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TMR Team | Sep, 13 2013 | 2 Comments

Raikkonen left to 'finish career at Ferrari' - Boullier

Kimi Raikkonen may have returned to Ferrari to finish his formula one career with a final challenge, according to Lotus team boss Eric Boullier.

When Wednesday's news broke, Lotus admitted on Twitter that losing the Finn "hurts a little" -- the quote was attached to a bizarre photo of forceful copulation between two rabbits.

But team boss Boullier insists the Enstone based team is not "bitter".

In fact, the Frenchman said he understands Raikkonen's decision.

"You know, we remain a medium-sized team and there are some areas in which we're not in a position to fight against the other top teams just yet," he said.

Boullier told French-language RMC Sport: "Ferrari is a great institution, he has signed for two seasons so maybe he wants to finish his career with a big challenge.

"Don't forget that two years ago, we took the risk (on signing Raikkonen) and it turned out a great adventure. This is the end of one story but we'll write a new one beginning next year."

But is the Frenchman merely papering over the real story of Raikkonen's departure, after it emerged the 2007 world champion has often been left waiting for his salary?

"It wasn't just the financial aspect," said Boullier, "I think he is also thinking about his retirement, although definitely he will be better paid at Ferrari.

"I think there is also an emotional side about wanting to end his career at Ferrari. Then there is the ego side -- I guess he wants to compete on equal terms with Alonso," he added.

Former driver Mika Salo, who like Raikkonen is Finnish, thinks the 33-year-old has made the right choice between Lotus and Ferrari for 2014.

"I foresee that Ferrari and Mercedes will be the strongest teams in formula one," he told the broadcaster MTV3.

"They have been long engaged in the development of the new turbo engine and have the best resources of all the teams in the championship," said Salo, "although Red Bull will of course be in the top three."

Some, however, have expressed major surprise that Ferrari has dispensed with its 'number 1' policy and put two truly top drivers together for 2014.

"It is unlikely Kimi is going to think about his teammate, so to some extent Alonso will not be happy," Salo said.

"But F1 teams are actually organised so that there are really two teams on either side (of the garage)," he explained.

"In any case, Ferrari has an absolutely incredible lineup now, although it feels a little like the old days, with Senna against Prost," added Salo.

Boss Stefano Domenicali denies that Ferrari's 2014 pairing is a major break for the Maranello team, insisting drivers "have always started on equal terms".

But what about Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo's long reluctance to put 'two roosters in the henhouse?'

Domenicali doesn't think there will be trouble.

"For anyone thinking that the choice of Kimi is somehow an anti-Alonso choice, I can put their minds at rest," he said.

"At Ferrari, everyone knows the interests of the team come first and only then those of the individual.

"I'm sure he is the first to be happy with a choice made to strengthen the group, because he is too intelligent not to realise that a stronger team can only be an advantage," added Domenicali.

The pundits are not yet convinced. Christian Danner, a commentator for German television, told Sport1 that Raikkonen's arrival could spell major trouble.

"Whenever Alonso has an equal teammate, there is a massacre," he said. "It will happen again for sure."

On the other hand, that 'massacre' could power a lot of points for Ferrari, Lotus' third driver Davide Valsecchi told the Panorama publication.

"All the teams would love to be in Ferrari's position," he said.

"Even though it may not always be perfect, I'm sure they will get enough points to take the constructors' championship back to Maranello.

"And that's ultimately the one with the most importance."

Dr Helmut Marko, a leading figure at Red Bull, agrees with Valsecchi, because even though the drivers' title is the high-profile one, it is the teams' battle that brings the big money to a team.

He told Der Spiegel: "Raikkonen and Alonso is bad for us, because Ferrari will now earn more points as a team.

"But Raikkonen and Alonso is good for Vettel, because they (the Ferrari drivers) will take points away from each other."



Lotus admits Massa 'on the list' to replace Raikkonen

Felipe Massa has leapt into contention to replace the Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus.

Both the Brazilian's manager Nicolas Todt, and Lotus team boss Eric Boullier, have revealed 32-year-old Massa is in the running for what Todt describes as "the best seat" left on the 2014 grid.

"What is certain is that other teams are interested in Felipe," Todt, speaking after Wednesday's news that Raikkonen will replace Massa at Ferrari next year, told Canal Plus.

"Felipe will never play second fiddle in a small team, so what we need to do is find him a car that allows him to play a leading role in formula one.

"For sure, the best team today, the most interesting seat, is the one left behind by Raikkonen.

"After that, is it the only interesting seat? We'll see," added Todt. "It will be important to pay attention and be responsive in the coming weeks."

However, until now, the favourite to replace Raikkonen at Lotus has been Nico Hulkenberg, who was also in contention for the Ferrari seat.

Lotus team boss Eric Boullier told RMC Sport: "Felipe Massa is also available, so he is inevitably on the list.

"But let's not go too fast in activating the 'plan B'," said Boullier. "We are the only team left with a good seat available, and so inevitably this will affect many people."

It seems obvious that, in the interests of continuity, Raikkonen's departure has strengthened the case for Romain Grosjean to keep the other seat.

"It (Raikkonen's departure) can be good for him (Grosjean)," Boullier said, "because after growing for two years next to a world champion, he can unite the team and build it around him and prove he can be the leader.

