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Ever since Silverstone, when the Pirelli tyre compounds were changed due to a number of successive blowouts, Ferrari have only gone downhill. Apart from the three podiums at Belgian, Italian and Singapore Grands Prix, Ferrari F138 hasn't had the pace to challenge for the top three. Korea, Japan and India were three races to forget where the Prancing Horse only scored 35 points at a dismal average of 12 points per race. Ferrari have also lost out in qualifying - 11th in Abu Dhabi for Alonso is a good example of their deteriorating pace on a single lap. It won't be wrong to say that Mr. Montezemolo must be sitting in his office at Fiorano and sharpening his knives for an elaborate surgery that has now become necessary - the end of this season.
China and Spain were nothing more than a false dawn. Victories there seemed like Ferrari had finally sorted out their issues of last year but it wasn’t to be so. Monaco up next was the evidence of the stagnation taking place inside the fabled Fiorano factory. To put it simply, Stefano Domenicali hasn't been able to replicate the success Ferrari achieved under the leadership of Jean Todt.
The new recruitment or the re-recruitment of James Allison has to be thought of as a desperate idea of going back to the old ways - after all he was there at Ferrari during the dominant Schumacher era and he then he went to Renault and won two championships there with guess whom? Fernando Alonso.
It is a double card Ferrari have played to not only try and go back to the glory days of early 2000’s but it also instills some confidence and belief into Alonso for the coming season. Who knows if this move will prove to be an ace or a mistake but for me, they have a bigger problem to solve and something they haven’t had to do for a long time, a problem that goes by the name of Kimi Raikkonen.
Kimi is a man who takes no quarter and certainly does not give any either.
Having the Iceman may guarantee you success on track because he is definitely one of the best drivers on the grid and will deliver results, no matter what the driver on the other side of garage does. Yet one doesn't know how he will act outside the cockpit.
His outspokenness has been well documented in the last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with his radio messages later on being commercialised in the form of a range of merchandise. At this year's Indian Grand Prix, his relation with Lotus reached its lowest point. He was asked to step aside and allow Grosjean(who was on much fresher tyres) to pass him. Raikkonen refused and rather made it hard for his younger teammate to move ahead. That led Lotus trackside head Alan Perman to swear on team radio, ordering him to get out of the way. The Finn replied in similar fashion.
The ashes of the battle continued a week later in Abu Dhabi where he arrived a day later, only to reveal the world that he hasn't been paid a single euro this year.
In general too, one doesn’t see many in-depth or heart to heart interviews of him and he is still somewhat of a myth to his fans. Perhaps he could even be spoken about in the same sense as Jeremy Clarkson does about the Stig, “Some say….”
This mythical status that Kimi has might be good when he is your number 1 driver as he was later on in McLaren and was in his two year 'stint' at Lotus. But playing second fiddle to someone is not his cup of tea, it's something which not only his ego won’t allow but also not what his talent warrant.
Alonso and Kimi are polar opposites in terms of how they go about their business. Alonso wants the team to work for him and doesn't prefer an equal number one on the other side of garage. This might seem a selfish methodology but he also portrays a very warm feeling towards his fans and appears to be a team player with all his Samurai quotes on Twitter. He also seems to be engaged in deep and often introspective conversations with media, team mates and colleagues.
Kimi, while Kimi is just Kimi.You can’t find a fault in him when he is in the car and we certainly are no one to question his personal behavior but the question is when it comes down to it, he just might hamper Ferrari’s chance if it all boils down to him. Questioning Kimi is never popular because I guess ‘he knows what he is doing’ but when you look for the greater good, he somehow doesn't fit into the picture.
Now the question is how to solve it?
For me there is no solution to it, someone will have to give in and walk away. It’s a question of who blinks first. There are rumours of Alonso opting for Mclaren-Honda in 2015 because it is believed that the engine suppliers want a ‘samurai’ in the seat. On the other hand Raikkonen as of now only has a two year contract and you never know when he may turn up at a conference and say ‘I am done’.
Fernando on the other hand it seems just cannot accept someone who is his equal in the same team. We all know how whiney he got with Hamilton as his team –mate at McLaren and throughout his Ferrari career, he has sought help many a times from his friend Felipe Massa, Hockenheim 2010 and Austin 2012 to name a few. At Ferrari in 2014, he certainly would not get that help from Kimi. Who knows whether this might be an encore of 2007 McLaren disharmony or a Prost-Senna which F1 fans have been waiting for world over?
I guess the anticipation is already huge given this year’s competition was drab apart from a few incidents here and there but all I hope for is that the wait should certainly be worth it.
by Rishabh Tripathi