Jul.31 (GMM) Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has confirmed speculation the Italian team will probably keep its driver lineup the same in 2018.
Italian sources had reported that, having made a new deal for Kimi Raikkonen a condition, Sebastian Vettel was now ready to ink a contract beyond 2017.
Reportedly, the deal will be announced at Ferrari’s home race at Monza in September.
Marchionne was making one of his visits to the paddock in Hungary, and he admitted that Raikkonen’s sportsmanship in not attacking Vettel’s lead had pleased him.
“He was great. We are a single team at Maranello, all working together,” he said.
When asked about the reports that Vettel-Raikkonen will be kept in place for 2018, the Italian-Canadian admitted: “It is more than 50 per cent probable.
“They are great together so it would be a risk to change the game now. Let’s see if we can keep them for 2018. I think they want to stay,” Marchionne added.
“We should be able to announce our drivers at Monza. Nothing is signed yet but we are talking to the drivers and the agreement may be close.”
Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene agreed that Hungary was a great example of Raikkonen being an ideal teammate for Vettel.
“Do not forget that he is the last Ferrari world champion and today he showed that. Only a champion like him could defend his teammate like a Viking, with no tricks and no deception,” he said.
However, there are rumours that Vettel actually signed a ‘pre-agreement’ with Mercedes last winter, and that is why he cannot negotiate with Ferrari until the end of July.
“I don’t know how to answer you,” Marchionne said when asked by Corriere della Sera.
“If he does not want to stay, then we will find a different solution and life goes on, because this is Ferrari. But if I look at Sebastian, then in a lot of ways he is already more Italian than many of us!”
Asked if Lewis Hamilton would be the logical ‘different solution’ in the event that Vettel does leave, Marchionne answered: “Ferrari is everyone’s dream and ending a career here would be a privilege.
“But so far we have not gone with him and I do not want to talk about the future because we have two great drivers already,” he insisted.