Raikkonen and Domenicali differ on reasons why he was dropped
Scuderia Ferrari
Raikkonen and Domenicali differ on reasons why he was dropped
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Oct 2009   |  11:35 am GMT  |  140 comments

Today has been a very interesting day in the Suzuka paddock. It was one of those days when there is a real buzz in the air and some paddock theatre going on.

Kimi Jap press
With the announcement last night of Kimi Raikkonen’s removal from Ferrari and Fernando Alonso’s arrival, it was clear that their respective press briefings and the one of Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali were going to be interesting.

Kimi looked rather crestfallen today, as you would expect, but he was very dignified in the way he carried himself publicly. He did not criticise the team and they did not criticise him. It was not an easy job to sit in front of the assembled media when you have been dumped by Ferrari. He has said many times in the past that he would end his career at the team, but now he is having to rethink that. In doing so he has left himself the option of quitting F1 at the end of the year. He had always rather implied that he would stop when his Ferrari contract expired at the end of 2011.

Meanwhile Alonso looked happy but not triumphant. He spoke with enthusiasm, but judged the tone just right. I’ll deal with him in a separate post.

Judging from the comments section on this site, many fans are struggling to understand Ferrari’s decision to drop Raikkonen for Alonso. So are a lot of journalists in the F1 paddock and the question kept coming in, phrased differently each time, but always with the same thrust, Why do the team feel that Alonso is a better bet than Kimi?

Both Raikkonen and Domenicali were asked this and Raikkonen took the tack of implying that the decision was based on commercial considerations, in other words on the arrival of Santander as a sponsor of Ferrari,
“There are many reasons. In F1 there is always a lot of money and there can always be different options. That’s what happened in the end. It’s nothing to do with racing or what I do in the team.”

I have heard suggestions that Philip Morris is paying the severance money to Raikkonen and that his salary at McLaren is being paid by Santander, although the numbers doing the rounds for next year’s driver salaries are vastly inflated according to Domenicali.

He was then asked how much his departure had to do with the arrival of Santander. He smiled in that involuntary way, and gave a look which spoke volumes, but all he said was, “You’ll have to ask the team….” there was a pause in which he almost said something further, then decided against it.

An hour or so later I said to Domenicali that Raikkonen had implied that the decision was commercially motivated. He firmly denied it,
“No it is not correct that it was a commercial decision.”

Asked repeatedly why Ferrari thought that Alonso was a better bet than Raikkonen, Domenicali said,
“When you have to take the decision you think that the couple of drivers for the future should be the best that it is possible to have.”

He made it clear that as boss of the team, it had been his decision and certainly my Italian colleagues say that Domenicali is the one who pushed very hard for this transfer to happen. He has to think of his own future. After two seasons as team boss he has won one constructors’ championship and had a poor year this year. He needs the team to return to the top level and he wants all the elements in place to achieve that.

Dom Jap press
He also revealed that the team had signed a deal with Alonso for 2011 during the summer, but then because of Renault’s problems over the Singapore race fixing scandal, there was a possibility to bring him to Ferrari one year early.

As for the risk of holding on to Felipe Massa when it is not yet clear that he will be able to drive, the team is confident that Massa will be back to the same level, but it seems to me that they have options. For one thing, Giancarlo Fisichella will be there, should Massa struggle very badly. Beyond that Robert Kubica looks set to sign a deal for only one year at Renault and would be potentially available for 2011. But Ferrari is determined that Massa will be back and will be every bit as good as before.

Raikkonen was clear that, although things didn’t work out in the end and he would like to have won more races, on the whole he was happy with his three years at Ferrari and had no regrets,
“I’m happy with what I have done. I think I will still have a good future.” He said he had no regrets and wouldn’t have changed anything about the decisions made and contracts he signed.

On a possible return to McLaren he said, “I still have a good relationship and of course there is a chance, but I have time to make my decision.”

But crucially he then went on to say that he may not even carry on racing,

“I haven’t decided yet whether I want to race or what I want to do,” he said. “I had a contract for next year, now I don’t any more. That changes things, so maybe I will race, maybe I will not. There is a chance (he’ll do rallies) but there is a chance I’ll do Formula 1 too.”

From what I’m hearing I think he will carry on and do a season at McLaren, maybe two. He has a point to prove and he will push Lewis Hamilton very hard indeed in proving it, which is precisely what McLaren want.

