Di Montezemolo opens up on Kimi Raikkonen's return and predicts Alonso will benefit
Finn is to replace Felipe Massa alongside the Spaniard next season
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 17/09/13 2:10pm
Luca di Montezemolo with Kimi Raikkonen during the Finn's previous spell with the team
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has predicted Fernando Alonso "will be the main beneficiary" from Kimi Raikkonen's return to Ferrari.
In a wide-ranging interview with Gazzetta dello Sport detailing the Finn's reappointment at the Scuderia for 2014, di Montezemolo revealed that Team Principal Stefano Domenicali had been the driving force behind the surprise decision to lure Raikkonen back to Maranello.
Di Montezemolo also disclosed that he had held talks with the Finn "ten days" before the Italian GP earlier this month and warned that Raikkonen could defeat Alonso next season as he drew parallels with Niki Lauda's narrow title triumph over McLaren team-mate Alain Prost in 1984.
"Raikkonen's case is almost identical to that of Lauda. Niki also at a certain stage said 'enough is enough' because he was sick of it. I'm speaking of Kimi's twin brother, because the driver who was racing for us wasn't the one we hired," said Di Montezemolo.
"The break has been good for him, he has returned to greatness, he's won races, he's finished lots of races. I wanted a driver who wouldn't make me look back on Massa with regret and I've got one. I want more victories, consistency, podiums from Raikkonen. Alonso will be the first to benefit. Returning to Lauda, when he returned he was refreshed and he beat Prost to the World Championship."
But despite the veiled warning to Alonso not to under-estimate Raikkonen, Di Montezemolo has also sought to quell suggestions the Spaniard will be aggrieved at the decision to jettison Felipe Massa by insisting the two-time title winner was kept fully abreast of Ferrari's decision-making process.
"We are not masochistic enough to take on a driver without informing Alonso. Fernando was always in the picture regarding the choice of Raikkonen, taken partly because the alternative, that of employing a youngster, in what will be a complex 2014 season, did not inspire confidence. Today, Raikkonen is one of the best, along with Alonso, [Sebastian] Vettel and [Lewis] Hamilton and Alonso is the first to be happy that he is coming here."
Alonso was rebuked last month by Di Montezemolo after publicly criticising the F138, but the Ferrari President now says he appreciates the Spaniard's frustrations.
"I am the first to understand his discontent," he said. "Let's say his dissatisfaction is like the anger of a footballer who is called to the bench and tells the manager to get stuffed. But I'd rather deal with someone like that than a wuss!"
As for the departing Felipe Massa, dropped to make way for Raikkonen's return, the Italian is adamant that a parting of the ways will be in the best interests of both parties.
"He needed results and so did we. He did get some, but he was inconsistent, having some good races but not on a regular basis. In 2012, we felt the lack of his points in the Constructors'. It will be good for him to have a change of scenery."