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Did Ferrari make a mistake letting Schumi and Kimi go?

January 9, 2010
Kimi and Felipe were one of the msot successful pairings of recent years. Can that form continue with Alonso replacing Raikkonen?

Kimi and Felipe were one of the msot successful pairings of recent years. Can that form continue with Alonso replacing Raikkonen?

Fernando looks set to show off his Ferrari uniform later this month which will please fans who have longed to see him at the team. A photoshopped picture of Raikkonen was doing the round on twitter, it may not be an actual photograph but it makes it feel more real that Kimi has left the world of F1. But did Ferrari make the right decision?

In the past few months Ferrari have lost a seven time world champion and 2007 world champion Raikkonen in favour of double world champion Alonso and 2008 runner up Massa. Based on championships alone the maths seems to suggest Ferrari have made a big mistake.

At one point Ferrari seemed to have almost a grid of drivers; Massa, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Fisichella, Badoer, Gene, Alonso at this point was rumoured to sign a contract and young driver Bianchi has a good prospects with the Italian outfit. It was beginning to be speculated that the tactic was to leave every other team without a driver and take the championship that way but then Kimi was shown the door and a nice cheque and the competitive bug bit Schumacher once more. He was unlikely to turn down Ross Brawn and Mercedes once they came knocking.

Schumacher will make a fierce opponent if the Mercedes car is up to scratch and his defection to the German team could pose a serious threat. He may be in his forties but that never stopped past legends such as Fangio. Schumacher has kept himself in good shape and the rumours about the Merc deal rumbled for a while suggesting this was seriously planned. In which case it’s probable that Michael would never return and risk his reputation if he wasn’t 100% sure he could mount a title fight. Schumacher in any car is a terrifying prospect so it is a wonder that Ferrari would want him as opposition, especially when Montezemolo was pushing so hard for a third car which was presumably to be piloted by Schumi.

Raikkonen was often rated as the quickest in F1 and it is felt by some that his arrival to Ferrari in 2007 pushed Schumacher into retiring early. But he was a deeply flawed driver; often criticised for lacking in motivation and for his wild lifestyle being a distraction. He was insanely fast at times and perhaps quicker than Fernando but the Finn’s old title rival has good speed and is much more consistent. In recent months Montezemolo has said that ‘Alonso is a better fit for the team’ and suggested that Raikkonen wasn’t as communicative as expected. Alonso’s Latin temperament is probably a better match than the Iceman’s.

There has also been a gamble with the Brazilian Massa. His karting races have gone well but that is still no guarantee that he will return to F1 his old self. We have yet to really see if Hungary has made any impact on his performances.

Many are already predicting that Alonso and Felipe will clash. Despite how popular Felipe seems in the garage, if one of them has to go it’ll almost certainly be him. His contract is up this season, a huge amount of money has been used to get Fernando in and Kimi out and Kubica – a good friend to Fernando -has eyes on his seat.

Did Ferrari make a mistake? No, I seriously doubt they did. Michael has a few seasons left in him at best but Fernando is in his prime. Kimi was too unpredictable and had a very different driving style to Felipe which would conflict with car development. Fernando has spent a couple of years at Renault and been integral to developing the car, a skill needed if Ferrari isn’t on the pace again. If Felipe isn’t on form then he can easily be removed.

Ferrari is investing in the future more than anything. The current pairing will make a formidable team and the drivers will push each other hard. It’s too soon to tell who will make a substantial challenge for the crown but watch this team. It will be a very interesting year.

Things to think about in the future?

Domencarli is a good guy but Ferrari had a dreadful year and some blunders under his watch back in 2008. He needs to steer the team in the right way and keep his hot-headed drivers under control this coming season. Vettel has been linked there in the distant future but Mercedes probably have designs on him. Bianchi is highly rated but has some way to go. In a dream world he would take over the reins when Fernando retires but he hasn’t even raced in an F1 car yet.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2010 12:07 pm

    ferrari never set up the car the way Kimi liked it,2005 Kimi was 10 times better than Alonso but the car let him down,I think Kimi was more suited at Mclaren than at ferrari,ferrari also didn’t like the way Kimi spoke,pulling no punches about how bad the F60 was

  2. January 10, 2010 12:14 pm

    Great blog Stpeh, just brilliant.

    I think Ferrari dropped the ball letting the Iceman go, they could have extended his contract and let him go to WRC but compete for a team in the FIAT group. He could have been developed in to a great rally driver by them, but instead, Red Bull have nabbed him, and when Webber retires, he is likely to return to F1 with them.

    Ferrari have dropped some clangers in their 60 years in F1, but this is their biggest yet.

  3. January 10, 2010 12:20 pm

    Another great article Steph! They are getting better and better, if you ever write an article about STR I’d love to put it on my blog :)

    So many drivers are linked to Ferrari, no wonder they wanted 3 cars! It will be interesting to see where Vettel goes, I thought he’d be going to Mercedes but with Schumacher there a lot longer than people thought I’m not sure what will happen now.

  4. January 10, 2010 12:52 pm

    Anyone who still thinks Raikkonen is a better bet than Alonso after his woeful performances in 2008 and the first half of 2009 needs their head checking. Kimi was clearly tired of life in F1 – as his recent press statement shows – and that was reflected in his performances on track. Keeping him tied down to an F1 contract in 2010 would have been counterproductive as his heart clearly wasn’t in it anymore. Aside from that, Alonso is the better all-round driver even when Kimi’s having one of his good days – he will show in 2010 and beyond why he is the right choice for Ferrari.

    If Kimi returns to F1 it will be on his terms. But I don’t think we’ll ever see him back.

  5. January 10, 2010 4:58 pm

    @redAndy rubbish,Kimi was by far the better driver in since 05.

  6. January 10, 2010 11:20 pm

    The only mistake was to keep Massa.

  7. wasiF1 permalink
    January 11, 2010 2:31 am

    Nice article Steph.
    I think Ferrari should have kept Kimi & Massa for another year.To me Kimi is the fastest driver in the world by far.I wonder whether Alonso will play a team role in the team.If Massa is not contracted after 2010 then I prefer Kubica alongside Alonso.Now it will be interesting to see what goes on between the drivers,but for Schumacher his old FRIENDS will now become his new ENEMIES

  8. January 16, 2010 9:12 pm

    tht was ferraris biggest mistake! with schumi and kimi next year they would have much bigger chances in the wdc

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