ending months of speculation about the Finn's future.

Raikkonen has only scored one podium this season, a stark contrast to Sebastian Vettel's five and two victories. Despite having an option for a third season next year the Finn's poor form, which has carried over from his return to Ferrari in 2014, has led to speculation the Italian team would not retain him for another season.

But Ferrari has opted to re-sign the Finn despite the fact he has less than half Vettel's points in the championship - 76 compared to the German's 160. Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene has said since the winter that Raikkonen's fate is in his own hands and would be based on his performances this season. Raikkonen's job may well have been saved at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where a late MGU-K failure denied him a well-deserved podium when he was running second behind Vettel.

It extends a career which started in 2001 with Sauber and was briefly delayed with a sabbatical between 2009 and 2012, when he returned to the F1 grid with Lotus.

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was most heavily linked to Raikkonen's seat at Ferrari in recent months and looked the most likely to be signed if the 2007 world champion was not retained. Raikkonen was believed to be key to the 2016 drivers market, as his departure from Ferrari would have led to a raft of movement across the grid.

Bottas is now likely to remain at Williams for another season, while Raikkonen's re-signing could have an impact on Jenson Button's future in Formula One. With his McLaren seat uncertain for 2016 Button had been tipped to replace Bottas if he had moved to Ferrari in Raikkonen's place. As it did at the end of 2014, the end-of-season driver speculation is likely to hinge around Button once again until McLaren's plans become clearer.

In a press release on Wednesday, Ferrari said: "Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen. The driver line-up next season will still consist of the Finnish driver and Sebastian Vettel."

Raikkonen added: "What can I say... For me, to be able to stay another year at Ferrari means that the dream goes on. The Scuderia is my family, as I always said, it's here I want to end my career.

"I am more committed than ever and I want to say thank you to the people who gave me this chance. Also, a big thank you goes to all my Ferrari fans, for their continuous support."

Sauber are the only other team to officially confirm their line-up for 2016, with Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson retained for another year. Mercedes have both drivers tied down to multi-year deals, while Williams looks set to retain Bottas and Felipe Massa.