Il rinnovo di Kimi: reazioni 1 –08/07/2016
Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Keeping Kimi the right decision
Friday at Silverstone brought news that Ferrari have retained Kimi Raikkonen for 2017 to once more partner Sebastian Vettel. Team principal Maurizio Arrivebene says the early announcement will relieve the pressure on Raikkonen, but what does Vettel think? The German spoke to the media about this and other topics following the opening practice sessions for the 2016 Formula One British Grand Prix…
Q: Sebastian, whatever happened on the track today was overshadowed by the news that Kimi Raikkonen will be your team mate for another season. Is that something that gets your nod?
Sebastian Vettel: I think it was the right thing to do. We are both pushing very hard in the primary target to catch the leaders – Mercedes – so there is plenty work ahead of us.
Q: We have recently seen some high-profile team mate clashes. What about Kimi and you?
SV: I would say that Kimi and I have the fewest ego problems in the whole paddock – and that should be good for the team in the long run. Working in the same direction will pay off. On the track we both race hard – also against each other, but there is no personal agenda attached to it.
Q: Is Kimi the easiest team mate that you ever had?
SV: It is the least complicated. But in the end I’ve got along with all my team mates. Yes, there have been little issues here and there. But with Kimi there are no politics – and that is good and keeps everything quiet. […]
Maurizio, you’ve confirmed Kimi Raikkonen today for the 2017 season. Was that mainly due to his performances and podiums so far this season and did you have any other candidates under serious consideration?
MA: We confirmed Kimi because first of all he deserves it. Having said so we are looking for the interests of the team and the interest of the team was not looking for another driver but concentrating on car development. We have two good drivers so that was not an issue for us, so we remove all the pressure from the shoulders of Kimi in taking this decision, that actually was confirmed yesterday in a phone call from the President, and a couple of hours [later] we are with Kimi. We turn the page and we look forward to work very hard where the problem is.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Maurizio, talking with the TV you said that to explain why you signed a contract with Kimi so early in the season that he signed a little bit the pressure you wanted to take off the pressure from his own shoulders. Could you explain us how a driver show you that the pressure, that he’s under pressure about the contract please?
MA: The story of the pressure was at the end of my answer because I said something more interesting before and I said that our main interest, our issue, was not related to the driver. We were very proud and very happy about the work of Kimi since the beginning of the season. He was asked to show his commitment, his results so he deserved the confirmation for next year. Then I was talking about the fact that we needed a kind of good atmosphere in the team and the drivers could help to keep this atmosphere and due to the fact that the team is still quite new and we need to keep the same commitment for everybody without inserting into the team elements that they can disturb or something new that could break this balance. Having said so, I also said that we confirm Kimi not very soon, because we are in July but normally the tradition of Ferrari, this is probably what you refer to, it was to do a press release in Monza. We are a new team, we have changed the tradition and we are confirming now because I think we would like to be, as I said, focused and concentrated on car development and not about confirmation or non-confirmation of the drivers. So it’s a message of stability.
Relating to the pressure, you know better than me that in the last three or four races every time that Kimi was sitting in a press conference somebody would ask what about his contract, what about your contract? I asked many, many times for a bit of respect for a driver that was a World Champion with Ferrari. I know that his nickname is Iceman but he’s a human being. Sometimes in Formula One we need to be conscious that we are talking, not with cars because actually the computer talks with the car but the cars are driven by human beings so even Iceman is a human being with his emotions and I think he could feel the pressure. That’s it.
What should Ferrari have done for 2017?
The subject of what Ferrari should do with its second seat has dominated the Formula 1 driver market talk for the last two silly seasons.
Both times, the team from Maranello has opted to retain Kimi Raikkonen – a polarising choice given the Finn’s popularity with fans and his strong CV from years gone by, but a difficulty to get on terms with two world champion team-mates since returning to Ferrari for 2014.
So following the news that Raikkonen will remain alongside Sebastian Vettel for 2017, we asked Autosport’s reporters what they would have done if they’d had to make a call on Ferrari’s second driver.
SIGNED A VETERAN WHO HAS PUSHED ALONSO
Ben Anderson, Grand Prix Editor, (@BenAndersonAuto)
Ferrari is Formula 1’s grandest team, and as such it doesn’t believe – to paraphrase ex-footballer Alan Hansen’s famous Match of the Day quote – in ‘winning anything with kids’.
It wants (and can afford to pay for) experience – proven F1 race winners and world champions.
In which case, why did it not gun for the most experienced driver on the grid?
Jenson Button is out of contract at McLaren-Honda, with no guarantee of an extension.
