Whilst remaining firmly committed to its current line-up of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen for the time being, Ferrari has again dropped hints that 'maybe in two years' the team's driving force will look 'different'.
The name of former double Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has been linked to the Scuderia
for some time, and Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has stated that whilst he is presently happy with 2008 title chase runner-up Massa and 2007 champion Raikkonen, 'maybe in two years I will tell you something different'.
Moreover, having confirmed that it is to jump ship from sponsoring McLaren-Mercedes to the Woking-based outfit's scarlet rivals as of 2010, Spanish bank Santander has made no secret of which driver it would like to have in the team [see separate story – click here
], and late last month Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport
reported that the man from Oviedo had inked a four-year deal to move to Maranello from 2011 – if not even earlier.
When questioned on the subject during Ferrari's annual pre-season skiing break at the Madonna di Campiglio resort in the Italian Dolomites, team principal Stefano Domenicali backed up di Montezemolo's words – and insisted that despite Raikkonen, who was roundly out-performed by Massa in 2008, having been allocated the higher number of the pair this year, both drivers are afforded absolutely equal treatment.
“I think it's difficult to add anything else to what has been said as far as this issue is concerned,” the Italian stated. “Our drivers have signed contracts, even if President Montezemolo has said 'wait and see'.
“In the future, who knows? We must concentrate on the present. Fernando is a great driver, but we're extremely happy with the drivers we have.
“We don't favour one driver over the other. They get the same opportunities, and at the end of the season they are judged on their performances.”
The 43-year-old was also adamant that Raikkonen's change of race engineer for the new campaign – from Chris Dyer to Andrea Stella – was not the result of a deterioration in relations between the Finn and the New Zealander, despite the 17-time grand prix winner having failed to win a race in the top flight since the Spanish Grand Prix last April.
Dyer helped to mastermind the legendary Michael Schumacher's latter title successes, and it has been suggested that his displacement to 'an important role in the co-ordination of the race engineers' was due to a falling-out with Raikkonen, who it has been revealed has lost a couple of kilos over the winter following an intensive training programme.