With news breaking of Sebastian Vettel’s pending move to Ferrari for 2015, few will have cut a surprised figure across the motor sports world.
After disclosing his wishes to team boss at Red Bull, Christian Horner last Friday, he will reportedly be on £40 million a season after signing a three-year contract. Now that it is official this will pave the way for a certain exit from Ferrari of Fernando Alonso, possibly back to McLaren and sure to set off the inevitable chain reaction of chopping and changing of drivers elsewhere.
Like Kimi when he returned to Ferrari for a second spell, Alonso’s possible return to McLaren despite an acrimonious parting of ways in 2007 shows the hatchet can be well and truly buried.
An indifferent season on the back of four straight championships at Red Bull, now more than ever it looks like the right time to prove his worth elsewhere and Ferrari looks on paper a wise move for the German.
The Maranello team have suffered for far too long and this new lease of life, coupled with cutting loose of influential figures; Luca di Montezemolo, and possibly Fernando Alonso, has, one would hope, pointed the Ferrari ship in the right direction.
Experts agree that the Ferrari car is possibly two seasons away from competing at the very top again but a mid ’90s signing of one Michael Schumacher quickly turned around their fortunes under Jean Todt and subsequently Ross Brawn after twenty-one seasons without a world champion driver on its books.
Fernando Alonso’s time at Ferrari looks like it’s about to end and with an official announcement not forthcoming as of late, it will, again, surprise few if it’s confirmed. Past behind the scenes indiscretions (from Alonso) of distain with the media’s gaze put in front of him and in full flow has left Ferrari fuming behind the scenes, as outgoing President Luca di Montezemolo was equally displeased with the Spaniards demeanour as both were on non-speaking terms long before Luca left Ferrari; which was officially confirmed this month and showed that all was not well within Scuderia Ferrari.
The ‘Tifosi’ as superstitious as one can get will hope déjà vu repeats itself with the acquisition of the latest German driver to race for the prancing horse. Like Schumacher before, he will arrive with world championship winning experience already behind him and a talented pretender nonetheless.
Like Lewis Hamilton’s cutting of the umbilical cord when he left McLaren, now Sebastian has a chance to cement his status within the pantheon of F1 greats at Ferrari, even though Lewis is far off at being considered a great, he proved that moving on at the right time can reap the rewards as he battles teammate Nico Rosberg for the 2014 world championship.
Daniel Ricciardo has shown in less than a season that he fits in at Red Bull, so now the supposed favourite son, Sebastian Vettel, seems to be yesterday’s news. Having a succession of dire of results this season despite the longevity of his dominance and being constantly second best to his new teammate, he has now made a wise move and moved on at the right time.
Considering the upheaval at Ferrari in recent years there has been discussions in the past and rumours that one day Vettel would decide to move to Ferrari; as far back as his exquisite first victory in the wet at Monza for Toro Rosso in 2008. Now, in rather quicker time than one would expect considering four world championships in a row, he decided to almost mirror the likes of Ayrton Senna, compatriot Michael Schumacher in a way and move on whilst their stock it still worthwhile.
Ferrari know well that this is not a punt but an investment in a proven champion who’s input matches the analytical prowess that ‘Schumi’ showed in the past. A second attempt at bringing in an ex-champion, like Alonso, to revive fortunes is a calculated strike of the pen instead of a shot in the dark.
There are no questions that he is quick and exudes a high level of competitiveness, so the fans will hope that Ferrari’s fortunes are turned around quickly.
With a marriages made in heaven few and far between drivers and Ferrari during its checkered past with the likes of Alberto Ascari, Niki Lauda, and Jody Scheckter are on a list of past champions that in truth should be much longer. It seems unbelievable that this team has suffered like it has during its sixty-four years within Formula One, but it has and rejuvenated itself more often than not. Jacky Ickx, Gilles Villeneuve, Michele Alboreto, and even Nigel Mansell tried but ultimately failed before, but not without trying. Whether it was bad luck or a poor car all would have definitely had brimmed with optimism once they signed for the team.
Enzo Ferrari lacked empathy and discarded drivers like cigarette butts but still to this day the drama within Maranello has never transmitted dullness whatsoever, one reason why the team has such a huge following and almost insatiable allure still to this day. Never one to mince words or suffer fools lightly they are now under new leadership through Sergio Marchionne and will continue to be the team where any budding racing driver dreams of one day representing.
Any driver who was ever being approached found it almost impossible to turn down a chance to race in the Ferrari red and it’s no coincidence that Sebastian Vettel has decided on the move. Red Bull have moved quickly to replace Vettel with Daniil Kyvat from the sister team Toro Rosso and as the latest commodity changes garages on paper for 2015 it’s exciting times for Ferrari and Formula One already before this season has even come to an end.
Liam Cairns, Pundit Arena.