Villeneuve: This could be Ferrari's year, but watch out for Raikkonen

Jacques Villeneuve  making predictions

Jacques Villeneuve making predictions

Felipe Massa is likely to be a key factor to a successful championship tilt by Fernando Alonso this year claims Jacques Villeneuve, but also believes that Kimi Raikkonen has a good chance at a title tilt this season.

Villeneuve said in Milan this week that he thinks Spaniard Alonso was “tired” at the end of a hard-fought campaign with a less competitive Ferrari last season.

“This could be Ferrari’s year,” the French Canadian told the Italian media.

“The car is fast, although maybe it’s a bit difficult to drive. Perhaps he will also have the support of Massa this year,” he added.

The Maranello based team has produced a much better car for 2013, although currently the Ferraris are behind the Red Bulls and even Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ points standings.

Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso on the Melbourne podium

Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso on the Melbourne podium

Referring to Alonso’s first-lap contact in Malaysia and the decision to stay out on track rather than pit for a new nose, Villeneuve said: “Ferrari has already done its big mistake for the year.”

With regardto Raikkonen, Villeneuve says the Finn would also be a good bet for this year’s championship.

“I said before Australia that it would be Alonso and Hamilton for the title, now I think I would bet everything on the Spaniard and the Finn,” he is quoted by France’s Auto Hebdo.

Lotus, however, had a much less impressive weekend in Malaysia, just a few days after Raikkonen’s Melbourne win.

“It’s true, we didn’t have a good race at Sepang,” technical boss James Allison is quoted by Speed Week.

Kimi Raikkonen in Malaysia

Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in Malaysia

“But the damage was done in the first few laps, when we fell half a minute behind, but Romain (Grosjean) was only 35 seconds behind Vettel at the end. Sepang didn’t show what our car can really do,” he added.

However, Grosjean and Raikkonen have both spoken about how good the black E21 is, whilst expressing fears Lotus might not be able to keep up with the development pace of the better funded top teams.

Allison insists: “The most expensive thing is bringing the car to the track, not developing it. We’ve also noticed that it is relatively easy for us to find promising developments in the wind tunnel. And we have lots of ideas about how to develop mechanically.”

Team boss Eric Boullier told Brazil’s Totalrace: “I think Romain has all the same upgrades as Kimi for China. We have parts arriving for every race and will keep working hard. It will be interesting.” (GMM)