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Could be sweet revenge for kimi now…Alonso has to leave because vettel might join ferrari


Having commented on Kimi going to Brawn in 2010, there’s a few other alternatives…

– Mclaren

– Toyota

– Renault

Be good to see him at Mclaren again, however I believe he would be better suited at Brawn under the guidance of Ross Brawn. His relationship with Jenson would work better than, if he went to Mclaren, Lewis Hamilton.


It was a deal ferrari couldn’t turn his back on.

They get a twice world champion, and the money is coming from a new spanish sponsor.

They are fixing a situation created by todt, who makes a deccision based more on his ego, than in the best interst of ferrari. With the agreement of schumacher, who should have recomended better his employer, on driver’s choice. He knew better.


Love your blog James! Great insight and very good comments by the readers.

As i have been reading allthe comments i come to several conclusions: Kimi is very much à very cool and fast driver. I understand the emotions by most of him being sacked. But as we all know F1 is hard and about the best with à lot of wealthy stakeholders. Secondly would Kimi be sacked if he didn’t have the slump last year when he was beaten by Massa? We should also realize that Kimi is not à very motivated leader as for example MS or FA. These 2 drivers just make their luck and even choose the people they want to work with. And that’s exactly what Ferrari are looking for. And let’s be honest he’ll get more money than most of us will earn our entire life…Kimi won’t leave us just yet. Hè’s too young to quit. If hè does we’ll definetly miss him….Hope he’s cool enough to take up the challenge with à certain Lewis Hamilton. Very much looking forward to that!


I hope he comes back for at least one more year so we can have a heavy weight fight for the title, and the more the merrier


so far as i can tell, the only real interest in kimi moving to mclaren is coming from santander. Mclaren do not let sponcors pick drivers…they havnt even let mercedes have any real input in that decission. I dont buy into it. i think mclaren will look to the future rather than have kimi in for a year…certainly not 2 yrs. i dont believe there is any appetite at mclaren for having kimi back…and im not convinced kimi would want to either.


Everyone goes one for days on this blog how Kimi just turns up and drives and “no BS”.

Well, that’s the problem.

Ferrari (and any other team) would like a bit more input from their star driver than that. He was being paid silly money, and you can’t say that he was doing all he could for the team.

Let alone, being so inconsistent and needing “inspiration” (is he artist or something?), but all those comments only imply that there was much more he could do to push the team forward. Ron Dennis admitted himself that they had a bit of a “pulling teeth” trying to make Kimi do more testing for the sake of improving the car. If testing was so much of a drag for him, I doubt he ever dedicated as much time as MS and Alonso did talking to engineers and generally working with team.


Kimi will end up at Brawn in 2010.


I don’t think so.



This a Finnish thing called SISU (guts), that Räikkönen shows, and will continue to show. He will probably make the Italian and Spanish, also maybe British boys cry next year.

The Winter War: Finland vs. Soviet Union

30 November 1939 – 13 March 1940.

Check out the odds from wikipedia! (Overwhelming)

Finland was never occupied by the soviets, not during the whole period of WWII, nor afterwards.

Btw, Kimi is a reserve NCO in the Finnish Army.



Finland has the the highest number of fighter aces compared to population size!

Not to mention the number of F1 WDC compared to population size…(~5 million)

We are clearly the fastest and the most furious nation on earth!

Our blow is deep and our anger invincible!


So do not mess with us: (enter nation/person here)!

Seriously. Looking forward to a great season in 2010. I myself sincerely hope that the title fight is open and fair and may the best MAN win! Enough with politics and let the racing begin!


Thanks very much for that. Not sure why I have so many people from Finland reading this blog, but we love your ‘Sisu’.


We read your blog, because:

1. It is brilliant.

2. We have only one proper journalist of our own – Heikki Kulta of Turunsanomat.

By the way, he apparently had the only private interview with Kimi yesterday. In it Kimi was saying: “If I really insisted, I probably would have been able to race for Ferrari also next year. But it would be pointless if that was against the will of someone in the team.”

So, maybe there was some truth behind having ‘decided together’…


Matti, I showed your comment to Heikki and he said, “Nice, thank you.”


