Fernando Alonso says he was not surprised by this week’s news that Ferrari has re-signed his former teammate Kimi Raikkonen for 2016.
Alonso, now at McLaren-Honda, easily outperformed the Finn last year, but Raikkonen was successor Sebastian Vettel’s preferred choice for next season.
German Vettel insisted his word at Ferrari is not gospel, but “of course I was asked my opinion and I made clear that I would like to continue working with Kimi,” he said at Spa-Francorchamps.
“I think if you look only at the raw results, you get a distorted picture of what Kimi brings. It’s unfair because Kimi has had a rougher season than I have.
“But in terms of performance it is always pretty close,” Vettel added.
Spaniard Alonso, critical of Ferrari since his departure, says the choice did not surprise him, even though young guns including Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Romain Grosjean were all linked with Raikkonen’s seat.
“It (Raikkonen) was a logical solution, maybe a little conservative,” Alonso said.
“But Ferrari is better this year, they have won twice already, the team atmosphere is right, so in this situation it would have been wrong to change something,” he added.
Vettel said in Belgium that the atmosphere works now because “Ferrari is bigger than the ego of Kimi or myself”.
Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport claims Raikkonen, 35, has even accepted a pay reduction from his current EUR 11 million in 2015.
“It (Raikkonen) was a very logical solution,” said Carlo Vanzini, a correspondent for the Italian broadcaster Sky.
“Ferrari’s full attention is on the competitiveness of the car. Kimi is able to drive this car well, and when it is better next year, his competitiveness will certainly increase again.”
Autosprint’s Roberto Chinchero, however, admitted the Raikkonen news left him slightly surprised.
“I think maybe the key factor was the sum asked by Williams for Valtteri Bottas’ release,” he is quoted by the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.
“But at this time Ferrari’s philosophy is to keep team spirits high, and definitely Sebastian Vettel is one of Kimi’s biggest supporters.
“As Maurizio (Arrivabene) put it, now it is up to Kimi to prove that the choice was right.” (GMM)