Alonso is better at development than Raikkonen, says Ferrari boss
Alonso is better at development than Raikkonen, says Ferrari boss
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Dec 2009   |  6:59 pm GMT  |  281 comments

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has shed a little more light on the decision to drop Kimi Raikkonen and hire Fernando Alonso, saying that Alonso is a better development driver, more in the mould of Michael Schumacher and that is what the team needs.

Domenicali’s comments will dismay Raikkonen, who has just signed a contract to compete in the World Rally Championship. I have checked with Ferrari and the quotes are genuine. They are downplaying the Raikkonen comments as ‘superficial’, however they say that the sentiments about Alonso are what the team feels at this time.

Domenicali was quoted yesterday in German tabloid Auto Bild saying, “Ferrari needs someone for the team similar to Schumi.”

Referring to Raikkonen he said, “In a car that is capable of winning, he was and is perfect. But if the car needs to be developed and the team fired up, Alonso is better.”

Alonso has always talked up his ability to develop a car, famously during his time at McLaren, claiming to have brought almost a second per lap to the car.

After a disappointing season, Ferrari has to deliver a fast car and compete for both championships next season. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has issued the clarion call and it is up to Domenicali and his technical team to deliver. Another season like 2009 and the pressure will begin to mount on some of the technical managers.

Domenicali described Raikkonen as “very fast, but also very closed”. This is a criticism of Raikkonen that one heard from the team throughout his time there. He was hired by Jean Todt in 2006 and when explaining his reasons for taking Raikkonen, Todt said that Raikkonen did not speak too much, which he saw as a strength. He focussed on driving the car.

But over time it became clear that while this was a positive in some senses, the team was looking to him for more leadership.

But perhaps they did not understand the Finn. His many fans certainly do; they appreciate his no-nonsense approach to racing and his refusal to complain or make excuses.

When it was announced in September 2006 that Raikkonen would replace Schumacher at Ferrari, his friend Tony Wilander made some telling comments, “How will the Ferrari team be with Kimi? Very different from Schumacher’s. Let’s not forget that Michael arrived at Ferrari together with people who had already worked with him at Benetton. Kimi, by contrast, doesn’t know anyone.

“On top of that, Kimi’s less of a perfectionist, and he will not visit the factory as often. However, I’m sure it will be enough to win the championship.”

Domenicali also spoke about the relationship between Alonso and Felipe Massa, which will be one of the real talking points of next season, in comparison with what happened between Alonso and Lewis Hamilton at McLaren. “I’ve spoken to Fernando about (what happened at) McLaren. He felt betrayed, and also (said) that his relationship with Lewis was not always correct. At Maranello that will not happen. I can guarantee that,” he added.

On the surface, comments like these are little more than tittle-tattle and yet they need to be noted. People like Domenicali do not need to say such things unless they have a reason. These things are markers. Sometimes the comments come back to haunt them, such as Ron Dennis’ observation beforethe 2007 season about Alonso that they had talked through Hamilton’s long relationship with the team and that there would be no problems of favouritism.

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Looking back these past years make Dominicali look not just stupid, but complete moron ,and it is obvious that his words about Kimi were just politics which they use to justify their deal with Alonso. And what did Kimi? He was playing rally driver two years, then he get back in F1 at the Lotus team, help them to develope the race winning car in two season, then back in to Ferrari and again, help them to develope winning car in two season. 2015 after four races Ferrari is at the moment second in drivers AND in the constructors championship. And where is Dominicali? Who cares, because there is better staff in the team, not just bunch os ass kissers for Alonso.


This is year 2015. Kimi Raikkonen was rehired last year and Fernando Alonso is gone this year, along with the likes of Domenicali. For the last 5 years they’ve accomplished nothing. And I mean NOTHING. No WDC, no WCC. Last weekend Kimi came second with an amazing performance at a very dominant Mercedes era. It was a waste of 5 years for Ferrari and they had to restructure the whole way. The stark difference between last year’s and this year’s Ferrari shows you something about development abilities of these drivers. I am just sad for Kimi, he could have won 2008, and who knows about 2009.


