Silverstone (England), June 30 (IANS)
Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen's former teammate David Coulthard says it is high-time Italian racing giant Ferrari considered replacing the Finn as he believes the former has lost the edge to compete.
Raikkonen's deal with Ferrari concludes at the end of the current season and team principal Maurizio Arrivabene had earlier said it was early to make a decision on 2016. The 2007 World Champion has struggled to keep pace with other top racers and had a horrendous time in Austria and Canada and has just been on the podium once since rejoining Ferrari last season.
“It's time for change. I'm not anti-Kimi at all, but having lived through that experience myself, there's a point in your career where you just stop getting better,” Coulthard, who was Raikkonen's teammate at McLaren from 2002-04, was quoted as saying by autosport.com on Tuesday.
Kimi hasn’t delivered in the past couple of years: Coulthard
Citing examples from his own career, the 44-year-old said Raikkonen is way past his prime.
“It happened to me in my career; I was never the best driver, but there was certainly a point at the end where you just lose the edge. Right now, if Kimi goes and wins the next race, we'll all be super-excited because we need that. But (Sebastian) Vettel's come in and immediately established himself,” said the Scot.
“When he was there with (Fernando) Alonso, Alonso was better. The facts are that whether it's bad luck or something else, he hasn't delivered in the last couple of years at the level he did in his previous career.”
Coulthard also suggested Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and Williams driver Valtteri Bottas could be Ferrari's replacement for the 35-year-old Finn, noting Hulkenberg's recent Le Mans 24 Hours victory with Porsche.
“The question is, is Kimi better value for money for Ferrari than say a Hulkenberg or a Bottas? One of these younger guys who are on the rise. If I was Ferrari, I would seriously look at who could be the replacement for Kimi. Marketing-wise, it's one aspect of what he brings, but in the end the best marketing is a winner,” he said.
“Bottas has a contract at Williams but of course everything has a price and Ferrari can afford to pay that option. Hulkenberg deserves a chance in a top car. He's won everything in his career and, okay, he didn't single-handedly win Le Mans, but it's a nice story to remind us that he's a winning driver.”