Message to Nelsinho if he happens to be reading this blog:

Hello Jr, I think you should reflect on the immaculate way Kimi responded to the fact he was let go by his team. This showed his class. Iceman would have had much more valid reasons to be bitter or complain of his fate than you and he choose not to.

This shows the difference between a great champion and an also ran or simply between a well adjust human being and a very immature one.


Kimi is F1 as it should be, and I’m not sure that I’d be interested in following this convoluted excuse for a sport anymore if Kimi leaves and Todt wins the presidency. It’d be tough enough with Bernie still pulling the strings and Ferrari throwing their weight around. But no Kimi and there’s a complete vacuum in character.

I remember the time Kimi brought his grandmother to a race ( I think it was Monaco in 07, but it makes no difference) and there was mocking of him as a result in the press. In my opinion , Kimi is the kind of person we should want to be, were we in the same position. He’s loyal to his friends and takes care of business on the track. Had he been availed to the reliability of the McLarens of the past 3 years when he was there, Michael Schumacher might be a few championships down as well as Fernando.

I thought that Kimi’s going directly to the boat full of friends at Monaco after his falling out of the race was great. We should all have a friend as loyal. My guess is that his friends from childhood are the same ones that he has now.

But we all have images in our minds of what we think is positive and negative in people , so I want to make clear that these are some of mine. I do hope that Kimi stays for a couple of years with McLaren, and is again the fastest man in F1.

And speaking of F1, does anyone else think Beyonce could spell F1 without any coaching or the use of a dictionary? And F1.com videos, we all know what Anthony Hamilton looks like, so enough already. And while you’re at it, why not make your videos 10 minutes long, rather than the length of whatever music you score it to.


“… I remember the time Kimi brought his grandmother to a race…”

Off-topic, but since you brought this up, his grandmother, who was a very important person to Kimi, just passed away last week. These have been tough times for him.


Here is what they must sing on Kimi’s boat at Monaco when they celebrate Iceman’s success 🙂

Kimi! KImi! KImi! a man after midnight!

Won’t somebody help me chase the shadows away

Kimi Kimi Kimi a man after midnight

Take me through the darkness to the break of the day


If Kimi is a bit off balance now, although I dont believe the part with “a lump in the troat” then that’s proof he’s just not all ice. Hopefully that can transform into revenge served with a silver bullet in 2010.


Although I think Kimi is a great driver, his returning to McLaren reminds me of Einstein’s “The definition of insanity is doing the same think over expecting a different result.”

Didn’t Kimi leave McLaren because of his lifestyle clashing with the very straight-laced corporate image of the team? Has he given up on the lap dancers?


There is some concern with one prominent alcohol sponsor, I understand. But the pros outweigh the cons


No problemo, they should replace this sponsor by Haagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s? Kimi would love it 🙂


“It is nonsense for Domenicali to suggest this had nothing to do with Santander, their money, and them wanting a Spanish Driver.”

Yep, you’re dead right. You can’t ignore the politics in getting a race drive. Ferrari want Santander as a sponsor, especially in the current financial climate, and Alonso was always a part of that deal. The fact that he happens to be a decent driver is a secondary consideration really.


“I really think that Ferrari will be my last team, as I said, leaving Ferrari to change teams is a step backwards.”

Try telling that to Fisichella!

To be honest, I think getting out of Ferrari is the right move. The backroom politics have arrived back at Ferrari with avengeance, they haven’t inspired confidence with their car improvement this year and with fuel economy being important next year I’d want a Mercedes engine.


Please don’t leave Kimi!

Heres hoping you do land the 2nd seat at McLaren next year!

You are still one of the top drivers, its not your time to go yet.

Best of luck!

In regards to Ferrari, I still love their history and them as a team, but this driver pairing is going to be an absolute nightmare once the season is underway. Alonso and Massa are both very vocal and emotional, and one or the other is going to be rather hurt when the Luca’s decided their #1…


Kimi still has enough talent to win few races in a season and also try to win WDC. To show Ferrari his true talent should be enough motivation for the next year.

I hope Kimi stays in F1 otherwise it will be boring to watch.


I think Kimi is speaking his mind here, no “political correct” stuff. I can imagine that he is upset because his plan is interupted. He has never hide his desire to rally after 2011, that was why he signed the contract. He said many times that there are many things he wants to do in life, F1 is just one of those….

