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Mixed signals from Monza on the Alonso Ferrari marriage
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Mixed signals from Monza on the Alonso Ferrari marriage
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Sep 2009   |  6:26 pm GMT  |  145 comments

The saga over Fernando Alonso’s move to Ferrari looked on Friday like it was finally being cleared up. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said that Fernando Alonso will join Ferrari one day, but hinted strongly that it will be 2011, rather than 2010. But the signals continue to suggest that this situation is fluid.

Raikkonen: Contract but no announcement

Raikkonen: Contract but no announcement


My understanding of the much rumoured agreement with Alonso has always been that it was for 2011, with a clause for 2010 if there was a vacancy. I wrote about this last Christmas.

Both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen have firm contracts for 2010 and it was always a question of whether a deal would be struck for Raikkonen to leave or more recently, whether Massa would not recover from his injuries.

Of the two Massa is the cheaper one to buy out of his contract, by some margin. But after his accident and the sense of family which exists at Ferrari, it would be tough for him to be the one to make way.

Throughout the summer there have signs that Ferrari was looking to move Alonso in for 2010, but no deal appears to have been done to move aside one of the existing drivers to date. It’s interesting that Ferrari were not in a position to come out and announce over the Monza weekend in clear terms that their drivers would be Raikkonen and Massa for 2010.

Of course with the pair of them having contracts you would say that this is not necessary, but such has been the level of discussion on this, you would think that once the situation becomes 100% clear some sort of confirmation announcement would be made.

This suggests that the situation is fluid and team boss Stefano Domenicali suggested as much on Sunday night.

Judging from Montezemolo’s comments on Friday no pay-off deal has been done yet with Raikkonen. I think that there was one on the table, but Raikkonen wanted paying in full for the season and it was up to Ferrari to decide how to proceed.

However there was no mistaking the desire to get Alonso into a Ferrari car, especially now that Santander has come on board with a very substantial five year sponsorship commitment.

“Sooner or later I’ll make it happen. We’ll see when,” said di Montezemolo in relation to Alonso.

“For next year we have Raikkonen, Massa, Fisichella, Badoer, Gene, and I hope Michael Schumacher, so we have a bench as long as Real Madrid’s.

“We have two great champions with the 2007 champion and the man who was 2008 champion for 15 seconds when he crossed the line. So I think we have two extraordinary drivers.”

“I’ve always liked Alonso, because he is a great driver that I spotted back when he was in Minardi. He won titles, and I’ve always thought that sooner or later, all great drivers come to Ferrari.”

But then on Sunday night Stefano Domenicali said that he didn’t want to talk about whether Raikkonen would be staying with the team, despite the fact that he has a contract, “I think that, as we have said, we don’t want to discuss this now, because I don’t think it is correct.

“As you know, Kimi has a contract with us next year, and this is what we can say now. We are happy with the performance of Kimi because he is playing fantastically, he is driving very, very well, ” said the team boss.

There is no doubt that Raikkonen has been on fantastic form in the last four races, scoring 30 points (more than anyone else) a win and three podiums. And this is in a car which Ferrari stopped developing.

There has been talk of a Massa test before the end of the year. This makes sense as it might well be to assess whether he is still at the same level as before. Brain surgeons I have spoken to say that head injuries like that can often leave the patient with epilepsy and there is much to be discovered about the Felipe Massa who hopes to return from the accident. Let’s all hope he is 100% the same man, as Montezemolo assured everyone he is over the weekend.

So perhaps Massa might be the one to make way and Ferrari would field a line up of Alonso and Raikkonen in 2010. But is Alonso going to have to wait until a Massa winter test? Then again, where would he drive in 2010 if Renault lose the case over the Singapore race fixing allegations?

Alonso was asked by Italian colleagues on Friday night whether he thought the tifosi would support him this weekend because they know he will soon be a Ferrari driver, he replied, “This we cannot say yet 100%. There is still some work to be done on it.”

There is indeed.

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145 Comments
  1. Senthilkumar says:

    After the unfortunate departure of Massa, Kimi has somehow been able to raise himself, and that has put the lid on his ability to perform and motivate himself.

    May be the season gonna see some real action towards the end, Kimi might say goodbye or what do you do with so many drivers.

    Now I know why Ferrari are looking at the third seat… a problem of plenty I suppose.

    1. Marc says:

      The main problem is, where would Alonso go if not Ferrari? He certainly isn’t wanted at McLaren and I doubt he’ll be going to Brawn. There is no other team for the former world champion. He is desperate to land the Ferrari seat, because it is looking more and more like his only option if he wants to win. And to be honest, his recent stay at Renault hasn’t exactly been a success, is he actually the car developer that everyone says. Lewis and Heikki have done a great job at McLaren to get the car back on track and the same goes for Felipe and Kimi, especially Kimi towards the end. Alonso’s stock is sinking…

  2. Daniel says:

    Very insigthful writing James, as per usual…

    Do you know (or could you guess) if Alonso would have requested number one driver status in his potential Ferrari contract?

    If so, do you think that would have any bearing on who Ferrari would pair him with?

    1. James Allen says:

      That is a great question, Daniel. We’ll have to get to the bottom of that, in due course

    2. Lady Snowcat says:

      Interesting question… especially since I had heard that Kimi’s 2010 extension was for allowing his “equal status” clause to be countermanded to support Massa in the last few races of the 2008 season….

      Now was the clause suspended for 2008 or taken out full stop?….

      1. Marc says:

        I believe Ferrari gave Massa the promise that they would back him in 2008 if he helped Kimi at the end of 2007. At the same time they gave Kimi the promise of a better suited car in 2009 , well the car ended up being a turkey, but nevertheless Kimi has been much stronger in qualifying this year and seemed to be on top of things. Now that all attention has drifted to one driver(Kimi), as in the MS era, the results speak for itself. I think there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than we think, very political. Let’s hope there is a happy ending to it all. I also read somewhere that Kimis team (the Robertsons) had asked for Domenicalis P45. Unlikeley perhaps, but I do think he is a weak link in the team. Just listen to a Ross Brawn interview and a SD interview, there is quite a difference. You still get the feeling that SD can’t quite fill the shoes. Here’s to third place in WCC and WDC!

  3. I cant see this being resolved (publicly) before the end of the season – if at all.
    Kimi is a first class driver and any team would have him in their car – although I wish he would be a little more “fan” friendly in the post race interviews…

    Bet your bottom dollar if Alonso isnt in red for 2010 then this will be the only discussion topic next year!

  4. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    James,

    There was a report on Autosport last night that it may be Raikkonen who leaves Ferrari for other offers. Specifically, they say he is weighing offers from McLaren and Brawn. Can you confirm any of this?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, I saw that, but I cannot confirm it. To me it makes no sense for McLaren, when they have Hamilton already and I’d be surprised if Brawn wanted to spend that much

      1. Jason C says:

        Perhaps Mercedes want Kimi enough to make it happen at Brawn.

        I agree totally with the idea that it makes no sense for him to go back to McLaren: I can’t see Kimi ever being a number 2 no matter what his contract says. We also know that Hamilton kicks up if his team-mate is not a number 2.

      2. Michael C says:

        I am sure Kimi would not be prepared to be number two and I don’t think Lewis would mind at all (although perhaps being beaten more than a few times in the same car might turn into an issue). McLaren claim an equal driver policy in any event. The big question would be whether Kimi contributed a lot to testing and also whether he would go ‘off the boil’ again

      3. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        Well, respectfully, James, I disagree. I think it makes perfect sense for McLaren. They’ve had a long history of fielding two world champions at a time. Hamilton had his best season with a top teammate who was pushing him, and as your former colleague at ITV Ted Kravitz pointed out recently, McLaren engineers still talk about how much they admire Raikkonen’s work with them.

