Ferrari to unveil Kimi's number one car
Raikkonen will start the season in Ferrari's 2008 version with praise from out-going team boss Jean Todt ringing in his ears.Updated: Jan 05, 2008 11:49 IST
World champions Ferrari will jump the gun on their rivals on Sunday by launching their new 2008 car here at Maranello (Italy).
McLaren, whose two drivers last year missed out on the title each by a single point, will follow suit on Monday at the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart.
But it is the number one car of drivers' champion Kimi Raikkonen that will catch the most attention on Sunday before it is put through its paces on Monday at the nearby Fiorano test track.
Raikkonen will start the season in Ferrari's 2008 version with praise from out-going team boss Jean Todt ringing in his ears.
Todt is taking over as CEO of the whole Ferrari group and his role at the F1 team will be taken on by Stefano Domenicali.
When asked who he would prefer to have in his team between Raikkonen and former double world champion Fernando Alonso, Todt told Auto Motor Und Sport magazine that Kimi was his man.
"Kimi has ranked for five or six years as one of the best drivers. Therefore, I never understood the people who were disappointed by his achievements in the first half of the season," he said.
Raikkonen often looked on the brink of falling out of last season's title race after a difficult start saw him trail far behind McLaren pair Alonso and British rookie Lewis Hamilton.
But in a dramatic finale Raikkonen pipped them both to the title on the last day of the championship season in Brazil.
"Is Kimi better or worse than Alonso? I cannot answer that," added Todt. "For me, both are excellent race drivers. It is the car that makes the difference. I selected Kimi, because his character fits our team better."
The Frenchman also moved to quash speculation that Raikkonen was unhappy at Ferrari.
"Kimi is happy with Ferrari. He loves driving. We know that he does not like certain things, and that is why we don't request those of him," he said, referring to Raikkonen's dislike for media and sponsorship commitments.
"Racing drivers are only employees, but they are the workers with the most pressure. If they do not function right, then that has a far larger consequence for the company than if the receptionist does not do a good job.
"Therefore I try to arrange the life of the drivers to be as pleasant as possible. Up to now I can say that always, if we asked gently Kimi to do something, he did it."
Ferrari claimed both the driver and constructor titles last season after McLaren were found guilty of spying on their major rivals and were hit with a 100 million dollar fine.
They were also stripped of all their constructor points.