F1 'gap year' for driver Raikkonen

Finnish Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen looks unlikely to race in the championship next season after talks with McLaren broke down, manager Steve Robertson has said.

Raikkonen, who was world champion in 2007, viewed McLaren as his only chance to drive. He was released a year early from Ferrari when the Scuderia signed Fernando Alonso to partner Felipe Massa.

Between 2002 and 2006 the 30-year-old contested 88 grands prix for McLaren, but Mr Robertson told Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper negotiations were called to a halt.

He said: "The options in F1 were with McLaren next season or not at all. Kimi and McLaren were unable to reach an agreement, so he will not drive at the F1 level - at least not next year.

"Kimi still exudes passion. A gap year does not mean anything in that respect. He is more interested in fighting for wins and the world championship.

"F1 will miss Kimi. He worked hard over the summer - doing things in a Ferrari that only the best drivers are capable of."

Raikkonen's exclusion would appear to make it easier to move current world champion Jenson Button to McLaren, following reports this week he is close to signing a three-year deal.

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