The Finnish press are insisting that Kimi Raikkonen, currently enjoying a successful year with Lotus, has agreed terms to return to Ferrari for 2014. Given that he left in not so friendly circumstances to make way for current Maranello star Fernando Alonso it would be a curious decision. Alonso has been on the receiving end of Luca di Montezemelo’s ire of late after criticising the team openly recently, and there are tales of tension between the Spaniard and the team. He has, like Raikkonen, been mentioned in terms of a possible move to Red Bull, presumably alongside Sebastian Vettel.
Of course, the summer break is a traditional time for wild stories, but is there any possibility of truth in these latest rumours? The Finnish journalist who broke the Raikkonen story is sticking by his sources – who insist the deal is done for the Finn to return to Ferrari – but that means little in a world where managers often dangle red herrings in order to put pressure on the opposition; it is no secret that the two candidates for the seat Mark Webber is vacating are Raikkonen and Red Bull Junior driver Daniel Ricciardo, who has been impressive of late. If Raikkonen has signed for Ferrari, the young Australian should be a shoe-in.
But – and it’s a big but – where would that leave Alonso? Regarded by many as the best driver on the grid at the moment – and I would agree- he would certainly be in demand. His tenure at Ferrari has so far failed to bring him a title, and there is only one serious option is that is what he wants: Red Bull. Alonso and Vettel in the same team – a feisty combination without a doubt, but Alonso is not known for being happy when his team-mate beats him (see his McLaren adventure for example).
Or what about Alonso and Raikkonen at Ferrari? Kimi is a cool customer, perhaps the least abrasive of all the drivers, and he would be unlikely to get involved in any of the Italian team’s legendary politics. It’s a tricky situation, but one that poises several interesting possibilities.
I think it’s fair to say that Felipe Massa’s time at Ferrari is coming to an end; quite clearly, Jules Bianchi fits in there somewhere in the future, but not yet. My take on the situation is this: I’m inclined to believe the Finnish reports, and venture that Raikkonen is going back to Ferrari. I also believe that it will not be alongside Alonso, who will move elsewhere. Will the Spaniard head to Red Bull? They will certainly try and get him if they can’t get Raikkonen, but Vettel might have something to say about that. And what of the – possibly – vacant Ferrari seat? I’ve said it before, and will again: Nico Hulkenberg is on the market, and deserves a chance at a top team.
So, come Monza – the traditional event for revealing changes at Ferrari – we should have some form of confirmation.
All of this is, of course, my opinion; I don’t claim to have inside information, I’m simply telling it as I see it. Either way, we are looking at one of the most interesting silly season circuses for a long time.