By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Ferrari president and CEO Sergio Marchionne stated that Kimi Raikkonen must improve his performance if he wants a new deal for 2017.
Raikkonen’s current contract with Ferrari expires at the end of the season.
The Italian manufacturer’s most recent Formula 1 champion in 2007, Raikkonen enjoyed a promising start to the season that saw him lead teammate and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, before underwhelming results the last few races.
For the second consecutive season, the Finn has been on the frontlines of speculation whether or not he will be replaced, but Marchionne insisted Raikkonen’s future is in his own hands.
“It is up to him,” Marchionne told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Kimi’s time with Ferrari will depend on his performance. He has to show he deserves to stay here, otherwise I think he won’t want to continue here as well. There will come a day when I will leave as well.”
With five runner-up finishes and no wins between Raikkonen and Vettel so far this season, and Marchionne believes that their deficit to arch-rival Mercedes rests in the stability of the car.
“Their secret is the stability of the car,” Marchionne said. The Ferrari SF16-H is new compared to the 2015 edition. Although the design looked great, once it took to the track there were some results that didn’t match up to our expectations.
“We are trying to move past that in order to understand what is needed in order to improve our performance. It’s a difficult car.”
Amid the Finn’s uncertainty, the 64-year-old hinted at likely changes to the team’s staff.
“I don’t know if we are working with old methods, but the current structure is dated and doesn’t reflect the people we currently have,” Marchionne said. “We have a great company that produces results. We can and must improve.
“A big problem is giving an opportunity to those people who aren’t on the frontline to grow. We aren’t lacking people and there is talent there. One thing that I did, along with [team principal] Maurizio Arrivabene, is that we met all the people we have within the company, even those that maybe don’t get the attention they deserve. We want to give them opportunities to show they are capable. We need time, as changes are ongoing.”
The Ferrari President also mentioned that they are also looking beyond themselves to find answers and are hiring help from outside their own walls.
“We are doing that,” Marchionne said. We just signed Jock Clear [from Mercedes]. There are people that are helping out those areas that are struggling. We want to round out the team. Results don’t happen overnight, and we need time to bring about tangible results that will like come in 2017.”