        Plus, Raikkonen may not want to race in F1 for more than a year or two longer. This would give McLaren some time to circle the wagons and aim for Vettel in 2011.

      4. Snail says:

        Quite apart from Brawn “wanting to spend that much”, what could Raikonnen bring to Brawn that the B&B combo don’t already provide? – nine wins between the two of them, a duel for the driver championship and the constructors championship almost done and dusted. Sure Kimi probably would have won a similar number as JB, but do you really need more than JB or RB are providing?

    2. Sean says:

      Not long ago Kimi Raikonnen said in an interview that his Formula 1 career would end with Ferrari. Will he change his mind?

      1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        He also said recently he’ll be in F1 next year regardless of the team.

      2. Sean says:

        Thanks for pointing that out. I did not see the comment that he will be in F1 regardless of the team. That’s great news since he is still young and definitively one of the F1 stars.

  5. Red Kimi says:

    Kimi is killing it in probably the 5th best car on the grid… It was great to hear the Tifosi chanting Kimi’s name as he threw his hat to them. I would love Kimi to stay at Ferrari but not if he is the wicked step child and would be a clear #2 to Massa or Alonso. It sure seems to me that McLaren would take him in a heartbeat… Whitmarsh has been asked in simple terms about Kimi and he has never shot it down…. It now seems Kimi and not Alonso is the one deciding where to go and holding up the market a bit. As for waiting for Mass to test? That is a month or 2 away and that would surely cost Kimi or Alonso the chance at a drive elsewhere in the meantime….

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      Depending on the circuit, the F60 is better than the 5th place car on the grid. I was probably 4th best in Monza, behind Brawn, McLaren, and Force India, and it was probably 4th best as well at Spa behind Red Bull, Force India, and BMW. In Valencia and Hungary, it was 3rd behest behind Brawn and McLaren and Red Bull and McLaren, respectively. It will probably be around 3rd best yet again in Singapore behind Brawn and McLaren provided that other teams don’t bring upgrades.

      That doesn’t diminish the job Raikkonen is doing. He’s been the best man on the grid the last four weeks.

    2. Snail says:

      Gotta admit, as much as James has repeatedly pointed out that his sources say Kimi is at Ferrari or is gone, Kimi back at McLaren would be excellent. Whilst not a fan per se, I always admired Kimi’s McLaren “no compromise” driving style, even if it meant driving the car flat out until it collapsed under the strain of his driving (Nurburgring 2005). Something which I haven’t really seen at Ferrari.

      Kimi won a WDC at Ferrari, time for a return to McLaren for a repeat attempt?

  6. Al (21prods) says:

    We’ll see, but I think it’s done. I think Ferrari does not want to announce just one driver for next season, but to announce both drivers at the same time. Otherwise other team principals would be queueing stating they would like to count on Alonso (as happened these last years).

    I would say that it depends on the evolution of Massa. I hope he recovers well, but no one can give it for granted right now.

    On a different issue. James, what’s your personal view on the inmunity granted to Piquet Jr.? If he crashed on purpose I think he should be punished (although I think his racing career is already over, anyway).

    1. James Allen says:

      I think I’ll reserve judgement on that until after the hearing.

      1. Jason C says:

        As he’s confessed to crashing on purpose, surely that’s not what needs to be established. The telemetry I’ve see floating about online backs this up.

        We just need to find out whether he was ordered to or not.

  7. Dean says:

    James, is there any merit that Kimi’s recent upswing in form is due to Massa’s absence and having the team focus more on one driver?

    1. Patrickl says:

      I was wondering the same. It’s amazing to see how Raikkonen all of a sudden started performing after Massa was out.

      Maybe he just doesn’t deal well with the politics of driving together with a driver who always wants things his way and who is pretty vocal about it too.

      1. rossetto says:

        We miss Massa on the equation.
        For what we know, Massa could have finished the last 4 races on front of Kimi.

      2. Charlie says:

        Really want your thoughts on this one James. I think it’s pretty clear that Ferrari have had mixed results since they stopped focussing on one driver. I also think Massa gets preferential treatment (why, for instance, was Kimi never fuelled lower than Massa in 2008 – he always had more fuel and ended up behind a BMW on the grid which screwed race day. Funnily enough the same thing happened to Heikki quite often.)

      3. Lex says:

        He had one lap less in bahrain and massa out qualifyied him.
        He had less fuel than Massa in Monaco and Massa out qualifyied him.
        He was fueled one lap shorter in Spa and Massa out qualifyied him by two places.
        Just to name a few races.

        Its not favourtism in 2008 but Raikkonen was poor in qualifying so not to destroy his race chances, he always had a bit more fuel for the first stops.

        Ferrari never favoured Raikkonen. It seems there always has to be an explanation when ever Massa is fast other than he is faster than Raikkonen.

  8. Athos says:

    So anyone want to bet on Alonso-Kubica at Renault next year, that would be a dynamite combo. If Renault get a lineup like that then they better get their game on with the car design. Wouldn’t be surprised if both then went to Ferrari the following year in 2011.

    1. swayze says:

      I personally wouldn’t like to bet on ANYONE driving for Renault next year at the moment Not until after the Hearing.

      They (Renault) may not even be in the championship next year

      I also think that we may well have had an announcement from Ferrari this weekend regarding their drivers but the Renault/ Piquet problem put a stop to that.

      I am sure they would not like to announce Alonso as their driver if it was proven that he knew of the alledged crash and sc deployment plan
      They would much rather wait for a couple of weeks to be absolutly certain he is available and untarnished in this scandal

      David Coultard is convinced that some of the deals have already been done and i would tend to belive that he would know how these negotiations are handled.

      Also Massa’s full recovery is another circumstance to be taken into consideration

  9. knoxploration says:

    James: Do you think there’s any possibility that the Alonso deal is on hold pending the result of the Renault investigation (and whether it turns out to implicate Alonso, which if it happened would be the second time he has been directly involved in cheating during his F1 career).

    Note that Diario Sport is apparently now running a quote from Piquet Sr. suggesting that Alonso was aware of the Singapore crash before it took place. Obviously he’s innocent until proven guilty, but it must surely have become a concern for Ferrari… At the very least I wouldn’t think that they would want to be too closely associated with Renault’s scandal, nor would they want to drop Raikkonen only to perhaps find Alonso banned from the sport for a period.

    Hence it seems logical to me that once the scandal broke, Ferrari may have found it in their own interest to step back from negotiations with Raikkonen until they were more certain of Alonso’s situation…

    1. Antonis says:

      Hello!

      What is the first time Alonso was caught cheating??

      As for Piquet Sr, we all know that we should take his words with a bit (or a lot!) of salt and pepper…

      1. knoxploration says:

        Public record on the McLaren “Spygate” affair shows that both Alonso and de la Rosa knew that McLaren were in possession of Ferrari data, and knew that the data had not been come by legitimately. The following is a direct quote from an FIA statement of September 2007, referencing an email exchange from March 2007:

        “The emails show unequivocally that both Mr Alonso and Mr de la Rosa received confidential Ferrari information via Mike Coughlan. Both drivers knew that this information was confidential Ferrari information and that both knew that the information was being received by Coughlan from Nigel Stepney”. (http://www.fia.com/resources/documents/17844641__WMSC_Decision_130907.pdf)

        Neither Alonso nor de la Rosa informed the FIA of the emails until six months later, when Alonso decided it was in his personal interest to do so. Hence there is no question that both drivers were aware that McLaren were cheating, and were themselves a part of that cheating. The only reason both drivers escaped unpunished was an amnesty granted to allow the FIA to gain access to proof of the cheating. A similar arrangement has apparently been made with Piquet, incidentally.