"It can be an opportunity for him," he added, "but he must finish the championship well."

As for Massa, his Brazilian countryman Rubens Barrichello said he was sad to hear that his friend had lost his Ferrari seat.

"But there is life after Ferrari, and I'm proof of that," he is quoted by Globo.

"To race for Ferrari is the most sensational thing there is, but afterwards there is a release, a little less pressure.

"There is a moment of pain, but then life afterwards, and even things in life that are better," Barrichello added.

Another former F1 driver and Brazilian, Luciano Burti, also commented: "I know that Sauber would be interested in having him back, but it would not be a high-end car.

"It depends on what Felipe wants," he added.



Ferrari said no to Hulkenberg via text message - manager

Nico Hulkenberg's manager has expressed disappointment with how Ferrari broke the bad news to the German driver this week.

It has emerged that Hulkenberg was seriously considered by the Maranello based team as the replacement for Felipe Massa.

But when Ferrari ultimately signed Raikkonen, the Italian squad let Hulkenberg know in the form of a mere text message, the German driver's manager Werner Heinz has revealed.

"After two months of negotiations, I expected at least a phone call," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Werner said five lawyers worked for eight weeks on the Ferrari contract, where ultimately the only missing link was president Luca di Montezemolo's signature.

"The contracts went back and forth and in the end only had to be signed," Heinz told the German newspaper Bild.

"Domenicali sent us a SMS at 22.50 on Tuesday," he added.

Heinz continued: "Now Ferrari has signed Kimi we are talking again with Lotus. It looks like they are set for 2014."

Switzerland's Blick newspaper said a return to Force India is Hulkenberg's 'plan B'.

Lotus team boss Eric Boullier confirmed that Hulkenberg is in the running.

"Of course," he told RMC Sport, "as are all the drivers that are available.

"Felipe Massa is also available, so he is inevitably on the list. These are drivers whose management approached us," added Boullier.



Only a red suit will stop Vettel boos - Schumacher

The only way Sebastian Vettel can stop Italian fans from booing him is by joining Ferrari.

That is the claim of Michael Schumacher, who on the one hand was the beloved hero of the Italian 'tifosi', delivering five consecutive titles until 2004.

On the other hand, Schumacher is the friend and former mentor of German countryman Vettel, whose reception on the Monza podium last Sunday displeased even Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

"Thanks to the fans who are fantastic," Montezemolo said at the Frankfurt motor show earlier this week, "but we could have done without the booing of Vettel."

Schumacher, however, doubts even Montezemolo's disapproval will stop the tifosi.

"They didn't love me at first," the now-retired seven time world champion, who won the Italian grand prix five times but always wearing red, told Bild newspaper.

"For that, you have to be wearing a red suit," said Schumacher.

"They respect Sebastian's achievement, but they are not always able to react differently from an emotional side," he explained.



Sainz jr admits no Toro Rosso talks for 2014

Carlos Sainz jr has admitted he is not a serious candidate to replace the Red Bull-bound Daniel Ricciardo at Toro Rosso next year.

With Antonio Felix da Costa struggling in the Renault 'world series', and Felipe Nasr now ruled out of the running, it had been suggested the impressive teen Spaniard Sainz might be in pole position to succeed Ricciardo.

But Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost this week said leaping straight from GP3 would be "too big a jump" for 19-year-old Sainz, who he also considers too young for F1.

"I am staying on the ground," Sainz, whose father and namesake is the world rally legend, is quoted by Speed Week.

"It's no secret that formula one is my big goal, and I'm moving closer step by step.

"But at the moment I'm thinking of my last race in GP3, and beyond that three races in the Formula Renault 3.5 and also Macau," he added.

Sainz said he has had talks with Red Bull's influential Dr Helmut Marko recently, "but it was all about my assignments in Formula Renault and Macau", he revealed.

"There was no mention of formula one," added Sainz.



No 'Infiniti' engine for Red Bull in 2014 - Renault

Renault has ruled out speculation Red Bull's V6 engines could be rebranded 'Infiniti' in 2014.

It has been suggested that world champions Red Bull's ever-closer ties to title sponsor Infiniti, the luxury Nissan division, could be at the expense of engine supplier Renault's exposure.

Indeed, it has also been rumoured that Renault could react to the Red Bull-Infiniti ties by moving closer to Lotus in 2014 and beyond. Based at Enstone, Lotus was formerly the works Renault outfit.

But Jean-Michel Jalinier, president of Renault Sport F1, told the Italian publication Quattroruote that speculation Red Bull will run Infiniti-branded V6 engines next year is wide of the mark.

"Despite the many rumours, our engine will not be rebranded Infiniti," he insisted.

"Currently, we have contracts signed with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, and we are also in negotiations with other teams, because the optimal solution for us is to supply four teams."

Apart from Lotus, the other Renault-powered team in 2014 is expected to be Caterham. Williams is moving to Mercedes power.

Responding to reports F1 is becoming too expensive for many of its recognised players, Jalinier said Renault remains committed.

"In 2009, when the crisis began all over the world, we reasoned that we did not want to get out of formula one altogether and so we stayed as a supplier.

"With Europe still in trouble," he added, "at the moment this is the best strategy.

"Being in F1 also helps us to sell a Sandero (road car) in northern Brazil," Jalinier smiled.


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