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Raikkonen must beat Vettel in 2016 – Salo

Kimi Raikkonen should not be regarded as ‘number 2’ to teammate Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari.

That is the view of fellow Finn and former Ferrari driver Mika Salo, who nonetheless admitted that Raikkonen has a tough challenge ahead of him to return to his title-winning days.

“At any rate, I do not see Kimi as the second driver,” Salo told the Finnish broadcaster MTV.

“But if he wants the championship, first he has to beat Vettel.  Then we will see if it is enough.”

Asked if he thinks 2016 will be 36-year-old’s last F1 campaign, former Toyota and Sauber driver Salo answered: “It’s hard to say.

“But I do think Ferrari was clever in keeping both drivers this season, because continuity is important.  As it’s also good that the drivers get on well with each other.”

What Raikkonen does need to improve, Salo acknowledged, is qualifying.

“Kimi has always been good with race pace,” said the 49-year-old, “but when he is 5 or 6 places behind his teammate it’s pretty hard to have a good race anyway.”

Another former Ferrari driver, Jean Alesi, agrees with Salo that the Maranello team did the right thing in re-signing Raikkonen for 2016.

“I think it’s better to have him around instead of a youngster like Max Verstappen who would put their own ambitions ahead of the team,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.