2013 News

Andretti: Alonso attitude triggered Raikkonen joining

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F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

Fernando Alonso’s frustration in 2013 triggered Ferrari’s push for Kimi Raikkonen.

That is the view of the Italian team’s former driver Mario Andretti.

“In my opinion, Alonso became frustrated this season, and what he said offended Ferrari,” the 1978 world champion told the Spanish sports newspaper Marca.

Andretti is referring to the arguably disparaging comments made by the Spanish driver, after which Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo revealed he “tweaked” Alonso’s ear.

“Otherwise,” Andretti added, “they never would have hired someone who could challenge him and even beat him.”

After four years alongside the often underperforming Felipe Massa, Alonso’s new teammate for 2014 is the former team champion Kimi Raikkonen.

“You have to know how to behave,” Andretti, still referring to Alonso’s attitude of 2013, continued.

“He always had a proper behaviour, but that 1 per cent … we saw what was Montezemolo’s reaction.

“It will be interesting to see what happens next,” he added, “because Kimi is not arriving to help; he is going to try to win.

“It will be a great battle that will be fun to watch.”


Ecclestone: “Kimi the star driver” in official F1 season review

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Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has expressed disappointment with Fernando Alonso’s performance at Ferrari and suggested that the Spaniard was looking to change teams earlier in the year.

“I’ve been a little bit disappointed in Fernando because I’m a big supporter of him and of Ferrari,” Ecclestone, 83, wrote in a foreword to the official Formula 1 season review.

“I thought he gave up a little bit which is proof that he was looking for another team.

“I don’t know whether the team is not competitive because of him or because the people who are running the team aren’t getting the job done,” added Ecclestone.

Alonso finished the season as overall runner-up to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who clinched his fourth title in four years to become the youngest quadruple Champion.

McLaren made no secret earlier in the season that they would jump at a chance to sign Alonso, who had one turbulent year with them in 2007, should he become available.

Ferrari, third overall in the Constructors’ standings, have described their season as one to forget while praising Alonso for his results in a car that was not even second best.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo did, however, reprimand Alonso on the Spaniard’s birthday in July for unflattering comments he made about his car.

Ecclestone said that he had “always predicted” that Vettel would be ‘what he is’, with the German winning the last nine races of the year and 13 in total to equal seven-time champion Michael Schumacher’s 2004 record.

“You probably have to say he’s number one of the drivers I’ve known,” added the Briton whose involvement with the sport goes back to the 1950s.

He also singled out Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 Champion who will be Alonso’s team mate at Ferrari next season after leaving Lotus.

“This year I suppose I have to call Kimi the star driver, with the equipment he has,” said Ecclestone of the Finn who left Lotus after complaining he had not received his wages. “I think he was motivated on hope that he was going to get paid.

“He’s a good guy to have in a team, good for us, good for the team. He’s super, he’s a racer.”

Pirelli, who caused many of the season’s headlines with exploding tyres at Silverstone and complaints about how quickly their rubber wore out, also received a glowing report from Ecclestone.

“Pirelli did a wonderful job for us,” he said. “I told them we don’t want tyres that last the race, we want tyres that nobody knows how they are going to last. We’ve got that too with the new engines next year.”

Formula 1 is switching from the V8 engines to a new V6 turbocharged unit with energy recovery systems.

Ecclestone has long been a critic of the new units, fearing that the different noise will alienate the paying public, and he returned to the fray in the review.

“I still think what we have now is good, I don’t think there was any need to change it,” he said.

Montezemolo: Raikkonen much loved by Ferrari

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Luca di Montezmolo believes Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will be successful as a driver pairing because Raikkonen is “much loved” at Ferrari.

Raikkonen returns to the team with which he won his only world championship next season, joining Alonso in a pairing of two of the strongest drivers on the grid. While such a line-up is a break from Ferrari’s traditional approach of a clear number one driver, Montezemolo told RAI Uno that he expects the two drivers to work together to bring the team success.

“Whoever has the honour and responsibility of driving for Ferrari must think of the team first and foremost and not of himself,” Montezemolo said. “None of our drivers could ever hurt the other one. Alonso is maybe the strongest race driver I’ve ever met, even if it is always difficult to make comparisons with the past. We have taken Raikkonen back for his experience, for what he has done over the past two years and because he is much loved inside and outside the team. I was very pleased to see the enthusiasm that greeted the news of his return, again both internally and externally. I am sure they will help one another.”

On the subject of Sebastian Vettel, Montezemolo was willing to hint the door is open for him to join Ferrari in future.

“Better than [Ayrton] Senna? Ecclestone says what suits him but there is no doubt he is a great driver. He is a serious young man who has won a lot and therefore he deserves respect. I congratulate him and Red Bull. Vettel at Ferrari? Who knows what the future holds? But for now, drivers are definitely not a problem for us.”

Away from drivers, Montezemolo was also had some words for FIA president Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone.

“Todt will be reconfirmed and I expect strong changes, because for too many years the Federation has always been the same and, as in everything, a change is required. Having said that, a strong sporting authority is always a priority for Ferrari. Ecclestone sees Horner as his successor? As the years go by, he more and more enjoys making jokes and I’m happy he still has the desire to do so…”

James Allison on Kimi joining him at Ferrari

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Joining former Lotus colleagues at Ferrari next season won’t make any difference to Kimi Raikkonen’s ability to settle in, according to technical director James Allison.

Kimi Raikkonen may be following a couple of former Lotus colleagues on the road to Maranello, but previous associations won’t necessarily help the Finn hit the ground running in his return to Ferrari.

That is the view of former Lotus technical director James Allison, who made the jump from Enstone earlier in the year. While the Briton’s presence in the Ferrari camp was reckoned to have played a part in Raikkonen’s decision to return – the Finn having also been linked to Red Bull – he plays down its significance.

“I don’t think it will make much difference to Kimi at all!” he laughed, “Beautiful though I am, I don’t think I have a massive impact on his life!

“Kimi’s relationship with the team is predominantly with the people that are at the track, racing the car, with him, with his race engineer and with the chief race engineer and the people that campaign round the world with him. My job is mainly a factory-based one and, while I would try to lead a factory team that is sensitive to what the drivers are saying about the car, and hopefully making the most of the feedback that they give us, my day-to-day interaction with the drivers is not overly extensive.”

Allison admits that he is looking forward to playing a part in returning Ferrari to prominence next season, and sees the introduction of a new technical rules package – and the preparation work already completed before his arrival – as perfect for the rebirth.

“I’ve been very fortunate to arrive at Ferrari at a point in their cycle when a lot of the changes necessary to return to the front rank – I mean right at the front rank, ie winning championships –have been put in place by Pat Fry,” he said, “I think I’m particularly lucky to have arrived and been able to benefit from those investments rather than having to start them from scratch. There is much more to be done but I’m a lucky chap to be picking up where I am.”

Of course, being handed the responsibility of returning the Prancing Horse to P1 comes with no small degree of pressure, but Allison is happy to accept that in order to hold one of the most revered non-driving positions in the sport.

“I think technical director at any F1 team is a very big job, it certainly doesn’t leave room for much else than the job in your life,” he explained, “Ferrari is an extremely prestigious F1 team, with a lot of resource and an extremely high level of expectation. There is really no result other than winning that is good enough at Ferrari.

“There is a lot of pressure to make sure I play my part in achieving that, but it is a wholly realistic ambition. It’s a team with the kit, with the resource, with the people and with the drivers to get the job done, and I’m so looking forward to being there when it happens.”