Monaco GP playing out amid moves on long term Ferrari F1 driver line up
Scuderia Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 May 2017   |  7:55 am GMT  |  97 comments

Starting with a front row lock out for the Monaco Grand Prix is a nice place for an F1 team to be, even if it does come with some pitfalls and nothing is a given at this track.

Ferrari threw away a front row lock out in Russia, so will not want to repeat the error here.

Meanwhile behind the scenes the two drivers involved are in the middle of discussions on whether they will remain with the team and what happens on track plays into those discussions.

Let’s start with Sebastian Vettel. His contract expires at the end of this 2017 season and his state of mind at this point with regards to the Maranello team is quite different to how it was at the end of last, when there was clear disaffection and some words were spoken. Rumours circulated that he had signed some sort of pre-agreement with Mercedes for 2018, but there has been (and won’t be) any confirmation on either side of this.

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel is likely to stay at Ferrari. Some say it’s done, other influential voices say it’s still being done. Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has said recently, “If he likes our car then Vettel can stay with us a long as he wants,” while former Ferrari champion driver now Mercedes F1 team chairman Niki Lauda said this weekend, ” No driver who can win the title in a Ferrari thinks of walking away.”

The other side of the garage is more interesting.

Kimi Raikkonen will be 38 years old in October and has managed to survive each of the last few seasons at Ferrari, after some indifferent performances, through a combination of being well liked by the team, causing no friction with his team mate and the fact that Ferrari’s decision makers couldn’t see any viable alternatives with the right mix of speed, experience, consistency and personal fit.

Kimi Raikkonen

This season he has been driving well – clearly the 2017 high downforce cars suit his style – and has been close to a pole position a couple of times. He finally got one in Monaco, ending a 128 race streak with no pole, the longest in F1 history. That said, he still has around half the points that his team mate has scored in the championship, but he’s contributing more than in the last few years and he’s a presence at the front.

Going into this Monaco weekend the word was that the team was lining up Sergio Perez to come in for 2018.

The Mexican, who has been consistently impressive this season, did a deal with Force India last season to stay, after coming close to doing something with Renault. But he kept his options open knowing that there could be either a Ferrari or a Renault up for grabs later this year. He has Ayrton Senna’s former manager, Julian Jakobi, in his corner but also great support from Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim Jr, who is fighting his corner.

Asked this weekend by Gazzetta dello Sport about possibly replacing Raikkonen at Ferrari, Perez made a rather enigmatic response, “I’m very happy at Force India, but all drivers want a better opportunity. Ferrari has made impressive progress. In the event that they want to change drivers – and maybe they do, who knows..But I don’t know anything about that at the moment.”

Sergio Perez

Carlos Sainz is the other driver in the mix, young, fast and consistent, who Ferrari have evaluated and who also came close to doing something with Renault, but was blocked by Red Bull. He is more likely to end up alongside Hulkenberg at Renault, as things stand.

Has Raikkonen’s Monaco pole position reaffirmed Ferrari’s confidence in the Finn, that he can keep on performing into his 39th year? A two year deal would take him to 40.

Raikkonen remains hugely popular with his fanbase and is still a huge name for the sport as a former world champion.

What do you think? Leave your comments below

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Roberto Sattin

Kimi is a great driver and a man with few words, which is good, no time for bullshit . I think he still has a few years of excellent driving, and he is friends with Sebastian which makes it a bonus in a racing team, share some setups and help each other.


Ferrari should stick with Seb and Kimi. There is no better pairing on the grid.

Kenny Carwash

I think Perez would be an excellent choice. I’m still not sure just how good Carlos Sainz might be. He’s been consistently strong, but he’s never impressed me to the extent Perez had at the same point in his career. I still think there’s a fair chance Kimi will stay on, though. Ferrari look like winning both championships this year. They are always conservative when it comes to the second seat and the only reason I can see them replacing Kimi is if they feel they’re missing out on someone better. Unless Kimi takes umbridge at being used as a guinea pig for the super softs on Sunday, I think they’ll stick with him. Perez isn’t going anywhere, and if he was there’s still Sainz and Grosjean out there. Ocon looks good, too, and Hulkenberg might be obtainable in a year or two. They’ve got time on their side.


