But German Hulkenberg might actually have been the more conventional choice, given the perception that Ferrari usually has a clear 'number 1' alongside a less senior teammate.
"He (Hulkenberg) was one of the candidates that we thought hard about," Ferrari boss Domenicali told Germany's Sport Bild.
He said Raikkonen's "experience" was ultimately a decisive factor.
"He also knows the team, he's very fast, he makes no mistakes and is not political," added Domenicali.
"But I think that for the future Nico still has a very good chance," he insisted.
Many in the paddock, however, are expecting trouble with Ferrari's new 'fire and ice' driver lineup.
Domenicali insists Ferrari is not worried.
"The priority is to have a good car," he said.
"If it's fast, I expect no problems. If not, then we have bigger problems anyway.
"It is clear that both have the same conditions and their performance alone will decide who is at the front," added Domenicali.
Even Alain Prost, who clashed so famously with Ayrton Senna at McLaren in the late 80s, thinks the Alonso-Raikkonen lineup could work.
"When I was at McLaren and Senna came," he is quoted by France's RMC Sport, "we actually got along very well ... except on the track.
"It will be the same for Alonso and Raikkonen. After that, it will be a matter of the management, and I see Ferrari as a team capable of handling it," added Prost.