Fer­rari team prin­ci­pal ex­plains why he told Raikko­nen to hit the road

Waterloo Region Record - - Sports - JEROME PUGMIRE

SIN­GA­PORE — Fer­rari’s de­ci­sion not to keep Kimi Raikko­nen next sea­son was based on the team’s long-term fu­ture rather than the driver’s cur­rent form.

The 38-year-old Raikko­nen, the 2007 Formula One cham­pion, is be­ing re­placed next sea­son by 20-year-old Charles Le­clerc.

Le­clerc came through the Fer­rari academy pro­gram but is rac­ing in his first F1 sea­son with the Sauber team. Raikko­nen has 20 grand prix wins among his 100 ca­reer podi­ums.

“It’s very im­por­tant to look at the team per­spec­tive, in two or three years. In my opinion that jus­ti­fies our choice enough,” Fer­rari team prin­ci­pal Mau­r­izio Ar­riv­abene said on Fri­day.

“It’s not a de­ci­sion look­ing at the (cur­rent) sit­u­a­tion or only next year. My job is to look at the fu­ture of the team ... How you’re go­ing to grow a young tal­ent and what you’re go­ing to ex­pect from him in the fu­ture.”

Raikko­nen will re­place Le­clerc at Sauber next year. He is join­ing on a two-year deal, mean­ing he will be 41 by the end of the 2020 sea­son.

But the de­ci­sion not to keep the con­sis­tent Raikko­nen sur­prised some ob­servers, be­cause he has six podi­ums in the past seven races and nine in 13 over­all this sea­son.

“This has noth­ing to do with the re­spect I have for Kimi, which is great as a hu­man be­ing and as a driver. If you have to (make) a choice, think­ing about the fu­ture, we made the right choice for us and for Kimi,” Ar­riv­abene said. “I took him through the process of the de­ci­sion and he didn’t even try to say, ‘I would like you to change your mind.’”

Raikko­nen was told shortly be­fore the Ital­ian GP. Two days later, he took pole po­si­tion in Monza.

Ar­riv­abene re­sponded sar­cas­ti­cally to sug­ges­tions Raikko­nen took the de­ci­sion badly.

“Kimi was so ner­vous and so un­happy when I told him on Thurs­day that he made pole po­si­tion on Satur­day,” Ar­riv­abene said.

“When I read crit­i­cism I was think­ing, if it’s like this I’m go­ing to make him un­happy ev­ery week so he gives us pole po­si­tion. We’re talk­ing about a pro­fes­sional driver, not kids driv­ing at the Lu­nar Park, OK?”

The spotlight will be firmly on Le­clerc next sea­son, but Ar­riv­abene think it may be un­re­al­is­tic to ex­pect him to com­pete for the ti­tle.

“The first mis­take is to put too much pres­sure on the shoul­ders of this guy,” Ar­riv­abene said. “It could po­ten­tially be a huge mis­take.”

Mean­while, Ar­riv­abene left the door open for an­other young driver to come through the Fer­rari ranks at Maranello: Mick Schu­macher. The 19-old-Schu­macher is sec­ond in the F3 cham­pi­onship. He is the son of F1 great Michael Schuam­cher, who won five of his record seven F1 ti­tles with Fer­rari.

“The most im­por­tant thing is to let him grow, with­out pres­sure. I wish him a great ca­reer. With a name like this I think the door is al­ways open, of course, but with­out burn­ing steps,” Ar­riv­abene said. “To go slowly but (surely), then we will see about the fu­ture. How can you say no at Maranello to a name like this?”

YaOhNeGaTdECoKfLt IM PRESS

Fer­rari driver Kimi Raikko­nen, cen­tre, ar­rives at the Ma­rina Bay City Cir­cuit Fri­day Formula One Grand Prix. Raikko­nen will be driv­ing for the Sauber team next sea­son. heTSHiEnAgSaSOpCoIArTeED

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