For just less than 24 hours it was F1's worst kept secret, but now both parties have confirmed what everybody suspected and knew - Kimi Raikkonen will partner Fernando Alonso at Ferrari from next season.

The Finn, who spent three seasons with the Italian team between 2007 and 2009, will replace Felipe Massa, who yesterday announced he'll leave Ferrari after seven seasons with the Maranello-based team.

Raikkonen won the title in 2007, the last man to be crowned world champion in a Ferrari, before the Italian team agreed to pay off the final year of his contract in 2010, thus making space for Fernando Alonso who has since been pipped to the world title in two occasions.

After being released by Ferrari in a deal that reportedly cost the Italian team £20m, the Finn took a two season-long sabbatical away from F1, before returning to the sport with Lotus in 2012 and going on to impress fans and pundits alike.

With Red Bull's Mark Webber set to leave the world of F1, Raikkonen was odds-on to join Sebastian Vettel at the Austrian powerhouse, but negotiations between his agent and Christian Horner, Red Bull's supremo, broke down allowing Ferrari to enter the race for their former driver.

"Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has reached an agreement with Kimi Raikkonen," Ferrari confirmed in an official statement.

"The Finn will join Fernando Alonso in the driver line-up for the next two racing seasons."

Raikkonen's hiring represents a dramatic change of policy for Ferrari who, for the first time in years, will steer away from their distinct strategy of having a defined number one driver alongside a team-mate, which has been the case since Michael Schumacher first arrived at Maranello in 1996.

Furthermore, Raikkonen becomes only the second driver to return to Ferrari for a second spell, since Gerhard Berger was re-hired two decades ago, having left Ferrari for McLaren in the early 90s.

With Red Bull looking to clinch a fourth consecutive drivers' and constructors' crown, Ferrari felt a drastic change was needed to reignite the team's challenge for both titles, particularly considering that Alonso has received little help from Massa over the last couple of seasons.

Undoubtedly though, Raikkonen will not settle for a number two status and doubts persist over whether the Finn and Alonso will be able to coexist within the team, particularly as the last time Alonso was pitted with a competitive teammate, Lewis Hamilton, an acrimonious feud developed between the two.

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Formula 1