Skip to main content

Kimi Raikkonen will be wake up call for Fernando Alonso, says Niki Lauda

September 19, 2013 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso faces the media in Singapore hungry to know what he makes of new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso faces the media in Singapore hungry to know what he makes of new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
  • Niki Lauda says Ferrari has made a "very good" decision by signing Kimi Raikkonen for 2014
  • The three-time world champion says it will also provide a "kick" for Fernando Alonso
  • He warns managing Raikkonen and Alonso in 2014 will take "strong leadership"
  • Lauda says bringing Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes made "hell of a difference"

(CNN) -- The man who made Formula One's bravest comeback has given his seal of approval to Kimi Raikkonen's dramatic decision to return to Ferrari.

Niki Lauda -- whose return from life threatening injuries has been immortalized this year in the Hollywood film "Rush" -- won his second world title for Ferrari in 1977, just one year after the fiery crash that almost took his life.

When asked by CNN's The Circuit what he made of Raikkonen's renaissance for Ferrari, Lauda, a man who does not mince his words, said: "Very good.

"It's the right decision by [Ferrari president Luca di] Montezemolo because Ferrari has been behind Red Bull on the last four world championships, which doesn't make him happy," added Lauda.

The Austrian three time world champion also predicted the arrival of the ambitious Finnish driver will give a "kick" to current Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso -- a suggestion the Spaniard denied ahead of this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix.

Interactive: The Circuit's guide to Singapore

The Italian team will field the sport's most potent driver line up in 2014, pairing Raikkonen with Alonso, the man they replaced the Finn with for the 2010 season.

Will Ferrari's drivers deliver success?
Kimi Raikkonen returns to Formula 1
Paul di Resta's Italian ancestry

Raikkonen raced to Ferrari's last drivers' world title in 2007 while the Spaniard has two world titles, won with Renault in 2005 and 2006, on his resume.

Pairing two ambitious world champions on opposite sides of the garage is a risky move.

It is also a departure from Ferrari's policy of running a No.1 driver -- a role Alonso held for the last four seasons -- with a driver playing a supporting role.

Raikkonen has replaced Felipe Massa, who famously handed victory to Alonso at the 2010 German Grand Prix when the team implicitly employed team orders by telling the Brazilian over the pit-to-car radio: "Fernando is faster than you."

Read: The Cult of Kimi Raikkonen

Lauda predicts Raikkonen's arrival will be a wake up call to Alonso -- and one that should make the 32 year-old raise his game.

"With Massa and Alonso it was very clear that Alonso was the No.1," Lauda commented. "With Kimi coming there, it will kick Alonso to go quicker.

"They are strong characters. It will need strong leadership from the top of Ferrari to keep them under control but for the team itself to suddenly get going, this was the right decision."

Lauda speaks with some authority. "Rush" adramatizes his arch rivalry with flamboyant British driver James Hunt and the Austrian is now drawing on his own experiences of managing on track rivalries as a non executive chairman of the Mercedes F1 team.

Read: Rush relives F1's glory days

The 64 year-old was instrumental in persuading 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton to partner Nico Rosberg at Mercedes from McLaren for the 2013 season.

Hamilton's move was also considered to be a risk but it has paid off as he won the Hungarian Grand Prix, while McLaren is yet to score a podium, and Rosberg has also claimed two race wins.

Lauda says pairing two talented drivers within the same team has helped Rosberg and Hamilton push harder.

"I got Hamilton last year, I convinced him to join the team and he made a hell of a difference," Lauda explained.

"Suddenly you have two drivers pushing each other and [who] have a good relationship, this is the most important thing."

Alonso does not necessarily agree with Lauda's assessment.

The Spaniard told reporters in Singapore ahead of this weekend's grand prix that Raikkonen's arrival in 2014 will do little to change his work ethic for Ferrari.

"The motivation will be always similar," he said. "I will do my best all the time. I don't think anyone will push me more than I push now.

"Two world champions - I don't think that makes any difference."

Money problems for Raikkonen

Raikkonen spoke to the media for the first time since being unveiled as a Ferrari driver and also rejected suggestions that he and Alonso would not be able to work together in 2014.

"I don't see the reason why it wouldn't work," said the 33 year-old. "We are all old enough to know what we are doing.

"If there is something, I'm sure we can talk it through. It's not like we are 20 year-old guys any more.

"I might be wrong -- time will tell -- but I'm pretty sure everything will be good. For sure there will be hard fights on the race circuits, sometimes things go wrong... I'm pretty sure it will all be OK."

The Finnish driver, not known for his effusive answers when talking to the media, also revealed he decided to leave the Lotus at the end of 2013 because he is owed money by the team.

"The reasons why I left from the team is purely on the money side, that they haven't got my salary," Raikkonen explained.

"It's an unfortunate thing but like I said, I want to try and help the team as much as I can and I like to race."

Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
He's the best of the rest -- Daniel Ricciardo has been Formula One's surprise package in the first half of the 2014 season.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Formula One is not likely to go hungry in Hungary as master chefs cater in volume for drivers, teams and VIP guests.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
It's the elephant in the room of Formula One. What's the prognosis legendary driver Michael Schumacher?
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
It stimulates all five senses, creating an unparalleled experience for drivers and fans alike. Take a tour of Monaco with Mark Webber.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
To be a champion you must win a title -- but to become an F1 legend you must win races at Monaco, the calendar's most testing circuit.
May 21, 2014 -- Updated 1459 GMT (2259 HKT)
Caterham F1 reserve driver Alexander Rossi takes you on a tour of the Monaco racing circuit.
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
The Formula One driver transcended his sport and even 20 years after his death, Ayrton Senna commands the adoration of fans worldwide.
May 1, 2014 -- Updated 1500 GMT (2300 HKT)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN ARABIC BY SUHEIL HOWAYEK: (FILES) Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna adjusts his rear view mirror in the pits 01 May 1994 before the start of the San Marino Grand Prix. Senna died after crashing in the seventh lap. Some 45 drivers, including Senna and Canadian Gilles Villeneuve, have been killed during Formula One races whose tracks are dubbed by some as the 'circuits of death.' AFP PHOTO/JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU (Photo credit should read JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
F1's greatest racer was killed during the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1 1994. The sport hasn't been the same since.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1516 GMT (2316 HKT)
Just four F1 drivers turned up to Roland Ratzenberger's funeral after his death during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix on April 30 1994.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
For a championship with a distinctly Iberian streak, it is no surprise that South America should be high on MotoGP's list of territories to conquer.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Susie Wolff, pictured, will become the Formula One's first female competitor in 20 years when she takes part in the first practice sessions at the British and German grands prix in July.
Too weak. Can't handle the pressure. Susie Wolff has heard it all -- but she is determined to become the first female F1 driver in 20 years.