Raikkonen’s Ferrari return will give F1 a lift

September 12, 2013

The Finn could give Fernando Alonso a headache and the rest of us a rare treat
Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari, which was confirmed on Wednesday, may not be exactly what Fernando Alonso wanted, and it was certainly not on Felipe Massa’s wish list, but it will give Formula One a lift in 2014, when conversation elsewhere is likely to be dominated by talk of motor generator units and ERS (forget DRS) as teams downsize to new 1.6-litre V6s. In a flawed sport constantly wringing its hands about whether to be pure and boring or contrived and exciting (cue Pirelli), and always fussing over team orders, Raikkonen represents F1 One at its very best.
The Finn is skilful and fast and if he is at his best during his two-year contract with Ferrari he will give Alonso a headache and the rest of us a rare treat. The disappointment among the leading teams is that Sebastian Vettel has been much too good for Mark Webber at Red Bull, Alonso has been a class ahead of Massa at Ferrari and Raikkonen has been too experienced and knowing for Romain Grosjean at Lotus. Raikkonen has the experience and speed to keep Alonso honest and may force the Spaniard to up his game in qualifying.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have looked the strongest pairing on the grid, but now that all changes. Raikkonen might give Ferrari indeed all of Italy a headache. The truth is that the prancing horse does not know exactly what it is getting, even though they employed the Ice Man from 2007-2009. He was paid off in 2009 because he was being outdriven by Massa, whom he replaces at Maranello.
“I am really happy to be returning to Maranello where I spent three fantastic and very successful years,” Raikkonen said. “I have so many memories of my time at Ferrari, first and foremost winning the world championship in 2007, which was really unforgettable.”
When Alonso joined Ferrari almost precisely four years ago, replacing Raikkonen, it was described as “the worst-kept secret in F1”. It was said that he actually signed his contract in July of the previous year. The Raikkonen rumours do not quite go back that long but during the last race in Monza at the weekend it became clear that Ferrari had had enough of Massa and his advisers, whose decision to push the team for an answer about next year backfired on them.
It also became clear that Raikkonen had edged ahead of Nico Hlkenberg, the only other plausible target, as the man Ferrari wanted, even though the president, Luca di Montezemolo, had no desire to go back to him. “Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has reached an agreement with Kimi Raikkonen,” read a statement on ferrari.com. “The Finn will join alongside Fernando Alonso in the driver line-up for the next two seasons.”
It would surprise no one if it ended in tears again. Lotus “fitted” Raikkonen as Ferrari and McLaren, with their greater demands, were not able to. Raikkonen is his own man. There were well-founded rumours that Raikkonen could walk away from F1 this year, just as he did in 2009. There would be no great surprise should he leave Ferrari once again before the end of his contract.
Raikkonen did give the team the world championship in 2007, when the thrilling rookie Hamilton probably deserved it ahead of his McLaren team-mate Alonso. In 52 races for Ferrari, Raikkonen won only nine, six coming in his first season. After that, Massa enjoyed the upper hand. It is easy to forget how good Massa was a few years ago.
Meanwhile, we must await Alonso’s reaction to the move, though we have a good idea already. One team principal told the Guardian in Monza last week: “Have you seen Ferrnando? He is very unhappy at the prospect of Kimi joining the team.” And the three-times world champion Sir Jackie Stewart said: “I think there would be destabilising elements to the move.”
Raikkonen himself was in emollient mood yesterday: “I can’t wait to be driving a Prancing Horse car again and to reacquaint myself with so many people with whom I had such close links, as well as working with Fernando, whom I consider a great driver, in order to bring the team the success it deserves.”
Alonso found it difficult to share the limelight with Hamilton at McLaren; will he find it easier with Raikkonen? Probably not.

— Guardian News & Media Ltd

-Input from gulfnews.com

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