Ferrari puts Kimi Raikkonen's back to the wall for 2018

Kimi Raikkonen-Silverstone
© XPB 

Kimi Raikkonen will need to pull out all the stops next season and perform according to Ferrari's expectations, or face a certain exit.

A veteran of 271 Grands Prix and the winner of the 2007 world title, Raikkonen has been consistently outperformed by his Ferrari team mates Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel since his return to Maranello in 2014.

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has made clear what he expects from the Finn in 2018.

"My personal opinion is that if we find the right key, Raikkonen drives like a God," Marchionne said during Ferrari's traditional Christmas media dinner.

"But we need to find it. When things go right, it's a pleasure see him driving. He has an incredible coldness. Otherwise, in other moments it seems like he takes a break.

"He needs more consistency in terms of performance, but it's important to find the right key to make him driving like in Monaco also on other circuits.

"Probably this is the last season to find the right key and we must do it. I think that would be a shame if he would leave F1 without showing his real potential."

Should 2018 prove to be Raikkonen's last season with the Scuderia - a likely prospect regardless of how he performs, Ferrari will choose his successor among its current young crop of talent.

"We see Leclerc, Verstappen and Giovinazzi, drivers with great skills, who can deliver a big change in the driver market," Marchionne said.

"I'm still happy to have chosen Leclerc.

"I think that if we cannot find the right key for Raikkonen, the choice will fall on a young driver.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter