Since last September much has been written about the Ferrari driver pairing for 2014, now Team Principal Stefano Domenicali explains how he will manage Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen – already dubbed Fire & Ice, and reveals how the latter has matured over the years.
First Domenicali explained the thinking behind the axing of Felipe Massa and bringing back Raikkonen, “It was a rational choice, based on the need to have an expert driver pairing, with the one aim of it doing well for Ferrari. I hope the track will show that it was the right choice.”
As for the combination of Raikkonen and Alonso, the Ferrari F1 team boss ventured, “How will we manage them? Decisions are always carefully considered, but they always have the same aim, which is that the sporting decisions are taken to reach the team’s goals, as the interest of the team always comes before all else. Decisions we have taken in the past have always been reached in this spirit.”
Not long ago, 2009 in fact, Ferrari paid a huge sum of money for Raikkonen to leave Maranello and make way for Alonso.
Prior to September last year, when he signed to return to the Reds, Raikkonen said of his time with the legendary team, “I don’t miss anyone. To me, leaving there was a relief. The situation could have been better, but it’s in the past and what is done cannot be reversed.”
Clearly things have been reversed as Raikkonen said on signing for a second term with the team, “I am really happy to be returning to Maranello where I previously spent three fantastic and very successful years. I have so many memories of my time at Ferrari, memories which have stayed with me these past years, first and foremost, winning the World Championship title in 2007, which was really unforgettable.”
It is well known that Domenicali was instrumental in swaying the opinion of Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, who was not a Raikkonen fan, and thus pave the way for the Iceman’s return to the Scuderia – and reality is that the last title won by the team was during Raikkonen’s era.
“I have found a more mature Kimi, more closely knit to the team. He comes to Maranello almost every week to work with the engineers,” revealed Domenicali.
“He knows his worth and he knows what team he has returned to and what challenges he will face, having a World Champion like Alonso alongside him for whom he has respect and he will have to adapt to working with him.”
“Fernando is extremely intelligent and has managed to stay ahead in whatever car he has driven. He has an ability to interpret the race and to read it in an amazing way and I think he will make the most of the new regulations, which will require some stages of the race to be managed in a different way. We feel close to him partly because it was such a long time ago that we decided to invest in him,” concluded Domenicali. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.