Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo remains confident Kimi Raikkonen has the potential to be a worthy successor to Michael Schumacher, despite a distinctly underwhelming start to the Finn's career at Maranello.

Following victory on his debut for the Scuderia in Melbourne back in March, Raikkonen has since largely flattered to deceive, being routinely outperformed by team-mate Felipe Massa and scoring an average of less than four points in the intervening six grands prix. And all this despite Ferrari having hired him to effectively pick up where seven-time world champion Schumacher had left off.

"We are waiting for the true Raikkonen, the one everyone fears," di Montezemolo is quoted as telling Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport during Ferrari's 60th birthday celebrations. "He is very strong; Schumacher and (Fernando) Alonso - the last two world champions - always underlined that. Michael said Kimi and Fernando were his greatest rivals; Alonso equally indicated Raikkonen and Schumacher were his most feared competitors. Kimi has always been very capable and we are convinced can do it."

The Italian also heaped praise on Massa, who has really stepped out of Schumacher's shadow in 2007 with two early victories, though he acknowledged Ferrari still had much work to do to regain the ground it has lost on arch rivals McLaren in terms of on-track performance.

"It gives us satisfaction to have a driver like Massa who has grown up with us," he enthused. "I consider McLaren's two drivers remarkable; our problem is now to study how we can recover the two to three tenths that separate us from them.

"We got distracted for a moment, and this situation does not please me. We must recover our competitiveness, but we have all of the means to react."

 

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