Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari is going to be great for the sport as a spectacle, writes Adam Davern.
There is no doubt that the return of ‘The Iceman’ to the iconic Formula One team will excite fans while his partnership with Fernando Alonso will be one of the main talking points throughout the coming season. However, it will also prove to be a headache for the team’s principal Stefano Domenicali as the Italian must now find a way to accommodate two former world champions in one team – a situation Ferrari have never found themselves in before. Both Alonso and Raikkonen, who’ve won three Word Championships between them, stated at the launch of Ferrari’s 2014 car last month that they were both targeting the title ahead of the new season.
Asked at the press conference following the presentation whether one would let the other past if he was faster in any given race, Raikkonen said “I don’t think there is any way of telling things right now because every situation is different but we know what we have to do…It doesn’t matter who is your team-mate. But for sure we have respect for each other and obviously we both try to come out on top.”
Likewise, Alonso is also eyeing the title and is feeling confident about his chances of competing – “We have to be optimistic. There is no sign to be pessimistic. We’re in a changeable time now and we have many things coming in F1 with a big regulations change, but I think we are quite well prepared for that.”
Kimi Raikkonen originally signed for Ferrari in 2007 to replace the retirement-bound Michael Schumacher, and began his tenure in fine style by snatching the World Championship from Lewis Hamilton in the final race of the campaign in Brazil. Despite this triumphant start, the Finn failed to build on his early success and many observers questioned his motivation levels in the following few years.
Upon Raikkonen’s departure from Ferrari in 2009, Fernando Alonso, World Champion with Renault in both 2005 and 2006, was brought in to lead the team as its number one driver. Throughout his first four years with the Italians the Spaniard was generally given priority over his former team-mate Felipe Massa yet his relationship with the team turned sour in 2013 as they fell out of contention despite a bright start. Amid rumours that Alonso was considering quitting the team, Ferrari bosses brought back Raikkonen from cash-strapped Lotus but must now deal with both drivers as Alonso has decided to stay put.
Both drivers undoubtedly have the talent to compete this season and if their early tests at Jerez are anything to go by, they have the car to do so as well. Raikkonen has proven in the past that, given a competitive car, he can do the job and be quick no matter where he stands in the team. The simple fact is that Alonso will be doing much more of the technical work and feedback on the car as the season progresses compared to his new team-mate. This will no doubt secure his place as Ferrari’s number one driver with Raikkonen being drafted in simply to push the Spaniard that little bit extra, particularly in qualifying sessions on Saturday afternoons.
Ultimately it is a very short-term, aggressive strategy being set out by Ferrari as both drivers are in their 30’s and will probably be given at most two years each with the team. By that stage Sebastian Vettel’s contract with Red Bull will be up and the German, who has won the previous four Driver’s Championships, has made it crystal clear in the past that he dreams of emulating his hero Michael Schumacher by driving in the red of Ferrari. Whether he will be building on the success of either the ambitious Alonso or the enigmatic Raikkonen will be the most interesting question.
Pundit Arena, Adam Davern.
Featured Image By Neogeolegend (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.