Ex-Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen will compete for Citroen in the World Rally Championship next season, the team announced on Friday.

Raikkonen, who won the 2007 F1 championship, left Ferrari at the end of the 2009 F1 season to make way for the arrival of Fernando Alonso.

Citroen said the Finnish driver would compete for its Red Bull-backed Junior Team in 2010.

“For the moment we have a one-year contract and we will see how it goes for the future,” Raikkonen said in a statement.

“I am really looking forward to testing the car and taking the start of the first rally.”

The one-year contract keeps alive the chances of Raikkonen returning to F1 in 2011, with the Red Bull connection in his new rally team likely to trigger speculation of a move to the Red Bull F1 outfit.

“I always wanted to compete in rally, especially in the World Rally Championship at some point in my career,” said Raikkonen.

“Thanks to Red Bull, I have the opportunity to drive the best car of the series with the Citroen C4. This is a new but very exciting challenge.”

Following confirmation of his departure from Ferrari, Raikkonen and his management were involved in talks about a move back to his former team McLaren. However McLaren ultimately signed 2009 world champion Jenson Button to partner Lewis Hamilton in 2010.

Raikkonen said he was not prepared to join a weaker team, and elected to take a sabbatical from F1 in 2010, holding out the possibility of a quick return the following season.

The only rally Raikkonen will miss next year is the Rally of New Zealand, in which his team will not compete. He will partner French driver Sebastien Ogier in the Citroen Junior Team next year.

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