This is a very shameful comment from SD. When you are a true team leader like he is supposed to be, you always defend your team members and do not talk bad about the ones who left for one reason or another. That says a lot about natural leadership qualities he obviously does not have, only coming from a position he holds. Of course he knows that and he is counting on Alonso to save his own job.

If there should be a Class and Professional Ethics School for F1, I would suggest SD as its first student.


While I admire what Alonso has done in the past in developing cars, you can’t exactly say he worked wonders with this year’s Renault. James, do you think this may be because he had half an eye on his exit or could he just not do anything to help make something of this year’s car?


Renault stopped development early for the hundredth time. Plus the car was just so bad it wouldn’t win a race no matter how much development was put into it, they would basically have to redesign the whole car again.


This statement for me is incredibly harsh in the fact that it was Ferrari who signed Raikkonen in the first place, on a reported $45 million a year contract. Kimi’s style of racing was well documented prior to 2006 when the Italian’s signed him, due to his years at McLaren.

Infact, ex team mate David Coulthard called Kimi one of the ‘laziest drivers I have ever met, but one of the most gifted’. So it should have been no secret that Raikkonen has his way of doing things that were never what Ferrari had become accustomed to with Michael Schumacher.

Secondly, Fernando Alonso ‘is’ indeed a very different driver from the withdrawn Finn. And that, in itself, may not bode well for the prancing horse. Ever since winning the title in 2007, Raikkonen was pretty much torn apart by Felipe Massa, and only improved after the Brazilian’s crash in Budapest. That pretty much tells you how the ‘structure’ of Ferrari’s team is set.

Massa has been at the team along time, has achieved alot of success, and has a powerful voice in the form of Michael Schumacher behind him, not to mention the son of FIA president Jean Todt as his manager.

Lewis Hamilton? This is an altogether different, and far more risky challenge than the one Fernando faced in 2007 with McLaren. Massa has the speed, the experience, and the hunger of missing out in 2008 to Hamilton, and will prove an almighty headache to the Spaniard.

Everybody should think back to the Nurburgring 2007 to see had Felipe handled being beaten by Alonso. It is not going to be a cake walk, and it will certainly be as exciting if not more that Alonso/Hamilton.

The key for Ferrari, as was the case with McLaren, will be how to handle two championship contending drivers, and that is easier said than done. Maybe, come November 2010, the Scuderia will be missing the quiet Finn who took defeat and victory so much in his stride.


That’s probably what you hope happens, your post is filled with so many errors but mostly fanboyism I’m not going to list them all. But number 1 point is Massa is not managed by jean Todt.


He was managed by his son. That’s what the OP said.

Hans joergen Stroem

yes the ferrari team is back to itself old one. I recall reading about this way back in the seventies. early seventies in fact. they had Jacky Ickx and Clay regazzoni as drivers. Ickx was clearly the most talented of the two, but the team tended to favour Regazzoni, so Ickx struggled alot. the same sort of things I red few years later. then it was Niki Lauda who came with the same sort of comments toward the ferrari team leadership. they worked more toward Regazzoni than Lauda, even though Lauda was a far better driver than Regga. the only two equally good drivers who could manage to seemingly being treated equally was Jody Schecter and Gilles Villeneuve. but these two guys seemed to have great respect for each other.


The way I see it is that since Todt left Ferrari has had a lack of leadership which Domenicali is unable to fill. That’s why they are looking for a driver who can work as a team boss on his spare time.


I don’t think it’s very cool for Domenicali to talk such things about his ex-employee in public.

If Dome and Monte saw there was a problem with Kimi not motivating the people the way they wanted, why didn’t they just say it to his face? Instead, they feel like it’s a cool way to do this after they got rid of him and just badmouth about him in the interviews.

It’s really hard to see any success in Ferrari if the success depends the pep talks and hugs that drivers give to the engineers and mechanics in Maranello.

I sincerely hope that Ferrari will fail in the coming season too.


I suppose Stefano had to justify it somehow, but the real reason why Alonso is in there and they were desperate to pay a driver even more than Alonso to do nothing was to get a new title sponsor in. That’s the financial climate we live in. They wanted to secure themselves for the next four or five years.

