Well Well Well, Kimi Is Going To Ferrari – Part 2
I characterized the arrival of Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari next year as good news for Kimi, the team and especially their star driver Fernando Alonso. The same cannot be said for those that will be competing against them. If Raikkonen to Ferrari is a win-win for everyone at Ferrari, then it is equally a lose-lose for everyone else not at Ferrari. If, and I know it is a big if, Ferrari cast their first mold of the 2014 regulation with a winner, then Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes are in for the a truly brutal season.
I am going to avoid laying out my usual lopsided opinion of Alonso and instead just like Joe Friday from Dragnet (American copper show from the 50’s) give you just the facts of the soon to be strongest teammate pairing in Formula 1.
- Championships – 2 (2005, 2006)
- Wins – 32 (4th all time list)
- Podiums – 93 (3rd all time list)
- Pole position – 22 (12th all time list)
- Fastest laps – 20 (11th all time all list)
- Most laps lead – 1,735 (8th all time)
- Races finished in points – 154 (2nd all time list)
- Pole, Win & Fast lap – 5 (7th all time list)
- Career points 1,533 (2nd all time list)
- Race starts – 209
- Championships – 1 (2007)
- Wins – 20 (14 all time list)
- Podiums – 75 (5th all time list)
- Pole Positions – 16 (17th all time list)
- Fastest Laps – 38 (3rd all time list)
- Most laps lead – 1150 (16th all time list)
- Races finished in points 123 (6th all time list)
- Pole, Win & Fast lap – 2 (13th all time list)
- Career points – 920 (7th all time list)
- Race starts – 188
Note – These all come from Wikipedia and from an F1 site called Grand Prix Guide. I cross-referenced everything and it all looks to be accurate. If you are into crazy absurd records and stats Wikipedia has got them lots of them under the title List of Formula One Driver Records.
Now part of the reason that both these drivers are mostly in the top tier is due to the fact that both Alonso and Raikkonen have been racing in F1 for ten plus years, but putting that aside what both have managed to accomplish in a sport where only the finest compete, where a couple of wins can easily be followed by a couple of DNFs, where many things have to go your way and the only luck is the luck you make, these numbers speaks for themselves.
These numbers are very impressive and now these two mega-drivers will be joining forces. Can you say Super Team (well to be truly super Adrian Newey would have to join but humor me for just a minute) because if the F14T6 or whatever Ferrari decide to call their new challenger is up to it, Red Bull, Sebastian, Mercedes, Lewis and the boys over at McLaren, everyone is going to have their hands full.
I don’t want to lead anyone astray, it won’t be all sweetness and light over at Maranello, Raikkonen badly wants to beat Vettel at something other than badminton, and Alonso wants Vettel out of the way as well, and of course you have to beat your teammate first, but what they both want above all is the World Championship — Raikkonen so he can be in the multiple WC club and Alonso to get his legacy back on track. These two drivers are hungry and know that time is running out. I predicted [in part one] to not hold your breath for the fireworks, but I am under no illusion, there will be an intense competition between both sides of the garage, there will be friction over the course of the season, but as Raikkonen stated to the press, we are older now, if there are any problems we will sort it out. That is code for we will not waste any precious time or energy on each other; the main objective is to beat the competition outside of Ferrari first.
This combination of two talents, and the fact that Raikkonen and Alonso are more focused than ever, spells disaster for the rest of the grid, especially Red Bull, and very specifically for the Red Bull regarding the Constructors championship. While Alonso has keep the Driver’s title close the last two out of three years the same cannot be said about the team standings. Irrespective of where Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and Raikkonen end up at the end of the next years Driver’s race, Red Bull’s dominance these last three years in the constructor’s race will see it’s greatest challenge. In the last three years there has been zero threat from the three other teams, four if you include Mercedes.
