Fernando Alonso and Stefano Domenicali say Ferrari's driver recruitment policy hasn't changed

Spaniard plays down significance of an all-champion driver line-up

By Mike Wise in Singapore.   Last Updated: 19/09/13 4:29pm

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Fernando Alonso and Stefano Domenicali have both denied that Ferrari's decision to replace Felipe Massa with Kimi Raikkonen represents a change in approach for the team.

The Scuderia's announcement last week that Raikkonen will return to the marque with which he won the World Championship in 2007 has been interpreted as a re-think on driver recruitment.

Ferrari might never openly admit to giving preferential status but it's arguable their recent line-ups have at least tacitly acknowledged that one driver is more capable of delivering consistently strong performances than the other.

According to both Alonso and Ferrari's Team Principal, however, to suggest that replacing Massa with Raikkonen signifies a radical shift is to grossly underestimate the Brazilian's talents.

Speaking in Singapore ahead of this weekend's grand prix, both cited the 2008 season - when Massa outperformed then team-mate Raikkonen and came achingly close to beating Lewis Hamilton to the title at the final race in Brazil - as proof enough.

Alonso said: "I think the motivation will always be similar, I will do my best all the time. Sometimes you deliver the results, sometimes not. But no-one will push me more than what I push now.

"The two World Champions is something I think doesn't make any difference, it's something you keep writing these days. Many people try to say this - which is exactly the same as when I arrived here: that with Felipe it will be a disaster, that he has been here for many years and that it will be a very difficult relationship.

"I consider Felipe a World Champion as well. It's not that one title will change anything in the relationship or in the team in terms of pushing. He was World Champion when he crossed the line in 2008."

Domenicali said: "I don't think it's a change in philosophy because I agree with what Fernando said about Felipe. In terms of the drivers working at Ferrari, their main interest is the team. We see that as a priority. It is normal and absolutely imperative that everyone must do the maximum because we want to be in front of everyone.

"This is the way we've been working in our history and this is what's going to be happening in the future."

Alonso said his experiences in 2007 at McLaren, where he and Hamilton fought each other for the title before both ultimately lost out to Raikkonen, justified Ferrari's approach.

"We start in Australia as always, the cars are the same and we try to score as many points as possible. And then we arrive at the final races of the Championship and one of the two drivers has been lucky enough to score enough points to be fighting for the Championship and Ferrari try to help that possibility," he added.

"Other teams, they don't try to help that possibility and they lose the Championship. I was in one of them.

"It's not the same as a first and second driver, because they're lucky in how the Championship goes for one or the other."

Alonso also said he held some sway in the decision to lure Raikkonen away from Lotus - but only after Ferrari's management had decided to replace Massa.

"I was always informed about the plans. But I think until the last moment the team didn't make a decision and then when they decided that it was better to change Felipe, they asked me what was my opinion - and my opinion was that Kimi was the best in the market," he added.

"Especially with a Championship with many changes next year, in terms of developing the car in January, February, a team-mate who has many years in Formula 1 was important."

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