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Kimi can beat Alonso - Montezemolo

ESPN Staff
September 17, 2013 « Montoya returns to single seaters | Pecking order should shift in Singapore - Mercedes »
Luca di Montezemolo has tipped Kimi Raikkonen for the title next year © Sutton Images
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Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has suggested Kimi Raikkonen can beat Fernando Alonso when they become team-mates next year, comparing the Finn with Niki Lauda at McLaren in the early 1980s.

Raikkonen will return to Ferrari in 2014 as Fernando Alonso's team-mate, offering up one of the most exciting driver pairings on the grid. He last drove for the team in 2009 when he was paid off at the end of the year to make way for Alonso and subsequently took a two-year sabbatical to go rallying.

Montezemolo believes Raikkonen's career trajectory is the same as three-time champion Lauda, who retired from the sport at the end of 1979 as a double world champion only to return with McLaren two years later. In 1984 he went on to win the title, beating Alain Prost by half a point and against the odds.

"Raikkonen is a case almost identical to that of Lauda, Niki also said 'enough' at one point because he was sick with Formula One," Montezemolo told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I spoke of the twin brother of Kimi [in 2009] because the driver we had was not the same one we had hired [in 2007]. The break has been good, he has returned to the top, won, and finished many races. I want a driver who will not make me regret losing [Felipe] Massa, and here he is. I want wins, consistent performances and podiums.

"Alonso will be the first to benefit and I'm happy he [Raikkonen] is back among us; the Ferrari employees have welcomed the news because he left good memories. Returning to Lauda, when he returned with renewed energy he beat Prost to the title... "

But despite the prospect of a threat from within, Montezemolo insists Alonso is happy for Raikkonen to join the team.

"We are not so masochistic as to hire a driver without informing Alonso. Fernando has always been aware of the choice of Raikkonen and also that the alternative of a young man gave us no certainties in the world championship. Raikkonen today is one of the strongest drivers in the sport, with Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton. Alonso was the first to be happy with his arrival."

Talking about the recent differences of opinion with Alonso - which have been played out in the media - Montezemolo said he liked to see the passion in his driver.

"I am the first to understand his discontent," he added. "Let's say his dissatisfaction is like the anger of a footballer who is called to the bench and tells the manager to get stuffed. But I'd rather deal with someone like that than a wuss!"