I wonder how the team standings would have looked if Fernando had a different partner at Ferrari? Last year Felipe Massa collected 122 points for the season, Raikkonen 207. Just for fun let’s plug Raikkonen’s number into the constructor’s totals and see what we end up with. Red Bull scored 460 points last year and won the constructors championship with Ferrari second on 400 points. Here is the new total with Alonso and Raikkonen as teammates. FA (278) + KR (207) = 485. See what I mean? Watch out, Red Bull!
Now, how does this Ferrari dream team affect the other drivers? Kimi has already been on the grid, what’s so different? Just everything. Alonso and Raikkonen are going to rip up the grid next year and the usual suspects are going to experience a one two smack down that no team will be able to prevent.
Ferrari is going to be a real team with a real one-two punch. Or maybe a one-one punch. The closest thing we have seen to this recently was Red Bull with Vettel and Webber, but because Webber is so inconsistent and the team always finds a way to ruin his race, it really has been a one-man show, similar to Alonso at Ferrari. McLaren did have two world champion drivers and in 2010 both were in it at least for the first 2/3rd of the season but, in the following years Hamilton lost his focus and the team lost its way. As far as Jenson Button is concerned, he is very, very good and he is a very, very smart driver, just not on par with Alonso, Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton.
Upgrading the second Ferrari car with a driver that is able to race 50 plus laps and more often than not find a way to the podium or very close to it is a complete game-changer. With Raikkonen in the sister Ferrari the options open up for both Alonso and Raikkonen and that means fewer options available to everyone else. I am referring to everything from qualifying to pit strategy to running in clean air to pushing other cars further down the grid, to developing the car. Did I mention each driver will push the other and that is also bad news for the competition? Right, I did. So other drivers, beware!
I already have pointed out that Red Bull should have signed Raikkonen when they had the chance, just because they missed out on a great talent. Looking at how Raikkonen in a Ferrari will affect the Red Bull team and their star driver, this decision looks even worse. There is an old saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Red Bull made a big mistake not securing Raikkonen to replace Mark Webber, if only to keep him from Ferrari. And who really cares about the Red Bull young drivers program anyway? I would have let Daniel Ricciardo do another year or two at Force India, or Lotus, before bringing him on board. I would have made sure that Red Bull did everything to ensure the Constructors trophy stayed in Milton Keynes, by making sure I had the two best drivers that were available at the time. I would have let Vettel and Raikkonen duke it out and if Raikkonen got the upper hand and won the Championship, so what, a Red Bull Driver still won the drivers title. In short I would have kept a driver like Raikkonen real close in the form of a contract to race for Red Bull instead of his now contract to race against them. It was one thing for Raikkonen to be in a Lotus, they are not a top team; they don’t have the depth and if the rumors are correct the finances to stay in the development game right up to the end.
But Ferrari, the mighty Scuderia, that is a whole different ballgame, a whole other level, this is the most celebrated team in F1. Ferrari has come painfully close to taking away two of Red Bull’s driver championships and this is a team that knows how to win, not three, not four, but five world championships…in a row. True, much of that super team is gone, but once a team wins on that kind of level there are things that cannot be unlearned. Once a team experiences that kind of success it is usually only a matter of time until they experience it again.
After stumbling around the last four years, despite having Fernando Alonso, one of the best in the business, Maranello is leaving no stone unturned, they want to give each driver, Alonso and Raikkonen, the best chance at the title and if that means changing the status quo in the team then so be it.
A few weeks back the real number one at Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, sent a letter with a dagger enclosed to each and every one of the team principals. The letter said place the blade between your teeth and think of how to get to the top. It was a calling to arms, a closing of ranks. A battle cry. The Italians love the dramatic gesture.
Ferrari has again put the grid and the F1 world on notice with the signing of Kimi Raikkonen, another one of the best in the business, to partner Fernando Alonso. Another dramatic gesture; bringing on the Ice Man to match Alonso’s Fire. Top teams and top drivers (because who cares about anyone else?) you are on notice!
-jp- (and I sure hope Ferrari make a fast car or all this typing will have been for nada ;))