Red Bull’s dilemma over team mate for Sebastian Vettel
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Aug 2013   |  5:13 pm GMT  |  376 comments

Daniel Ricciardo or Kimi Raikkonen? This is the choice the Red Bull management team is mulling over this Summer Break, when looking at who should partners Sebastian Vettel next season.

On the face of it, filling a seat in the most consistently competitive car of the last three years is a nice problem to have.

And while both candidates have much to recommend them, both carry a risk, albeit in different ways.

With Ricciardo the risk is obvious – he’s less experienced and although clearly quick, his consistency at a high level has yet to be proven. According to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, “Daniel is at the beginning of his career, but he has the speed, and the rest you won’t know until you put him in that situation,
but we’ve a reasonable amount of information to make a decision.”

With Raikkonen the risk is more subtle and it’s one which will be playing on the mind of Raikkonen himself. What happens if and when he gets too close to Vettel?

Red Bull has been a well oiled winning machine since 2009; the only time things have got difficult was when Mark Webber got too close to Vettel, as in the incidents of 2010 in Turkey and then at Silverstone with the front wing swap, then more recently in Malaysia.

Raikkonen will want assurances that he would be given an equal opportunity to win before he would commit to any deal.

“Both drivers get the same opportunity,” said Horner.

“It’s down to what they do on the track that determines who is the lead driver or not, and the lead driver at any given time is the one who has the most points.”

This has indeed been the modus operandi of the team during the Webber/Vettel years, but it’s not been without it’s rough spots. When things got tight in 2010 Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz said that he would rather lose the championship than impose team orders.

But fans have developed the impression from some of the things that have happened that there is a conspiracy against, Webber. Some of Helmut Marko’s utterances have not eased this concern.

Raikkonen would present a bigger challenge from the outset and his enormous popularity with fans would increase the risk.

Even if he is possibly a shade slower in qualifying pace, he would be right there on a consistent basis in races, creating the need to make strategy preference calls and many internal headaches.

His challenge would give Vettel a fresh motivation, especially if he wins a fourth title this year. But he would present a greater management challenge too.

Either way, Horner has said that Vettel – who has already said publicly after the Hungarian GP that he would prefer Raikkonen as his team mate next year – will not have a say in the choice of his team mate for next season.

“He hasn’t voiced a preference (internally) either way. He knows Kimi, he knows Daniel,” said Horner

“Both are very quick drivers and would represent a challenge for him, but he has not looked to influence the team in any way as to which way we should be looking.

“We obviously want the two fastest and strongest drivers we can put in the car for next year, and both Daniel and Kimi would represent extremely good options.”

Mercedes looks very strong for the next few years and its well matched and potent driver pairing will give Red Bull food for thought. It is an intriguing dilemma and it will be fascinating to see which way they go.

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1

I am sure that Kimi have been presented a contract to drive for Red Bull already

It is up to Kimi now to decide if he wants to leave Lotus(a team he enjoys being a part of)for Red Bull

Why do you think Sebastian Vettel says he would prefer Kimi as a team mate? He really wants Daniel Riccardo as a team mate because he knows Riccardio will automatic be a number 2 driver something Kimi will never agree on.

I can not see how many of you are thinking that Alonso and Hamilton is better than Kimi??

I a quite sure that most experts agree with me that there never have been a driver with a more natural talent for Formula 1 racing than Kimi Raikkonen!

Kimi is the best without any doubts in my book and we are lucky to have him in Formula 1

But be sure that even that Kimi and Vettel are friends on and off track Vettel really does not want Kimi in the same car as him

It would take Kimi some time to get used to the Red Bull car and after that Kimi would beat Vettel on a regular basis.

2

Roger I agree whole heartedly, I would only add Lewis is the other natural talent- he just needs to control his emotions and mind control a bit better. Where’s Kimi is born with that mental strength and consistency.

