Mark Webber reckons Raikkonen/Alonso 'short-term' Ferrari fix before move for Vettel
Aussie also thinks Kimi arrival will improve Alonso's qualy form
Last Updated: 16/09/13 12:38pm
Mark Webber has stoked Formula 1's driver market by suggesting that Ferrari's hiring of Kimi Raikkonen to partner Fernando Alonso represents a "short-term" measure to bring glory back to Maranello, before the team make a big move for Sebastian Vettel in 2016.
Ferrari's decision to rehire Raikkonen, their last title-winning driver from 2007, on a two-year contract and pair two World Champions together at the team for the first time in 60 years continues to dominate the F1 agenda with both the reasons behind the move, and its potential ramifications for next season, already swelling much debate.
Red Bull driver Webber has now given his reaction to the news in a fascinating interview with Sky Sports F1.
The Australian reckons the signing of Raikkonen represents a "bit of a gamble" on Ferrari's part, but is clearly designed to end their title-winning drought, which now stretches back five years to the Constructors' Championship from 2008.
However, Webber, who retires from F1 at the end of the season, has raised potential alarm within his own team by suggesting that his stable-mate Vettel, who at 26 years old is six and seven years younger than Alonso and Raikkonen respectively, likely remains Ferrari's longer-term target.
The German's recently-extended contract with Red Bull runs to end of 2015 and, in turn, Webber can see both Raikkonen and Alonso leaving Ferrari at the end of that same year.
"For lots of reasons Ferrari need to be winning again in Formula 1," Webber told Sky Sports F1.
"It has to happen so this is the first step forward for them to get the team back in [title-winning form]. Constructors' is important, Ferrari winning that, and then the Drivers' Championship as well. So those two things have got to come together."
Then, perhaps with a hint of mischief, Webber added: "There are so many reasons why it's a bit of a gamble to help Ferrari.
"Two years for probably both of them actually I think. And then what they do after that obviously [is] pick Seb up off the back of Red Bull and they keep moving from there.
"But it's a very short-term aggressive statement from Ferrari to put the team at the front."
Webber also believes that one hoped-for by-product of Raikkonen's return to Ferrari is that it pushes Alonso to greater qualifying performances.
While Alonso boasts by far the better Saturday head-to-head record from his four years as team-mate to Felipe Massa, there have been murmurings from inside the team that the Spaniard sometimes doesn't fully extract the car's single-lap potential.
Webber, a close friend of Alonso, believes the Spaniard will benefit from Raikkonen's arrival.
"They need Fernando to be pushed," Webber added.
"He needs to be squeezed on Saturday afternoon to get the car further up the grid. That's why the car is phenomenal at starts and got all those other strengths because they think there is inherent weakness obviously in qualifying.
"Fernando over one lap needs to be pushed and that will help him on Saturday afternoon with Kimi being there."