With the departure of Felipe Massa from Ferrari at the end of this years championship, Kimi Raikkonen is the hot favourite to take his place.
After being paid what was thought to be 19 million dollars to break his contract, Raikkonen not only left Ferrari to pave the way for Fernando Alonso to take his place, but also Formula 1.
A return to Formula 1 was made a reality when Lotus signed him on for two seasons (2012-2013) in 2011. A third place finish in the Drivers’ Championship in his first year back to Formula 1 proved that Raikkonen had not lost the talent that earned him the 2007 Championship.
With his contract with Lotus expiring at the end of this year, Raikkonen had been named as the man to be taking Red Bull’s second seat once Mark Webber would vacate it.
However, when Daniel Ricciardo was named as Webber’s successor, Raikkonen had obviously lost all hope of gaining a drive with the World Championship team.
Yet, rumors soon began to circle the Formula 1 paddock that the “Ice Man” was headed back to Ferrari.
These rumors were taking with a grain of salt by most as it seemed that they were only a follow on to the rumors regarding Raikkonen’s move to Red Bull.
Though, it now seems that the rumors in this instance were right.
Yet why has Kimi gone back to Ferrari?
Ferrari is not the same team it was in 2007 and since Raikkonen’s departure it has clearly been the underdog among the front running teams.
Though I’m sure a fat pay check and promises of a return to grace have been said to lure the Fin away from Lotus, a Championship winning car can only be a promise and not a guarantee.
But I believe it’s not the car Raikkonen should be worried about, it should be his team mate.
Since his first year in Formula 1 in 2001, Raikkonen has consistently dominated his team mates, yet now his team partner will be none other than Fernando Alonso.
Alonso has already been called one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time with his career still a decade away from finishing.
In short, Raikkonen has never raced against a team mate of his caliber and it’s no secret Alonso is the teams first and foremost favourite driver.
Ferrari will claim equality and fairness for both of its drivers, yet we hear the same talk from Red Bull as well.
The truth is this; Raikkonen has been hired to help Fernando Alonso win Ferrari a Constructors World Championship.
As long as Alonso continually finishes first, Ferrari will be over the moon with Raikkonen finishing second. Though if Alonso happens to be behind Raikkonen during a race, I wouldn’t be surprised if team orders take effect.
Alonso has been a long term investment for Ferrari and they will not sour this investment by allowing Raikkonen to win another Driver’s Championship over the Spainard.
I hope Raikkonen enjoys being a No.2 driver as his days at the top of the podium might be at an end.