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Ferrari wary of Raikkonen
June 04, 2003 16:13 IST
Ferrari see McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen as a serious Formula One title contender, says team boss Jean Todt.
"There's no reason to underestimate his qualities and talents," the Ferrari website quoted the Frenchman as saying after Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.
"If, after seven Grands Prix, he's leading the championship by four points, it means he's driven some remarkable races."
The 23-year-old Finn has 48 points compared to the 44 of Ferrari's second-placed world champion Michael Schumacher.
Raikkonen has been on the podium six times in his second season with the team after an impressive debut year with Sauber in 2001.
"I don't think he's that inexperienced," Todt said after Raikkonen finished second in Monaco, with Schumacher third.
"He's in his third year in Grand Prix racing. He has a good car, he's in a good team, he has the whole package."
The sporting director denied that Ferrari were worried, despite relinquishing the constructors' title lead to McLaren in Monaco as the 16-race season heads for the halfway point in Canada next week. McLaren now have 73 points and Ferrari 71.
"We're not saying that we're particularly worried. We're simply conscious that it's a very open and difficult championship and so we would prefer to have a 40-point lead as we had last year," said Todt.
"But we are aware that what happened last year was something which happens once in an era."
Ferrari won 15 of last year's 17 races with Schumacher triumphant in 11, winning his record-equalling fifth title with six rounds to spare.