Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Singapore, 2018

Ferrari driver change was “the right choice for Kimi” – Arrivabene

2018 F1 season

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Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said his decision to drop Kimi Raikkonen was the right choice for the driver, but declined to explain why.

Appointing Charles Leclerc is the right move for Ferrari in the long term, said Arrivabene, who stressed: “This has nothing to do with the respect that I have for Kimi.

“That is great, as a human being and a driver. But if you have to do a choice, thinking about the future of the team, I think we made the right choice, for us and for Kimi.”

Asked why it was better for Raikkonen for him not to stay at Ferrari, Arrivabene returned to his explanation why it is the correct decision for the team.

“It’s quite simple,” he said. “I also said that it’s very important to look at the situation of the team in perspective, perspective meaning two or three years. So in my opinion, that is justifying enough our choice to have a young driver for next year, to grow up and that’s it.

“It’s not a decision that is look on the actual situation or only to next year. My job is to look forward to the future of the team. That was the justification of the choice.”

Ferrari broke with tradition by paying tribute to Raikkonen when announcing its decision not to renew his contract, Arrivabene added.

“The way that we wrote the press release was absolutely intentional. We were using a different style, breaking a bit the rules of Ferrari, that is normally going to communicate this in one line, broke the rules, giving also tribute and respect to Kimi for what he has done with us and wishing him the best for the future, and the best for the future it’s here.”

Start, Monza, 2018
Did Raikkonen deserve to lose his Ferrari seat?
Raikkonen accepted the decision when he was told on the Thursday before the Italian Grand Prix, said the Ferrari chief.

“Of course I took the decision but I have to say that the relationship with Kimi is so good that he understands. It’s not only a question of telling him this is the decision.

“If you do my job properly, it’s to take him through the process, and I took him through the process of the decision and he didn’t even try to say ‘yeah, I would like you to change your mind’ or something. He’s a professional driver.”

Arrivabene also rejected criticism of the timing of his decision. “I heard many other things like ‘telling him in Monza was the wrong time.’ Think about if I had told him in Belgium and Sebastian was winning the race? Kimi was in the same position and then it was wrong to tell him in Belgium.

“So the right time is not written on the paper, but what is written on the paper is that when we sign contracts with a driver, we sign a contract with professional drivers. I always talk with my two drivers as professional drivers and I’m expecting from him the maximum of professional effort and to use all their professional skills and Kimi is one of them.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 18 comments on “Ferrari driver change was “the right choice for Kimi” – Arrivabene”

    1. It’s not you, it’s me.

    2. That’s a really weird statement from Arrivabene there. Why would it be better for Raikkonen to move away from a team with a competitive car? There surely is more to this than he was willing to reveal.

      1. Because they have to start grooming their next world champion. Vettel may leave after 2020, then what happens.

        1. But that’s not better for Raikkonen, which was specifically what Arrivabene said. It just doesn’t make sense what he said, that’s all. English is not his first language, maybe it didn’t help, but still, it’s stange.

      2. This is clearly the best for Kimi. For four years now (maybe five) he has been a number 2 driver. He has been driving a slower car, the team has ruined his races in order to give Vettel a slightly better chance, etc. He has been faster many times and still forced to finish behind. That ends this year. In Sauber he will finally have the chance to race his best. I’d rather see him racing to the limit and getting a P5 in a Sauber than letting Vettel pass him in a Ferrari.

        Of course, Arrivabene will not say that in public, so he just says it’s best for Kimi and lets us make the effort to understand why.

        1. +1

          Kimi still has a race car driver in him, it seems. Second fiddle to Vettel is no way to finish out a career.

          Also you can look at it like this. Kimi wants to keep driving. Ferrari needs youth in the seat. Sauber needs to improve and a veteran driver who understands setup and can give valid feedback is what they need. It was Sauber or go have ice cream for Kimi, I believe, but it works out well for everyone concerned.

          And I bet Sauber will give the man his steering wheel when he needs it!

    3. After thinking about I think it is great for Kimi, great for Ferrari, great for Leclerc… but maybe not so great for Vettel :P

      In all seriousness, it will be fun to watch Kimi wring the neck of the Alfa Romeo Sauber. I love the heritage ties and it would be good to strengthen a Ferrari “B” Team.

    4. Do I think Vel will last that long

    5. Change is a difficult thing to contend with sometimes. There were periods when F1 was changing too frequently, new teams, drivers. Some stay a while and depart the scene and some are gone before you can spell their names.
      But they usually had some character irrespective of the presence or absence of any extraordinary driving talent.
      There was a kind of mystic to their persona.
      Who can forget Jean Alesi’s intense eyes through partially open visors before the start of a race, Senna’s
      dour and brooding countenance, Prost’s anguished look of concentration as they were strapped to their monsters they had to tame. Men going into battle.
      Lately, the drivers seem so mainstream, almost pedestrian. They still are very capable and talented, but they usually all can’t help acting like children.
      Kimi is from this modern era, but he has something going from the past.

    6. Didn’t Raikkonen state that it was told to him between qualy and race at Monza? That would be two different versions from the same team…

      1. Raikkonen never got a pole this year, the fact he managed one at monza tells me enough, that he finally was free of playing 2nd fiddle and gave its best with no pressure and got the result, so I think he heard before.

        1. @esploratore The logic here is so flawed. What happens if Kimi doesn’t get another pole for the rest of the year? What’s the excuse then/

    7. For Arrivabene to imply or state that the move is “Best for Kimi” could have someone wondering …. “what’s up.??” are there games a-foot.?
      Now that there is a closer connection between Ferrari and the Sauber Alfa Romeo team, is this indication of greater technical transfer and a faster Sauber.? This will be the second year of the connection between the two and the first where the car design could be clearly influenced by Ferrari. This is going to be interesting to watch.
      Now where did Adam Sandler leave that remote ….?

    8. I can’t argue that grooming LeClerc is a good move for Ferarri, even if I’d have done it in another year. I can’t see why it would be a good move for Kimi, unless he’s made a deal for a significant stake in Sauber as part of his compensation. Sauber is poised for a return to the top of the midfield and they’re quickly working their way toward it. As a part owner, that’s a great thing, but to be able to help make it happen with his driving, that’s awesome. Hope it’s true.

      1. Why do you think he should have compensation…?

        1. Oh, I don’t know. Just talking about some of the rumors which may not be true at all.

          Frankly, I’ve changed my mind after watching the pre-race interviews and thinking about it a bit more. Kimi’s answers in that interview were gold, and the most fun he has seemed to have at them in a long time. After hearing him, I think it is as simple as he says: he wants to race, he’ll retire when he doesn’t feel that way any more. At Sauber, less limelight, less pressure, less of the external commitments and image stuff he has to do that he hates. He doesn’t have to play second fiddle. They’ll listen to his technical feedback (and hopefully give him a race engineer who understands him). He’ll basically be leading the team. And Alfa-Romeo Sauber aim to move up the ladder several spots instead of kicking around the back like they have since the turbos came back. They have the money, technical resources coming in, great management, and now one of the most highly regarded technical feedback drivers on the grid. I’m looking forward to see what Sauber can do next year.

          I love when the first guy presses him on being motivated at Sauber and Kimi got sarcastic with him, basically saying yeah, you got me, I want to go over there and not be happy for two years.

          1. Hi Jeff – thanks for the explanation – I think I agree with all of it.

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