As for Raikkonen and Ferrari, they weren’t a great fit in the end. Raikkonen wasn’t an emotional character in the way Ferrari people like, Ferrari are driven by emotion and emotion largely has no place in Formula 1 and is even dangerous. Just look at Ferrari’s history. Even when Raikkonen won the championship, the response from Ferrari was muted and it was clear in 2008 that they really wanted to do it for Massa.

As for Ferrari, they are only starting their 2009 development for the new regulations now. They have written off their 2009 car where teams like Red Bull, Mercedes and even McLaren will be carrying over their 2009 development. They are a long way behind. For his sake, I hope Alonso is a miracle worker at development, but it didn’t seem to help Renault the past couple of seasons.

Personally, I think when Raikkonen was presented with Ferrari’s plans he was right to think the time was right to jump ship. Ferrari have waned, and the chances of him winning the championship next season were remote.


The difference between the Italians, Domenicali and Montezemolo, and Jean Todt, is that Jean Todt understood perfectly the character of Kimi Räikkönen and understood it would be unwise to expect him to change his character overnight and become a “politician” and “Italian” to have a chance of success in the team. Jean Todt let Kimi be who he is and didn’t try to change him into something else. Jean Todt made sure the people working in the team were working professionally for Kimi as well instead of favouring Felipe the guy who speaks Italian and who is so sympathetic, oh mamma mia Felipe is a nice guy let’s give him the better parts and the better strategy!

As an example, I heard several comments made by the Ferrari staff of how “Kimi does not speak Italian”. Excuse me, but are you dumb? Did you expect him to learn Italian all of a sudden? If you want your drivers to speak Italian then better hire ones that already speak it. I heard zero such comments from Jean Todt, by the way… all those kinds of comments were said by Italians.

What I am thinking is once Jean Todt left the team principal position, Kimi’s fate was sealed. There was no way he was going to get the crybaby sentinemtal Italians to work well with him when there is no such strong and extremely smart manager such as Jean Todt around making sure they focus on the job and not on who is their best friend and who speaks Italian.


Ive read all the comments, and i have to laugh at most of them.

Alonso didnt develop in 2006? Ok, the mass damper was removed and was worth what, 3 tenths of a second. How the hell did he manage to still be so fast, basically on the same pace as the R26 WITH the damper, if he isnt capable of developing and setting the car up better? Answer me that.

Second, Alonso didnt develop the car in 2008? Drivers dont make the car, but was this not the same R28 that was over 1.3 seconds off the pace, to suddenly being 3 tenths? Maybe his 6 tenths was under what he can bring.

2009, tell me, which drive got into the top ten with the worst car on the grid by the end of the season? He set 2 FASTEST LAPS. more than lewis, more than webber, more than barrichello, I think more than Button aswell. We know how bad that car was, but look at his performances in China, Spa and Hungary. Yes he grabbed pole, but unlike some, I wasnt delusional to the point where I thought he could win. I was hoping for a good 4-5 point haul. If he wasnt a fantastic driver, how would he be able to get that car to so many positions it shouldnt be in?

Im british and support Alonso since his days in minardi when I was a young 11 year old picking my favourite colour car.

So lets put it into perspective; Alonso develops cars, but lewis, cries over the radio that they should build him a new car because they cant expect him to win races (THIS IS IN THE OFFICIAL F1 2009 DVD REVIEW). Has alonso, EVER said that? NO. He grafted through all his career to build the car, and TEAM around him.

everyone goes onabout the blackmail in 2007, but how do we know its true or false? We know nothing except what the ‘media’ tells us and whats allowed to be said.

And lewis got 2nd on countback of second places. Shame, he had a 17 point lead and LOST IT ALL. I love how people say Alonso was beat by a ”rookie” asif its something super bad, but then when lewis makes a mistake, its ok because he’s a ”rookie”.

People need to make their minds up.


Alonso is Briatore product. Flavio was cleaning fernando’s way all the time. He could not even handle trulli in 2004 and briatore fired the later for seriously challenging alonso. I think fernando needs to prove a lot next year. He needs to pass the exam he had failed in 2007. Particularly his ability to handle competitive teammate and beat him in a fair battle because fisi, piquet and grojan are not one of them.


