While they may not have come to blows on the track, Fernando Alonso is trying to play mind games with his new team-mate.
That is the claim of the outspoken Jacques Villeneuve, who went so far as to say the Spaniard was looking to ‘destroy’ his new Ferrari partner Kimi Raikkonen.
Most have predicted the so-called ‘Fire & Ice’ partnership to explode into one of the biggest rivalries between team-mates in quite some time, yet so far the pair have seemingly been co-operating and working together quite well.
That, Villeneuve suggests, doesn’t mean there is not some form of games being played particularly by Alonso to get the edge over the Finn.
“Fernando’s plan is obvious — he wants to beat Kimi at all costs,” the French Canadian is quoted by GMM.
“In the tests it was all calm, but in Melbourne Fernando showed his true potential.”
In fact during the Australian GP weekend it was quite clear that Raikkonen was still getting to grips with the new Prancing Horse and had a poor qualifying session in the wet to miss out on the top 10.
On the contrary Alonso does as he always does and hauled what appears to be a slower car than most around him and get a good result, on this occasion it was a promoted fourth at Albert Park.
“In the first three races Fernando is trying to destroy Kimi psychologically and get the team to rally around him,” Villeneuve added.
The 1997 world champion does, however, tip Raikkonen to improve and put up a much stronger challenge to Alonso as he adjusts to the different characteristics of the F14-T.
“Kimi is not an ‘iceman’,” he insisted. “He has created this image to isolate himself, but like any driver, he doesn’t like bad results.
“But I don’t think Kimi fans should worry — he also had problems with the handling in 2007 but he still became world champion.
In fact the former Williams and BAR driver claims the new style of racing in 2014 with greater emphasis on fuel economy could actually favour Raikkonen over the season.
“I think the rule changes will even play into his hands,” Villeneuve told Germany’s Sport Bild.
“In qualifying, Alonso will be faster, but this year that’s not so important.”
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