F1: Raikkonen Denies That He’s Ferrari’s “Laggard”

Formula One driver Kimi Raikonen has denied Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne’s statement that he’s a laggard out on the track – defending the notion that he’s doing his best.

Poor Kimi, he just can’t catch a break. The Finnish Ferrari drive has been under scrutiny ever since the beginning the of the 2017 F1 season. Raikkonen has had an inconsistent record in terms of the necessary podium placements that he needs to secure for Ferrari, and now the head honcho himself has taken to stoking the fire underneath the Finn.

This doesn’t mark the first time that Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has added a bit of fuel to the speculative fire that has been raging around Kimi. Yes, it seems like every year we are faced with the discussion of “When will Ferrari dump Kimi?” In reality, it’s as clear as day that Ferrari will let Kimi go once they’re able to secure a young up-and-coming driver like Max Verstappen to become the future of the team. Until then, discussions regarding the Finn’s lack of impact on the sport are hardly more than non-stories.

Of course, those non-stories are a hell of a lot harder to ignore when the team’s very president is throwing out remarks like the following:

“I think Kimi has got to show a higher level of commitment to the process. There are days when I think he’s a bit of a laggard, but we’ll see.” – Sergio Marchionne

Kimi was quick on the draw to respond to Marchionne’s criticism, saying that:

“Obviously I want to do well. My team wants to do well, and I can only do the best that I can. It’s not like I’m not trying. Unfortunately, it’s not been very straightforward sometimes, but that’s part of the plan and we keep pushing and I’m sure things will work out better.” – Kimi Raikkonen

Perhaps Marchionne has become too accustomed to his status as the head honcho and has developed a penchant for letting words spill from his mouth without much consideration, but given the fact that Raikkonen has faced everything from technical issues to being shunted off course by rival Finn Valtteri Bottas and taken out of the race earlier in the season, it does seem blatantly unfair.

Interestingly enough, however, Marchionne was silent on the topic of Vettel’s recent screw-up at Baku, when the temperamental German earned a nice dollop of extra penalty points on his racing license. Possible favoritism aside, it’s hard to look at the effort that Kimi put in at Austria – especially after having steering wheel issues – and not feel that the Finn is at least trying to do all he can.

Kimi’s contract does expire at the end of the year, so perhaps the deadline is giving many the feeling that he’ll be out come the winter break, but the reality is that there are very few potential replacements that could give Ferrari what it’s looking for. The young blood that they’ve got their sights on is still locked into a Red Bull contract, and the pickings are slim across the grid order.

Alas, Kimi still has the second half of the season to prove to naysayers that he’s earned his right to keep his seat. Or continue to be derided race after race. It’s all looking equally plausible at the time being.