Formula One fans eagerly anticipate the return of Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari. photo: nic_r

Raikkonen is Ferrari’s biggest gamble

The return of Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari has stunned the world of Formula One. The 33-year-old, who was paid to leave by his former employers in 2009, will compete alongside Fernando Alonso after leaving Lotus.

But will this prove successful for the Italian side? Andrew Tyrrell and Harry Davies have their say.

Andrew Tyrrell

Ferrari is statistically F1’s greatest ever team, winning more races and more championships than any other team and competing in every F1 race since the championship’s inception in 1950.

How did they achieve this greatness? With a number one driver.

They have always worked with the policy that one of their drivers is a championship contender, and the other there to assist the cause. This has been the case with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa for the last four seasons; the Spaniard has twice taken the championship to the final day with a car that is not, in reality, all that fast.

However, for 2014 they have changed this philosophy, bringing in Kimi Raikkonen in an attempt to break the dominance of Red Bull, and ultimately win the constructors’ championship.

This makes commercial sense since it can lead to massive financial rewards. But surely the drivers’ championship is where all the glory is. It’s the pure and simple concept that F1 is founded on: the world’s best drivers compete for the accolade of being able to call themselves the best.

Racing drivers drive to win, not to earn the most money. To me, as a purist, Ferrari have gone against everything that they stand for and everything that real racing is about, doing what makes the shareholders happy. This is a grave shame.

In addition, hiring Raikkonen implies they are not happy with Alonso. This is not to say that they are directly snubbing the former McLaren driver, but it suggests they are hedging their bets, thinking that either one of them will have a good day at any given race.

This could unsettle and what happens when top drivers have their cage rattled? They go into a zone where they will do absolutely anything to win and prove themselves.

When you have both your drivers giving everything to beat each other, you get accidents and collisions. The examples are endless: Prost and Senna, Hill and Schumacher, Vettel and Webber, Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in 2007. That’s how to lose championships.

Ferrari would have been much better off hiring someone like Nico Hulkenburg of Lotus. He would relish the opportunity to help Alonso, and is quick enough to score solid points. In conclusion, the decision to hire Raikkonen baffles me.

Harry Davies

The move to bring in Kimi Raikkonen is without a doubt a smart one on the part of Ferrari.

Simply put, the Finn is an upgrade on the incumbent Felipe Massa. Massa has struggled since his horrific injury at Hungary in 2009. While the Brazilian has remained an able deputy to Alonso, he is clearly not the same driver who came within one lap of winning the title in 2008.

This has allowed Alonso to establish himself as the figurehead of the team, with Massa often used as a pawn in an attempt to maximise the Spaniard’s position. While this has at times helped the Spaniard in race situations, it has harmed Ferrari’s constructor championship hopes – which is where the funding to make crucial upgrades is won and lost.

Although Raikonnen’s impressive pedigree might put Alonso’s nose out of joint, it should ensure he strives to maintain his position as Ferrari’s best driver – a mindset which can only help his pursuit of a third world championship.

Since his return, Raikkonen has been arguably the most consistent driver on the grid aside from Vettel, racking up a Formula One-record 27 points finishes in a row. Presuming the 33-year-old can maintain this level of consistency, it will serve as a perfect bench mark for Alonso.

The move will also help re-establish the Ferrari racing brand, something which has suffered recently due to the domination of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull. The prospect of titanic battles between team-mates, a la Prost & Senna, is exactly what the Italian outfit need to ensure their status as Formula 1’s premium brand.

The main concern with the move is the possibility of the team-mates developing a heated rivalry just like the aforementioned Senna and Prost. However, it must be remembered that despite the frequent disputes, their team McLaren won both the 1988 and 1989 championships comfortably in the two years the pair were together.

While the dominance of Red Bull in recent years makes such success a greater challenge for Ferrari than McLaren in the eighties, having two of the best drivers on the grid certainly can’t harm their chances.

Overall, the move to bring in Raikkonen is clearly the correct move for the team. He gives F1’s most glamorous team the image boost that they need, and will propel Alonso to greater performances.

It remains to be seen whether the move is a success, but one thing is for sure: the 2014 Ferrari team will make fascinating viewing.


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