It is looking as though the long running saga over Fernando Alonso’s move to Ferrari is drawing to a conclusion. Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali said that things would be settled in the next two weeks.
An announcement of Massa and Alonso for 2010 would play very well if it were made in Brazil, at Massa’s home race, but they may not be able to hold on to the story for that long, so it may come sooner. Traditionally Ferrari has made its announcements by this time of year, they usually come at Monza.
When pressed Domenicali did not rule out Massa making a return to the cockpit for the final race of 2009 in Abu Dhabi.
He and Massa are in the luxurious position of not having to rush into a decision on that. Massa is back in training again and they can monitor his progress in kart testing and general fitness and make a call on it when the time is right. It may happen, it may not, although from Massa’s psychological point of view it would be an advantage to get back behind the wheel before the winter, if he was not quite 100% it could be counter-productive. F1 is an unforgiving business.
The Robertsons, David and Steve, who manage Kimi Raikkonen, were extremely busy over the weekend and the wheel has definitely turned in this story now. It looks like a deal is being done and Raikkonen is on his way and both Brawn and McLaren are interested in him.
The McLaren connection looks the most likely because it appears that Santander has been involved in the funding of the transfer, by settling Raikkonen’s final year salary at Ferrari and they will have a sponsor presence on the McLaren during the 2010 season, so they stand to get some return on their investment which they would not do if he went to Brawn.
Meanwhile Renault F1 managing director Jean Francois Caubet let slip on Sunday night that the team would be saying goodbye to Alonso at the end of the season,
“Alonso is a great champion, he clocked the fastest lap in race, he did the most of the strategy and fight until the end. I think Renault will always be his family. We will miss him but he will miss us too.”
As for Raikkonen at McLaren, Autosport has quotes from Mercedes’ Norbert Haug, to the effect that the team could handle two drivers of the calibre of Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton, despite the fireworks with Alonso and Hamilton in 2007,
“Whatever you can do to get the best available drivers, that is what you have to do,” said Haug. “It’s a question of money, it’s a question of capability, a question of the amount of talent. Managing two megastars, I don’t think that honestly it was a problem. With Alonso there were some noises to the outside world, but in reality inside the team everybody did his job and in reality we should have won the world championship.
“I stress, I do not confirm that there is change. This is very important. But managing drivers ifs and whys is the name of the game and we are qualified to do so.”