      2. Antonis says:

        Oh, oh, i see… And now you want Alonso punished for something he didn’t do, right?

        Maybe then, the FIA should also punish some other drivers who have been repeatedly caught cheating, lying to stewards, and so on and so forth… and these are facts not speculation!

        What do you think??

      3. knoxploration says:

        Replying to my own comment since Antonis’ comment doesn’t allow reply for some reason.

        Antonis, there are several things you should be clear about.

        Alonso actively took part in the cheating. He was discussing it with other McLaren employees, he was a part of testing Ferrari’s approaches, technologies and ideas on McLaren’s car, and he was benefiting on track from the use of that stolen data to improve the performance of his own vehicle.

        Alonso also failed to report the cheating to the FIA until six months after it took place, and almost certainly would not have done so at all had McLaren responded to his blackmail attempt, and the FIA not already been sniffing around. (In other words, he reported it solely out of self-interest and vengeance, not out of any sense of sporting fairness).

        Both of these statements are fact based on FIA-published documents, and beyond any dispute. Suggesting that he “didn’t do” anything shows either a lack of knowledge on the matter, or that you’ve turned a blind eye to his direct involvement in the cheating, for whatever reason.

        To answer your second point, yes – the FIA should very definitely, swiftly and harshly punish cheating at the highest possible levels, wherever it is found. The only reason Alonso and de la Rosa were left unpunished is because that enabled them to come forward with the evidence to prove that there was knowledge of the cheating at levels above their own. It doesn’t in any way lessen the extremely distasteful behaviour they exhibited.

        Likewise, when others have clearly cheated I have been strongly against this. I supported Schumacher until Jerez 1997. I gave him a second chance after he publicly confessed and apologized, as I consider that any individual should be given *one* second chance if they show contrition, and if the cheating was a spur of the moment thing. A repeat occurrence, or cheating that wasn’t spur of the moment but took place over a period of weeks or months I cannot forgive. Hence I stopped supporting Schumacher completely after the unquestionable cheating at Monaco 2006.

        Likewise, I do not support McLaren, Alonso or de la Rosa because the cheating took place for months, and because both drivers have never shown any real regret for their actions. If it is proven that Piquet / Briatore / Symonds / Renault cheated, I won’t support them either, for similar reasons.

        Cheats do not belong in the highest levels of motorsport, full stop. In my opinion, any repeat offender should be banned from Formula One permanently.

    2. swayze says:

      Agree totally hence my post above

      1. Janet says:

        So totally agree. I think Alonso is an amazing driver, but I am starting to question his character…

        If Alonso goes to Ferrari, I’ll have to say that I would shocked. They would dump Raikkonen,a WDC for what is essentially a cheater? And please don’t us that Alonso did not know…he is way too savvy to not realize what was occuring…

    3. Andy Fov says:

      Wouldn’t the Santander deal have been agreed on the basis that Alonso was on his way to Ferrari?

      Ferrari are going to have some disgruntled sponsors, I’d imagine, if they decide against giving Alonso a seat.

      1. knoxploration says:

        Whether or not the Santander deal hinges on Ferrari hiring Alonso may well turn out to be beside the point, should Alonso be handed down a race ban that prevents him driving for any team for a period. That isn’t beyond the realm of possibility if (and only if) the Piquets are telling the truth. In the spygate affair, Alonso came forward and surrendered self-incriminating evidence; this time around he has not yet done so, but has instead insisted he is innocent. Hence the FIA has no reason to exclude him from any punishment it decides to mete out.

        Perhaps he *is* innocent; perhaps the Piquets have made the whole thing up. If Alonso has not told the truth however, particularly given that he has already acknowledged having been involved in past cheating at McLaren, it is quite possible that he will find himself not just punished, but harshly so.

        Even should he not receive a race ban, if it turns out that Alonso has been involved in cheating for a second time, he may find Santander hesitant to be associated with him for a time. It is also unlikely that Ferrari would have signed a deal contingent on having Alonso as a 2010 driver if they were not in a position to deliver him subject to the FIA’s allowing him to race.

        I’d say the chances of Santander being disgruntled with Ferrari are slim to none. They’ll be well aware that the crashgate situation is not of Ferrari’s creation.

    4. shaun says:

      my thoughts exactly. The santander news was a bit strange, then talk from the reds of ‘maybe not 2010′ and the Piquet Snr saying that Alonso had to know.

      FA runs the risk of being seriously affected by this. The logic of Piquet Snr’s comments hold true and remember FA was aware of a lot of the ‘cheating’ at Mclaren. Not good for the reputation (but then Schumi did a lot that was not good for the reputation too) and the FIA may frown upon anyone being aware of these tactics and not reporting them.

      1. tango81 says:

        In a world as competitive as F1 seems is not such a big deal to be the fairest person as long you are a big latent as a driver. And I think Alonso is on the top three in the padock (the best to me but that´s arguable). Schumi it´s a good example of this.

    5. jw1980 says:

      I agree. Surely the Singapore allegations are holding everything up? It could be argued that Ferrari lost this race because of Piquet’s accident.

      1. James Allen says:

        No, they lost it because they sent Massa out with a fuel hose still attached.

      2. Leslie says:

        Quite right James.

        Santander must be thinking that F1 is run by a complete cowboy outfit, or several of them.
        They go to McLaren for Alonso; that’s a complete disaster and he leaves after one year, together with a lot of bad publicity.

        Now they have moved to Ferrari and what happens? No Alonso yet and maybe never.

        The whole sordid mess must discourage potential sponsors.

        Also, I like Luca M’s list of drivers for next year:

        Massa: Don’t know.
        Raikkonen; They want to fire him.
        Badoer: We know all about that.
        Gene: Too slow.
        Fisichella: If he hasn’t done it yet………
        Schumacher: Got important bits broken.
        Mike Hawthorn, Luigi Musso………

        Some Lineup.

      3. James Allen says:

        I disagree, the sponsorship has been very effective for them

      4. rossetto says:

        Santander is a bank.
        On the last two years, we have seen where all the cowboys were ended.
        I cannot think of any other “world” more similar to the wild west than the financial one.

      5. Lex says:

        Yes but would the Ferrari mechanic make that mistake if Raikkonen was not queing behind Massa.
        The whole incident in the pitts probably, not definatley, would not have happened

      6. James Allen says:

        I don’t think you can say that. Mistake can happen at any time

      7. jw1980 says:

        James,

        I agree James that we will never know whether the mistake would have happened under normal racing circumstances. However, the pressure to perform good pitstops must be greater under a safety car situation.
        I know Max says it’s too late to change the results of Singapore but would Rosberg make a worthy winner anyway? His drive through was administed very late considering his offence for refuelling was a known offence. Therefore it could be argued that Lewis Hamilton was the rightful winner.

  10. CMR says:

    Raikkonen has been in stunning form recently, more so since his enforced number one status due to Massa’s awful accident.

    Now Raikkonen doesn’t have the pressure of a formidable team mate to battle with, his driving appears to have gotten even better, clearly Raikkonen has risen to the challenge of carrying Ferrari single handily – I don’t think Ferrari could ask for anything more.

    It’s almost beyond belief Ferrari are willing to let him go, I’m certainly not his greatest fan but even I can see Raikkonen, when given some breathing space is awesome and undeniably one of the very best F1 drivers available today.