3

well, a lot of whst you say may well be true but i certainly don’t fully subscribe to it. the question is, simply, why was webbers car subsequently slower year on year?

he has always said that he would not race just to make up the numbers, and i believe him. yes, he has been dogged by absolutely abysmal luck but taking that out of the equation, he hss still suffered at the hands of the team, IMO, that is.

whilst i say that, it with certainty, that the same opinion is shared by a vast number of people associated with the very day to day operations of F!.

i recall very early on, in 2010 i think, that after one of his wins,’the garage was almost empty and it was decidedly frosty’ according to anne neal, webbers partner. webber did state some time later that ‘i wasn’t supposed to win today’ or words to that effect.

so from very early on he has had to fight two battles, one in the garage and one the track. i simply don’t buy the proposition that webber has lost it to the extent that some people believe. whilst webber states that he had made up his mind pre xmas not to race for another year i am pretty damn sure that sepang proved the point, that he had made the right decision. he would never be allowed to win again. horners disgusting display of weakness was a stark reminder not only to webber but to all who follow F1 that webber was in effect a second class ‘F1 citizen’according to red bull.

4

james, if i am reading you properly what you are saying is that webber has gone downhill and is simply unable to match vettels speed?

sepang was a fine drive by webber and he had the measure of vettel yet he was conned out of a win, on merit, due to horners inability to control vettel but what you are saying is very very different.

the fact that horner did not attempt to order vettel to give the place back speaks volumes. but you seem to think that there are no ‘forces’ at play on the bench to ensure a vettel victory whenever possible.

if webber has lost it, and you indicate that he has then it certainly doesn’t show when he stormed through the field from 14th to 4th! if that shows that webber can no longer cut it then i shall give up trying to make a point.

5

I really like Webber. His say it like it is candour, his intelligent comments on a wide range of issues, and his grit. But in Mark’s hands, the Red Bull was the 3rd fastest car in 2011, 6th fastest in 2012, and currently looks slower than Kimi in a Lotus, Hamilton in a Merc and Alonso in a crap Ferrari.

If Webber were asked to rate himself, I think your views would not accord with Mark’s honest views about himself. Recently Webber’s candour was again in display when he commented that when he had the best car, he had the misfortune of Vettel as a team mate. But when Button had the fastest car, Button had Barichello as a teammate and ended up WDC. I read that as Webber having no doubts that he would have been WDC had Vettel not been such a precocious superstar.

6

bring back Kamui Kobayashi. why not? fast, popular with the fans. he would be great for marketing Red Bull in Japan!

7

James, on a separate note though still relevant is how important will it be for drivers to be very adaptable in 2014 with ERS , fuel limits, and other technical considerations.

This must surely weigh very heavily into team principals minds and make them seek out an experienced adaptable guy. I think RBR racing would want Kimi for this more than anything else.. But the question remains what does Kimi want

8

if i may interject here for a moment…elle, surely the old adage of ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ would be relevant in this situation?

9

Räikkönen has been very adaptable to all kinds of changes in the past. His approach seems to be so zen that he can pretty much drive anything very fast. But this speculation seems a bit unnecessary now if he’s really going to Ferrari. I don’t know what to believe anymore. HS has really thrown me off.

10

Well Kenneth I would think any driver that has driven v10’s, v8’s, two or three different chasis formulas, 2 or 3 different tyres formulas- and is competitive from the very first race of each new season and new formula is a very valuable old dog in deed. I would suggest only other drivers remaining are Button & Alonso with that experience. But since last year no-one has proved more adaptable and fast than Raikkonen- he is always on it from the very first race after winter testing…I hate to keep saying it- Natural Talent..You cannot replace that old-new or anything in between.

12

Finnish Tabloid saying Kimi has signed a 3 -year contract with Ferrari.

They are known from mistakes. But what makes it more than just silly rumor is that the groups mainstream newspaper HS – the biggest in the country is quoting the news on the front page of their web pages. Looks to me they seem to believe that this is true. HS is much more conservative and much more journalism.

13

obviously horner cannot control vettel [sepang] and i cannot imagine him controlling raikonnen either. two drivers, neither of which will take orders/instructions from the team principal would be potentially explosive.

IMO redbull never field two identical cars in the sense of being equal in performance. statistics would support that premise. if this is the case then how would they guarantee raikonnen an equal billing? i don’t think they will. the last thing that they want is for vettel to walk. if vettel gets beaten then his reputation will be in tatters. likewise if raikonnen is beaten then his values will plummet. there cannot be two winners but there can be two losers.

14

I don think you can say that. Webber has out qualified Vettel in the past and even when he didn’t he was often 1/100ths of a second off.

So I think Red Bull has been more than capable of fielding two equal cars

15

Completely agree that RB is capable of and has fielded equal cars.

If Kimi is fast and races Vettel for wins, that’s a situation that can be managed – management just needs to make a judgement call based on the personalities.

