Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has spoken about the rehiring of Kimi Raikkonen, comparing him to Niki Lauda, who returned to F1 after a short break more motivated than he had been before and suggesting that he can emulate the Austrian and beat his team mate to the world championship,
“Raikkonen’s case is almost identical to Lauda,” Montezemolo says in Gazzetta dello Sport today. “Also Niki at a certain point said ‘enough’ because he couldn’t do it any more. I’m speaking of the twin brother of Kimi, because the driver who we had racing for us wasn’t the one we hired.
“The break has done him good, he has returned to greatness, he’s won races, he’s finished lots of races. I wanted a driver who would make me look back on Massa with regret and I’ve got one. From Raikkonen I am demanding victories, consistency, podiums. Alonso will be the main beneficiary. Returning to Lauda, when he came back remember he beat Prost (his McLaren team mate) to the world championship..”
Montezemolo’s words are designed to stir up both drivers. In the interviews he recalls his jokes of 2009, Raikkonen’s last season with Ferrari, where Montezemolo kept saying that Raikkonen’s twin brother was in the car, not the champion, while he stirs the pot with Alonso, suggesting that Raikkonen will put pressure on the Spaniard and that will benefit him. Like Enzo Ferrari before him, who liked to consider himself “an agitator of men” Montezemolo is filling the role in the modern era.
Asked at what stage he spoke to Raikkonen, Montezemolo said ten days before the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.He has yet to meet the Finn, but spoke to him by phone.
Alonso was always kept abreast of the signing of Raikkonen, he says, “Also because the alternative of signing a young driver (Hulkenberg) in a championship as complex as 2014 did not give us certainty. Today Raikkonen is the strongest of everyone, along with Alons, Vettel and Hamilton.”
Montezemolo says that there has been no reconsideration of the position of team principal Stefano Domenicali, despite a difficult season for the team, suggesting that the Raikkonen decision was driven by Domenicali so he must see it through and take responsibility for it, “We would miss him. He was the main factor in rehiring Kimi,” said Montezemolo. “He’s done great work for the future. And let’s not forget that twice in the last three years we’ve lost the title at the last race, through no fault of his.”
Meanwhile Felipe Massa, who has been team mate to both drivers has told Brazilian Globo TV that the two superstars will “collide” at Ferrari and predicts trouble,
“I know both Fernando and Kimi on and of the track and I rate them as excellent drivers, but I’m afraid they will collide when sharing the team,” said Massa “I told the bosses to breathe as much as possible while they still can because it will be hard for them to breathe next season.”