Raikkonen getting comfortable quickly at Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen doesn't say much.

"There are different working ways here [at Ferrari], a little different than McLaren. I think it is a more relaxing way, and I like it more. So that is the reason why I came here and it has been just perfect so far. Everything feels good."
-- Kimi Raikkonen

Never has, never will.

It's a cliché, but it's true that Kimi does his talking on the track. In terms of pure speed, he is probably the fastest driver in F1.

But is that enough?

Some observers believe that Raikkonen is missing something needed to make him a consistent winner and a champion. But you certainly won't find any detractors within the Ferrari team that has long considered Raikkonen to be Michael Schumacher's successor.

After five years with McLaren, Raikkonen has been testing with Ferrari for just over five weeks, but he has been assimilating well into the famous Prancing Horse team.

Toward the end of last season, F1 team owner Frank Williams said Raikkonen had masses of talent he doesn't bother to exploit.

"When he [Raikkonen] arrived in F1 he was clearly special," Williams said. "He is just way up there in true star status. But he has not taken it seriously enough, which I find very sad. Michael Schumacher's approach is different to Kimi's, and maybe that is the more professional approach."

Former F1 World Champion and Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve recently blasted Raikkonen in a story in F1 Racing Magazine.

"Kimi's overrated as a driver package, because apart from jumping in a car and going fast, he really doesn't care about the rest," Villeneuve said. "A complete driver will spend time with the engineers, setting up the car and pushing the team.

"In a way it's good for F1 to have a driver like that -- you can't just have robots. But you never know how dedicated he is."

The folks at Ferrari have a very different slant on it all.

Ferrari knew it would have to replace Michael Schumacher one day, and Raikkonen was always at the top of the list.

Ross Brawn, Ferrari's technical director from 1996 through 2006, said last year that he had no concerns about Raikkonen being fully committed to the team.

"There is no doubt that if a driver is slacking, it affects the team," Brawn said. "If the driver is not putting in the commitment, people will get disappointed and disillusioned.

"But I don't expect any problem in that respect from Kimi. And certainly we have never had any problems with the drivers we have had at Ferrari. But it is true, a driver who does not commit can cause problems even if he is quick."

With Brawn on sabbatical, the Ferrari team has been reorganized. Mario Almondo is the new technical director, and Aldo Costa oversees the chassis department. Raikkonen's McLaren contract didn't allow him to actually drive a Ferrari F1 car until January, but Costa said he has settled quickly into his new team.

"With Kimi we have to quickly learn how to have a dialogue with him," Costa said. "But based on the very first meetings we have had with him and the engineers, this is not going to be a problem."

Raikkonen's new teammate Felipe Massa already has an established dialogue with Ferrari. Under contract with Ferrari since 2002, Massa drove a Ferrari-powered Sauber in 2002, 2004 and 2005, worked as a Ferrari test driver in 2003 and joined the Italian squad as Schumacher's teammate in 2006.

"Kimi has a different character and personality to Michael," Massa said. "He does not talk very much and keeps himself to himself. He appears to be very fair, and he does not seem to be the type of guy who plays the political game. He is good to work with, and I am sure I won't have any problem with him."

Massa, who won twice last year, has matured immensely. He played a supporting role to Schumacher but will not do so with Raikkonen.

Ferrari's managing director Jean Todt also foresees no problems with Raikkonen's work ethic or his ability to blend into the team.

"We intend to do a lot for him," Todt said of Raikkonen, "and we expect a lot from him as well. Life is about exchanging: One gives and the other receives, and the other way around."

And what does Raikkonen have to say? How has he been welcomed in the "house" that Michael Schumacher built?

"The first time I came to Maranello, I felt very welcome and people were very friendly," Raikkonen told ESPN.com, "so I have felt part of the team straightaway. So that is very positive since day one."

While Raikkonen declines to make direct comparisons between Ferrari and McLaren, where he spent the past five seasons, he did take a gentle jibe at his former team.

"There are different working ways here [at Ferrari], a little different than McLaren," he said. "I think it is a more relaxing way, and I like it more. So that is the reason why I came here and it has been just perfect so far. Everything feels good."

With Massa and Raikkonen consistently setting quick times in winter testing, everything looks good at Ferrari so far. Raikkonen is doing his talking out on the track. But will he do enough off the track?

Dan Knutson covers Formula One for National Speed Sport News and ESPN.com.