    McLaren knew this all along, and Ferrari has been waiting for so long…

    1. Charlie says:

      great comment.

  11. Pay The Piper says:

    Santander announcing a slightly unexpected extension of their McLaren deal?

    Yes, Lewis sells a lot of Abbey, but still. It’s a flyer, but is it not possible that Santander are now ponying-up Kimi’s McLaren salary to begin to free up the logjam. Lot of nice photos of Kimi on the Monza grid talking to both Mansour and then Norbert.

    (BTW, I knew he was on enough to choke a horse, but didn’t realise the Kimster, and his agents, trousered over $170million dollars for the last two years … yowsa, no wonder LDM has fallen out of love.)

    1. Patrickl says:

      Santander is trying to sell their brand outside of Spain. In the UK they can do that better with McLaren and Hamilton than with Alonso.

    2. Red Kimi says:

      Where did you see pictures of Kimi with Norbert?

      1. Pay The Piper says:

        Mansour Ojjeh and Kimi share a joke:
        http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii14/defjam99b/mansour1.jpg

        Norbert Haug and Kimi in discussions about something:
        http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii14/defjam99b/norbert1.jpg
        http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii14/defjam99b/norbert2.jpg

        Between the two of them, thats 15% and 40% of McLaren talking to a Ferrari driver, right beside their car, 15minutes before a race.

        Also noticed the TV coverage had Stefano and Martin on the grid together laughing and chatting away. The Spa McLaren press release was full of effusive praise for Kimi, mentioned by name, by both MW and then NH.

        Just a bit of fun … we’ll all find out soon enough, and most of us will be wrong, but playing Kremlinoligist and trying to read who’s in and who’s out, by where they stand in the photos helps pass the time.

    3. Snail says:

      And to think Vettel is (according to the BBC broadcast a few weeks back) on $1 million per year (he is his own agent). Ouch. Time to find a manager Sebastian (give that Mr Briatore a wide berth when you’re looking).

      1. James Allen says:

        I think he’s on a good deal more than that…

  12. Grabyrdy says:

    As I think you’re suggesting, James, and as I’ve always suspected, Ferrari cannot be sure that Felipe will be OK. Hopefully they will in December, altho’ even that is perhaps wishful thinking. Stirling Moss, who had a similar injury, said once that he’d tried to come back too soon, and perhaps if he’d waited longer it would have been better. The standard of this sort of medecine is of course day and night compared to 1962, but still… They can’t let Kimi go, or not, until they know. I feel there may be a long way to go yet.

    1. Werewolf says:

      “The standard of this sort of medicine is of course day and night compared to 1962″

      And so are the cars!

      1. Grabyrdy says:

        Not sure I get what you’re driving at.

      2. Probably something to do with the G-forces being much higher now than in 1962, thus lengthening the recovery time and (at least partly) counteracting the vast improvements in medicine since that time.

        It is one of several reasons why I would not venture to suggest when/if Michael Schumacher might be race-ready again.

      3. Werewolf says:

        Sorry, Grabyrdy, I meant that the cars have changed just as much as the medicine over the period since Stirling Moss’ accident and that Massa will need to be fitter than Moss would have in order to be fully competitive.

      4. Grabyrdy says:

        OK, I get it. Schumacher’s injury is not the same, but Felipe’s is eerily like what Moss had – skull, brain, left eye. What he says (it’s all in Motor Sport this month) is that when he finally tried driving again, after more than a year, he felt that his automatisms had gone – he had to think : brake here, turn in there etc. and so retired on the spot, because he was being pressed for a decision, and if he’d given himself time, the necessary reflexes may have come back. It’s reactions, not g forces.

        Anyway, what I’m getting at is, it would be a pity if Felipe felt he had to get back on it quickly, rather than giving himself the time he needs, because of the obvious driver issues at Ferrari.

  13. Snail says:

    I commented on one of the Renault threads that you have a fine movie script. I was right, you certainly do! Complete with black and white slow-mo sequences to previous events in Singapore. This story is even more intrigue for the plot.

    Sly was interested in making an F1 movie. He doesn’t even need to write it, just take notes and it’ll happen for him.

    1. Jason C says:

      He was, and it became that awful film Driven.

    2. Patrickl says:

      Sly made an F1 movie already. Only he used IndyCars cars because he couldn’t get a financially sound deal with Ecclestone.

      1. Snail says:

        Blimey that must have been such a good movie that it got so much publicity I missed it :-)

        Thanks for the update. I’d always been wondering where that movie was. I had thought it’d been shelved. I’m sure the plot wasn’t as interesting and varied as the 2007/2009 seasons.

      2. Spyros says:

        Don’t worry, I think it’s safe to say that most F1 fans who saw it wish they’d missed it…

  14. Michael says:

    I think Ferrari made a mistake extending Raikkonen’s contract if this was their plan… now they have really complicated the situation. Ferrari should buy out Massa or figure out how to regulate him to test driver status for 2010 and then once Raikkonen leaves the team in 2011 bring Massa to the second race seat. With the Santander deal… Ferrari have to get Alonso in the car asap. Secondly, waiting another year for Alonso is taking another year out of his prime years. I wish they would confirm the driver line-up soon. All this waiting and rumours are tiring.

    1. Ahmad Albashrawi says:

      My understanding is that Kimi signed the initial contract to race in 2007 with ‘equal’ status with whoever will race alongside him at Ferrari. His contract was to finish by the end of last year with Ferrari not willing to renew his contract. However, the needed him to help Massa winning the championship, so they made him to sign a new 2 year contract with that ‘equal’ status omitted.

      But with the current financial status, Ferrari seems to be desperate for the commercial partner that will come along with Alonso. Things were not made easy with Massa’s crash and Kimi’s recent form, now having the number 1 status for the first time since he joined Ferrari. He showed in 4 races what he is capable of doing, something that I don’t think Massa has shown in the last year or early this year with such status.

      1. Amritraj says:

        There is zero probability that Kimi signed up for the extension as a number 2 to Massa. Kimi had an option in his original contract to extend it for another 2 years, if he met the points criterion decided mutually between Ferrari and him. He triggered that option in 2008 sometime before Monza. He never signed up as a number 2 just to retain the drive at Ferrari. He is a driver which any team would take in a heartbeat.

      2. Martin Collyer says:

        I agree with all of this, Amritraj, this is exactly how I recall it.

        Hell will freeze over before Kimi signs up to be a number 2.

      3. Ahmad Albashrawi says:

        Well, I really hope that you are right. I read the story here:

        http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/with-monza-ahead/#comments

        May be James you van shed some light into this?

    2. Grabyrdy says:

      Michael, I don’t think your other name in Schumacher ! And I have to say you have a very short memory. Massa came within a point of being champion last year, and arguably was pretty unlucky at several points of the season (not least Singapore …) As James says, they will wait for him until the last possible moment. You’ll just have to keep taking the tablets.

    3. James says:

      This could get really complicated if Raikkonen wins the championship next year.

  15. Rocky says:

    If Ferrari let go of Raikkonen, they will be making a huge mistake. Humungous actually. Kimi has shown in the past few races what he is capable of even in a dog of a car. In my opinion, Alonso is not required by Ferrari for next year or even in 2011 as I suspect Massa will be in full form by next year.

    Hopefully, the team I support makes a wise decision from their minds and not from their hearts, as we saw how disastrous it can be by the Badoer incident this year.

  16. Werewolf says:

    It is easy to see Alonso pushing Ferrari quite hard. Even if Renault has an F1 future, he must be wondering what the team would be like for him without the support he enjoys from Briatore and the strategic intellect of Symonds.

