Wednesday, 01 August 2012 10:05
Stefano Domenicali has warned that Ferrari is only on the market for a number two Formula One driver.
With the 2013 option on Felipe Massa's contract running out last week, a large number of drivers have been linked to his seat for next season.
Reportedly the latest on the list is the team's 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen.
"Kimi was a World Champion with us and I have seen the gossip, but nothing more than that," team boss Stefano Domenicali is quoted by the Sun newspaper.
Quotes attributed to Domenicali by the German broadcaster Sky, however, appear to play down the likelihood that Fernando Alonso will be paired with an equal next year.
"It has always been Ferrari's philosophy," the Italian explained, "to have a great champion and then a very good driver who is close to him."
In effect, he is referring to the paddock perception of Ferrari's 'number 1 and number 2' approach to its driver line-ups.
So does that mean drivers like Raikkonen, or McLaren's Jenson Button, both World Champions, are actually unlikely team-mates for Alonso in 2013?
"I think these drivers have contracts with other teams," Domenicali answered. "And we are not in a rush."
Number 2 or not, however, money could be a factor.
Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio thinks Lotus' Raikkonen could double his estimated 5 million Euros in 2012 retainer by taking Massa's Ferrari seat.
And according to Raymond Blancafort, writing in El Mundo Deportivo, the transaction would also work out for Ferrari, because a Raikkonen like haul of points for Massa would see the Italian team in front in the lucrative constructors' championships.
With Ferrari currently ranked just fourth due to Massa's meagre tally of 25 points, the situation stands to cost Ferrari many tens of millions when the sport's 2012 income is divvied up.
"The Brazilian at the moment is very expensive to Ferrari," Blancafort said.
Domenicali is keen to play down the speculation for now.
"We are aligned with Felipe and we want to protect him. It is important for this championship," he said.