Ferrari big boss Sergio Marchionne believes Kimi Raikkonen’s new contract has inspired and moved the Finn to a new level.
On a Ferrari president’s customary visit to Monza, the Italian-born Canadian said he was delighted to witness a new engine upgrade deliver the goods, as the two red cars qualified second and third.
But it was actually Raikkonen’s first front row qualifying feat since he re-joined Ferrari, and hot on the heels of the Maranello team ending months of uncertainty by re-signing him for 2016.
Earlier this year, boss Maurizio Arrivabene said he was deliberately putting contract pressure on Raikkonen, so the so-called Iceman doesn’t “fall asleep”.
“Kimi gives the best when he in a bit in trouble,” he argued.
It seems president Marchionne, however, does not agree, as he credited Raikkonen’s new deal for his sudden surge in qualifying form.
“We saw a whole new Kimi today,” the Italian-born Canadian told Italian media. “To renew his confidence for 2016 was necessary, and today I saw him relaxed and calm.
“The atmosphere in Ferrari has become fantastic,” Marchionne added. “It is like the team was born again in recent months.”
On Saturday, Marchionne sat down for meetings with his Daimler counterpart Dieter Zetsche, and Marchionne said the subject was the future of F1’s rules.
“It is a delicate and complicated subject,” he is quoted by Autosprint. “We will meet again in London soon.”