Kimi Raikkonen’s move to Ferrari will be a huge positive for Fernando Alonso, reckons his on-track rival Mark Webber.
Although some have suggested that Ferrari’s decision to sign Raikkonen could be a threat to Alonso’s position in the team, Webber thinks the move will actually be a benefit as long as both drivers share the work load.
“I think Fernando will see it as a positive thing,” Webber said. “The positives for me are that Fernando needs to be pushed more on Saturday afternoons; which he will live for.
“Kimi will lift him and help him to get a bit more out of himself on Saturday afternoons. On Sundays, there is no question, we know Fernando is a brilliant racer, but on Saturdays Kimi will lift him to another level.
“Fernando will also see it as an opportunity to do well against Kimi. He will back himself in this situation.”
Webber does think, however, that Ferrari will need to ensure that Raikkonen does his fair share of work at the factory, so Alonso does not feel hard done by.
“The team will have to be careful on the technical front,” explained the Australian. “Kimi we know is a phenomenal guy, but it will be interesting to see if Fernando feels it will be even in terms of the work rate going on.
“It is a big, big technical challenge next year. Both drivers have to put a lot into that and I don’t think Fernando will be too happy if it is all one sided. But they will sort that out.
“I don’t see many downsides, but they have got 12 months to make it work. Fernando isn’t going to be too patient just from a performance perspective, let alone who his teammate is. I don’t think he will be too patient.”
Webber thinks the move is great news for F1 fans too. He thinks it is essential that grand prix racing’s followers are treated to the kind of high-profile rivalry that is on the cards for 2014.
“I think it is good for the sport,” he said. “The sport still needs to have those battles; not only between different teams racing each other, but also internally. It is good to have the battles inside the teams too.
“F1 fans follow the drivers and that is what is still important. These guys, the experienced guys, the guys who have earned those stripes, are the guys who people like to follow, and it is important that they are still in top cars and doing very, very well.
“It is going to be a tasty finish to both their careers both Fernando and Kimi. At the end of next year they are in the twilight, it will come around pretty quick, and brilliant for both F1 and also for Ferrari.
“Ferrari are obviously a very powerful brand and they need to be up there, and they have now put all their money on red at the casino. They have said this is either going to work or it is not. I think if the car isn’t competitive, it will fizzle out and there will be nothing for people to get their teeth in to, but if the car is quick it will be good fun.”