The return of Kimi Räikkönen to Ferrari has been widely interpreted among Italians that Kimis sacking in 2009 was a big mistake.
On Wednesday evening, MTV3 Tulosruutu revealed an interesting detail concerning the contract negotiations: Räikkönen demanded an apology from Luca di Montezemolo – and he got it!
“When it comes to the apology, I have understood that the concrete apology was a demand before continuing in the negotiations with Ferrari. And it was specifically from Montezemolo to Räikkönen in person,” Oskari Saari said.
The bad blood between Räikkönen and di Montezemo could have, according to some information, even prevented the contract from happening. However, they now work together starting from next season.
“These things are now sealed up and put into the same pile along with all transgressions of the past because of the signature. They can now move forward,” Saari said to Tulosruutu.
Of course, his return triggers all manner of expectation – not to mention the possibility of intrigue. This is Ferrari after all, although according to Raikkonen, rumours of a rift with the marque’s excitable President Luca di Montezemolo stretching back to 2009 are wide of the mark. “I’ve never had a problem with him. For sure I’ve had arguments with many people and not just with him but with some other team bosses also. There’s always a lot of rumours about different things I’ve done. But people write and they have no idea what’s going on inside the team.”
Whether Maranello is big enough for the both of them remains to be seen but when the subject was broached with Raikkonen, the shutters slammed down again. “I don’t know. Go and ask them. I don’t do anything with them. I don’t decide; you’ll have to go and ask them. How can I answer some questions about some other team?”
Concerned we weren’t sure where to find Ferrari’s HQ in the Monza paddock, he pointed towards the throng camped outside it and added: “Go that way and ask.”
Ferrari remain “some other team” for now as Raikkonen still has seven races left to run for Lotus. There’s no doubt the partnership has worked well since he returned to F1 at the start of 2012: two victories and 27 consecutive points finishes certainly constitutes a greater strike-rate than some had anticipated – if not the team themselves by the sounds of it.
“It’s so far been very nice, great people to work with and obviously we want to improve things. Since we’ve started working together, it’s been going well – probably what they expected for how the team has improved from the past years,” Raikkonen said.
“But obviously it’s never enough and we want to do well. But they’ve been very good for me and hopefully I’ve been good for them.”
Was that last sentence an indication that Raikkonen had already made his mind up? He was open about the financial straitjacket Lotus find themselves in – “Obviously you want your salary when you work” – and in delivering the line, “We’ve won races, two in two years” with an ironic laugh, he hinted that it isn’t enough. Such conjecture is now academic, although when it comes to making a decision, Kimi is an old enough hand to get his ducks in a row (as the Finns probably don’t say).
“I need to have things as I wish and I want. Otherwise there’s no real point to do some quick, silly decisions – that you’re not 100 per cent sure you want to do those things and get the things as you want,” he said. “I’ve been long enough in the sport to know what I want and what should be right for me.”
One thing he was quick to point out, however, is that a move anywhere represents a gamble – to Ferrari, or even to Red Bull, whom Raikkonen was linked with for most of the summer. “Nobody really knows with all the changes in the rules,” he said. “You hear a lot of stories from different teams that they have so much more horsepower or they are so good with the new rules, but I don’t think we know it exactly until we get the new cars running and we get the first few tests done.
“You expect that the big teams will have more people and more money to do things. But we’ve seen in the past that big teams can get it wrong. I don’t know. I have no idea who will have the best car; I don’t think nobody does. Of course, you always expect your team to have the best car and it always looks the nicest car ever when they show it. But if it’s not fast then that’s another thing.”