I'm just amazed at how many people, even his fans, don't have the history straight on Kimi's departure from Ferrari. It's not as if there is any ifs ands or buts. It's very simple. He was offered a contract buyout via Santander money and he took it. If he had wanted, he would have driven in 2010.
The only mystery surrounds how Ferrari could have gone from moving the earth to try to get Kimi out of McLaren, choosing him over every other driver in F1 to the extent that they even pushed out their 7x champion for him, making him the highest paid athlete in the world other than Tiger, to then letting him run off to rally two years later. It certainly wasn't his performance, as he beat everyone in 2007 and led the WDC half the season 2008 till they made design error in front suspension.
I personally believe it is quite evident that he somehow got on the bad side of LdM. As someone living in Italy who, to say the least, has a lot of experience with customs of how people in positions like LdM traditionally expect to be treated, I feel that Kimi would have been extremely difficult for LdM to not feel insulted by. I basically am 100% sure this is the explanation. Besides, of course, the Santander money. Between the bailout money during recession, LdM's ego, and the laughable illogic (particularly considering how much more successful he was than anyone else in last 8 years at Ferrari) of arguments that Kimi didn't succeed enough to keep his job, there is no doubt in my mind that the brevity of Kimi's term at F was dictated by such external factors. It is sad for Ferrari as it is their biggest failing as a team. That they go through these periods of stupidness.
I'll try to fill in the blanks... technically it did appear like he could have stayed at Ferrari for 2010, but I think he exercised the extension option for 2010 after
he could not settle with them (Ferrari/Santander) for leaving at the end of 2008. it was more like a legal maneuvering on his part to gain better negotiation position because he knew it was over with Ferrari by the end of Sept 2008. He fulfilled the auto renewal condition in his original contract (wdc points > ~ 42) by the end of June 08, post French GP, but he did not exercise the option until the renewal deadline ~ mid Sep, as he was negotiating to leave by the end of 2008 (yes, a year earlier than his original contract to give the seat to Fred as soon as he could), provided they paid up. In addition to what you said in your 3rd paragraph, his relationship with LdM went south after he triggered the 2010 extension (because - speculating on amounts -- they could not agree on full 2009 pay + additional year's pay as severance). So, LdM did not want him to trigger the renewal but settle for less than two years pay -- even though it was within Kimi's rights to unilaterally take the option given his WDC point accumulation but they could not agree over $. If you look at Fred's press statements between July-Sep 08 he was referring to September
for deciding where he will drive (Renault vs. Ferrari) for 2009, when significance of Sep was only relevant to Kimi's contract. So, LdM, Santander and Fred were waiting to see what Kimi would do by the Sep deadline. After they could not reach an agreement, the whole thing (Ferrari leave) was pushed another year but as a part of his Sep 08 negotiations for driving another year (2009), and not driving in 2010 despite having a recently renewed contract, among other things, he had Ferrari remove restrictions on other sports activities (rallying permission
). Time crunch is interesting that everything was shaped by the September date after Fred's signing in Monaco
which was a bit surprise to Kimi because he just won the WDC 6 months ago and was leading in WDC points coming out of Turkish GP (May 11 2008
That also is the point, I think, Ferrari/Santander counteroffer for 2009 departure terms were put on the table. option 1) 2 year full pay (2010+severance) provided he walked away from F1 for 1.5 years. option 2) 1 years pay (2010) + some severance + get the McLaren seat. I think the delta was 17-25M (speculating). LdM was not pleased with any of this and at one point in 2009 he even said he'll be happy if Kimi just shows up for races. I presume that was a part of their PR strategy, keep reiterating his lack of motivation issues for the upcoming Alonso move
. After Massa's accident they tried to go easy on anti-Kimi PR. In any event, Kimi did not like the Santander bundle idea (Ferrari leave + Mclaren seat in the same package), so he took option 1. So, contrary to belief, McLaren seat issue was a part of discussions in 2008, but did not surface until the end of 2009, and was a tentative situation for McLaren to facilitate Santander request. If you recall, because option 2 created a "Santander subsidized seat" situation for other teams (other than McLaren), Brawn also showed interest around Button negotiations, for getting Kimi 1/2 price
. Robertsons were not amused with Brawn's opportunistic approach...
I think by the end of 2008 he was mentally drained, so he probably said the hell with you and F1 decided to go rallying. In that context, 2009 was a cold war year in Ferrari for both sides, hating each other but still living in the same house. That said, officially, as far as Ferrari or Santander releases none
of this stuff took place in 2008 but late 2009
, so the whole thing is like a maze. Either way, Kimi's moves, and agreements (end of 2009 leave, rallying so on...) were final by the end of Sept 08, to be announced at various points in 2009.
As Bernie says, it really is a circus, and (I guess) all F1 followers (us) are the clowns for believing in their PR... given the amount of politics and non-racing background stuff that goes on in secrecy, it is not that surprising that people have difficulty sifting through what is real, what is planted misinformation to paint their version of reality. If you keep saying the same thing 4000 times -- "stick with the message" -- people eventually start believing in it, see it as a fact... here is a James Allen's Nov, 2009 article
on the Kimi problem...