Ferrari preparing for life with Alonso and Raikkonen in the stable
23 December, 2013
It will be Kimi Raikkonen, not the Ferrari incumbent Fernando Alonso, who will get the first on-track experience of the team’s 2014 challenger, as the Maranello outfit begins life with the task of managing the sport’s two biggest and most experienced characters.
Italian media sources including La Gazzetta dello Sport, report that Finn Raikkonen will debut the new red single seater on the first two test days of the test at Jerez, in late January.
Spaniard Alonso, who until now has been regarded as Ferrari’s clear number one driver, will make his debut in the 2014 car later in the same test, completing the four-day session.
Raikkonen, arriving from Lotus, has recently been recovering from back surgery which meant that he missed the final two races of the 2013 season.
“He is returning to us because we have new technical regulations next year and we need an experienced driver next to Alonso,” Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is quoted by Welt newspaper.
“I am convinced that Kimi Raikkonen will meet our requirements better than Felipe Massa. Some people are calling it a big risk,” he added, “but I have been here since the early 70s and I know that risk is something you have to live with in Formula 1.”
Montezemolo is referring to suggestions that, while Alonso / Massa was a harmonious pairing, adding 2007 World Champion Raikkonen to the lineup might only further antagonise the already frustrated Alonso.
Spaniard Alonso, however, has played down claims that he is already stamping his feet about having to take on Raikkonen.
“I’m excited to work with him,” Brazil’s Agencia Estado quotes him, “because he has an extraordinary talent and he is Ferrari’s [previous] Champion. I can learn a lot from him.”
He said it is wrong to say that Ferrari’s new driver lineup will be too explosive.
“I cannot comment,” he is quoted by Spain’s El Pais, “because I don’t know him, I haven’t worked on a team with him or shared more than 10 minutes with him.”
Some days ago, Alonso suggested that Ferrari will miss Massa’s devoted efforts and open personality, which was interpreted by some as an early slight against Raikkonen.
“I’m not at all worried about such things,” Montezemolo is quoted by Finland’s Turun Sanomat. “Kimi will be Kimi, the same driver he has always been. If he spoke a lot, he would not be Kimi.”
“I can see he is very motivated to be with Ferrari again, after he had to pause for a while after his last period with Ferrari,” Montezemolo explained. “That was very important for him, as he came back very hungry for success.”
He insisted that Raikkonen will even be happy to work in Ferrari’s new driver simulator, despite earlier reports which said that the Finn is no fan of the technology.
“We now have a pretty good simulator at our disposal, and I think Raikkonen is happy to work with it,” said Montezemolo.
He stopped short of saying that Alonso remains the number 1, but he did allude to a hierarchy: “I think Fernando is the strongest racing driver in the world. He has a highly motivated new teammate. I look forward to both drivers getting a lot of points, so that we can fight back in the Constructors’ Championship.”
He is not expecting fireworks between the pair of superstars, who he expects will work for the collective good of the team.
“[Team boss Stefano] Domenicali has been very clear with them,” Montezemolo is quoted by France’s autohebdo.fr.
“They have the honour and responsibility to drive for Ferrari. If drivers want to drive for themselves, they can make their own team or they can move somewhere else. But at Ferrari, there are very clear rules,” he insisted. (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.