If Dan is inconsistent and doesn’t deliver points, that’s a more difficult problem – Lotus face this with Grosjean and Ferrari face this with Massa. But of course Dan could be a consistent point scoring machine. I just don’t know.

But we know Kimi is consistent and brings home a bunch of points every time he has the opportunity.

Kimi has to make the call whether (1) Lotus will be just as quick on average as RB in 2014; (2) Lotus will be faster, or (3) RB will be faster. If (3) then he should join RB. If (1) or (2) then it makes sense to stay with Lotus. Difficult call. But these calls have to be made and its easy to criticise on hindsight Webber is an example where a wrong call was made to join Williams; and Hamilton joining Mercedes is a lucky but good call on hindsight.

Conspiracy theories are fun to indulge in, especially for hardcore biased supporters of certain teams or drivers. But that’s par for the course for F1 and indeed many other sports. At least F1 conspiracy theories are fun to read – not like the depressing 9/11 or zig zag Kennedy bullet conspiracy theories.

16

actually james, i never said anything about webber ‘out qualifying vettel’. what i said was that they, RB, never seem to field two cars that are identical in performance. yes, at times the qualifying has been incredibly close but if you look at the actual race results you will see that since 2010 webber has never matched vettel in overall race performance.

is this because webber has failed as a driver and simply lost his ability? obviously unforeseen circumstances account for some of the variations but surely this cannot be the mitigating factor in all races? the overall results, which i alluded to in my post, certainly leave room for conjecture…don’t they?

17

People will speculate and there will always be conspiracy theories, because they like Webber and to some extent because of things like the wing swap, which raised doubts (I said at the time that the collateral damage to RBR from that decision would far outweigh any modest performance benefit to Vettel)

But RBR are in the business of winning championships and for that they need two cars finishing at the front. There is no difference between the cars. He has slipped back from Vettel on the whole – with exceptions like Malaysia, Silverstone this year – compared to 2010. You can see it in the charts Mark Gillan does for us,

18

James I think the mistake most fans make is they ignore the fact Vettel has improved massively from 2009 and he keeps on going up a gear every year whereas Webber is not but people want to view it as Webber having lost it rather than Vettel improving.

19

Very true

20

If it was me I’d try to get Jenson Button in the car. He’s the best driver you can trust not to create a drama.

21

Because we racing to minimise drama

22

Who says that Kimi will take the seat in the Red Bull if he is offered that seat?

Personally i am pretty sure Kimi have been handed a contract from Red Bull but i am not sure Kimi wants to join Red Bull.

It is important for Kimi to like it where he is and he likes it at Lotus

23

My guess is Red Bull will take Daniel. As RB has won three WDC and WCC I feel they can afford to take chances and also give meaning to the young drivers campaign at TR.

But also remember Horner will want the WCC, that’s where his pocket gets filled. So Webber did a fantastic job!

As long as Kimi has a fast car i don’t think he gives a hoot who his team mate will be.

But if Lotus falters on the second part of the season then there’s a possible chance for Kimi to join RB. Let it drag awhile for some suspense.

24

strongly disagree, this time Kenny.

there is no comparison in street cred for the target, ‘sweet spot’ of Red Bulls market, the fearless, irreverent, rebel warrior. Daniel is a coddled baby, in comparison, from a nice suburb of, what, Sydney?

Whatever his face, on the ground, in the global village, Kimi has the stuff, and Red Bull have nothing even close.

25

hahaha, yes dean we all see things differently and your opinion is as valid as any other.

IMO raikonnen has been around too long. DR represents a new face and brings to the world of F1 the facts that RB really does ‘give you wings’ vis-a-vis the ability to achieve success in the very highest form of motorsport.

demographics play a major part in any marketing plan and i seriously doubt whether or not raikonnen can cut it on a global scale. DR represents the future, raikonnen the past. i would seriously love to be able to be in control of a global marketing program featuring ricciardo and what he has done so far. just to get to this stage in F1 proves that RB really does help you ‘fly’.

26

I’m a bit late to this party, but would like to add that DR is still a bit of a nobody in comparison to Kimi. Not everyone likes Kimi, but brand-wise that is his appeal! I think potential Red Bull drinkers are probably weak individuals quite susceptible to the ‘iceman’ badass image that Kimi has built over many years. Many insecure people look up to individuals who seem to ‘do what they want’, i.e. Kimi, and if that individualism can be attached to a product, it’s worth a lot of money. Of course, real free spirits would never buy Red Bull .