I’m a McLaren fan, and as such a Hamilton fan, but Alonso for all his whingeing in 2007 came within a race position of a third consecutive championship. Although he didn’t get on with the competitive teammate it’s not a bad failure is it?


Couldnt handle trulli in 2004? Wow, what happened in 2003, and button trounced him in 2002. let alone Alonso beating him cleanly in the second part of 2004.

Facts need to be corrected there, no?


Trulli beat him in the first half of 2004. I remember some crybaby comments from alonso during that period. He was briatore boy who could always clear his way. Out of a sudden trullis relations with flavio started to diminish midseason 2004. Strange isnt it? Fernando needs to prove he is able of developing same performance in the competitive environment without patronage. Something he has not done yet.


Nick Pauro -“I hope Kimi realises just how much passion he creates in racing circles because the crux of all this is that he just isnt as marketable as Alonso or Hamilton or Button for that matter…”

That doesn’t exactly add up, Kimi is a very popular driver. In fact he is much more popular then Alonso and Button. He was voted the second favourite driver behind Lewis in last year’s FIA survey. And google backs that up, the most searched for drivers according to google is Kimi and Lewis by quite a margin.

Marketability obviously isn’t a predictable science otherwise Kimi wouldn’t be that popular. It should also be noted that Kimi has fans from all over the globe, in fact he has much more fans from places like China then from his own country.

It is obvious that being popular means that you are marketable. Kimi is obviously not a good public speaker, but one thing he has got going for him, is the fact that he is very good looking, have you ever noticed how many female fans Kimi have? That is something that is marketable. While at the same time he also has an image of a bit of a rebel, and that sometimes appeals to the masses.

It is interesting that you should mention, that you can’t see Kimi sending an email. On the Ferrari forum some of the moderators are in possession of the email addresses of some members in the Ferrari team, sometimes they forward support messages from the fans to the team members. At one time they forwarded emails to both Kimi and Felipe, and only Kimi replied back himself, it was a very short message thanking the fans for their support. But at least he did took the time out to do it personally. While felipe would rather just send messages through Rob Smedley.

Just because someone isn’t a native English speaker or just because someone is perhaps a bit shy and not a good public speaker, doesn’t mean they are unintelligent or in this case unable to send an email.

Red Bull have obviously spotted Kimi’s “hidden” marketability, I am sure they will be able to use it well with their image.

Indeed it is already starting to bare fruit for WRC. Since it has been announced that Kimi will be driving in WRC next year, the WRC fanclub in facebook have already grown from 24 000 members to 80 000 members in 3 days.


Interesting comment and totally agree.


That´s a great comment about Kimi.



If Kimi were a movie, he’d be referred to as ‘critically acclaimed’. The movie afficionados love him but he doesn’t shake up the box office enough.


I think you got it the other way round. Alonso would be the ‘critically acclaimed’ but Kimi would be the hit at the box office.


I’m a fully qualified engineer, yes.

No body worships Kimi except his blinded fans… if was any good at all, then Ferrari and McLaren would snap him up in an instance.

Fact is, he demotivates an entire team, and can’t even beat Michael Schumacher’s side kick, Massa… that makes him a double side kick to Michael Schumacher…


Hi James,

According to your article, I found one more reason, besides the bank money, why Ferrari(SD) would get rid of Raikkonen. It’s “He was hired by Jean Todt”. Each boss believes in more and support more the employee hired by himself. SD would like to set up his own kingdom and wants to have his “own” driver. I still remember Todt’s words that “we have never considered Alonso”. Few words as KR (no-nonsense approach to racing and refusal to complain or make excuses), he could be a good option to be the underdog of Ferrari’s internal political battle. Ferrari never fears he will play the role as Alonso played during the spy case. Do you agree?

I will not miss Kimi next year as I will follow him to the WRC. I respect him more after this movement: brave – it’s harder to move from F1 to WRC than the vice versa; pure race attitude – even not think about take revenge on what Ferrari(SD) treat him. I will never say good luck to him as I believe in his talent (look back to his rookie year at Sauber and Rally Finland debut). On the contrast, I would like to say “good luck” to Ferrari(SD). Even Ron Denis can not handle Alonso and Hamilton, none can convince me that SD can handle Massa and Alonso.

