Raikkonen return will benefit Alonso


Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo believes that Kimi Raikkonen's return to the Maranerllo outfit will benefit Fernando Alonso.

While some insist that the 'fire and ice' pairing will end in tears, Montezemolo says 'not so', insisting that the pairing - the first time Ferrari has run two world champions since 1953 - will be good for all concerned and that Alonso was informed of the team's intention from the outset.

"We are not masochistic enough to take on a driver without informing Alonso," Montezemolo told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Fernando was always in the picture regarding the choice of Raikkonen, taken partly because the alternative, that of employing a youngster, in what will be a complex 2014 season, did not inspire confidence.

"Today, Raikkonen is one of the best, along with Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton," he continued, "and Alonso is the first to be happy that he is coming here. Raikkonen' situation is identical to the one we had with Lauda. At one point, even Niki had had enough. I spoke about having his twin brother because the guy racing for us was not the one we had employed. The break did him good and he returned in great form, he won and finished a lot of races. In a nutshell, I wanted a driver who would not make me regret Massa.

"What I ask of Raikkonen is wins, a consistent performance level and podiums and Alonso will be the first to benefit. I am pleased he is back with us and the Ferrari staff greeted the news enthusiastically, as they had good memories of him. Going back to Lauda, when he returned with a different energy level, he won the title, beating Prost..."

As speculation over Alonso's relationship with the team continues, a situation that snowballed over the summer break following comments made by Montezemolo, the Ferrari president was keen to allay the tifosi's fears.

"I am the first to understand his discontent. Let' say his dissatisfaction is like the anger of a footballer who is called to the bench and tells the manager to get stuffed. But I’d rather deal with someone like that than a wuss!"

Referring to Raikkonen's profound dislike of PR work, Montezemolo admitted. "The PR business is ever more mediatised. I hope that his public relations will consist of wins, as well as a contribution to the team and a diligent presence in Maranello. Alonso cannot take all the work on his shoulders alone."

Asked about his team's championship hopes, he replied: "I would not talk about percentages, but I would bet on Ferrari in order to win a lot of money, given that we are apparently outsiders.

"Looking to 2014, I would say however that we can no longer afford to be the contender beaten in a photo-finish. I can’t wait to be winning again. The time is now, believe me..."

Recent changes to the team's technical department, coupled with media frustration at the lack of (title) success, have led to reports that Stefano Domenicali's position is under threat. Again, Montezemolo dismissed the speculation.

"Never, he would be missed. He was the first to advocate the choice of Kimi. He has worked well, preparing for the future and now I expect to see results in the present. But, over the past three years, we have lost two titles at the last race and it was not his fault. I’ve been around a long time, from the point eleven years on from Surtees’ title. Then as President, with Schumacher and the Todt-Brawn-Byrne triumvirate, we created a golden era and now the team is ready to start winning again.

"The void since the Schumacher era was caused by delays on the simulation front and with the aerodynamics. However, in all but three years, Ferrari has always been in the title fight right to the last race.

"I am counting a lot on James Allison. With him came the head of aerodynamics from Lotus and other new faces. Finally, we will have the creativity we were lacking. Allison knows the team and the men and he speaks Italian. Others wanted him, but he preferred us and his arrival will also bring a change in working methods in many areas. Pat Fry will concentrate on improving our on-track operations, our methodology and the simulator."

Finally, Montezemolo paid tribute to Felipe Massa who leaves after eight seasons at Maranello.

"He' an exceptional guy and a wonderful person," he said. "The relationship was clear. He needed results and so did we. He did get some, but he was inconsistent, having some good races but not on a regular basis. In 2012, we felt the lack of his points in the constructors’. It will be good for him to have a change of scenery.

"I am expecting updates that will bring improvements," he concluded. "We should bear in mind that there' only one Red Bull getting the results... the team will support Alonso until the very last metre and on top of that, I am also expecting Massa to have a great end to the season. Felipe is an exceptional guy and a wonderful person. They say he won’t help Fernando? Please! He will definitely do so, giving us a hand for the Constructors’ and Alonso for the Drivers’."

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Published: 17/09/2013
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