    For Ferrari, I suspect there is work to be done but the timing could be affected by other things. For example, Monza was about the Santander announcement, which could have been overshadowed by confirming Alonso. This way, there are two lots of positive press. Also, keeping Raikkonen dangling should ensure the continuation of his current form.

    With Santander now involved with both the red and silver teams, a Raikkonen move to McLaren financially massaged by the artist formerly known as peseta could work well for everyone.

  17. Retro says:

    I think Ferrari might want to see what happens to Massa. Getting Kimi out of there would be huge risk because he is the WDC and not Massa.

    Massa is great guy but won’t win WDC. Last year he did have time to show his skillz and he was only lucky enough to get close.

    While Kimi is having a awesome last part of season Ferrari might look absolutely idiotic if they sack Kimi and 2010 Kimi would be battling for WDC.

    With Brawn i think Kimi can do it. Mercedes got good engine, solid car and i think they would support more Kimi than Ferrari have. Seems that Ferrari is still living in the past and too much in Schumi-era. Massa is great example and car developing where Kimi has played the second violin.

    Alonso+Massa might be huge risk. Alonso wants and needs number 1 status in Ferrari and i don’t think Massa would give it easily and exactly same happened to Alonso in McLaren.

    And Alonso might not save Ferrari at all. He is good developer but when Ferrari have already started on working next year car Alonso might not be the best thing with it. And if it would then he would get the credit that he doesn’t deserve.

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      So if Alonso makes the car win, it wasn’t him, and if he doesn’t, it was. Eh ?

  18. Ed says:

    James,

    Do you think there is more to Fisichella’s move than meets the eye?

    By that I mean if Ferrari are going to do a ‘Hakkinen’ with Massa, then they could still get rid of Raikkonen for Alonso, and if necessary Fisi will be Alonso’s no 2 until Massa returns?

    and on a second point, I too had thought of the epilepsy. Surely that is so serious that the risk of a fit at the wheel would stop Felipe racing full stop? Surely they must be tsting for this now?

      1. Steve says:

        There are many different degree’s of it. You could have an “aura” for a second or two and never realized it happened. You just think you zoned out for a second. You would have to be hooked up to a monitor for several days to detect the small ones.

    1. Satish says:

      Ed, it’s not possible to test and see if he’ll ever have a fit or not. There’s only one route that can be safely taken and that is to consume anti-epileptic meds, which work by slowing down the amount of intense neural activity in the brain… which in turn is not what you’d want when racing.

      If such meds aren’t taken, then the risk of fits during a race is significantly higher than at other times due to many factors such as the extra load on the brain while racing (concentration, stress, fear, anger, etc), strobe/blinking lights like on the safety car, rear safety lights on the F1 cars, and what not.

      1. According to Article 1.5.1 of Appendix L of the International Sporting Code, any indication that Felipe is affected behaviourally by epilepsy (presumably including any “auras” that might be present) will result in his being prevented from holding a competition licence for ten years, whether anti-epileptic medication successfully treats it or not.

        Presumably if the medication worked, Felipe could then have his licence back, but by then it would be a moot point concerning F1.

  19. Hatty says:

    A friend in Germany James has told me that the media has reported that Nicolas Todt (manager if Massa) has been discussing with Norbert Haug at Monza.
    And a report said that Massa said that Mclaren is a great team, with a history as big as Ferrari and racing with Hamilton would be a great challenge.

    I’m not sure what he meant but does that mean that Massa is talking to Mclaren?? Can you find out??

  20. Erik Cramer says:

    If it turn out Alonso knew of the plan he will be a lot less desirable.

  21. William says:

    If I were Ferrari, I’d NEVER take Alonso on as a driver because of Spy-gate. Regarding Kimi vs Massa, I think that Massa is somewhat more valuable to Ferrari than Kimi. However, I’d be inclined to keep them both for next year. Why? Because you can never tell how well any particular driver is going to with any given car. Both Kimi and Massa have demonstrated that they can do well with this year’s car. Of course, next year’s car may prove to be a different story for either, so there’s still somewhat of a gamble in retaining the two—but that’s racing!

  22. Red Kimi says:

    James… Do you think Alonso is willing to drive with Kimi in the other car at Ferrari? I am not saying he is afraid of Kimi, but after what happened to him at McLaren I doubt he wants to have a former Champ in the same car as him Especially with no refueling next year which lessons the chances to help the #1 driver on each team with strategy, etc.

    1. Martin Collyer says:

      My name is not ‘James’, but I want to answer anyway.

      No, I doubt very much that Alonso wants to be partnered with Kimi.

  23. Cockney James Hunt says:

    Whisper it…Raikkonen is just a bit boring, isn’t he? He was such a nutter at McLaren, literally driving his cars into oblivion. We used to call him the fastest driver in the world. But, for two seasons, he’s become the bespectacled librarian of F1. Only Little Nicky Heidfield can compete in the tedium stakes. Ferrari need a driver with charisma, someone who can embody the brand. KR does not embody the Ferrari brand. He’s more like a Hyundai. Look at someone like Hamilton — he’s everything we thought Kimi was. A thrill seeking, devil may care, hard core racer. But, crucially, when he got pole at Monza, his post qualifying interview was gold dust; ‘so to finally pull it off and get it on pole it is almost like the first time’. Brilliant. Ferrari need a driver with charisma AND peerless driving skills. That driver is Fernando Alonso.

  24. christopher labrooy says:

    Kimi is top class and it is time for the iceman to go home to mclaren. Many reports suggest that mclaren is much more laid back with whitmarsh at the helm and that should suit Kimi. At least they can now guarantee him a rock solid reliable car.

    I hope Alonso goes to ferrari next year because he deserves better equipment.

  25. Silverstoned says:

    James, do you know whether everyone at Ferrari wants KR to leave or does he have some support among the team?
    Also, unlike us mere F1 nuts, you’ve actually met Kimi and can shed some light on how he manages to be on top of his game to the extent he is in his current situation within the team.
    It’s clear mealy mouthed Domenicali has gone down to the Vatican and made a vow never to praise anything Kimi has done if he can possibly help it.
    It’s clear from the body language after races that the Ferraristas loathe the Iceman

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s a pretty big question and the answer is a post in itself. He has less support now than in 2007, let’s put it that way. But if I say any more then Red Kimi will jam up my inbox with indignant messages!!

      1. Red Kimi says:

        I would never jam up your inbox James…. I think you are fair for the most part…. besides, if things keep going this way I may have to change to Silver Kimi or even Brawn Kimi… HA!

    2. Red Kimi says:

      I agree 100% If Massa would have got them a win this year the world would have stopped spinning with all the praise that would have come from the team. Massa got a third this year and the jumped for joy for 2 weeks. Kimi’s win barely got a nod from Stefano, in fact his only words of praise were “the press should keep this up with Kimi so that he performs well” that to me is a slap in the face for Kimi. He is basically saying Kimi was not trying before. If Kimi does stay at Ferrari I fear he will not get a fair shake now and only be there because he trapped them in a deal, that is how they will see it I think.

      1. Captain Kimbo says:

        True dat Red Kimi.

        Ferrari haven’t treated Kimi well. It’s ridiculous to me that they keep giving Massa so much time and effort. I’d like to see Kimbo back at Mclaren. That said, Hammy’s gonna be just as needy as Massa…

        Perhaps someone should start a one-car team just for Kimi.

      2. jeremy says:

        Kimi already has his own Jr. Formula team. Raikkonen Robertson Racing. maybe it’s time they hit the big time!

