Domenicali: We are aligned with Felipe and we want to protect him
1 August, 2012
Aug.1 (GMM) Stefano Domenicali has hinted that if Ferrari is on the market for a driver to replace Felipe Massa it will be for a number two driver, to back the team’s undisputed number one driver Fernando Alonso, but the Maranello team boss has reiterated the team’s loyalty to their beleaguered Brazilian driver.
Reportedly the latest on the list is the team’s 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
“Kimi was a world champion with us and I have seen the gossip – but nothing more than that,” team boss Stefano Domenicali is quoted by the Sun newspaper.
Quotes attributed to Domenicali by the German broadcaster Sky, however, appear to play down the likelihood that Alonso will be paired with an equal next year.
“It has always been Ferrari’s philosophy,” the Italian explained, “to have a great champion and then a very good driver who is close to him.”
In effect, he is referring to the paddock perception of Ferrari’s ‘number 1 and number 2′ approach to its driver lineups.
“I think these drivers have contracts with other teams,” Domenicali answered. “And we are not in a rush.”
Number 2 or not, however, money could be a factor.
Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio thinks that Lotus’ Raikkonen could double his estimated EUR 5 million retainer by taking Massa’s Ferrari seat.
According to Raymond Blancafort, writing in El Mundo Deportivo, the transaction would also work out for Ferrari, because a Raikkonen-like haul of points for Massa would see the Italian team in front in the lucrative constructors’ championships.
With Ferrari currently ranked just fourth due to Massa’s meagre tally of 25 points, the situation stands to cost Ferrari many millions when the sport’s 2012 income is divvied up.
“The Brazilian at the moment is very expensive to Ferrari,” Blancafort said.
Domenicali is keen to play down the speculation for now.
“We are aligned with Felipe and we want to protect him. It is important for this championship,” he said.
Subbed by AJN.