I went from the Kimi Raikkonen press briefing this afternoon to the Fernando Alonso one and there was an interesting little cameo which came to light.
There were some quotes yesterday from Luca Badoer saying that he had no help from Kimi Raikkonen, but Badoer said sportingly that this was “Kimi’s character.”
This was interesting when taken in conjunction with the quotes from Felipe Massa to the effect that he had not had any kind of get well message from Raikkonen.
Perhaps mindful of this, when he was asked whether he had helped Badoer, who struggled today, Raikkonen said
“No I was busy with my own things, we can talk later if he needs, but for sure he has the help that he needs.”
Alonso was asked the same question about Grosjean. Raikkonen’s attitude to Badoer was mentioned. Alonso took the opportunity to present himself in a different way,
“He knows that I am here for anything he wants. I told him this morning, “Anything you need from me, just come. I am ready to help you in these first days, things with the car, ratios, which gear to take at this corner, how to use this kerb or not use the kerb, these type of things. Anything you want. At the moment he didn’t ask me.”
Racing drivers are selfish animals, particularly the best ones, the true champions. They have to be. In F1 they are obliged to reveal their set-ups and findings to their team mates and sometimes one driver will take another’s set up. But beyond that they try to give away as little as possible.
Despite this, between team mates there can be a warm and a strongly collaborative relationship, as there is between Button and Barrichello for example.
But with Raikkonen and Alonso at the moment the differences between them are very much in the spotlight and both of them must know that. One of them is a Ferrari driver and at some point the other will become one, possibly at the expense of the first.
When team mates are closely matched and competing for the championship, there is less incentive for one to give help to the other. We all know what Alonso can be like when he is pushed to the limit, as he was at McLaren. Ron Dennis famously said of Alonso after the infamous Hungarian Grand Prix of 2007, “Competitive animals know no limits.” Despite the pain Alonso had brought him by revealing emails about the extent of McLaren’s use of Ferrari data, Dennis said this with a tone of almost admiration in his voice.
In the current case the second drivers at Renault and Ferrari pose no threat whatsoever, so it makes sense to help them out and to be seen to. Alonso gets that, Raikkonen doesn’t.
Raikkonen is still shatteringly fast on his day. He has lots of supporters among the public, many of the readers of this blog included. But he hasn’t grasped that Ferrari has a family mentality born out of the extraordinary bond which formed over a long period between Michael Schumacher and the key people there. That teamwork was the backbone of their success.
Schumacher has gone, things evolve, but that “all for one, one for all” ethos hasn’t changed and Raikkonen hasn’t bought in to it.
He doesn’t really help himself and this, as much as anything, is Ferrari’s disappointment with him. This little cameo is a good example of that.