McLaren’s Jenson Button said Ferrari may have inadvertently given a boost to their rivals by re-hiring former world champion Kimi Raikkonen to join current lead driver Fernando Alonso.
Button, speaking ahead of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix, said the decision was “great for us” and predicted difficulties at Ferrari as next season progresses.
The 33-year-old Briton said rather than being a dream pairing, two-time world champion Alonso and “Iceman” Raikkonen, who won the 2007 title with Ferrari, may find it difficult to cooperate.
“We’ll definitely be watching their situation,” Button said.
“Ferrari for many years has had two drivers in the team that have been very quick but when it gets to a point in the season, it seems one driver helps the other driver.
“I don’t think that will be the case with Kimi and Fernando -- I don’t think they’ll be trying to help the other driver. A guy that’s achieved what they’ve achieved will not want to be helping out his team-mate.”
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has warned that the partnership could be “explosive”, while Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko reportedly said the strong-willed duo could tear the team apart.
Button said Alonso would probably leverage his long personal history within the team to keep staff on his side when Raikkonen arrives from Lotus.
“I’m sure when Kimi walks in that door, Fernando will start talking Italian to all the team personnel. That’s exactly what I would do,” he said.
Ferrari say rivals scared over Kimi move
Ferrari team chief Stefano Domenicali claimed rivals were scared on Thursday as the Italian marque hit back at a storm of criticism over their re-signing of former world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Domenicali said comments from Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and others questioning Raikkonen’s impact were simply part of a “psychological war” aimed at destabilising his team.
Current lead driver Fernando Alonso and Raikkonen also dismissed the speculation, which has blown up since the “Iceman” was signed up for next season.
“Maybe they’re afraid because we’re strong, because honestly this is part of the psychological war that is part of this environment,” Domenicali said ahead of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix.
“The only thing is that honestly, it’s not so interesting for me because I don’t listen. We have the luxury that everyone can say what they want... funnily enough, you never hear me speak about the others.”
Schumacher called the pairing of two strong-willed former world champions “explosive”.