27

what you say Ding W may well be right. i do not actually know anyone who drinks the stuff so any ‘personality profiles’ are not available to me.

conversely, products do need refreshing from time to time, and looking for new demographics. as i have said, raikonnen is past his peak and RB have a chance to create a new image around DR.of course he may not be the real deal and not make the top step. i do feel however that he has demonstrated his ability to the satisfaction of the red bull hierarchy otherwise he wouldn’t be in contention.

the JEV backers would have no access to the real time data accumulated by the team and i would think that a combination of that and his results have opened the way for his consideration.

i am still of the opinion that raikonnen will get the seat as RB will take the short term route rather than build for the future.

28

this post was meant as a reply to Kenneth Chapman at comment 95.

29

This isn’t even a story. There is no chance that they will bring Kimi in to be a teammate to Vettel. He is faster than Webber (and in my opinion also faster than Vettel) and even less receptive to team orders. I would love to see this pairing because I would enjoy very much the comeuppance of Vettel but there is no way that Red Bull would do this to him. He is completely protected.

30

is raikonnen that much more a marketable product than ricciardo? think about the multi layered pitch to the target audience on a global scale. i’m certain that the red bull marketing gurus have done their research and i would love to know what their findings were/are? differing national demands might not easily transfer the ‘iceman’ image as successfully as some think. a very close friend and confidante of mine knows raikonnen very well. he tells me that this ‘iceman’ image is not apparent in his private life. ricciardos infectious smile and outlook are what i would be using for my campaigns. kimi, most times, comes across as both monosyllabic and dour. hardly the stuff of ‘gives you wings’ whatsoever.

i can see benefits in both drivers but if i want build for the future then DR should be head and shoulders above raikonnen who has a shorter UBD.

31

All very interesting stuff but, to me, if Red Bull don’t take on Ricciardo then what exactly is the point of running Torro Rosso?

It’s supposed to be a way of of bringing on young drivers so why run it at considerable expense but not use it? If RBR do take Kimi then Torro Rosso just becomes another “make up the grid numbers” team.

32

I think RBR will go for DR because of his age, if seb leaves after 2015 which it looks like he will judging by his one year contract extension that could coincide with Kimi retiring. 2 new drivers with the car developed towards neither is not ideal so id say they will go for DR

33

Good article James thanks.

It’s a nice “problem” for Red Bull to have and both drivers are indeed good options.

For all at Red Bull with a say in things I’d would expect DM to slightly favour Kimi because of his marketing potential. Marko to prefer Dan because he’s a talent from his program. Horner perhaps to relish the challenge of managing 2 top drivers however Ricciardo would make his life easier the first (2) season(s).

Anyway they can’t go wrong with this one either way, should be interesting in 2014

34

James, this is off the topic but can you do an article on how Fernando and Kimi have lost the edge they had in qualifying back in 2003-2007 to the likes of Lewis and Sebastian, and how they are so much better in races?

Fernando and Kimi were as good as Lewis and Sebastian in qualifying back in say 2005 – Monaco 2005 qualifying was a classic.

35

Interesting idea thanks

36

You’re welcome.

37

Do not write-off these two old warriors just yet. They look as if they lost a bit of speed in quali because of the outstanding pace of Red Bull for the past four years and this year’s Mercedes. Mark and Nico are often faster than Kimi and Fernando. They are also driving slower cars and moreover cars that have to compromise one lap pace for good race pace.

38

At least whoever goes into the RB No.2 seat knows what calbre of individual sits in the other garage. ie He can’t be taken at his word.

39

I love how Multi21 is the definitive indicator of Vettels character. Hamilton fans have clearly forgotten him braking a team order/agreement in Hungary 2007 to let Alonso by during fuel burn-off in Q3, and Alonso fans ignore him retaliating by blocking Hamilton in the pits, then trying to blackmail Ron Dennis afterwards.

40

I think RBR would make a genius masterstroke if they signed Alonso now or even in a year’s time. Alonso’s manager was maybe giving RBR “advance” notice of his driver’s availability for 2015 should the 2014 Ferrari become a source of frustration once again for the Spaniard. If next year’s Ferrari disappoints, then Alonso’s manager will surely be knocking at RBR and Merc’s doors.

