Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Montezemolo Eager For 'Real Kimi' To Return

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has admitted the Italian squad is anxious for its star recruit Kimi Raikkonen to rediscover the form that struck ‘fear’ into his rivals while at McLaren. Finnish ace Raikkonen was identified by Ferrari as the ideal candidate to be the team’s long-term replacement for its most successful driver Michael Schumacher, and showed its faith in him with what is rumoured to be the largest salary in Formula 1. However, since convincingly winning on his debut for the Scuderia in Australia, Raikkonen has seen his championship challenge slip away after a series of curiously muted and lacklustre performances. Di Montezemolo admits Ferrari has yet to see the type of form on which the 27-year-old built his reputation at McLaren – although he is certain Raikkonen will turn things around. “We are waiting for the real Raikkonen, the one that everyone fears,” he told Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.“Michael has said that Kimi and Fernando [Alonso] were his toughest rivals and Alonso has said the same about Raikkonen and Schumacher. “Kimi has always been in the fight and now we are waiting for him to go back to being the one that everyone fears – and we are convinced that he will do it.”Raikkonen’s quest to return to race-winning form hasn’t been helped by Ferrari’s pace in the last three grands prix, where it has been unable to challenge McLaren in either qualifying or the race.After winning three of the season’s opening four races, the Italian squad left North America 35 points behind its British rival and with both Raikkonen and team-mate Felipe Massa’s title hopes looking increasingly bleak. It is a sequence of results that di Montezemolo has not enjoyed and he says Ferrari must redouble its efforts to close the gap.“Clearly the two McLaren drivers are formidable,” he said.“We got distracted for a moment and I don’t like this situation.“We have to regain our competitiveness.“We have all the means to fight back and we must work out how to recover the two or three tenths [of a second] that separate us from McLaren.”

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