July 4, 2015

Raikkonen Caught in the F1 Echo Chamber

In the past month, the drumbeat about Kimi Raikkonen's future at Ferrari has risen from a whisper to an all out group chant.
Journalist and commentators, perhaps tired of repeating Max Verstappen is "only 17" or that Nico Hulkenberg has won Le Mans, have been calling for forks to be stuck in Kimi because the man is beyond done.


Granted, 2015 started well for the Ferrari Finn but has since served up a streak of unfortunate events:  the spins the missed qualifying laps, the being shoved  but, if Kimi is at Ferrari to support what is a rebirth clearly led by Vettel then he's not doing that bad of a job.

Going into the British GP he is fourth in the driver standings, behind Hamilton Rosberg and Vettel.  He is also an asset to Ferrari in the fans eyes, he was voted most popular driver in the recent GPDA F1 survey,  ahead of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

If there are behind the scenes reasons why Ferrari would not want to renew Kimi's contract they might be related to communications, feedback,  perhaps cost.  It's unclear what Raikkonen's demands might be and how prepared he is to take the pay cut Sergio Marchionne will inevitably demand.

But if you were Ferrari, would you change now and with who?  It's certainly not a given any of the options will perform better.

Jim Hunter/Flat12
First it was Nico "the most underrated driver in F1" Hulkenberg.  The Hulk is a good driver (hey, he won le Mans, did you hear?)  but there must be reasons why he's been consistently passed over by major teams.  Timing of course but perhaps his being the tallest driver in the current field, at just over 6 feet, is seen as a problem.

Red Bull Photo
Daniel Ricciardo has been named but, aside from a rumored ironclad contract with Red Bull, it would not be  clever management to again pair Vettel with a driver that gave him a hard time before.  Yes, Ricciardo has hardly been dominating Kvyat this season but what Ferrari needs is peace of mind and stability, not any chance at drama.

Another option would be promoting one of the reserve drivers but I just don't see Vergne or Gutierrez as having what it takes to fill Raikkonen's shoes.

Bottas is the man everyone has decided will be Raikkonen's replacement.    Without a doubt a driver with a lot of talent but also one who has been out qualified by Massa,   Add to that that Bottas is a driver in the Mercedes family via Toto Wolff and it becomes potentially more complicated for Ferrari.  Would Ferrari be worse off swapping one laconic Finn antihero for a laconic Finn who seems very serious?

Ultimately Ferrari's decision might come down to securing the best available driver for the next few years,  There is no obvious choice out there.  Alonso's not coming back, Hamilton is a couple of years away if ever.  Rosberg I don't see happening,  Button's done, all the youngsters are too unproven.   If you are going to get someone with an eye to the future, Bottas is probably your best choice.

For his part, Raikkonen has to show he still has the desire to be in the game.   One gets the feeling that psychologically he may not be the Iceman of legend but rather a driver who needs to feel  the embrace and reassurance of the team.   Ferrari has done that before but perhaps some in the team do not want to deal with another Felipe.

Saturday at Silverstone Bottas was out qualified by ol ''washed up" Felipe Massa and Raikkonen out qualified Vettel.   There are no points for Saturday but there is delicious irony in that.

While on the subject of Silverstone, a big hand to all the British fans, all 350000 who are expected for the week end.   At a time where it has become fashionable to literally shit on F1,  from social media all the way to Bernie himself it's fantastic to see a crowd much larger that that at this year's 24 hour of Le Mans.  

Face it Bernie,  Silverstone and Monza ARE the beating hearts of Formula 1.

Simon Gale/Flickr


  1. I suppose it gives people something to talk about, but I see no real reason why Ferrari would get rid of Kimi mid-season. Might as well wait until this seasons over, get a good measure of the other drivers - Bottas, Hulkenberg et al - and then either keep Kimi or find someone else that suits the team better.

  2. I see Ferrari resigning The Iceman for one more year. Then its Bottas time. Lewis is gonna be ridin' high in the saddle for the next eighteen months. But once they go to the new Formula a young hungry Bottas could surprise.

    And how legit are these driver heights anyway? Massa at 5'5.5"? Really? That's gotta be with his helmet on. Ricky at 5'11"? Come on. You know these guys are standing on apple-crates when they do these paddock interviews in front of the camera. I know when I played high school football in the program they had me listed at 5'10" 170lbs when I was really 5'1" 115lbs. Jeez, I guess handling an F1 car really is like handling a women. A man's success, or failure, really is determined by his.."inches".

  3. The F1 silly season turns out to be a shit sandwich no matter what team is involved.

    Bottas appears to be a good prospect while Hulkenberg has the skills he is large in a car that is not too accommodating to his mass and scale.

    Kimi may not be an iceman, but he does look to have one more decent year. What will the scudiera lose if they wait a year on the younger prospects?

  4. well people have been doubting hulk's talents, he was given one shot with competitive car and he won it, he showed his talents in changing conditions his pole lap in brazil, 2012 brazil he led few laps if i remember correctly, i think he has done enuf to show he is good. I suspect teams have not picked him coz weight problem, but this year's regulations help him unlike last, and with top seats available he should have pretty good chance.

    I donno about kimi, been a fan of his, forget about standings look at points difference calling it under-performing is an understatement, today hes 5th in standing with that car and his team mate having almost 2x the points, spinning/losing control of the car in last 3 races doesn't look good for a champ like him. Last year he had an excuse that he could not adapt and got destroyed by fernando, whats the excuse this year.


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