Saturday, 21 September 2013 00:00
SINGAPORE (AFP): Ferrari team Chief Stefano Domenicali claimed rivals were scared Thursday as the Italian marque hit back at a storm of criticism over their re-signing of former world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Domenicali said comments from Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and others questioning Raikkonen’s impact were simply part of a “psychological war” aimed at destabilising his team.
Current lead driver Fernando Alonso and Raikkonen also dismissed the speculation, which has blown up since the “Iceman” was signed up for next season.
“Maybe they’re afraid because we’re strong, because honestly this is part of the psychological war that is part of this environment,” Domenicali said ahead of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix.
“The only thing is that honestly, it’s not so interesting for me because I don’t listen. We have the luxury that everyone can say what they want funnily enough, you never hear me speak about the others.”
Schumacher has called the pairing of two strong-willed former world champions “explosive”, while McLaren’s Button suggested Ferrari’s move was “great” for other teams.
“I don’t think they’ll be trying to help the other driver. A guy that’s achieved what they’ve achieved will not want to be helping out his team-mate,” the Briton told AFP on Wednesday.
Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko also wondered aloud whether Alonso and Raikkonen would tear Ferrari apart.
But Alonso said the speculation was similar to when he first partnered Felipe Massa at Ferrari, which was proved wrong as the two proved good team-mates.
Raikkonen, 33, world champion with Ferrari in 2007, said he saw no reason why he couldn’t work well with 32-year-old Alonso, who won the title in 2005 and 2006.
“I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work. We are all old enough to know what we are doing and the team is I’m sure doing all the right things,” said the Finn.
“If there’s something, I’m sure we can talk it through. It’s not like we are 20-year-old guys any more. I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure things will be good.
“I’m sure there will be hard fights on the race circuit, sometimes things go wrong, but I’m pretty sure it will be okay.”
However Raikkonen, in comments which are unlikely to ease fears over how he will settle in, also revealed he left Lotus in a row over money, claiming they had failed to pay his salary.
“The reason why I left the team was really on the money side,” he said.
“And with things like they are, I don’t have my salary. It’s an unfortunate thing but I like to try and help the team as much as I can and I like to race.”
Raikkonen did not go into further detail, but reports have said Lotus have fallen behind in payments to the Finn.
Raikkonen, who returned to Formula One after a stint in rallying, and Alonso go into the Singapore race placed fourth and second in the standings behind Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.