New engineer for Kimi at Ferrari

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Kimi Raikkonen will not be accompanied by his long time engineer Mark Slade, when he makes his transfer to Ferrari next year, according to reports in Italy.

Slade worked closely with Raikkonen during his McLaren years and was hired by Lotus when the Finn made his dramatic comeback last season.

But in the intervening years, when Raikkonen was at Ferrari, he worked first with Michael Schumacher’s engineer Chris Dyer, with whom he won the 2007 world championship and then with Andrea Stella, who is now joined at the hip with Fernando Alonso.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport today, “Ferrari has no intention of hiring Mark Slade to bring him to Maranello as engineer to the “Iceman”. The Finn will be asked to work with another engineer, chosen by team principal Stefano Domenicali, as the Alonso-Stella partnership is unbreakable.”

The paper hints that Domenicali is likely to choose either Giuliano Slavi or Antonio Spagnolo, who work currently as chassis engineers for Massa and Alonso respectively. Ferrari wants to promote from within and promote Italians.

Massa’s engineer Rob Smedley is expected to return to the UK, most likely with Williams, although McLaren has hinted at some eye catching technical appointments and Smedley would work well in the liaison between wind tunnel/design departments and track operations. He is highly regarded by McLaren’s increasingly influential Sporting Director Sam Michael and it would be an exciting place to work, with Honda from 2015 onwards.

Engineers say that Raikkonen is easy to work with, although he does not like working on the simulators. Ferrari has Pedro de la Rosa for that and he is likely to be a pivotal figure in Ferrari next season. He has already done a significant amount of work on the 2014 car and told this website that drivers will have to perfect a new artform in throttle techniques next season to manage the fuel consumption. Instead of 150kg of fuel for a 300km race, as it is currently, next season, drivers will have only 100kg.

Kimi is grateful for Slade’s help (translation courtesy of racingnerds)

“I enjoy working with Mark, but I also know the people in Ferrari. It was important for me to get Mark with me to Lotus, because he had been in the team earlier and he knew the ropes and hence made my life easier. – We have had a good two seasons. Let’s see what happens next year.”

Quotes by his engineers:

Chris Dyer: “He tends not to be distracted by what else is going on and he focuses on the job we are doing. It is very much a perception from the outside that he isn’t focused – we don’t see that. When he’s in the car, briefings, debriefings, he’s always on the job and very focused. Kimi is more relaxed than Michael, and less concerned about technical
details. If we turn up with a new part, Kimi will say, “Let’s throw it on and see what happens”; Michael would have wanted to know what the simulation tests said. What you see is what you get with Kimi: he never plays games. But on the track, he is very strong mentally. He is not affected by pressure.”

Andrea Stella: “They say he’s a cold person but when he won the World Championship in 2007, at the last race, I saw him cry. Kimi was able to do so many things (in 2009) behind the wheel that our engineers’ advice wouldn’t have been of help there. In that sense Kimi is better than Michael Schumacher. When I was working as Michael’s data engineer we always had to tell him accurately how he could drive faster in different corners according to the computer. With Kimi you don’t need these kind of advice. He finds the solutions himself.”

“There is a very positive atmosphere in Maranello after the Kimi-news. As a matter of fact the team was very sorry four years ago when we learned Kimi was leaving Ferrari,” Andrea Stella tells Turun Sanomat. “Kimi left a really strong picture of his driving in endseason 2009. He gave us a long chain of podiums, even one victory although we knew how limited the resources of that year’s car offered him. Kimi is very much welcomed back to the team.”

Mark Slade: “Here (Spain 2006) and in Germany Kimi may just have driven the best two races we’re ever going to see. You only have to look at him as he gets out of the car to see how much effort he’s expended. Here he gave it everything – and, you know, probably nobody noticed it apart from the guys close to it. He was driving only for points and he was driving for most of the race only against himself. He was sensational.”

Read more from Mark Slade about Kimi: “He’s not packaged. That has an appeal”

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