Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug says McLaren has no qualms about slotting in Kimi Raikkonen alongside Lewis Hamilton next year, as it closes in on a deal with the Finnish driver.
With Ferrari in the final stages of completing moves that will end Raikkonen's Ferrari deal a year early, and open the way for Fernando Alonso to join the Maranello-based outfit, sources have confirmed that the 2007 World Champion and McLaren are eager to renew their partnership.
Although the signing of Raikkonen for 2010 would give McLaren one of the strongest driver lineups on the grid, it could also leave it exposed to the problems it has faced in the past in managing two top-line drivers. However, Haug thinks that McLaren will have no trouble in dealing with such a situation – and does not risk a repeat of the problems that marred the outfit when Hamilton was partnered with Fernando Alonso.
"Whatever you can do to get the best available drivers, that is what you have to do," said Haug. "It's a question of money, it's a question of capability, a question of the amount of talent. Managing two megastars, I don't think that honestly it was a problem.
"With Alonso, there were some noises to the outside world, but in reality inside the team everybody did his job and in reality we should have won the World Championship. But it was not due to not having team orders.
"You can imagine what would have happened in Fernando would not have blocked Lewis in Hungary, no penalty, one point more and you are there. This is how it goes sometimes. We won it by one point and we lost it by one point.
"I stress, I do not confirm that there is change. This is very important. But managing drivers ifs and whys is the name of the game and we are qualified to do so."
Although Raikkonen did not enjoy the best of relationships with former McLaren team principal Ron Dennis, Haug says that the team would relish the opportunity to have the Finn back.
"Reflecting on our cooperation which was five years, I think that it was positive," explained Haug. "We should have won at least two World Championships. I have to say we missed one with two points in 2003 but I think an engine failure was one of the reasons, so without that he could have done it.
"In 2005 he could have done it, in fairness. The engines at that stage were not as good and reliable as they are now. To have Kimi in our team winning two World Championships would certainly have been a fair outcome for him. I have a good relationship with him and I'm sure he would say the same."