Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has claimed Fernando Alonso will benefit from Kimi Raikkonen's return to the Italian team next season.
Raikkonen, who left Ferrari after three seasons in 2009, was last week's unveiled as Ferrari's replacement for Felipe Massa for the 2014 season leading many pundits to wonder whether the Finn and Alonso would form a solid partnership or whether Ferrari would have a fight on their hands to keep both drivers happy.
Speaking to Italian sport newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, the Ferrari president revealed that he spoke to Raikkonen 10 days before the Italian GP and that he believes the Finn could go on to become Alonso's most dangerous rival next season.
Di Montezemolo compared Ferrari's new pairing to the McLaren team of 1984, which included Alain Prost and Niki Lauda, with the Austrian narrowly edging his team-mate to become World Champion.
"Raikkonen's case is almost identical to that of Lauda. Niki also at a certain stage said: "Enough is enough because he was sick of it. I'm speaking of Kimi's twin brother, because the driver who was racing for us wasn't the one we hired," said the Ferrari president.
"The break has been good for him, he has returned to greatness, he's won races, he's finished lots of races. I wanted a driver who wouldn't make me look back on Massa with regret and I've got one.
"I want more victories, consistency, podiums from Raikkonen. Alonso will be the first to benefit. Returning to Lauda, when he returned he was refreshed and he beat Prost to the World Championship."
The Ferrari president was quick to dismiss rumours according to which Alonso feels his position within the team has been undermined by Ferrari's decision to replace Massa - effectively a number two driver - with Raikkonen - likely to be a championship contender next season.
"We are not masochistic enough to take on a driver without informing Alonso. Fernando was always in the picture regarding the choice of Raikkonen, taken partly because the alternative, that of employing a youngster, in what will be a complex 2014 season, did not inspire confidence. Today, Raikkonen is one of the best, along with Alonso, [Sebastian] Vettel and [Lewis] Hamilton and Alonso is the first to be happy that he is coming here."
Di Montezemolo also admitted that his decision to reprimand Alonso last month, when the Spaniard complained about his car, was borne out of understanding rather than out of belligerence.
"I am the first to understand his discontent," said the Ferrari president. "Let's say his dissatisfaction is like the anger of a footballer who is called to the bench and tells the manager to get stuffed. But I'd rather deal with someone like that than a wuss!"
The Ferrari president also claimed that the departing Massa will benefit from a change of team and that the Brazilian should relish a new challenge.
"He needed results and so did we. He did get some, but he was inconsistent, having some good races but not on a regular basis. In 2012, we felt the lack of his points in the Constructors'. It will be good for him to have a change of scenery."
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