Kimi Raikkonen has denied that his forthcoming World Rally Championship debut should be taken as a sign that he is losing interest in Formula 1 and pondering a switch of disciplines.
The 2007 World Champion will contest the Rally Finland later this month in a Production class Super 2000 Punto run by WRC legend Tommi Makinen. The entry follows two appearances in lower-level rallies in Scandinavia and Italy earlier this year.
News of his WRC appearance was followed by another round of speculation linking Fernando Alonso to a 2010 Ferrari seat in Raikkonen's place, but the Finn insisted he would be honoring his F1 contract, which runs until the end of next year.
"If I wasn't interested in Formula 1, I wouldn't be here," said Raikkonen. "I'm still here. For the future, I've always said that I still have next year and during next year I'll see different options and see what will happen in the future."
He said he was tiring of the constant rumors about his future and Alonso's links with Ferrari.
"It's the same at every race. You ask and it's the same thing. The answers haven't changed," he said. "I have a contract. You'll have to ask the team and see if they say something else, but I'm pretty sure they'll say the same."
Raikkonen dismissed any suggestion that competing in the WRC in the middle of an F1 season was a risk.
"I did a rally in the winter, two rallies, and one during the year not a long time ago in Italy, and it's no different," he said. "It's a rally and some people say it's more risky on some of the stages, but all of motorsport is dangerous. You can even get hurt walking on the street. There's no reason why I shouldn't do it.
"It's fun, (and) the team let me do it – it's good for them also, as it's Fiat. It's all a positive thing. Like I said, you can get hurt, but you can get hurt here so it's not much different."
He admitted that he does not expect to be a class frontrunner immediately in the WRC.
"It's a very difficult sport and you want to go in at the top level, the same as coming to F1," said Raikkonen. "It's not so difficult to drive maybe five seconds slower than we do, but once you need to find the last half a second or two tenths, it's always hard. It's the same story in rallying."
The Finn also revealed that he had been looking to enter rallies midseason for many years, but that he had not been permitted to when driving for McLaren in F1.
"I would have done rallying many years before if my past team would have let me," said Raikkonen. "It's only because Ferrari are kind enough and let me do the rallies, that's why I do it. It would have happened many, many years ago. Plus, I've been doing it before the season. It's not like I haven't done it before.
"People always try to make big stories from things that are not really anything to do with other things."