I am annoyed with Kimi Raikkonen.
After his much hyped reunion with Ferrari in 2014, a single podium finish is all that he has managed till date. He was comprehensively beaten by Fernando Alonso last season, and is facing drubbing in the 2015 Formula1 Season by his friend and team-mate Sebastian Vettel. (Read: Mercedes Should Reconsider Nico Rosberg For 2016)
I am annoyed because Raikkonen has robbed us of a classic fight between two World Champion team-mates – a rare possibility in modern day Formula1, especially given how the ‘number 1’ driver of the team almost usually has a say in the selection of the ‘number 2’. Maybe Alonso knew a thing or two about Raikkonen’s fading talent before ‘allowing’ Ferrari to sign him in 2014? Before you take a dig at me, I know that Raikkonen was brought on board to challenge Alonso and the Spaniard didn’t have a say (for a change) in selecting his team-mate. (Read: Thank You Mclaren)
Is it the modern formula of Formula1 that Raikkonen is yet to come to terms with? I wouldn’t know. But I do know that almost every other driver (if not every) has managed to adapt. Is the older Raikkonen unlike his younger self who managed to adapt to Formula1 (and a far challenging formula in 2001) after just 23 single-seater races in a Renault series? Your guess is as good as mine. But the general consensus is and Raikkonen knows that he is running out of time to renew his contract for 2016. (Read: Vettel The Champion, Raikkonen The Entertainer)
Performance aside, I am also annoyed with Raikkonen’s attitude in press conferences. Mind you, I am not against his classic one liners, I enjoy them as much as you do, but I am against his general lack of interest in the media briefings. As a former World Champion, a Ferrari driver and somewhat of a cult figure in the sport, he is one of the ambassadors and I do expect him to get his basics right. If Ecclestone opined that Vettel was a bad World Champion for Formula1, I believe that Raikkonen is probably the worst – un-Formula1 like, in my words. (Read: Formula One Is Cruel)
For those who’d love to argue about my nit-picking on Raikkonen’s demeanour or the lack of it, do remember that Ferrari and Mercedes battle in Formula1 to get the edge in automobile market too. I know I am not the only one who believes that Hamilton-Rosberg represent the brand Mercedes in a far better manner than Vettel-Raikkonen do for Ferrari.
It would be heroic for Raikkonen and the fans to see him resurrect his career and earn his contract for 2016. But should that fail to happen, Raikkonen will lead the change in the driver market for next year. While Bottas and Hulkenberg have been discussed openly as his replacements, I wouldn’t rule out Ricciardo who has publicly expressed his interest in Ferrari should it be possible. (Read: Raikkonen Needs A New Challenge)
Ricciardo’s former Toro Rosso team-mate Jean Eric Vergne would be an interesting option too. After being dropped unceremoniously by Red Bull last year, he competed in a few races in Formula E (won his debut race!) and is contracted with Ferrari as one of their test and reserve drivers. And basis current form, I would love to see Massa make a return too.
If you’re a Ferrari fan, the next few months should decide the team’s long term driver combination with Vettel at the helm. If you’re a Raikkonen fan (much like I am), I hope that apart from his one-liners and radio messages there’s much for you to cheer too.
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