If RBR sign Ricciardo, then surely they will be aware of the possibility of signing Alonso should Ricciardo prove disappointing or Vettel decide to leave.

41

Alonso represents a disaster that RBC will certainly be too savvy to touch.

Ricciardo has proven … nothing. RBC can get pretty much who they want, but neither Alonso nor Ricciardo are the best fits.

42

Well, it depends how much RBR are confident for next season. Taking Ricciardo is surely the biggest risk. Having two world champions in the same team can only be a good thing from a team’s point of view. So whether they take Raikkonen or Alonso is definitely a better option. The two champions are both not as good in quali as they are in the race, so they can both complement Vettel. Raikkonen is the better option to partner Vettel. I think Raikkonen’s dilemma is about how joining RBR will affect his title chances with Lotus this year if he tells them that he’s leaving.

Anyway, it will be interesting too see who RBR choses but I hope it’s not Ricciardo.

43

I think that Ferrari’s “earthquake” announcement that they say will be made at Monza may finalise the driver merry go round. I think it would be exciting to see Kimi at Red Bull, and I fear that Daniel might not be quite up to taking the pressure yet. It could damage his long term career going to a top team too soon. Maybe Kimi for a couple of years then Daniel?

44

oh, and Hulkenberg in the Lotus if he doesn’t get the Ferrari drive! Bottas if he does!!

45

Maybe Kimi will surprise us & join RBR ha!

46

horner says both drivers get the same opportunity? how does that in any way relate to sepang?

as for raikonnen, yes, he’s good and he’s fast but i don’t think that he is anywhere near as good as some people tend to make out. yes, he won a WDC….by one point and was sacked by ferrari later down the track. raikonnen has form and i fail to see how he can seen to really be the future for redbull.

a lot of people are also ‘bigging up’ rosberg but how long has he been around, six/seven seasons? ricciardo would be,IMO, the better choice for numerous reasons, most of which have been already stated. what i want to see is the ‘blooding’ of new. young, talented drivers as that is where the future excitement of F1 lies.

47

You forget Kimi lost 2003 by only several points to MS -this when he had two engine failures in lead positions & a few other DNFs

He lost by only 1 or 2 points in 2005 to FA.- this when he won 7 GPs and had 3 engine failures and several other glitches.

He came back and proved his worth and his early retirement was due to nothing less than lies and politics at Ferrari. How many so called experts ate their words last year and changed their opinions this year???

He was/ is easily the most under rated driver I have ever seen. Despite all his success!.

48

But I agree Daniel is better long term fit for RBR

49

Kenneth you actually did misspell “instead” and that is just hilarious in this context you must agree.. Hahahaha ha- Oh the karma..

50

hahaha, well elle i think that you’ve misspelt the first four letter word. should read ‘over’ instaed of ‘under’.

51

Safe to say we’ve seen the last of Buemi and Jaime? It’s a pity, they were both more promising than some of the current middle and lower field drivers.

52
John in San Diego

Buemi never seemed quite top league did he? He did, though, put in a good effort at Le Mans for Toyota. As for Jaime, I feel that his goose was cooked after he got into a row with the Doctor over blocking Vettel, I believe in qualifying, for a late 2011 season fly away race. If RBR want to lend credibility to their young driver programme, they should be looking at promoting Dan or JEV, although Vettel and Kimi would be an exciting combination.

53

If you think about it though, all the racing drivers in the world who’re aspiring to make it to F1. There are only 22 seats now. Whoever you’re talking about, whether it’s those former STR guys, or Kobayashi, or Kovalainen, or whoever… there are bound to be plenty of other worthy guys who never even make it into a testing position let alone racing.

Be ready for F1 at the wrong time, a couple of years when all the seats are tied up with contracts (maybe there are a few at lower teams that go to the highest bidder), and then the chance is gone. Off to DTM or whatever else. Even those that do get race seats with the lower teams… if they pummel their team mate but then there aren’t any better seats available to move up to… another year beating your team mate in a car not fast enough to challenge anyone else? Assuming that seat is even still there for them, and the team aren’t giving it to someone who can bring more money.

I mean really, what is Gutierrez doing in F1?

54

“We obviously want the two fastest and strongest drivers we can put in the car for next year, and both Daniel and Kimi would represent extremely good options.”

