Ferrari: Kimi Raikkonen returns a more mature and open F1 driver
|Wednesday, February 12th 2014, 12:53 GMT|
Kimi Raikkonen has returned to Ferrari a more mature driver and more willing to 'integrate', reckons team boss Stefano Domenicali.
Relations between Raikkonen and Ferrari declined towards the end of his first stint with the Formula 1 squad from 2007-09.
But he is rejoining for 2014 after a four-year absence spent first pursuing options outside F1 and then re-establishing himself as a grand prix force with Lotus.
Although Raikkonen has a reputation for remaining distant from his teams, Domenicali said a change was already evident.
"I've found him more mature, like all of us, more experienced, very close to the team," Domenicali told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"He has come [to the factory] often already, and will come back to Maranello practically every week."
The Italian believes the challenge of joining a team where Fernando Alonso is already well-integrated is spurring Raikkonen to work harder.
"He is conscious of his capabilities," said Domenicali.
"Kimi knows what team he's in, he knows this is a very important challenge for him, he knows he has to deal with an ace like Fernando, with whom he'll have to work in an integrated way."
He added that Raikkonen's mental strength was one of the elements that encouraged Ferrari to pursue him again.
"Our decisions are taken in a rational way, not emotionally," Domenicali said.
"We have considered the need to pair Fernando with a driver with extra strong motivation and an experience that allows him to manage such a difficult season as this year.
"A driver that knows how to manage the pressure of teaming up with Alonso and racing with Ferrari, which is always under the spotlight and if it ends up second it's a tragedy.
"Not many drivers have these credentials. The track will tell us if we've made the right decision."
This week's AUTOSPORT magazine - available in shops and online now - features an in-depth look at Ferrari's chances of success under the 2014 F1 rules, the changes the team has made in response to Red Bull's domination, and how Raikkonen is faring on his return.
Translation by Michele Lostia