x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Finn flying again with Alonso on tail

Kimi Raikkonen is fighting for his Ferrari future this season as Fernando Alonso is reported to have agreed a deal with the team.

Kimi Raikkonen during a testing session at Cataluyna, Barcelona.
Kimi Raikkonen during a testing session at Cataluyna, Barcelona.

BARCELONA // A year ago, Kimi Raikkonen was very much in vogue at Ferrari. The world champion had arguably the quickest car but, in the end, he was a meagre third in the world championship standings behind teammate Felipe Massa and his successor as world champion, Lewis Hamilton. A year on and Raikkonen, 29, is fighting for his survival at Ferrari. Fernando Alonso is reported to have agreed a deal to join Ferrari in 2011 although team boss Stefano Domenicali this week hinted that could be moved forward a year should Raikkonen fail to perform this season.

But Raikkonen is unfazed. "All I can say is that I have a contract to drive for Ferrari," the Finn said. Testing form in Barcelona would suggest Raikkonen has got his spark back. He remained in the top two on the time sheets for his two days of testing which were cut short by a minor problem to his KERS set up. And afterwards he insisted he had yet to extract every ounce of pace from the car. He said: "We haven't pushed 100 per cent yet so there's plenty to come. The car seems to be good but you can never tell until you get to that first race."

While Raikkonen and Massa have been regularly clocking the quickest lap times this week, the McLaren duo Heikki Kovalainen and Hamilton have not. Reports suggest Ferrari's main rivals have a major problem with the aerodynamics of the car and, in particular, with a new rear wing. "The simple fact is that no one has a clue what's happening. Sure, they haven't been as quick as others in Barcelona but that doesn't mean they won't be come Melbourne."

Raikkonen has reportedly quit drinking and upped his fitness regime in a bid to ensure his mid to long-term future at Ferrari. Raikkonen hinted last season that he was considering quitting F1 altogether but he changed his stance this week saying he was "back having fun". "It seems a lot of fun so far even though the season hasn't started. The car seems to suit my style so this season should be enjoyable."

mmajendie@thenational.ae