But I will still visit your blog 🙂 and it’s better if more WRC information. Finally, pls don’t ignore my above question. Chao F1!


Whats the point ? -Alonso been doing set ups … Without actually driving the car ? Or he’s been setting up their 2010 contender driving the ‘italia’ and other cars .


WOW…my comment to strong…where is the post


And I think that Schumacher may have a small influence within the team


Another point that I think is interesting is that if Schumacher does not do as the rumours say and go to merc and he does stay as a ferrari adviser then we should remember that Schumacher and Massa are good friends unlike Schumacher and Alonso

Paige Michael-Shetley

If SD is saying this about Alonso, it’s clear who Ferrari intends to be their WDC challenger next year.


He didn’t have to say anything, it is written in their payslips


I hope Kimi realises just how much passion he creates in racing circles because the crux of all this is that he just isnt as marketable as Alonso or Hamilton or Button for that matter…

I really liked him at Ferrari and would rather they let him see the contract out…

but we are talking millions here… Man Utd sold Beckham, Ronaldo… Milan sold Kaka… etc etc

Alonso, moody though he sometimes seems to be is a Latin who will fit in well with Italian intrigue and posturing within the team… and he is THAT good… and winning is all that counts…

align that potential with sponsors across a global audience in a global age and you have an element that no matter how raw and unique Kimi is, he just cannot match…

I dont think the development side of things is perhaps that big a differential, but in the common perception Alonso trumps almost every current driver…. one only has to look at the emails and actions within Mclaren to see how much he was pushing development etc

Can you imagine Kimi even writing an email??

Roll on the Scuderia and good luck Kimi! Thank god your not in F1 next year to make Mr Domenicali wince!

I do have to say I am having a few reservations beginning to grow up about that current Commandatore however….


Here you go:

Many people at McLaren still love Raikkonen; in many ways he’s the perfect McLaren driver.

For a team that grounds their engineering in pure mathematics and physics, to have an unemotional, repetitive – almost robotic – driver in the car is much easier than having a man who is inconsistent and variable.

You’ll never be able to prove anything with an inconsistent driver, because you’ll never know if what you’re changing on the car is working.

McLaren engineers still talk with wonder about Raikkonen’s consistent lap times. He was so good, they say, because he would come back to the pits, say what was wrong, they would fix it and he would go out and go faster. Simple.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh, who values his engineers’ opinions highly, wouldn’t rule out employing Raikkonen again when asked on Saturday afternoon.

Kimi not good developer? Said by who? [mod] Domenicalli? Wrong again.


Re-reading SD’s comments, it sounds like this is the precursor to them building a second seat in Fernando’s car maybe they can have somebody in the car to hold his hand


Becuase they stopped developing it observant


I think that if Ferrari really wanted a replacement for MSC then they picked the wrong guy, and I think that they should have realised that before they signed him.

I can understand why Ferrari would want Alonso. Along with Hamilton he is the driver that has the gravitas within a team to make a difference to the motivation and always get 100% out of the package. I think that Massa has developed this to a certain extent, but what they are saying by employing Alonso rather than “promoting” Massa is that they feel that Felipe is not up to doing this in the future. This is interesting and it begs the question, why would they pay Kimi off when they could have got rid of Massa for free? They could have kept a fast driver who keeps his head down to drive alongside the “team leader” who would do all the development and be pushing the team forward. Now they will have the double world champion coming in and expecting number 1 status (I don’t care what anyone is saying in the press) and an established driver within the team who is going to feel as though he is being pushed out. Taking the emotions out of it, it is a poor decision operationally and financially.

To be honest they bought a cat (in kimi) and are confused as to why he doesn’t bark. With Massa they are indicating that perhaps he doesn’t bark loud enough and now they want a bigger dog who is going to establish his superiority, and we all know how dogs achieve that don’t we 🙂


Some harsh comments here: remember James wrote this article based on comments which appeared in a German tabloid… keyword being “tabloid”

Looks like the Auto Bild article referred to is:

Ferrari braucht einen neuen Schumi – “Ferrari needs a new Schumi” (4th December)

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