Kimi Raikkonen has not ruled out the possibility that he will have to help team-mate Felipe Massa win the world championship this year, but by far the more plausible scenario to emanate from the Finn’s comments on the thorny issue of team orders today puts Massa in the support role.
The Ferrari drivers are currently tied on forty-eight points alongside McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, in a fierce three-way battle for the drivers’ championship. Raikkonen admits that should the title race go down to the wire, Ferrari may consider asking one of their drivers to yield and play second fiddle:
“You are always going to have a fight with your team-mate and towards the end of the season,” he said. “We might reach a point where one driver has a clearly better chance than the other, so a decision might have to be taken to see if one driver helps the other. But there is a long way to go before then.”
Following Massa’s disastrous showing in the wet at Silverstone – he spun no fewer than five times and finished plum last – not to mention the on-going speculation linking Renault’s Fernando Alonso to his seat for 2010, you can’t help but feel the Brazilian youngster will be hard-pressed to get himself into a position where Ferrari would consider asking Raikkonen to lend his support. And whether the Finn would oblige is an entirely different matter.
Team orders are of course banned in Formula One, but that did not stop Ferrari subtly switching their drivers at the pit-stops in last year’s title finale at Brazil to ensure Raikkonen emerged as the world champion.