IF you take this at face value- then it can only be Raikkonen. The problem is nothing coming from Horner can really be taken 100% at face value..Given his “oh comeon now Seb” comments in Malaysia during “multi 21”. To me thats not the sign of someone I would stake my racing position on!

2014 brings new challenges to everyone and that means an even playing field- I would suggest the consolidation of performance of Mercedes will just improve next year on the back of having what most in the industry would suggest is the best KERS currently will only be strengthened with a strong ERS in 2014. There must be a real big question mark about how Red Bull feel they can tackle Mercedes given both Hamilton and Rosberg have been in great form so far in 2013. For Red Bull these must be the strongest factors in their considerations.

However this is All about what does Raikkonen want, because if he wants that seat- he will have it- make no mistake. The thing is Kimi will only want it on very even racing terms, money etc. If Red Bull don’t agree- Kimi wont go. Image wise Kimi is a fantastic brand fit for Red Bull- maybe much more than what Marko and Horner may appreciate. Im sure Mateschitz appreciates they lure of Kimi there.

I believe the best interest of a driver like Kimi would be to wait and assess the progress in both 2014 cars and see what assurances he is getting from both teams. The interesting thing next year will be the reliability. I honestly think Lotus consistency over the last few years- they have been a cut above most -including red bull.

Its very difficult to know Lotus’s financial position and the true value of the Infinity partners investment. If this eliminates a good portion of debt and more importantly Infinity do source major sponsors for Lotus then the money side should be ok.Both Lotus and Kimi are just waiting these few weeks to have clarity on this. I think when this is clear he will stay at Lotus..He knows the team well- he can trust them on what they say -He honestly cannot with Red Bull !, He is a “de facto” leader of Team Lotus and fits him “down to the ground”-He will not be at Red Bull. Lotus are almost at par with Red Bull on Sunday- even if not quite on Sat.

I think Kimi would love the chance to show the world what he is capable of just one more time, even if he would never openly admit to it AND even if he has proven already to be among the very best of his generation. Most fans of both teams would love to see this pairing more than any combination in the last 20 years, but if we have even some inconsistencies in reliability, strategy, team orders- will it raise more questions than answers ? -thats something I dont want- not for Kimi

55

Great comment, again.

What do you think about Kimi to Mercedes against Lewis:

a. the possibility of it (out of the blue, so to speak)?

b. what it would mean in the championship and for each driver (i.e. legacy)?

56

a) No chance.Mercedes are rightly happy with what they have in both Nico and Lewis and they both have a few years on their contracts.

b) Kimi and Lewis are easily my favourite drivers and the most naturally talented drivers I have seen since Senna- & yes that includes MS- & Nando(they were/ are better in other ways). Definitely Mercedes engines owe Kimi at least 7 race wins-or 2 WDC. given his time at Mclaren- he lost oit only a few points despite this !!.Other than Seb at Red Bull this would be the fastest pairing ever and in a reliable Merc – could very easily bring Red Bull down. I think Lewis respects Kimi also like Seb. & to be honest could learn a bit from Kimis poise and race craft.

57

Rockie- I was talking about natural talents – not what happens if ??

But to answer your question Raikkonen or Hamilton when they were rookies would have eaten Sebastian for breakfast and crapped him out- when he was a rookie!. You forget it took Sebastian a few years to come to grips with F1. – (Which is quiet normal )

Sebastian has grown alot since then and made the team his own:- Engineers, mechanics and he is very hard working. Therefore they are all very even right now. But if you give Kimi or Lewis six or seven races at Red Bull they would very quickly come up to Sebastian’s speed. The perfect eg is Lewis already at Mercedes.

I’ve not mentioned Alonso anywhere here- I won’t agree and won’t disagree with you. Only to say that those that were mentioning him in the same breath as Senna – have all of a sudden gone quite.

58

“If you look at Lewis Hamiltons speed as a rookie he was doing things most people 2 years or more in F1 couldn’t. Ron Dennis said if you can be within half a second a lap of Alonso -that would be excellent !. but Lewis was almost immediately at par and sometimes quicker.”

That’s because Alonso was not as quick a driver as people thought, or you think a rookie can go into redbull and rattle Vettel on the form he is now?

