'Kimi is at his best when he is in a bit in trouble' - Ferrari boss plays carrot-and-stick with Raikkonen
Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has revealed to using a carrot-and-stick method with Kimi Raikkonen to keep his desire to remain with the Maranello marque high.
With Lewis Hamilton yet to sign his new contract as he negotiates the finer details with Mercedes, it has resulted in speculation the 30-year-old will replace Raikkonen at Ferrari for next season.
The Finn, however, has arguably never been happier during his Formula One career courtesy of the atmosphere generated within the team by the arrival of the charismatic Arrivabene.
Last week Arrivabene urged Raikkonen to raise his game in the wake of an indifferent start to the campaign, certainly compared with team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
In Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, Raikkonen did exactly that, finishing on the podium for the first time in 26 grands prix as runner-up to Hamilton.
The performance naturally resulted in Arrivabene being asked as to Raikkonen's chances of staying, given he has an option on his deal for next year, but also whether Ferrari were interested in Hamilton.
Arrivabene said: "Does Lewis Hamilton call you? Because he never calls me."
Arrivabene added: "Every driver here in the paddock wants to drive for Ferrari, this is normal, even guys that were quite a lot of the time world champion.
"I'm happy with the drivers we have, but this does not mean I am going to sign with Kimi tomorrow.
"We are very clear, I repeat again: I said to Kimi, 'Look, it depends on your performance' and he has demonstrated he's a great driver.
"So if you ask me now 'Does he deserve to renew the option?' I am going to say yes.
"But if I am going to say yes, I don't want the driver to fall asleep. I want to keep him awake.
"Kimi is at his best when he is in a bit in trouble. This is a psychological approach.
"So the paper (the contract) at the moment is white. Sometimes I have to take the pen, then take it back."
Although Raikkonen managed to split Mercedes duo Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, with Vettel down in fifth, it was not the result practice had suggested as Ferrari appeared stronger on long-run pace than Mercedes.
Arrivabene knows Ferrari still have plenty of work to do if they are to keep pace with Mercedes on a regular basis.
"We put together an aggressive strategy, which is exactly what we discussed," added Arrivabene.
"We recognise the gap we have to Mercedes, so the only way is to be aggressive, even though at this stage you can make a mistake if you are aggressive.
"If one day we are able to catch them, of course the strategy must be put together in a way that is a bit different."