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Sports

F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen returning to Ferrari team

Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen is returning to Ferrari at the end of the season on a two-year- deal, replacing the departed Felipe Massa. He will partner with Fernando Alonso.

"Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has reached an agreement with Kimi Raikkonen," the team said in a statement Wednesday. "The Finn will join Fernando Alonso in the driver line-up for the next two racing seasons."

Raikkonen, 33, currently drives for Lotus. He previously raced for Ferrari from 2007 to 2009, winning the World Championship in his first year with the team.

"I am really happy to be returning to Maranello where I previously spent three fantastic and very successful years," Raikkonen said on the team website. "I have so many memories of my time at Ferrari, memories which have stayed with me these past years, first and foremost, winning the World Championship title in 2007, which was really unforgettable."

Formidable partnership

He will drive together with Spain's Fernando Alonso. The pair have three world titles and more than 50 Grand Prix wins between them – 32 for Alonso and 20 for Raikkonen. Ferrari last had two world champions in their lineup in 1953, when Italians Alberto Ascari and Giuseppe Farina drove together.

"I can't wait to be driving a Prancing Horse car again and to reacquaint myself with so many people with whom I had such close links, as well as working with Fernando, whom I consider a great driver, in order to bring the team the success it deserves," Raikkonen added.

The "ice man" left F1 in 2009 and spent two seasons driving in the World Rally Championship. He returned to F1 in 2012 after a brief stint with NASCAR, winning two Grand Prix with Lotus.

Raikkonen replaces Brazilian Felipe Massa, who spent eight years with Ferrari after joining in 2006 from Sauber. He has not yet found a team to drive for next season, but has said he wants to stay in F1.

"For next year, I want to find a team that can give me a competitive car to win many more races and challenge for the Championship which remains my greatest objective!" Massa said.

dr/ipj (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)