In an interview with the media today, Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene says Kimi Raikkonen deserves a new contract, but admits they won’t offer him a new deal right now as they want him to stay motivated.
Having rejoined Ferrari on a two-year contract in 2014, the Finn was outperformed by then team-mate Fernando Alonso last year, but he seems to have a new lease of life this season.
Raikkinen ended his 27-race podium drought over the weekend as he finished second behind Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
With his contract up at the end of this year, in his interview with the media today; Arrivabene is having to field plenty of questions about Raikkonen’s future but he is happy overall with the performance of Raikkonen but his new deal with the team is not done yet. Arrivabene stated the following:-
‘I’m happy with the drivers we have, but this does not mean I am going to sign with Kimi tomorrow,. We are very clear, I repeat again: I said to Kimi, ‘Look, it depends on your performance’ and he has demonstrated he’s a great driver. So if you ask me now ‘Does he deserve to renew the option?’ I am going to say yes.
‘But if I am going to say yes, I don’t want the driver to fall asleep. I want to keep him awake. Kimi is at his best when he is in a bit in trouble. This is a psychological approach. So the paper (the contract) at the moment is white. Sometimes I have to take the pen, then take it back.’
Even though Arrivabene makes a very good point there especially that even though the option is there to renew his contract and he would like to at this current time; nothing is certain in Formula One. As we all know, you are as only as good as your last race and if Raikkonen can use what he achieved in Bahrain as a platform to build upon for the rest of the season; Arrivabene might just well renew his contract.
That is not to say that Raikkonen doesn’t deserve it or that he isn’t a great driver because that isn’t the case. Kimi is a great driver and he’s shown that this season in a better car which Ferrari have provided him with. But as for Arrivabene’s comments on renewing his contract; he will not be fussed and Raikkonen knows that he will make the decision based on how he feels he is performing.
Further on in his interview today, Arrivabene was asked by the media that Hamilton, who is yet to put pen to paper on a new Mercedes deal, has been linked with Ferrari in recent weeks with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone saying “it would be great to see Lewis at Ferrari”.
However, Arrivabene joked in his response: ‘Does Lewis Hamilton call you? Because he never calls me.’
But joking aside, Arrivabene knows that he has two capable drivers at Ferrari in Raikkonen and Vettel. With both having a great working relationship and also the experience needed to push and develop the team and the car, Ferrari in my opinion would be stupid to let Raikkonen go at the end of the season. But if the Hamilton rumours are true (I don’t see it myself personally), Raikkonen could have to leave to make room for him but I don’t see this happening.
I don’t see Arrivabene looking to get rid of him; why would you? But he is only doing this to try and get the best out of his driver and keep him motivated for the rest of the season but I do think that Raikkonen is already motivated and that is down to how they are performing on the track this season already which is a big step up from last season.
All Raikkonen can do is build upon what he has achieved so far this season and put in the performances on the track that Arrivabene is looking for. But for me, I think that Raikkonen should stay at Ferrari in 2016; but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t. But he does truly deserve to be there as he is showing why the team resigned back in the first place last season.