Kimi Raikkonen would have had a 'much more difficult' life had Enzo Ferrari still been alive – that is the contention of Jody Scheckter, who secured the Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship for Maranello back in 1979.
Raikkonen has endured a torrid 2008 campaign in the top flight, characterised by off-colour performances, dogged by accusations of a lack of motivation and looking only a pale shadow of the man who only twelve months earlier had stolen the F1 crown from under the noses of McLaren-Mercedes pairing Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in the final race of the season.
The 17-time grand prix-winner has triumphed just twice all year – the last of those victories having come in the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona all the way back in April – and has been invariably out-qualified and out-raced by title-challenging team-mate Felipe Massa into the bargain.
Scheckter argues Ferrari's management have been far too soft on him, and suggests a driver of Alonso's calibre and nature is what the Scuderia
“Raikkonen's life at Maranello would have been much more difficult if Enzo Ferrari was around,” the South African told Spanish newspaper Sport
, adding on the subject of Alonso: “I think Ferrari needs someone with his personality, someone capable of being in control of things.”
In tacit acknowledgement of Raikkonen's poor form this year, meanwhile, Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa has revealed that it is the 28-year-old, rather than Massa, who will conduct the lion's share of the winter development work in preparation for the new regulations set to be introduced into F1 in 2009.
“Kimi will do approximately 9,000 kilometres, or 30 grand prix distances,” Costa told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat
. “In one month's time he will drive many more laps than during the entire season.
“So much is going to change. Around Christmas time we will see exactly how it is going and how much we have improved or not.”
Raikkonen mathematically conceded his trophy after finishing third in the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway last weekend, but he confessed that he had all-but admitted defeat some time earlier still – whilst insisting that the desire to regain his crown still burns very brightly inside him.
“I didn't think of the title really after Spa,” he confessed, “because [after that] it was just a matter of time when it was over. I knew since Spa that there wasn't much hope left. I should have won there, because then I still could have decided over my own destiny, but after the retirement it was just a question of time.
“From January I [will] give it my best to win the title again, and if I don't win I'll try it again the next year. I know how to become a world champion.”