Domenicali: "Kimi is fantastic" Suzuka, 1 October 2009 - The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Team Principal does not usually talk to the media officially on a Grand Prix Thursday, but with the important announcement that Fernando Alonso is joining the...
Domenicali: "Kimi is fantastic"
Suzuka, 1 October 2009 - The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Team Principal does not usually talk to the media officially on a Grand Prix Thursday, but with the important announcement that Fernando Alonso is joining the team next year, Stefano Domenicali was in much demand at a press conference this afternoon as dusk fell on Suzuka circuit. "We are happy as a team to have Fernando joining us, there is no doubt about that," he said. "But for the moment, we want to concentrate on the remaining races of this season, so the atmosphere here within the team at the track is one of maximum concentration on what we have to do in order to get the best possible result for the season as a whole. Certainly, this announcement is the first step towards 2010, which will be a very important year for us."
Domenicali admitted that making the driver choice for next season had not been easy. "As always when you have to make this kind of decision, it is not necessarily an easy one, as with Kimi and Fernando you are talking about two great drivers, both of them champions. But dealing with these situations is why we are here and if you ask whose decision it was, the answer is that it is a Ferrari decision, but as the head of the team, the decision rests with me."
One concern raised by the press was the possibility that Felipe Massa might not be fit enough to drive again next year, in which case, releasing Raikkonen might have proved premature, but Domenicali dismissed this. "I am sure Felipe will be back to his normal self for the beginning of next season. He is recovering very well and is already in the second stage of his training, doing some karting activity. Everything is going very smoothly and I think he will be back in Europe next week to work using our simulator and after that, we will see what will be the next step. As for speculation that he will return to the cockpit for the Brazil Grand Prix, I can refute it categorically."
Naturally the media were hoping for some criticisms of Raikkonen, but equally naturally, there were none. "You will never hear me saying anything negative about Kimi, never," emphasised Domenicali. "Because he is a great champion and he is part of Ferrari's history, having won the Drivers' world title with us, achieving his ambition with us, so Kimi is part of our team. Kimi is fantastic. After that, one has to consider the future of our team, which is a different matter. Looking ahead, we felt this was a decision we had to take. You look at all the options and then go with what you feel is the best one. As for the driver's personality, of course Fernando is more Latin, because he is Latin! We know he will relate differently to Kimi to the team. But as the team principal, it is important that our values which demand that the team has to be respected by the drivers, remains the same as ever."
The Scuderia has often run great driver combinations over the years and the Ferrari man had no concerns about managing the situation between two drivers like Felipe and Fernando, both of them wanting a shot at the title. "We will deal with this the same way we have controlled Felipe and Kimi over the past two years, because this is the way we manage the team. Drivers who want to come and race for us have to respect our rules. We saw a situation where Felipe helped Kimi, the year Kimi won the title and then Kimi helped Felipe last year, even though unfortunately he was not able to take the title. And it will happen in the future, because this is the way we work and is part of the team's spirit."