Kimi linked with Ferrari return

Finn the latest to be linked with Scuderia for 2013

By William Esler.   Last Updated: 29/07/12 6:11pm

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Kimi Raikkonen could be in line for a shock return to Ferrari next year, according to Sky Sports F1's Mark Hughes.

The Lotus driver, who is reputedly out of contract at the end of the season, is still widely respected at the Scuderia, with whom he won the 2007 World Championship.

Felipe Massa has struggled alongside Fernando Alonso and speculation remains rife that his contract will not be renewed at the end of the season.

Speaking during Sky Sports F1 HD's build up to the Hungarian Grand Prix, Martin Brundle confirmed it was looking increasingly likely that Alonso would have a new team-mate for 2013.

"The talk in the paddock this weekend is that Felipe has already lost his drive for next season," Martin commented. "This is an important time for Felipe's credibility and the next few hours are key."

Mark Webber has already made public that he held talks with Ferrari before opting to stay at Red Bull for 2013, and, writing in the Sunday Times, Sky Sports F1 Commentary Expert Hughes reported that Raikkonen has now emerged as the dark horse to replace his former team-mate.

While Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Paul di Resta, Pastor Maldonado, Kamui Kobayashi and Heikki Kovalainen have all been named as possible replacements for Massa, Raikkonen's candidature includes a near-guarantee that he would be an improvement on the struggling Brazilian.

"With many of these names being talked about, we couldn't have that certainty," a 'Ferrari insider' was quoted as saying. "Kimi would be a very good solution. Fast, experienced, unpolitical and out of contract at the end of the year. Fernando would have no problem having Kimi as his teammate. In many ways it would be a dream combination for us, but there is a problem to be overcome."

However, there is one major stumbling block to that potential dream team in the scarlet cars - Raikkonen's acrimonious split from the team in 2009, when they paid off his contract with a year still remaining in order to hire Alonso.

Hughes added that: "Ferrari President Luca di Montezemelo is said to be resistant to the idea of a Raikkonen return. Those below Di Montezemelo, however, are keen to change his mind. But that may be easier said than done - according to those close to Raikkonen, he has vowed never to work with Di Montezemelo again."

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