If I were Ferrari I’d have done everything in my power to tempt Button to swap Woking for Maranello.
The logic of retaining Kimi Raikkonen for another year is apparent, but F1 is a results business, and Raikkonen hasn’t performed consistently at the level required for Ferrari to challenge for a world title.
Unless Raikkonen finds that consistency there is a danger Sebastian Vettel’s own level could drop.
Button would arguably do a much better job of keeping Vettel on his toes. He provides the same positives as Raikkonen but with fewer negatives.
Like Raikkonen, Button is an A-political operator, with a super-smooth driving style, and keen sensitivity for car set-up and tyre behaviour.
He is a world champion, and has the charisma to play well with Ferrari’s corporate backers.
Button is also operating at a higher level presently than Raikkonen, who was unable to push Fernando Alonso at Ferrari in 2014 to anything like the degree Button is doing at McLaren now.
Of all the un-contracted drivers on the market currently, Button would have been the ideal choice for Ferrari.
IT’S RIGHT TO KEEP HIM AS VETTEL’S #2
Lawrence Barretto, F1 Reporter (@lawrobarretto)
Ferrari made absolutely the right call in keeping Kimi Raikkonen.
A lot has been said about the Finn not being good enough and that Ferrari should give young talent a chance. But Ferrari has never been a team to do that.
Its strategy is to run a number one and a number two, which worked well in the Michael Schumacher era, and Raikkonen fits the bill for the latter role.
He gets on well with team-mate Sebastian Vettel, with the pair unlikely to give Ferrari the kind of headache Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are giving Mercedes, and he says he remains as motivated as ever.
This year, he has been far more consistent with four podiums in nine races and has the same number of points as Vettel.
He will not rock the boat, will score points for the constructors’ championship and might even get the odd win if things fall his way.
A title challenge will probably be a step too far, but that’s not what Ferrari requires from its second car.
It may not have been the decision everyone was hoping for but for Ferrari, it’s the right one.
TAKEN GROSJEAN FROM HAAS
Ian Parkes, Chief F1 Correspondent, (@ianparkesf1)
It appeared a strange move at the time, but there was method in the apparent madness when Romain Grosjean signed for F1 newcomer Haas.
Why leave a team in Lotus on the brink of being taken over by his country’s major manufacturer Renault?
Behind the scenes, the suggestion was made Grosjean would have the opportunity to prove himself for a season with Ferrari partner Haas before being given the chance to take over Raikkonen’s seat.
If Ferrari had the slightest doubt about Grosjean’s maturing credentials then they were surely dispelled with his season-opening drives in the Australian and Bahrain Grands Prix.
The 30-year-old pulled off remarkable results for Haas in securing sixth around Melbourne’s Albert Park, before improving a position with fifth at Sakhir, while there he was also eighth two races later at Sochi
Although Haas then endured a tough run of races, struggling notably with tyres in cooler climes, it has worked incredibly hard to resolve the matter, with Grosjean back in the points in Austria, where he finished seventh.
That should have been enough to prove he was worth a shot.
GOT LECLERC INTO F1
Glenn Freeman, Autosport.com Editor, (@glenn_autosport)
On the day Ferrari confirmed it was retaining a 36-year-old veteran with 239 F1 starts to his name, its potential next big thing was making his GP weekend debut in first practice for Haas at Silverstone.
Eighteen-year-old Charles Leclerc is the most impressive junior driver Ferrari has signed to its books since the late Jules Bianchi, who arguably could have been in Raikkonen’s seat by now were it not for the unfortunate events of Suzuka 2014.
Leclerc has wowed on the lower rungs of the junior ladder so far, building a burgeoning reputation with his performances in the ultra-competitive Formula Renault 2.0 category as a car racing rookie in 2014, before winning races the following year in European Formula 3, and making an explosive start on the F1 support bill in GP3 this year.
Ferrari would never do something as risky or as interesting as hauling someone so inexperienced into a topline race seat, but that’s why it should have signed the deserving Romain Grosjean to replace Raikkonen, and followed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen template to get Leclerc into F1 as soon as possible.
SHAKEN THINGS UP WITH VANDOORNE
Mitchell Adam, International Editor (@DrMitchellAdam)
You know what Ferrari really should have done to show legitimate intent and move on from an underperforming old driver?
Signed the best young driver not currently in F1. Poach Stoffel Vandoorne from McLaren.
