The reaction to Kimi Raikkonen’s move back to Ferrari has been interesting. Fans have mixed views with many delighted to see the Finn back in red, while others think that the combination of Fire and Ice will not work.
As for the media, Italy’s leading sports paper Gazzetta dello Sport describes it as a “brave but dangerous choice”.
“It’s stimulating but also insidious. Above all though it was an inevitable choice. Felipe Massa had reached the end of a glorious career in red, an excellent second driver, better than Irvine or Barrichello. But his performances now are more about lows than highs.
“Two roosters in a hen house, as they say, even if Kimi isn’t a rooster on the same level as Alonso, Vettel or Hamilton.
“Kimi will have a role to push Alonso, but also will serve to limit him. We won’t have a team at the feet of one driver, but two drivers in the service of a team.”
The main story has a headline “A Ferrari to amaze” and notes that Raikkonen was informed on Monday afternoon of the decision and that he will be paid €11 million per season. For Gazzetta the input of new technical director James Allison was key to Ferrari having the confidence to re-hire Raikkonen. When the news was announced Ferrari’s website had 200,000 hits in three hours.
Finland’s Turun Sanomat is naturally delighted with the news. F1 correspondent Heikki Kulta noted that “Raikkonen’s two-year contract was finalized by mananager Steve Robertson only this week, although the talks have been going on for a long time.”
According to Auto Motor und Sport in Germany, Nico Hulkenberg’s manager Werner Heinz expressed disappointment that after weeks of contract to and fro, Ferrari’s team boss Stefano Domenicali informed him on Tuesday night by SMS that they would not be hiring the German driver. Hulkenberg is now on Lotus’ shortlist along with Felipe Massa.
For the Daily Mail in England, Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari is a “shot in the arm for the sport” while opining that Alonso is likely to get the upper hand more often than not,
For writer Jonathan McEvoy, “The return of 33-year-old Raikkonen is partly a result of Ferrari favouring an experienced driver to help them adapt to rule changes going into next season. That ruled out Nico Hulkenburg of Sauber, the other leading contender for the seat that will be vacated by Brazilian Felipe Massa in November.
“Another advantage with Raikkonen is that, despite being wilfully monosyllabic, he has a cult following and possesses the better marketing appeal.
“Raikkonen’s move is a shot in the arm for the sport, pitching two star drivers against each other in intra-team rivalry. Most observers would expect Alonso to prevail over the course of a season, but wait for the fireworks if Raikkonen betters him more than once in a while.”
The Mail also draws attention to the humourous reaction of Lotus F1 Team to Raikkonen’s departure on its Twitter account. With an image of two rabbits mating it implies either that Raikkonen has treated them roughly (although team boss Erid Boullier says there are no hard feelings) or that Raikkonen is in for a tough time at Ferrari with Alonso…
The Telegraph writer Tom Cary also predicts trouble. He says, “2014 at the Scuderia could resemble a season of Game of Thrones; a bloody battle for supremacy between a hot-headed Spaniard and a cold-blooded Finn, a song of fire and ice cream.
“Raikkonen is very much his own man; unpredictable, and at times uncontrollable, albeit he is less wild than he was in his younger years.”
The Spanish media greets the news with caution ,as might be expected, for Oriol Puigdemont in El Pais, “This outcome was unthinkable until recently, mainly by the role of the Spaniard as a spearhead to the team. However, the rope that bound both sides has been stretched lately, and the proof is the public ‘tweak of the ear’ from Luca Cordero Montezemolo, President, before the summer. The boss reminded him that when you race for Ferrari the common good always prevails over individuals, and that occasionally he had not liked Alonso’s attitude.
“With the addition of (Raikkonen), one of the stars of the F1 event, Montezemolo has three objectives: to make clear who’s in charge, increase the count of points in the constructors’ championship and, in turn, put the screws to the Spaniard, who will be next to someone able to shoot as fast as he or even more.”
Listen to the latest JA on F1 Podcast, out now, with a fascinating interview with Claire Williams, deputy team principal of Williams F1 team and Giedo van der Garde explains why he’s raised his game since the new Pirelli tyres came into F1