Record-breaking multiple MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi has suggested that the reason Kimi Raikkonen has been dropped by Ferrari to make way for Fernando Alonso in F1 in 2010 is that the 2007 title-winner 'is not very fast'.
It was finally officially confirmed by the Scuderia
earlier this week that Alonso is to jump ship from current employer Renault to Maranello on a three-year contract from next season onwards, alongside Felipe Massa, who is continuing to recover from head and eye injuries sustained in the accident he suffered during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring just over two months ago.
Rossi – who is bidding to add a seventh premier class crown to his extraordinary career CV this year with Yamaha – believes Ferrari have made the right choice.
“I know that in Ferrari they are all very excited about Alonso,” revealed the Italian, himself still linked with an eventual future in scarlet once he hangs up his motorcycling helmet, following a number of tests for the most famous and illustrious team in F1 history in recent years. “I don't know him personally; maybe I will get the chance in the future.
“Ferrari, after [Michael] Schumacher [left], put everything on Raikkonen, but Kimi had some problems after the first year – he is not very fast. In the last two years, especially before his big accident, Massa was stronger than Raikkonen. Maybe for that reason Ferrari decided to keep Massa – and also to give [him] another chance after his bad luck in Hungary.
“They needed another top driver, and Alonso is a two-time world champion. He beat Michael for the last two years of his career, and I think in Italy all the F1 fans are very excited about Alonso and Ferrari.”
Ever the showman, whilst testing for Ferrari several years ago Rossi challenged Alonso to a duel on both two wheels and four, after the Spaniard had claimed that he could similarly compete within a second of the leading pace in MotoGP – and the 30-year-old Urbino native admitted that he hoped one day the 21-time grand prix-winner would indulge his whim.
“Yes it's true,” remarked the 103-time race-winner. “I wanted to make a bet with Alonso and have a heat with MotoGP, F1 and a rally car – but he said he didn't have time! Maybe in the future it will be possible…”