Baku, August 22, AZERTAC
Kimi Raikkonen will stay at Ferrari next season, after the team announced a new deal with the Finn on Tuesday, according to motorsport.com.
The former world champion's contract with the Maranello outfit had been due to run out at the end of this year, and there had been speculation about whether or not he would continue.
But in a short statement, Ferrari said that Raikkonen would remain onboard for 2018.
Raikkonen's deal will likely pave the way for Ferrari to conclude a new longer deal with Sebastian Vettel, whose current contract runs until the end of 2017.
F1's new faster and more challenging cars this year have better played to Raikkonen's driving style and he has been able to deliver some strong performances – including pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix.
But there have also been questions about his overall commitment and effort during an intense title fight, with Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne famously labelling him a "laggard" ahead of the Austrian GP.
Speaking about the potential for a future deal with Raikkonen at the time, Marchionne had said: "I think Kimi has got to show a higher level of commitment to the process. There are days when I think he's a bit of a laggard, but we'll see."
Before the summer break, however, Raikkonen appeared to have got back in favour and Marchionne was open that Ferrari was likely to retain both drivers for 2018.
"I think I have been public on the Sebastian issue, if he wants to stay he is more than welcome to stay," he said. "And in the case of Kimi, we are pretty well sure...we know he wants to stay. Hopefully we will bring them on soon."
Vettel is known to be keen for Raikkonen to stay onboard, and there had even been suggestions that the German made it a condition that the Finn remain at Ferrari for now if he was to contemplate the long-term deal that his bosses want him to sign.
Ferrari had originally intended for its driver announcements to take place at the Italian GP, but may have chosen to confirm matters early in a bid to stop speculation about the future being a distraction from its world championship efforts.
Raikkonen has enjoyed two spells at Ferrari during his career, including the one that secured him his world championship title in 2007.
He last rejoined the outfit in 2014, but has not yet managed to win another race for the team – with his most recent F1 victory coming for Lotus in the 2013 Australian GP.