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Same Old Ferrari

It seems to me that the knives are out at Ferrari already. After the Bahrain GP, technical director Mario Almondo was critical of Raikkonen’s race, suggesting that he work on starts and restarts; now Kimi has voiced doubts over the preparation of his car for qualifying.

Ron Kimi

Ron Dennis and Kimi Raikkonen

Back in October of last year, I wrote of the difficulties Kimi would experience in fitting into the Ferrari team; since then I have seen nothing to change my mind. Even before he joined, Ferrari were talking about getting their new driver to smile more often and to moderate his private life. As I pointed out at the time, this amounted to implied criticism of a guy who has nothing to prove in F1 – we all know he is one the three fastest drivers around.

And now Almondo finds reason to pick at Raikkonen’s performance in Bahrain and Kimi, stung at last to put his side of the story (very tactfully – he said “we” most of the time), hints that he may not be getting the same treatment as Massa in qualifying. It hardly speaks of a team that is together in their determination for the Finn to succeed this year.

The most telling point is that these guarded exchanges are being conducted in public. Ferrari have been quite open in their criticism of Raikkonen from the very start, while their enthusiasm for Massa has been evident, Todt springing to the Brazilian’s defense after his ham-fisted attempts to pass Hamilton in Malaysia. Kimi has held his tongue until this latest statement but the tension on his face has been plain to see – he knows he’s getting a raw deal.

I have no doubt that Kimi will struggle on through the season, working with what he is given and trying to show the team who they should be putting their major effort into. My point is really that he shouldn’t have to – Ferrari only handicap themselves by favoring one driver over another, particularly when the favorite is the slower of the two.

But that is Ferrari; they have their likes and dislikes and woe betide you if you turn up on the dislike side of the equation.

The photograph up there illustrates the difference between Ferrari and McLaren. Ron Dennis has his detractors but he is the best man manager of the lot (now that Eddie Jordan and Ken Tyrrell are no longer around). He believed in Kimi from the start and never stopped doing so, even if he wished that the Finn wouldn’t party so heartily.

Ferrari assured us that we would see Kimi smile this year – pardon me for pointing this out but it ain’t happened yet. And that looks like a huge grin on the Finn’s face in that photo above.

2 Responses to “Same Old Ferrari”

  1. This column cuts to the marrow. I reluctantly agree with the foreshadowing scenario, all the while wishing it weren’t so.

  2. Thank you, Barry. No one likes to see Ferrari making things difficult for themselves but it follows in their great tradition. Had they not been so prone to internal politics, they would have won twice as many championships as they now have. The list of great drivers who went to Ferrari in hope and departed in despair is long indeed.

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