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Ferrari unchanged in `09?

Despite the rumours swirling about Kimi Raikkonen's future at Maranello, and the possibility that Fernando Alonso is waiting in the wings to don a set of scarlet overalls next season, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo insists that he expects little change in the team's 2009 line-up.

Raikkonen's place in the team has come under scrutiny after a series of lacklustre performances that have dropped him 13 points off the championship lead with six rounds remaining in 2008. The Finn is keeping quiet on speculation that he may be considering retirement at the end of the season, despite suggestions that if he fails to win the title, or is asked to play second fiddle to team-mate Felipe Massa during the run-in to Interlagos, he may walk away after the Brazilian finale.

Ironically, it was Massa's position in the team that was called into question after he failed to score in either of the first two rounds - in Australia and Malaysia - but the Brazilian has since established himself as the team's best-placed title candidate, dominating the past two races in Hungary and Spain to move into second spot overall, behind McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso, meanwhile, was the talk of the paddock at the Monaco Grand Prix, when whispers suggested that he had inked an advance deal to join the Scuderia in 2010. Since then, however, the Spaniard has refused to talk about his plans for next season, either confirming that he will remain with Renault or move onto another team - with Honda currently leading the rumours - before taking up his place at Ferrari as many assume he will.

Montezemolo has not been the double world champion's biggest fan, suggesting in the wake of the Monaco rumours that Alonso was too disruptive an influence to ever sit well at Maranello, and used this week's group test at Monza to reiterate that he expected little to change for 2009.

"Absolutely," he replied to questions asking whether he anticipated a Massa-Raikkonen tandem next season, "All this criticism of Raikkonen reminds me of when [Filippo] Inzaghi was at Juventus and everyone said he was in crisis if he didn't score for three matches. For me, it changes nothing. I have a contract [with both drivers].

"We should not forget that Raikkonen is the world champion, and won that last year in his first year with Ferrari. Now, he has contributed to 17 victories and I hope that [his current form] is unblocked at the next grand prix in Belgium. Whatever, he is not a driver in crisis. We need to work together to improve his qualifying, especially at these new circuits that do not allow passing."

Montezemolo, however, could not disguise his contentment at seeing Massa challenging for the title, the Brazilian having spent some of his formative years testing with the Scuderia before being brought back from Sauber to partner Michael Schumacher in the year before his retirement. However, amid speculation that Raikkonen would be ask to forgo ambitions of a second successive title in favour of supporting Massa, the president insisted that that would not be the case.

"I would define [Massa] as a product of the nursery, and he is now mature enough to win the title," the president said of Massa, "However, in this team, there are no number one or number two drivers. It is an old refrain from the times of [Niki] Lauda and [Clay] Regazzoni but the hierarchy is determined solely by the stopwatch, not by the president. Whoever the pilot - whether you are called Schumacher, Barrichello, Raikkonen or Massa - you are racing for yourself."

Despite being spotted greeting the Spaniard warmly in the paddock, however, Montezemolo insisted that there was no opening for Alonso at Maranello just yet.

"I don't know if the poor lad should worry or not - it's up to him now," he said, referring to the double world champion's current travails at Renault, "It feels bad seeing such a great champion like him not finishing in the top ten in Valencia but, as far as Ferrari is concerned, he doesn't need to worry [about coming here]..."


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008, Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008, Spanish F1 Grand Prix, Catalunya, 25th-27th, April, 2008
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Start of the race, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C34 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34
27.11.2016 - Race,Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H  leads Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12
27.11.2016 - Race, Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34 and Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing RB12
27.11.2016 - Race, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12 leads Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H

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