I believe many of Kimi’s supporters like him as he is. He maybe boring, not media-savvy, not so fan-friendly, but he this why he is called iceman and let his driving do the talking. Pure racer.

I have never supported Ferrari until Kimi drive for them.In fact, I support whichever team Kimi drive for since Sauber. Hopefully he will choose to continue, in a McLaren and fight for another WDC.


Kimi is a class act.

He’s been pushing a car that Ferrari has stopped working on, pushing for a team that has been pushing him out of the door since the start of the season. He’s fifth in the championship behind two superior cars.

I hope to see him in a McLaren next year.


i think hamilton would relish the opportunity to race against kimi. if lewis beats him, than what will all of you say then? he already beat alonso, kimi’s the next best. i hope he signs that mclaren contract asap.


well, if hamilton was to go to renault to partner alonso, i firmly believe alonso would wipe the floor with him. team’s support is very big factor.


Lewis is at a completely different stage in his carreer than Kimi or Alosno. He is expected to beat Kimi, but you`d better not take it granted in my opinion. Kimi and Alonso both were able to beat Schumacher and Montoya. Also Kimi is much stronger and cooler in the head.


It is nonsense for Domenicali to suggest this had nothing to do with Santander, their money, and them wanting a Spanish Driver. I thought he was brighter than to try and con the world when no explanation beyond the truth will appear plausible. It proves once again that when money talks, the driver walks, regardless of their talent. Kimi of course has ensured that he will be paid very handsomely for going.

I am very surprised at the suggestion that Philip Morris are picking up Kimi’s severance. Is their relationship with Ferrari not about to end as previously reported? (about five years after Ferrari last agreed to discontinue tobacco sponsorship! )


You know you have heard rumors on the internet that Stefano has been less fond of Kimi since the middle of last yaer when Kimi went on his mid season slump. You never thought it was true because he would always defend Kimi when it came to the changes not suiting him, but you still heard that Stefano was never really fond. Now after reading this it has become apparent Kimi was Jean Todt’s man. It makes sense for Ferrari, latin driver, latin team. As far as Alonso being any better, I mean he has not been head and shoulders above anyone this season. His 6 tenths went where? I know people didnt like Jean Todt and welcomed Stefano’s warm and nice attitude, but this seems like something Jean Todt would do. Best of luck to Fernando and Ferrari especially if he gets Giancarlo as his number 2 in regards to Massa’s comeback, and if Kimi goes back to McLaren or rally I hope he shows why he was labeled the fastest man in F1 from 2002-2006 in a McLaren.



You said yourself that Lewis is probably not thrilled with Kimi coming… any chance the Hamilton’s could prevent the move and push for someone like Kubica who is fast but not fast enough to beat Lewis?

Kimi sounds like it’s a top team or bust next year… no small teams as he put it and I don’t blame him


Kimi, what a gentleman

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

He has behaved with sheer class. LDM seems like a bit of a sheister. He courts drivers and then falls out with them…remember Schumacher’s body language towards him at Monza 2006?

I was not a huge fan of Kimi before, but given the way he has handled himself I now appreciate his uniqueness that makes him so strong.


I agree with Andrew in that Kimi has always let his driving do the talking. It is interesting in today’s F1 that a driver like him who sticks to the fundamental historical principles of what an F1 driver should be is actually criticized for this. It shows where the sport’s (or dare I say spectacle) priorities lie now.

Anyhow, for me as an Iceman and a McLaren fan it would be ideal to see him back in the silver arrows winning races and hopefully championships.

Go Raikkonen!

By the way, James assuming Massa will only stay in Ferrari for one year, who do you see joining Alonso at Ferrari in 2011? Will this be another case of getting a driver that can be relied on to win podiums but play second fiddle to Alonso (as in the Schumi years)?


Why assume Massa will stay one year? If he’s fit and fast he’ll stay longer


“If “ifs” and “buts” were candy and nuts, wouldn’t it be a Merry Christmas?”

Big gamble keeping Massa, I think James. Ferrari are concerned about their image and potential negative press they would receive for dumping someone injured in the call of duty.


How about they are waiting for Vettel to replace Massa after next season, if necessary?

Surely they have an eye for someone younger already.


Vettel is tied in at Red Bull until 2012

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