Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has again claimed that he is happy with his current driver pairing of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, and would not be tempted to drop either to make room for current world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Although the Briton has said that he has no intention of leaving the McLaren team that took him to the world title in only his second year in the top flight - having finished as runner-up to Raikkonen as a rookie - the question was put to Montezemolo during a media 'lunch' but, despite acknowledging Hamilton's talent, the president insisted that he was content with his line-up.
"Lewis Hamilton? Let's make it clear, he is a great driver pilot, one capable of coming close to the world title in his first year of F1 and to win it in his second, but, with all due respect, I would not exchange him for Felipe Massa," Montezemolo said, adding that there was no room for any new faces in the line-up in an effort to deflect questions about the team being linked with Fernando Alonso.
Asked about Hamilton's apparent desire to end his career at Woking, however, and the president suggested that that may simply be loyalty in the afterglow of success - and hinted that Hamilton's popularity may even rise should he eventually find his way to Maranello.
"It is usual for drivers to want to come to Ferrari," he continued, "And I am convinced that Ferrari helps to make a driver more successful. Kimi came in Ferrari and won the world title and Felipe only missed out because of our mistakes. Had we not made those errors, and everything run as normal, he would have achieved the ultimate success. Instead, he showed how popular he is, with the wonderful way in which he accepted losing this year's championship."