E altre versioni internazionali…–12/09/2013
How Kimi Raikkonen’s seemingly unlikely return to Ferrari came to fruition
Sky F1’s Mark Hughes on how Luca di Montezemelo had to be convinced and what the deal means for Fernando Alonso’s position at Ferrari.
Coming into the Monza weekend many were adamant that the Raikkonen/Ferrari deal had already been done. It had not. The terms had been agreed IF Kimi decided to join.
But his preferred option was to get from Lotus the guarantees he sought for 2014 – which were financial and technical. He needed some solid evidence that the money was going to be there to compete at a high level and certain technical assurances.
He was unable to get those assurances in time and, with the window of opportunity at Ferrari threatening to close later in the week, it was only at the end of the weekend that Raikkonen gave Ferrari the nod. That’s the way it was described by Kimi’s manager Steve Robertson and that tallies absolutely with what Ferrari was saying coming into the weekend.
Ferrari’s open admission for the first time that it was pursuing Raikkonen was a new element to the story as the circus gathered at Monza. For that admission to be made implied that Luca di Montezemelo had been persuaded to the logic of the recruitment of Kimi.
One year ago he absolutely refused to countenance such a development. Back then, the management below di Montezemelo was already absolutely convinced that Raikkonen – a non-political driver with a great turn of speed, a points-harvesting machine – was the ideal partner to Fernando Alonso. In terms of helping the team to a constructors’ championship, his consistent speed would surely be invaluable.
But there was one big, seemingly insurmountable problem, they said. Their boss, Luca di Montezemelo. Kimi had not been very respectful of him when the time came to leave and that was causing an impasse.
Subsequent to his being paid out of his contract one year early in order to make way for Fernando Alonso at the end of 2009, Raikkonen expressed his belief that it had all been to do with Ferrari’s desire to get the Spanish bank Santander on board.
But that was only partly true; there were a couple of additional contributory factors, the more important of which was that Raikkonen’s passiveness was not galvanising the team in the way it believed was necessary. It has historically operated best with a strong team leader – John Surtees, Niki Lauda, Michael Schumacher. Ferrari felt that Alonso had already exhibited the traits it needed.
So Alonso – and Santander – were welcomed on board, while Kimi was paid to go away. Dismissing Felipe Massa – recovering from serious injury – would have been a brutal sacrifice and besides his lesser status made for an easier team-mate ‘sell’ to Alonso as to why he should join than Raikkonen would have been.
But it’s a delicate balancing act between leading the team and criticising it and of late Alonso’s frustrated comments have been perceived by Ferrari as divisive. The relationship between them has definitely deteriorated. Meanwhile, Massa’s form after improving late last year and into 2013, then fell back to inconsistency.
It became obvious that a more consistently strong team mate was needed. In late July the rumours about Raikkonen again surfaced – and a Ferrari spokesman said at the time that, ‘It would be almost impossible to imagine’ though stopped short of an outright denial. Somewhere between then and the Monza weekend Montezemelo was convinced of the logic of Raikkonen’s recruitment, a process perhaps aided by the boss’ irritation at Alonso’s public criticism.
Alonso’s preference was for Massa to stay, but clearly Ferrari was no longer in the mood to cater to Fernando’s every demand. It made Raikkonen an offer – and all that remained was for Lotus not to be able to give the assurances he was seeking for next year and the return of Kimi, and one of the most fascinating driver line-ups of all time, was complete.
– It’s good this way. I’m really happy that we got things cleared up. It’s better to be in a big team due to next year’s radical regulation changes – like we have seen during the years, Räikkönen assures TS.
Steve Robertson emphasizes that Räikkönen made one of all time’s comebacks when he returned with Lotus.
– I never asked Kimi to return. It was he who wanted to come back. I never said it to him, but I thought he was too young to quit in 2009. I was surprised when he contacted me and told he wanted to return. I thought it could be difficult, especially since Michael Schumacher was at the same time in trouble after his comeback.
– We managed to get him into good positions and then Kimi made a completely fantastic comeback, which now leads back to Ferrari, Robertson said.
Whitmarsh predicts Alonso’s explosion
F1 | Turun Sanomat 08:28
Martin Whitmarsh has worked with both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen.
Turun Sanomat asked Whitmarsh directly if he believes that these two could work well together in Ferrari.
– I don’t see this duo as a match. Kimi doesn’t care who is in the other car, but Fernando won’t like the fact that it’s Kimi. That’s my summary to your question, Whitmarsh replied.
