Maurizio Arrivabene says Ferrari opted to re-sign Kimi Raikkonen for the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship season because 'he deserves it', before revealing company president Sergio Marchionne had the final say on his new deal.
Ahead of the British Grand Prix, the Italian team put speculation about Raikkonen's F1 future to bed by announcing it had chosen to extend his deal into 2017 in what will remain an unchanged driver line-up for the Scuderia
alongside Sebastian Vettel.
Though the status quo has raised some eyebrows amongst those who feel the Finn hasn't maximised his chance with Ferrari since returning to the outfit in 2014, particularly when compared with Vettel, team boss Arrivabene believes Raikkonen has done enough in 2016 to prove himself worthy of a new deal.
“We confirmed Kimi because first of all he deserves it. Having said so we are looking for the interests of the team and the interest of the team was not looking for another driver but concentrating on car development. We have two good drivers so that was not an issue for us, so we remove all the pressure from the shoulders of Kimi in taking this decision.
“Every time that Kimi was sitting in a press conference somebody would ask what about his contract, what about your contract? I asked many many times for a bit of respect for a driver that was a World Champion with Ferrari.
“I know that his nickname is Iceman but he's a human being. Sometimes in Formula One we need to be conscious that we are talking, not with cars because actually the computer talks with the car but the cars are driven by human beings so even Iceman is a human being with his emotions and I think he could feel the pressure.”
Indeed, Raikkonen's' fate was ultimately determined by Ferrari president Marchionne, who gave the green light to discuss a new deal that the 2007 champion would accept.
“It actually was confirmed in a phone call from the President, and a couple of hours [later] we are with Kimi. We turn the page and we look forward to work very hard where the problem is.”