Woking, Wednesday: Top officials at the McLaren Formula One team have revealed that one of the reasons for the delay in signing Kimi Raikkonen is because they are concerned about his commitment to the team and the sport.
Raikkonen has been tipped to join McLaren in 2010 ever since losing his Ferrari seat to Fernando Alonso, and though rumours have been circulating that talks between the two parties have been progressing, so far we have seen nothing concrete, other than an acknowledgement that the two sides are talking to one another.
However, team principal Martin Whitmarsh exclusively revealed today that ongoing concerns about Raikkonen’s motivation and attitude were cooling McLaren’s interest in him.
“One thing that concerns all of us is that Kimi only ever appears to give 100 per cent when he’s driving his F1 car. Now, four or five years ago we would all have been very happy with that level of determination, but things have moved on since then. Now we’re talking about an absolute minimum of 120% commitment before we can even consider hiring a driver.”
McLaren’s lead driver, ex-world champion Lewis Hamilton, is reported to regularly give in excess of 135% while driving, sometimes reaching as high as 150%.
Whitmarsh was scathing of some current drivers, who have been known to come back from a qualifying lap claiming that they have “given it 110 per cent.” “That’s simply not enough,” he pointed out. “110 per cent these days will get you into Q2, but nowhere further.
“Giving the task your full commitment and then some is all very well, but in today’s ultra-competitive world of F1 there has to be a bit extra.”
When asked whether motivation concerns were behind McLaren’s apparent decision to drop their current second driver Heikki Kovalainen, Whitmarsh’s surprised response was so obvious we’re not even going to repeat it.