Then is it a completely impossible equation?
– Drivers don’t have to love each other and these two drivers are very "slash and burn" -top drivers. In some things they can be an incredibly strong team when thinking of their driving skills, but it will become a very challenging situation for the team itself.
– This setting doesn’t affect Kimi at all, but I predict that it affects Fernando very deeply, Whitmarsh said.
Never say never
Kolumnit | Turun Sanomat 08:05
And around we go…. but who would had believed, that after year 2009 Kimi Räikkönen and Luca di Montezemolo would shake hands upon a new contract.
’’Never say never’’ is something Steve Robertson has told me over and over again when chatting about next year’s options, since at first I refused to believe in the Ferrari-rumours.
As far as I understand, Red Bull started to procrastinate their driver choice and would had made their decision at the end of the season. Räikkönen didn’t stay put waiting for that.
Fernando Alonso has tried to bring the title to Maranello for his 4th year. Räikkönen again comes to the team as their latest champion.
Maybe this made di Montezemolo react in this way. He knows what a 21-years long remorse trip á la Canossa from year 1979 to year 2000 without a title feels like. Now he has walked that path for almost a one-third.
Räikkönen beats Alonso at least when it comes to patience. Alonso started to show signs of frustration in July and he didn’t hide his critisism towards the team from the media.
Hence many believe that calling back Räikkönen to Ferrari is a certain disciplinary action for the Spanish star. Alonso has to learn the hard way that no driver is bigger than the team. The real boss is still Enzo Ferrari in some way, who’s guideline di Montezemolo still follows to the letter.
Next year Alonso’s and Räikkönen’s mutual battle starts from a clean table – equally.
Fire and Ice
The Iceman and Alonso. Formula One’s most taciturn Finn, paired with one of the paddock’s most eloquent talents. A passionate and fiery Latin temperament coupled with one of the most laid-back men in motorsport history.
Ferrari are either total geniuses or completely mad (geni or scemi, maybe…), and we’ll have to wait until mid-2014 to work out which is which.
On the side of geni comes the good sense of having two of the sport’s fastest drivers on the same team. Pace should mean points, and points most definitely mean prizes. Both Raikkonen and Alonso are top-tier drivers capable of squeezing every last drop of performance from a car, both men are capable of delivering championships, and both men are entirely logical targets for the Scuderia. A winning team needs winning drivers, after all.
And on the side of scemi comes every version you’ve ever heard of Luca di Montzemolo’s comment that he didn’t want to put two roosters in a henhouse. Partnering Alonso with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren went down about as well as a suicidal lead balloon wearing concrete boots. Several seasons have elapsed since then, but there’s no real indication that the Spanish racer has become any better at dealing with a competitive teammate.
Quite the opposite, really: on those rare occasions when Felipe Massa out-performs Alonso in qualifying, the atmosphere in the Ferrari motorhome is several shades past awkward and into walking on eggshells mode. Luckily for the team, who then have to work in an atmosphere most kindly described as strained, Massa hasn’t been beating his teammate into a cocked hat.
But Kimi could prove to be a real problem when it comes to internal harmony. He’s quick, he has no interest in mind games, and he just wants to race. Sometimes he’ll be faster than Fernando, and sometimes he won’t. But on those occasions where Fernando is faster than Kimi, the only message emanating from the Iceman’s cockpit will be a four-letter version of ‘leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’.
There is a growing discontent at Maranello with Alonso, who has had to be reminded on more than one occasion that Ferrari is bigger than any of its drivers.
While racing drivers are trained to put themselves first in the cockpit, Ferrari drivers – be they champions or not – must always think first of the Scuderia, of the men and women proudly wearing red overalls in Maranello, and of the unwavering support of the tifosi. The holy trinity of prancing horse, devoted worker, and passionate fan will endure far longer than any one driver. Michael Schumacher understood this intuitively, but Alonso is still learning.
With Kimi getting his head down and concentrating on the racing, Alonso will need to work hard to restrain any negative outpouring of emotion he might feel towards the car. While the Spanish racer’s frustration has often been justified, any complaint will stand in stark contrast to Kimi’s indecipherable mumbles.
In victory, and in positivity, Ferrari adore Alonso’s passion. But the flipside of a passionate nature is that it also rears its head in the tough times. Faced with Kimi as a teammate, Alonso will do well to live by that adage so beloved of grandmothers around the world: if you don’t have anything nice to say, better to not say anything.