Apr.1 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Kimi Raikkonen’s manager has defended the Finn following suggestions he is already slipping into a ‘number 2′ role for 2015.

After struggling alongside former teammate Fernando Alonso, 35-year-old Raikkonen has been joined in red for this year by his friend Sebastian Vettel.

But Raikkonen is already 28 points behind his German teammate, while quadruple world champion Vettel has a win to his name and is nipping at the heels of Lewis Hamilton’s early title lead.

The situation moved former Ferrari team boss Cesare Fiorio this week to observe on Italian radio: “After two races, the hierarchy of the team is already established.

“If Vettel fights for the world championship, Raikkonen will only support him,” said Fiorio.

Raikkonen’s long-time manager Steve Robertson, however, hit back at those sorts of claims, insisting the 2007 world champion got caught up in troubles in Australia and Malaysia that had nothing to do with the Finn’s pace.

“I strongly believe that Kimi and Sebastian are very close to having the same level of performance,” he told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.

“The most important thing is that Kimi is very happy with the car. The whole package is much stronger than it was last season,” said Robertson.

“Kimi was able to show that potential on Friday, which many competitors paid a lot of attention to,” he added.