The reigning GP2 champion’s pedigree is outstanding, and Vandoorne is keeping sharp enough this year racing in Japan’s Super Formula series. He has even shown he knows what he’s doing in a grand prix car over the course of a grand prix weekend, if anybody needed proof, in Bahrain in April when he stood in for the injured Alonso.
McLaren has said Vandoorne is not for sale and the Belgian owes the team a lot. But if McLaren wants to continue with Alonso and Button again next year, Vandoorne will have to feel time is ticking.
Every year he’s on the sidelines is one he is not in F1, and if he has to wait until 2018 he’ll be 26 by the time he really enters F1. And the cards dealt to Kevin Magnussen were not pleasant, the Dane could very easily have been out of F1 this year.
Money should not have been a factor to Ferrari to prise Vandoorne away from McLaren, so the least it could have done was ask the question, while McLaren keeps him waiting…
REPLACED ONE FINN WITH ANOTHER
Scott Mitchell, Features Editor, (@ScottAutosport)
So Vettel will have a Finnish team-mate in 2017. But it’s the wrong one.
As we declared on the cover of Autosport’s first issue of 2015 – yes, 2015, not this year – Valtteri Bottas is F1’s real Flying Finn.
There’s been hype around Bottas for some time and the strength of Williams since the turbocharged hybrid era of F1 started has meant he’s been able to prove himself well up the grid.
That said, Bottas has needed to add a little something to his arsenal in his time alongside Felipe Massa. His inability to ‘blow Massa away’ seems to have counted against him to some people, based mostly on Massa’s stock dropping during his obliteration by Alonso at Ferrari in the seasons before he joined Williams.
But Massa has been rejuvenated at Williams – and Bottas has still outscored him in each season and leads him 9-5 in terms of podiums. Short of winning a race, it’s difficult to see what more Bottas can do.
He chased Raikkonen extremely hard in the drivers’ championship last year, despite the Ferrari – in Vettel’s hands at least - clearly being capable of more than the Williams.
Now 26, what more does Bottas have to do? Hopefully Williams gets the new rules right so he can show Ferrari just how big a mistake it has made.
DO WHATEVER IT TOOK TO GET RICCIARDO
Matt Beer, Autosport.com Deputy Editor (@mattofautosport)
OK Ferrari, we know you don’t want to gamble when you feel you’ve got other problems to solve before you can tackle Mercedes. But there would have been very little risk in taking an experienced F1 racer, a proved grand prix winner, who’s shown he’s as quick as your current number one when they were paired at Red Bull.
Daniel Ricciardo was the golden choice that fitted both the ‘safe pair of hands’ and ‘breath of fresh air’ boxes. Though he would have had to be extricated from a Red Bull contract, the potential advantages would have made that process more than worth a go. He gets full marks in the main areas Raikkonen is now lacking too: raw qualifying speed, overtaking urgency in races and outright hunger.
As he turned 27 recently, Ricciardo admitted he’s painfully aware Vettel had four titles by that age – there’s a frustration-stoked fire sizzling behind that massive grin.
A change of scene would’ve been in Ricciardo’s interest too. Red Bull may well become increasingly Max Verstappen-centric and the Dutch teenager could prove the sort of rival best tackled from a different garage.
ANYONE BUT KIMI
Kevin Turner, Autosport magazine Editor, (@KRT917)
This may seem a rather harsh answer, but let’s be clear about this. Raikkonen is not the driver he once was, and hasn’t been since rejoining Ferrari.
I’d argue he hasn’t been since he returned to F1 in 2012. Given Lotus was rebuilding and Raikkonen was able to score consistent podiums, that didn’t matter. But Romain Grosjean was outpacing him by the end of 2013.
Plus, Ferrari’s goal is higher. It needs all its cylinders firing if it is to take that final step to challenge Mercedes for world championships.
That’s not to say Ferrari’s failure to do so during the hybrid era is entirely down to Raikkonen. The car has not been good enough and some strange tactical decisions have crept in this year.
But Raikkonen is a weak link. In 2014 he scored a mere 34% of team-mate Fernando Alonso’s points tally. Last year, he managed 54% of Vettel’s effort.
Even against arguably two of the best drivers on the grid, that’s poor.
In Autosport’s Grand Prix driver ratings, Raikkonen is currently averaging less than 6/10 per race. That’s lower than anyone else in the top 10, including Daniil Kvyat, who Red Bull decided to demote to Toro Rosso.
A relative lack of speed and a surprising number of errors have been apparent in Raikkonen’s game.
I’d rather see an old hand who is still performing (Button), an established driver looking to move up the grid (Bottas, Grosjean) or a promising youngster (Vandoorne) alongside Vettel.