Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur says he would have been happy to speak to the departing Kimi Raikkonen about remaining in Formula 1 with the team next year, but affirms that he would have needed full commitment from the Finn.
The 53-year-old will be working with a brand new driver line-up in the 2022 season, with Antonio Giovinazzi also leaving the team to race with Dragon Penske in Formula E.
The team has brought in Valtteri Bottas from Mercedes as well as Formula 2 driver Guanyu Zhou.
Raikkonen contested 19 seasons in F1, winning 21 races and claiming his world championship with Ferrari in 2007.
Vasseur has confirmed that Alfa Romeo would have been happy to discuss Raikkonen’s future next season.
“For sure, we would have discussed the point to understand the motivation and so for me it’s…you don’t have to do the year too much,” said Vasseur.
Vasseur cited the vast increase in the volume of races as a stumbling block for a driver who is no longer fully committed to F1.
“It’s true that now it’s a bit different compared to before when we were doing 16 races or 17. Next year you have 23. You have 10 races at the end in 12 weeks or something like this, and that travelling around the world that you need really to have someone fully in.”
The Frenchman also understands Raikkonen’s desire to spend more time with his family.
“I think it’s quite human as a reaction that at one stage you want also to turn the page and move on with the family and so on.”
Raikkonen had already decided his future before the 2021 season even began, and announced his retirement in the summer. Vasseur insists that he would have needed a driver that would have been able to devote all their time to Alfa Romeo.
“As a team, we need to have the guarantee that the guy will be fully dedicated, and I think Kimi was very clever into the approach over the summer. At one stage he said ‘okay, guys, I did 22 years like this’.”
Vasseur, who joined the Swiss outfit in 2016 following his departure from Renault, also understands that racing at the back of the grid was not ideal for 42-year-old Raikkonen.
“Perhaps the fact we are not fighting for the podium, it’s not helping him also. We have to understand he did 22 seasons, perhaps 19 in teams where he was able to fight for pole position. and this is probably part of the normal frustration.”
Alfa Romeo finished a disappointing ninth in the Constructors’ Standings in 2021, with Raikkonen scoring points on four occasions.