  26. Richard Dreyer says:

    I agree with the point that the last person, Michael raises. Yes Alonso is still young but if he was to stay at Renault and they don’t improve dramatically in 2010 (which I doubt they will), he’ll have had three years out of a title winning car.
    If he waits too many years there may be too many young guns slotted into great cars. Hamilton, Vettel, Kubica, Rosberg etc and he won’t add to his 2 titles.
    At this moment in time I’d love to see him in a Ferrari, but they may be famous last words if he goes on to dominate too much!

  27. Raj says:

    James, I have had enough people saying that Ferrari is the 5th best car on the grid. Who are the best 4 then? Brawn(Unquestionably yes)RBR who are struggling to keep up with renault car now. Mclaren which is good in one weekend and average in the other. Finally Force India which has been quick for just 2 races. Do you really think Ferrari is just the 5th best car on the grid?

    1. James Allen says:

      It varies depending on venue. It really is an amazing year

      1. Raj says:

        Could not agree more. It truly depends upon the track.

  28. Peter says:

    I think Kimi is in a great situation here. First of all he will get a nice summ anyway. Also, he has proved that all the critics were quite wrong he has been driving error-free with a car that should not be on the podium at all. I believe he can join McLaren or Brawn, so actually staying with Ferrari would be his worst option. He should leave Ferrari if they even just considering dropping him for Alonso. This family thing with Ferrari is nice and respctable but reached a certain level where it is causing ridiculous decisions now like giving a drive to Luca. Kimi’s performance in Spa was fantastic the old Kimi is still there. I would love to see him with Brawn (Mercedes) or back with McLaren.

  29. Alistair Blevins says:

    James,

    Do you have any insight on why Kimi has failed maintain the form of his championship year. He’s looked positively bored at times.

    On the flip side Alonso used his experience in ’05 to great effect in ’06.

    What separates them in the paddock, out of the car, that gives one the edge over the other – if indeed there is an edge?

    1. Scotsman101 says:

      It’s debatable how good Raikonnen’s form was throughout the WHOLE of 2007. I mean, the first half wasn’t too great and he ended up far short of Hammy but come the 2nd half he drastically improved and the rest is, as they say, glorious history ;). I’ve heard that it is the handling of the Ferrari that is not to Kimi’s (certainly that is what was said last year) compared to the Mclaren. Perhaps this is the wider issue with his fluctuating performance at the Prancing Horse, I mean, this year again he had a woeful start to the season (even though, he did have a sick dog of a car and some terrible luck)
      One thing positive about Kimi though for any team is that he won’t destabilise the garage…unlike dear Fernando!

  30. Wingers says:

    On a side note James, I know its early days, but as we know F1 is ruthless..

    What do you make of Grosjean’s 3 races thus far? He seems to be giving it a lot more than Piquet could? He just generally pace wise is a bit closer to Alonso.

    I personally don’t think he has ever gotten over his crash at Monaco, where we have seen his quite daring driving drop a notch. He seemed a lot more ‘up for anything’ prior to parking his GP2 car on the armco. What are your thoughts on his potential and performance?

    Which to me leads hand in hand with Massa. It’s going to be very tough for him to be as competitive, or even near to it, coming back from his injury… But the fact that he didn’t really have an accident so to speak, do you think that the “fear” factor would be any different, when compared with say cashing full speed into Eau Rouge, with no brakes? He was knocked out with the actual accident having little effect, but having said that we all know what kind of driver Karl Wendingler came back as after his accident, not anywhere near as confident!?

    So maybe Ferrari’s decisions have to hinge around what state of mind Massa comes back in. Hence the kind of waiting around. I’m sure we all know that the driver market isn’t really going to move until Alonso and Kimi fill in the first places. Let’s face it there aren’t exactly a million GP2 drivers knocking on the doors of top teams performance wise. So we could be waiting till very late into the year for answers perhaps…

    Looking forward to closure on the PK vs Reno saga, and hopefully Alonso confirmed finally at Ferrari!!! Sooner than later! Oh and one last line, so stoked that Montoya made the Nascar chase, really (surprisingly) enjoying the racing Nascar provides, which I would never have been exposed to had Montoya not gone there!

    Wow this sport is never short of ink to paper hey!

    1. James Allen says:

      Think he’s on the edge, that’s his way. Time will tell.

  31. Jonathan Boxall says:

    Very interesting reading as per James,

    What do you think about the potencial Alonso vs Schumacher battle that could become of Ferrari next season?

    Is Alonso waiting for Shumacher to declare his position? …is Schumacher awaiting an Alonso decision?

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t know about Schumacher. He’ll be 41 years old by the start of next year. I can’t see him doing a whole season, and the third car thing isn’t likely to happen anyway, unless several teams drop out

  32. Mattij says:

    How about this, James:

    Ferrari already have Kimi and Massa for next year. As long as they say nothing more, almost all other drivers and teams are waiting.

    Maybe they are not saying anything just to make all others wait and lose time for 2010 preparation.

    Perhaps they will arrive in opening race next season with Kimi and Felipe, and all others will be still wondering!

  33. adam hiles says:

    Hi James
    Just a quick question: There is obviously much speculation about the possibility of Alonso joining Ferrari, but what I would like to know is, do you think the relationship will actually work, and ultimately provide successful, or end up as an arguable failure like the Alonso McLaren tenure in 2007?
    Thanks a lot, Adam

  34. Mattij says:

    Also, James:

    What do you know about Montezemolo – Kimi relationship? I think that might be the key.

    In Monza, Montezemolo seemed to be quite fed up with Spanish speculation (“sponsors don’t choose drivers”). So maybe eventually it will come down to what Luca feels is right.

    There was great cameo in a Finnish tv, in which Kimi was presenting a Ferrari road car. While making the program, Montezemolo’s assistant appeared and asked Kimi to come to talk to Luca. Kimi was busy, so he just literally told this guy to f___ off and to inform Luca that he comes when he is done.

    That made me wonder whether his relationship with Montezemolo is that good – or that bad?

    And I remember seeing Ross Brawn in 2006 explaining the choice between Kimi and Alonso. They decided that team building skills were secondary with the Ferrari team as it then was. So, they went for the faster of the two.

    But who made the choice back then? Montezemolo, Todt, Brawn, Domenicali or Michael even?

      1. Raj says:

        I believe Jean Todt never quite liked Alonso after he rejected the Ferrari test drive. May be the sore relation between him and Michael in 2006 made the matters worse for him. At that point in time he also did not seem much interested to go to Maranello as he was preparing himself for Woking with with a good deal in hand.

      2. Grabyrdy says:

        Also left his son’s driver Massa a bit more leeway than he would have had with Alonso. But surely Alonso was never free ?

  35. Thomas says:

    Hello James,

    This is turning out to be a great blog, with lots of great opinions.

    The Fisichella signing is the key to Ferrari’s thinking, which will see Alonso come in for 2010 and Raikkonen depart (to McLaren).

    Ferrari signed Fisichella to edge their bets with Massa. They will have Alonso for 2010 (so long as he is not implicated in crash-gate) and will have Massa if fit; if not, they will run Alonso / Fisichella, who worked well together at Renault.

    If they don’t get Alonso, they will run Fisichella / Massa.

    If they have neither Alonso or Massa, they can run Fisichella / Badoer (aka the dream team)!!!

    Or is Schumi in the back-up plans (any news on his possible return James??)

