Kimi Raikkonen will be in Regents Street, London this morning, opening the new Ferrari store. It’s a big site, I went past it yesterday and it’s full of Ferrari branded goodies.
It’s amazing to think that it’s a year since Raikkonen last won a Grand Prix. He dominated the Spanish GP last season from pole, but since then he’s failed to make the top step. He would probably have won in Canada if he had not been hit in the pit lane by Lewis Hamilton and he was on target in France until his exhaust started burning a hole in the bodywork of his car.
“It was one of my best weekends with Ferrari, ” he says on the Ferrari website. “Pole, win and fastest lap. A driver never loses his taste for victory and I want to try it again as soon as possible.”
Raikkonen did a great job in Bahrain, squeezing the absolute maximum out of the Ferrari there, putting to rest any doubts about whether he still has the motivation. He was unlucky at the end not to nick fifth place off Rubens Barrichello.
There is the spectre of Alonso in the background, with well-informed Italian colleagues assuring me that an agreement is in place with the Spaniard, just as it was with Kimi for almost a year before it became public in late 2006. The deal is for 2011, but may be brought forward to 2010 if Kimi underperforms or wants out early. The president of Santander bank was very high profile in Bahrain, spending a lot of time around the Ferrari area. The Spanish bank is due to come on stream as a sponsor of Ferrari next year, having left McLaren following the failure of their relationship with Alonso.
Spain will be a important weekend for Ferrari, with the updated car expected to give them more of the kind of performance the front-runners have had so far. A quarter of the season has gone already, however.
Some Italian papers are saying that based on the performance this weekend, Ferrari will decide whether to press on with development of this car or throw more effort into 2010, as Brawn did last year. But I’m not so sure about that. For a start, the scale of the aerodynamic rule changes for next year is nothing like what it was for this year. But also team boss Stefano Domenicali pointed out after the race in Bahrain that when you are Ferrari, “You don’t write off a season, ” however badly it might be going.
Meanwhile Felipe Massa is keeping the faith. He was in Rome the other day doing a road safety campaign, following in the steps of his mentor Michael Schumacher,
“I hope things will improve, ” said Massa. “I hope we can have a different championship now. We have to keep working, things don’t come to you for free. In the team there is still a lot of faith. The team is very united.”