The Finn, widely regarded as the highest-paid formula one driver, struggled to match his teammate Felipe Massa last year as he carried the 'number 1' of his 2007 title.

2009 is an "important season" for Kimi Raikkonen's future at Ferrari, team boss Stefano Domenicali said on Monday.

The Finn, widely regarded as the highest-paid formula one driver, struggled to match his teammate Felipe Massa last year as he carried the 'number 1' of his 2007 title.

But Domenicali on Monday said Raikkonen, 29, is "strongly motivated" for the forthcoming challenge and "much leaner -- he has lost three kilos".

"He knows this is an important season for him as a driver and as a Ferrari man, and he is smart enough to understand it," Domenicali told La Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview.

When asked to clarify if Raikkonen's tenure with the team will be evaluated in the context of 2009, the Italian answered: "Certainly."

Luckily for the self-titled 'Iceman', he has settled in with the 2009 car better than he did its predecessor.

"Honestly I can say that I like the new car more than the car we had last year," Raikkonen said on Monday.

 

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