    Thomas
    Canada

  36. Andy says:

    Ferrari have created quite a dilemma for themselves. Given how much Kimi’s results have improved since Massa’s accident, it appears to be clear that the team has been set to support Felipe all this time, with Kimi paying the price. If this is true (and I have no idea if it really is, it’s just how it appears to me), Ferrari have made themselves look fools, give Kimi the support he is getting now and they would’ve won the WDC last year too. And how foolish will they look like if they sack Kimi and he wins the WDC next year (which he will, if he just drives the way he has been doing lately and is given a decent car, like a McLaren). Alonso hasn’t really become the rainmaker Renault must’ve hoped for, they are not any better today than they were on 2007 with Fisichella and Kovalainen and I’m sure some Ferrari employees are still somewhat grumbled at Alonso for his part on the spygate and wouldn’t be happy if he demanded #1 status over Felipe, who is loved very much. Would he really bring something to Ferrari that is worth tens of millions of euros that they would have to pay to Kimi for -not- driving? Di Montezemolo must be pondering this, especially now that Kimi has been able to show what he is capable of when given the chance.

    Obviously Ferrari can’t wait until December to announce their driver line-up, both Kimi and Alonso will demand to know much earlier if they will drive for them with certainty. Kimi’s situation in this sense is somewhat weaker, as he obviously can’t just make a deal with another team while having a contract with Ferrari for next year. They should just come out and clearly announce their line-up, the sooner the better. The endless rumor mill is getting tiresome.

  37. AmandaG says:

    Can I just say James I really hope the brain surgeons are wrong. The problem with epilepsy is it is very hard to diagnose. I’ve had it for 17 years, after countless brain scans it took 8 years to diagnose it. Then a further 2 years to control it. It cant be pre-diagnosed. Nothing triggers mine, we tried the enforced ones, alcohol, flashing lights, computers, caffeine etc… nothing. They only traced it through something that had never led to a fit.

    I think that Massa’s health has a lot to do with the situation. The last combination they want is an Alonso/Fisi combination. Because they either want an Alonso/Massa, Kimi/Massa or Alonso/Kimi situation.

    Alonso is not key to the market, Massa is.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that, Amanda

  38. Jonathan Chan says:

    Heres my take on F1′s sillest season.

    *Ferrari – Ferrari’s plans to annouce their driver line up for the 2010 season have been delayed for a number reasons. [Some of which may not be the case]

    1. Felipe Massas freak incident at the Hungary grand prix was unexpected. Felipe was largely tipped to remain with Ferrari for the 2010 season, this accident has ofcourse forced Ferrari to reassess their driver options for 2010 pending an F1 test for Felipe that will allow the team to monitor his performance and indeed his overall health and physcological state.

    2. Pending that test, If the results are postive Felipe will remain with Ferrari for an additional season. Negative and I believe Fisichella maywell continue as their second driver untill a suitable replacement is found.

    3. Renaults Race Fix scandal – I believe it was Ferrari’s intention to sign Alonso for the 2011 season why else would they sign Kimi Raikkonen for 2010? – However dependant on the WMSC verdict on whether Renault will be found guilty and for example if they are and face Expulsion from the Formula 1 world championship where exactly will Fernando Drive for? If Renault are excluded Ferrari will pay off Raikkonens contract and introduce Fernando for 2010 and beyond a year ahead of schedule.

    4. Santander’s sponsorship agreement – It’s a long term contract [5 Years] – Although I believe its Santanders wish that Fernando will drive for Ferrari sooner rather than later, the move will happen in 2011. Santander’s association with Mclaren and Lewis Hamilton has sparked global awareness and commerical success for their British branch ‘Abbey’ hence their extension with Mclaren. For that reason Santander are commerically flexible, their assosication with Lewis Hamilton has been highly successful and they can continue to reap the rewards of that partnership for the 2010 season untill Fernando joins Ferrari and thus the assosication with Lewis Hamilton won’t be as important.

    5. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo’s comments at the Santander press conference. -”Sooner or later I’ll make it happen. We’ll see when,” di Montezemolo told Spanish reporters at Monza.

    “For next year we have Raikkonen, Massa, Fisichella, Badoer, Gene, and I hope Michael Schumacher, so we have a bench as long as Real Madrid’s.” – A very good point. Luca doesn’t exactly lie or fib when he speaks to the public, this suggests to me that Fernando is well placed to replace Raikkonen at the end of the 2010 season which in turn may prompt Raikkonen to forefill his ambition of competiting in the World rally championship with Fiat.

    6. Ferrari are in the pound seat they hold all the cards whilst we ponder their next move.

  39. JohnBt says:

    The Renault saga is really a sad one. My guess is Renault will be prosecuted, then Alonso will really be in trouble, maybe an end to his career, which many are hoping for. With the endless comments on “crashgate” it’s better to be pessimistic. It will be a big bonus if all goes well with Renault. Signs will be if Renault starts unloading their gears in Singapore by this weekend, if not I fear there will be 18 cars. SAD & DEJECTED.

  40. Ian Blackwell says:

    I see a brilliant marketing opportunity for Ferrari, McLaren and the FIA here. They need to start a reality show to fill their posssibly two vacant driver seats over the off season! There certainly seem to be more than a few top tier candidates floating around… Alonso, Kubica, Raikonnen, the Stig etc….

  41. tomo says:

    Pound for pound Kimi is a far superior driver to Filipe.

    Would anybody disagree?

    1. Peter says:

      NO. Agree.

    2. Dean says:

      I 2nd that.

    3. Marc says:

      Agree, easily.

  42. Sri says:

    James, would you care to explain why you would think Kimi’s move to McLaren does not make sense (your response to #4)? On the contrary as others here and in other websites have pointed out, it makes perfect sense to have Kimi in McLaren. McLaren will then potentially have two drivers to win WDC (unlike one now), WCC will also be in their grasp with two competitive drivers and finally Kimi may be available in F1 for only few years after which McLaren can look for some younger fast driver to partner the “senior” Lewis. Not to forget that Kimi getting beaten by Lewis is still alright as there will be no fireworks like Lewis-Fernando relationship (considering Felipe beating Kimi last year). Lewis getting beaten by Kimi is also OK as Lewis and his team must have learnt some lessons from 2007.

    Another question I’ve for you is does Kimi also like #1 status in the team but he is not as vocal as Fernando/Lewis/Michael? May be he shows it through his average performances? The reason I ask you this is that as soon as Kimi felt that he was the lead driver his performances improved. His denial that he does not care who drives the second car is perhaps self-delusion or avoiding media-attention on this issue.

  43. F1 Kitteh says:

    I guess the words credit crunch mean nothing to Fiat, or they have really short memories. I can’t see how paying off Kimi in full (which is reportedly upwards of Eur50mm ?) can be justified from a business perspective unless bringing Alonso one year early will guarantee extra revenue to cover the amount in entirety. Otherwise the management would be doing a great disservice for the Fiat shareholders.

    1. jeremy says:

      surely part the payoff would come from Santander.

  44. Trevor Yates says:

    What an unpredictable season both on and off the track!

    Except for the horrible scandals, it truly has been one of the best seasons in living memory.

    Now, with regard to the driver market I agree with many comments above that Kimi and Alonso hold the key to the driver’s market but James, do you think that the teams are still waiting to see who pulls out?

    I mean we know the 3rd car option is unlikely but from what I understand Toyota’s future in the sport is still not secured, despite John Howett’s statement to the contrary; Renault’s future possibly hinges on the outcome of their hearing; and of the 3 new teams it seems that only USF1 have all the ingredients to definitely be on the grid next year (forgive me if I am wrong).

    Therefore could we possibly find ourselves in a situation where the 3rd car is a possibility?

