Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says a world championship comeback, and not his 2014 Formula 1 driver lineup, is all he cares about right now.
Amid intense speculation about Kimi Raikkonen's future, Domenicali addressed his Maranello staff on Tuesday to make clear that who drives alongside Fernando Alonso next year is not important right now. Instead, he urged each of his team members to do all they can to get Alonso and the team to the top of the championship standings.
"We have spelt it out many times before: the driver topic is definitely not a priority," said Domenicali. "What counts is to give them [Alonso and Felipe Massa] the best possible chance of finishing ahead of everyone and, in order to succeed, each and every one of us must do our job to the best of our ability on all levels.
"If they have a winning car in their hands, then I am convinced they will know how to win with it. If we all believe, then we can do it."
Ferrari is not planning to give serious thought to its future driver situation until after the Italian Grand Prix next month, when the competitiveness of its car and Massa will be clearer. Domenicali said that he shared Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo's sentiment from the start of the summer break that motivation and belief must be kept intact if Ferrari is to stop Sebastian Vettel taking a fourth consecutive world championship title.
"There is much talk outside the company regarding the future, but we must concentrate only on the present, on the fight for the championship," he said. "The words of our president before the summer break must serve as a stimulus, because they were meant as the words of a good family father, who, first and foremost really roots for our team. Keep those words in mind and let's all pull together, starting in Spa."
TITLE HOPES STILL REALISTIC
Although Alonso trails Sebastian Vettel by 39 points in the drivers' championship, Domenicali told his staff there was every reason to believe the title was still possible.
"Wwe have gone through this before, as recently as last year," he declared. "Nine races means that a total of 225 driver points are available and rest assured that the goals we set ourselves at the start of the season are still perfectly attainable.
"It's true we've gone through a difficult period, especially in July and now is the time to react in the way that Ferrari people know well. Our task is very simple: namely to give Fernando and Felipe the quickest car possible. Now, their contribution will be even more essential than ever."
He added: "I don't want to see any of you not believing in our chances. Each one of you must be the link in a chain of positivity that must drive the team along in what is a key moment in the season. We are Ferrari and history teaches us that we must never accept we are beaten."