Last month, Mark Webber made it official that he would leave Red Bull and Formula One racing (F1), essentially retiring. This formally made his seat available and the rumors swirled as to who would become the three-time current champion Sebastian Vettel’s new teammate in 2014. The buzz seemed to have narrowed down to current Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen or Daniel Ricciardo who drives for Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso. You might want to add another name to the list – and it’s a big one – Fernando Alonso who is presently driving for Ferrari (source: Reuters). Fernando Alonso? Really?
According to the rumor mill, this past weekend in Hungary, Alonso’s agent Luis Garcia Abad met with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. And they probably weren’t talking about how or if the blue Danube is really blue.
Alonso just turned 32 and being one of the fittest athletes in the world, arguably has several years of quality driving left in him. Yet, to say this new situation is a surprise would be an understatement; but then again, there’s an awful lot that goes on in the background of F1 that the public never sees or hears about. Still, the fact that Red Bull wouldn’t deny or rule out the idea of the two-time world champion being a candidate means, well, the Spaniard would appear to be a legitimate candidate.
Supposedly the speculation started spinning out of control after Abad was said to be in discussions with Red Bull about a young Spanish driver for Red Bull, Carlos Sainz. Add to that the fact that Alonso has said more than once he would like to finish his career with Ferrari – he has a contract through 2016. In other words, these suppositions and hearsay are at best just that.
Raikkonen is 33 and although he appears to be in the latter stages of his career, the Finn showed this past two years with Lotus that he’s still driving at a championship level. Ricciardo, a 24 year old Australian, is in his second season with Toro Rosso after driving half a season with Hispania Racing. Ricciardo has shown an ability to qualify but the team hasn’t been able to follow through. Alonso is upset that his Ferrari isn’t winning races as he struggles to earn podiums with what was suppose to be a fast car this season. Since he’s stuck in a long-term contract, he’s doing all he can do: vent.
The rough relationship Webber had with his German teammate Vettel means that whoever Red Bull brings in, they will have to temper the hire by making sure any new driver will be compatible with the current champion.
With F1 off for four weeks, stories like this will probably run rampant. As a fan of almost everyone listed above, it boggles the mind to think of a team of Vettel and Raikkonen, let alone what Alonso and Vettel would do as a team. Of course, there might not be enough room for the egos. Considering the potential issues with too many champions driving for the same team, maybe the still young up-and-coming Ricciardo will be the best bet for Mark Webber’s seat.
Blast from on top
Then, to add fuel to the fire, Ferrari’s Chairman, Luca Di Montezemolo blasted Alonso saying,
“All the great champions who have driven for Ferrari have always been asked to put the needs of the team ahead of their own interests. This is the moment to stay calm, avoid polemics and show humility and determination in making one’s won contribution, standing alongside the team and its people both at the track and outside it.”
Hmmm, on the other hand, contract or no, maybe we will see Alonso leaving the prancing horse for Red Bull. Can you imagine Vettel and Alonso together?
Additional source: F1
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