    And if so could we see Alonso, Massa & Schumacher in the Ferrari; Hamilton, Rosberg & Kubica in the McLaren; Button, Barichello & Kimi in the Brawn… Now that would be a dream scenario!

    Given the nature of this season nothing would surprise me!

    Anyway keep up the fantastic work… Your site is absolutely the best F1 site on the internet “for sure”.

  45. Paul says:

    I reckon Kimi is the problem, everything was set for a Monza announcement. To leave Kimi’s contract would have to be bought out, and he’d have to find a drive for next year, perhaps he was moving toward a Renault seat and suddenly thanks to Crash-gate that option less certain, so maybe Kimi’s got cold feet about leaving and knocked back the payout offer from Ferrari…. So what are Kimi’s other options, Brawn, not likely Ross was so excited about working with Kimi he left Ferrari, so I suppose that leaves McLaren…. Doubt we’ll get resolution until after the Renault hearing, which might be bad news for Alonso’s by then he might just be desperate for a drive…. Bet Webber is glad he has a contract for next year!!!!

  46. Lady Snowcat says:

    I think Ferrari were ready to announce Alonso and pay out Kimi but two things intervened:-

    Firstly no-one can be certain that Fernando didn’t know about a “Crashgate” deal given that his strategy was so questionable…. and therefore he may get some of the mud and, less likely but possible, some of a ban…. a Fisi/Badoer partnership doesn’t look good…

    I just wonder if Kimi’s geniality towards Macca have made Ferrari think that Kimi may get a huge slug of money from the red team which would fund his time at the silver team… they may then baulk at paying Kimi out on the deal in those circs…

    Finally now Ferrari have no choice but to support Kimi regadless of any Schuey influence isn’t it amazing that he gets the car he needs…

    I don’t believe that Ferrari have really understood Kimi or put their all into supporting him until now…

  47. Finn says:

    I don’t think it is a question of Alosno going to Ferrari in 2010. It is a question of which driver will partner him in 2010.

    I think Alonso made an important point (a flag to the world confirming he is on his way to Ferrari) in one of his interviews over the weekend when he said that maybe he wasn’t the fastest driver or the most technical driver, but that he was the most consistent … a side-swipe at Kimi (who was asleep and disinterested for large parts of the season) and Massa who has always had a mix of up and down races.

    I think Ferrari want Alonso for 2010, but, because of Massa’s injury, they now don’t know whether they should hold on to Kimi or not.

    If they pay Kimi off, he can afford to go to any team on the grid: he’ll already have a fat pay-cheque in his pocket for 2010 and so money won’t be an issue. He knows he hasn’t got a Ferrari contract for 2011, so it would make sense for him to move in 2010 with his Ferrari salary intact and then take a 2 or 3 year contract with another team.

    I think it is possible Kimi will go back to Macca now Ron is out of the day-to-day F1 picture, but unlikely.

    Think it is more likely that he will go to Brawn on a 2 year contract with an option for a third year based on perfomance targets. I think talk of Kimi being pushed out of Ferrari, and Mercedes suddenly getting into bed with Brawn is not a simple coincidence.

    Kimi has had a long relationship with Mercedes and I think Haug would be keen to see Kimi in a Merc car again.

    Kimi is not a great team player and has always been a bit of a maverick.

    Tough for him in corporate Macca and tough for him in familial Ferrari.

    But working with pure racing pragmatists like Ross and Haug would be a very good fit for Kimi.

    So, if Massa is well enough, then it will be Alonso and Massa at Ferrari … with Kimi at Brawn.

    If Massa can’t return, it will PROBABLY be Alonso and Kimi at Ferrari.

    1. DK says:

      Well said. Kimi is more like a lone wolf. As I remembered he was never a buddy to his team mates, Nick, DC, JPM and Massa.

      James, do you know if Kimi has any good buddy among the drivers on the grid?

      1. Robyn says:

        If you go by the drivers parade and paddock pics, Kimi pretty much always hangs about with either Heikki or Sebastian Vettel. Apparently Vettel and Kimi play badminton occasionally as they live fairly close together in Switzerland. But I’m just going by what I’ve read and seen in pictures.

    2. jeremy says:

      Kimi and Jenson would be difficult for Jenson more so than Ross and the team. Jenson relies on the team interaction whilst Kimi is well known for not being so involved with his teammates. Kimi would really bring out the driver in Jenson. I personally think Jenson is a fantastic driver and needs that push to be on it 100%. When he and Barri are pushing each other for lap times, he really shines. He hasn’t been consistently pressured all year.

      It would be great from a marketing standpoint, 2 WDC’s (assuming Jenson clinches) and the new Mercedes deal. The possibility to repeat both championships back to back would be ideal for investors and stakeholders alike.

  48. rossetto says:

    A lot of people is raving for the last fine performances of Kimi with a “dog” of a car.
    We miss Massa on the equation.
    For what we know, Massa could have finished the last 4 races on front of Kimi.

    Beside with all we can say about Fisi, at a certain point he was driving within 2 tenths of Kimi laptimes.
    By the time fisi was putting some decent times, he had only about 90 laps made on the F60 against a couple of thousands for Kimi.

    As Kimi always says: “Let’s wait and see”.

    After all, he may still not be anymore the thunder that he used to be and the F60 may not be such a dog.

  49. Francisco says:

    It is very remote, but if Kimi negotiates a deal to get out for 2010 and Massa is not fit to race when Ferrari test him at the end of the season that leave Alonso and Fisi to race together like the old days. That will be very ironic, will’t be?

  50. Alexis says:

    “I think that there was one on the table, but Raikkonen wanted paying in full for the season”

    I thought legally, he was entitled to nothing less?

    1. jeremy says:

      If both parties agreed to a deal, the contract is null.

      I presume the speculation of the deal on the table was a buyout from Ferrari for a % of his original contract. Surely he wants to maximize his earnings and he knows he will have a drive on the grid from any other team on a whim’s notice.

      1. Alexis says:

        True, but if he has a contract entitling him to £10million (for example), they can agree to call it a day for £5million, or whatever But Raikonnen could also insist on 10 and sue for 10 if Ferrari breached their contract by sacking him and paying nothing.

        The point being, he would suffer financial loss and be entitled to his actual damages, which is the point of contracts.

        Of course, Raikonnen could just forget the whole thing and go and drive for another team from scratch.

  51. Duey says:

    Hi James,
    You yourself has often said that Kimi doesn’t build the team around him and isn’t good at car development. Personally I don’t buy that a driver develops a car, but that’s a separate topic.

    If Kimi is so poor in this department, why is the Ferrari so much better now than earlier in the season especially after Massa was no longer in the picture and the driver all people think are great at development is in a slower Renault?

    (I think the Renault is quite fast, but they haven’t had a perfect weekend)

    1. James Allen says:

      Ferrari stopped developing this car, if you remember, in August, so Kimi’s doing a tremendous job in it.

  52. Ed says:

    James,

    This is slightly off the Alonso/Ferrari subject but the Brit papers this morning are suggesting Jenson could be on the way out of Brawn and that talks over a new contract have stalled, possibly to make way for Rosberg…?

    Can you shed any light on this or do you have any info on it from inside sources?

    1. James Allen says:

      Jenson would like a higher offer, Brawn want it to be known that they have alternatives, I’m sure they will settle on a deal. Jenson’s stock has risen this year, but I can’t see another good move for him elsewhere an he’s very close to the team

      1. F1 Kitteh says:

        What alternatives does Button have ? I really see none.

  53. Colin says:

    I have a few friends from Italy who I IM, and 3 think Raikkonen is likely to stay for 2010. No Idea where Alonso goes, maybe to McLaren for one year :)

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