We're skipping the news roundup this week because, really, everything else has become a font-size-six footnote to one of Formula 1's biggest headlines in all 63 years of its existence: Kimi Raikkonen is going back to Ferrari. Can we just give Sebastian Vettel his trophy and fast-forward to 2014?
Next season's Alonso-Raikkonen pairing is definitely the strongest one on paper, but on the track, it's a different matter. The two champions are literally fire and ice, and while their contrasting personalities and work habits could somehow prove complementary to each other, most people are looking forward to the implosion that's more likely take place. On that note, our resident F1 geeks now debate on whether or not the team bosses who have made this decision are geni or scemi. In any case, a word of warning to the Maranello personnel: Lock away all fragile valuables in HQ. Things start flying when tantrums are thrown.
Jason dela Cruz: Yes, Ferrari did the right thing by growing a pair and signing Raikkonen.
So, after months of speculation, it's official: It's a Fire and Ice driver pairing for the Scuderia next season, which makes it arguably among the strongest tandems the sport has ever seen. There will always be great respect for Felipe Massa, but his speed has been in question since his accident in 2009, and it's been a dragging issue for too long. It has hurt Ferrari's chances of winning the constructors' championship.
Everyone knows Ferrari has always followed a 1-2 driver philosophy. This is the first time they will have drivers with equal status since the Massa-Raikkonen pairing from 2007 to 2009. The result? Kimi won the drivers' championship in 2007 (okay, it was helped by the fact that then McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were scrapping for points, with their team poorly managing the situation), but Felipe matched him almost until the very end. The next year saw a reversal of roles, with Massa nearly claiming the drivers' title.
True, a question mark looms over Kimi's work ethic and commitment. And let's not forget he was booted out for Alonso a year before his contract expired. That's probably why he was given a two-year contract--which is more likely a one-year deal with an option for another season--this time around. Kimi just wants to get in the car and race, while Fernando makes sure things work here and there.
Can Ferrari squeeze the maximum out of Kimi? We'll just have to wait and see. One thing is for sure: The team can no longer go with quick, hopeful solutions--it needs a strong answer to Red Bull and even Mercedes. And with the hiring of chassis technical director James Allison and the return of designer Rory Byrne to try and give the best car to two of the best drivers on the grid, this could be the answer Maranello is looking for.
Niky Tamayo: No. Raikkonen's reappointment will never have a happy ending.
Kimi should've stayed the hell away from Ferrari!
Sure, Lotus was probably a dead end for him. The team's money issues have been making headlines, and it seems Renault is not the engine supplier to beat in 2014. But there are other teams that would've been happy to take a driver of Kimi's caliber.
While he has stated he's happy to return to the Scuderia, one wonders how much of that is true and how much of it is bravado. There are indications Ferrari had sabotaged his 2009 season in a bid to pick up Alonso, then paid him a ridiculous amount of money to walk away when the Santander-Alonso deal went through. That's got to leave a bad taste in the mouth.
That said, perhaps Kimi's lack of form at the end of his previous Ferrari stint was a result of winning the 2007 drivers' crown. He was once the eternal bridesmaid, spending his fastest years at McLaren and watching his car blow up underneath him. Perhaps the fire left the Iceman when he finally got that trophy.
That would please Alonso, who's been playing bridesmaid of late. He could've won his third title at McLaren if not for Lewis Hamilton. He could have won two titles at Ferrari, if not for...well, Ferrari.
And that's the big problem here--Ferrari itself. It's like an abusive lover, trampling Kimi before and now making noises that current lover boy Fernando, who's been carrying the team on his back the last few seasons, had better watch his mouth. This ménage à trois promises to be a match made in heaven and hell. Either the fiery Spaniard and the frigid Finn will win Ferrari next year's constructors' title, or they'll give us the most entertaining circus act ever seen in F1--right before Fernando leaves for another team in a huff and Kimi retires again, bored and ready to go back to NASCAR.
It'll serve Ferrari right.