If Twitter-world is to be believed an announcement confirming Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari is imminent. The stories have been swirling around for several weeks now, and yesterday we saw one more piece of the jigsaw fall into place when Felipe Massa announced he would not be driving for Ferrari next year.
The Brazilian has had a solid run at Ferrari, and came very close to the world title in 2008, but it has been clear to many for some time that his time at Maranello was coming to a close. Where he fits in next year is anyone’s guess, but a return to Sauber is not out of the question. With Raikkonen expected to slot in at Ferrari a seat becomes available at Lotus. Nico Hulkenberg, who apparently had some form of pre-contract with Ferrari but has now been told, we are hearing, his services will not be required for 2014 is the obvious choice.
There is, however, a notable fly in the ointment, as mentioned in an earlier post: while an Alonso-Raikkonen pairing would undoubtedly be the strongest driver line up on the grid – and one of the most exciting of recent years – the Spaniard does come with a reputation for getting a little upset when his team-mate beats him. As also mentioned, he’s been involved in a spat with his boss in the past few weeks, and even resorted to criticising the team openly in a much-publicised radio message during the Monza weekend.
Could it be, perhaps, that Alonso will choose to pack his bags and leave? Some have mooted that he may be on the way back to Lotus – it would be his third stint at Enstone – and with rumours continuing that the Lotus management are trying to entice Renault back in a more active role Alonso would be a welcome bonus. A Kimi-Fernando swap, then? Perhaps, but in many ways it makes no sense; Alonso has, after all, stated he will accept whoever they sign as his partner in 2014; what he says, and what he actually thinks, may not tally.
There is one famous quote – forgive me as I’ll likely get the wording and the driver involved wrong – about the ideal team mate: ‘one who is a second a lap slower than you’ was the answer, and I think it may have been Mario Andretti who is attributed with it. Raikkonen is not a second a lap slower than Alonso, so therein lies the problem.
On the plus side, Kimi doesn’t ‘do’ politics, so would not rock the boat; Alonso, on the other hand, is perhaps the most cunning of all when it comes to getting a team on his side (or not). Alonso also brings Santander money.
Until everything falls into place I am still unsure that Alonso will remain alongside Raikkonen; if he doesn’t, surely Hulkenberg is a cert for the seat? Either way, the silly-season is about to take a major step forward.