Stefano Domenicali insists that Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will be given equal status when they join forces at Ferrari next year.
confirmed the signing of Raikkonen on a two-year deal on Wednesday, with the Finn returning to Maranello to replace Felipe Massa.
It will see Ferrari adopt a different approach to recent years, when it has employed a clear number one and number two driver, and Domenicali insisted that its new pairing would be equal until the point at which one should support the other in the title race.
“Nothing will change in the way the team is run,” he said. “Since the world began, our drivers have always started on equal terms. It's always been that way and always will. Then, during the course of the season, if the situation is such that one driver can help the other based on the points table, it's logical and right that it should happen.
“It's happened in the past and will happen in the future, as all drivers who have driven a Ferrari have demonstrated. It occurred at the time of Fangio and Collins and more recently with Salo and Irvine, when the Finn gave up on his only chance of a win in Formula 1 to help his team-mate, as Raikkonen was helped by Felipe, before repaying the compliment and again with Felipe and Fernando.”
Domenicali added that the decision to bring in Raikkonen had been to give Ferrari the best chance of success and was in no way a slight on Alonso – who has been team leader since replacing the Finn for the 2010 season.
“I would only say that the combination of Fernando and Kimi is the best one could have today in Formula 1, in terms of talent, experience, competitive spirit and the ability to move car development forward,” he said. “For anyone thinking that the choice of Kimi is somehow an anti-Alonso choice, I can put their minds at rest: at Ferrari, everyone knows the interests of the team come first and only then those of the individual.
“Fernando is a key asset for this team and he will be for a long time. I'm sure he is the first to be happy with a choice made to strengthen the group, because he is too intelligent not to realise that a stronger team can only be an advantage.”