59

To make the exact comparison you would have to have Vettel switch to a new team and pair him with a rookie nurtured by that team for years

It still was extraordinary what Hamilton was able to achieve in 2007, leaving the politics to one side

60

Dean I agree about Nico to a large extent- I did not even rate him top 8 previously. but to his credit he has lifted his game and is better for it. So far we see nothing but praises for him at Mercedes and elsewhere. I don’t see that changing this year. I really hope there was some kind of a shake up in F1 – but the silly season usually just brings out the mischief in people. In the perfect world :-

Lewis and Kimi at Mercedes

Sebastian and Fernando at Red Bull

Jenson and Nico at Mclaren

Spaghetti 1 & Spagetti 2 at Ferrari

61

Rockie:- you are right everyone has to apply themselves to the best of their abilities. But some people have a better feel for things than others and can adapt quicker or have greater physical skills such as reflexes , spatial awareness, stamina. Sure much of this can be developed with training but if you have it naturally you adjust quicker. Others require alot more work and practise and analysis.

If you look at Lewis Hamiltons speed as a rookie he was doing things most people 2 years or more in F1 couldn’t. Ron Dennis said if you can be within half a second a lap of Alonso -that would be excellent !. but Lewis was almost immediately at par and sometimes quicker. Same for Kimi he was faster in a Sauber than some guys in Ferraris and Mclarens even in his first few outings. I recall our own James Allen being gob smacked by his speed. Where guys like MS maybe took a few year and used alot more hard work to understand things as well as improve their skills and feel for a car. Kimis return last year to be instantly quick after 2 years of retirement is another good example.

62

Why do fans repeat this mantra “most naturally talented drivers.”

I just don’t get it! you apply yourself to what you do and get the best out of yourself no such thing as natural talent.

63

Your perspective is in alignment with my own.

But I’m not so certain about the certainty of the current pairing at Mercedes.

Yes Nico is good, but he has had plenty of chances, and he has not yet earned a spot in the top group, he hovers at a similar level to Webber, and Button (though Button has won a WDC), also with lots of opportunity, also a very fine, and fast driver, but not amongst the current top four.

Of all the pairings for next season, I’d like to see a Kimi-Lewis head to head in the same machines with the same/similar support.

I’m picking up a strong feeling that we may see some moves at the top teams before the season is out; just a feeling.

64

I don’t see how Kimi can reasonably wait till 2015.

1) His personal clock is ticking, like Alonso.

2) If the 2014 RBR turns out to be dominant, there is little value for Red Bull to sack what ever driver they get for 2014 in favor of Kimi, unless that driver is dire.

3) I cant see Vettel leaving RBR for the amusing debacle at Ferrari to sacrifice his love of statistic collecting.

If Kimi is to join RBR, it is for 2014 or never.

Lastly, I suspect that Kimi isn’t prepared to muck around at Lotus for another year. He’s proven that he is still the driver he was, its the team who have let him down, or at least not achieved its clear potential. Its time for a fast team to sign him up, or for him to leave F1 to it. I see Kimi either joining RBR or retiring again.

I would not be surprised if Alonso is thinking roughly the same thing. Possibly more so. He’s been in the cold too long since McLaren. As valiant as even many of his detractors admit he has been, his time at Ferrari is getting embarrassing.

Kimi and Alonso also runs? Awful for both them and the sport. Both should have, and deserve competitive drives.

Even then all this is a gamble. It is entirely possible that RBR will lose its advantages in 2014. My gamble would be on Mercedes. The chassis and aero are coming together, their KERS is strong and so far their 2014 engine is reported to be the best. And both seats are taken. Only thing that might trip them up is having too many chiefs.

65

Who said anything about waiting till 2015 ?- RBR is the fastest team at the moment for Kimi – but it’s other things that will stop him from going!

-on one hand you say this -” He’s proven that he is still the driver he was”

-on the other you say this ” I see Kimi either joining RBR or retiring again.”

Which is it ?? If he still has ‘it’- don’t you think it would be a tremendous waste for him to leave. Sure he wants a number 1 team but with the rule changes – no one really knows who that will be – therein lies the problem !

Same for Fernando really we can’t say that Ferrari won’t build the best car and blow everyone out the water- it would be foolish for any top driver to “hang up the helmet” without seeing through- 2014 is an opportunity for anyone to shine !

66

Hi James, thank you very much for helping ease the pain of this summer break. Based on all your information and contacts, is their any indication which way Red Bull are leaning or is genuinely all up in the air???

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