Kimi Raikkonen is unlikely to ‘plug the hole’ left at Ferrari in 2007 and beyond by departing race driver Michael Schumacher.
That is the concern of triple world champion Niki Lauda, who also referred to the likely sabbatical next year of technical director Ross Brawn.
“If these enormous holes are not effectively plugged,” Lauda told the Austrian news magazine ‘Profil’, “(Ferrari could) go downhill.”
Lauda observed that Raikkonen, often criticised for being lazy, is the ‘glaring opposite’ of seven time world champion Schumacher, who is retiring after sixteen seasons.
He said of 27-year-old Kimi: “He wants to step into a fully prepared team and worry about nothing. But to succeed Ferrari needs the kind of leadership that Schumacher could deliver.”
Lauda predicts that, in the Raikkonen era, development of the 2007 Ferrari could begin to decline after the first half of the coming season.
He said: “After six months it will become clear if Ferrari has a future or not.”