The impression I get from both the article and all posts is that even big teams like Ferrari reason and act only in terms of short-term driver availability. That is, Formula1 signing practice is purely short term/pragmatic/opportunist and most of all, reactive. Well, Merc was totally reactive when Rosberg retired, they had no clue.
I just wonder… James, are the big teams at all capable of longer term strategic and proactive acquirement of not just A good driver, but the best? Are they interested to begin with? If they’re not, is the reason that most of the time one team or very seldomly two dominate, so you can get away with not having the future top driver?
Sorry to disappoint everyone here, but at the latest in 1 or 2 years Verstappen over the course of a season will beat everybody except possibly VET and HAM, provided he’s in a car no more than 15% slower than the best on the grid. Perez and Sainz are fine drivers but no exceptional talents. Same goes for Ricciardo. So, can MB and Ferrari afford not to take Max into the equation?
Point is, the wish to hire VER should probably zoom in on 2019 and hiring the likes of Sainz earlier is at odds with that. Why? Because they will wait for Vettel to leave and then feel entitled for nr 1 spot. Which they will not be. Holding on to Kimi for 2-3 years is actually the best strategy if you want to swap Vettel for Verstappen.
(Fine if you don’t believe in Verstappen’s potential, then make this a hypothetical exercise how to hire your preferred top driver in 2 year’s time.)


I also believe Verstappen will be the REAL Key to all up coming silly seasons. I firmly believe Ferrari and mercedes are prepared to be playing the waiting game in favorite of Verstappen. He is the guy you want as a future driver. His godgiven talent has far more to offer than what Perez or Sainz will bring to the table. They are both good drivers but not exceptional. Alot of pundits and People who know what’s going on in the backrooms of Ferrari and Mercedes will tell you excactly the same. Verstappen will be the dominating driver within a few years time. Talentwise he is miles ahead of Perez, Sainz or Grosjean. I do believe these 2 topteams will wait for the best driver they can get to replace either Vettel or Lewis.


Niki Lauda said this weekend, ” No driver who can win the title in a Ferrari thinks of walking away.”

Er…. Didn’t Lauda do exactly that? Or have I misunderstood something all these years? I mean, I understand why he did (or I thought I did), maybe the quote is a bit out-of-context or something.


Great Monaco pole position but Kimi has been around for too long now – his best F1 days were before he went rallying. He’s made a lot of money and should make way for some younger blood, somebody with some fire in their belly who will keep pushing even when his team mate jumps him in the pit stops!


Half expected to wake up to headlines saying Kimi had walked away from Ferrari and F1.
I wouldn’t blame if he did.
I know all about Ferrari drivers and their status blah blah, but what they apparently did to Kimi yesterday was shabby this early in the season.


Perez wasn’t too impressive today.


Look, Kimi will always be a respected F1 great. But surely it’s time now. Perez and Sainz – either way you’re going to get a fast, experienced and hungry driver ready to compete at the front. Obviously the main concern is that their hunger for glory could bring tension into the Ferrari camp (and we know how crazy Seb can get when things start getting punchy) but if Ferrari hang on to Raikkonen for much longer they’re only going to allow fresh talent to end up in a competitor’s seat. I’d love to see Perez get a proper go in tier one team. He was dumped very unfairly by McLaren as far as I see it. Sainz will get his chance eventually. He’s too good not to.


Perez is too flaky. He drove like a madman in Monaco and ruined more than one driver’s race as a result. He doesn’t deserve a top tier drive, Sainz is a far better option IMO.


Look, Kimi will always be a respected F1 great. He’s done some amazing things. But


Is Perez WDC material? I am not sure. I don’t expect SV to move to Merc unless Hamilton also departs, which is not going to happen. Could Seb go back to Red Bull, maybe… at some point either DR or MV are going to leave and I think that creates an opening. I think Max V in the Ferrari would be an utterly dominant combo. Now, if the Renault engine becomes eq to the Ferrari/Merc package, RB could very well be THE car again.


Equally…if DR gets to one day drive this ferrari he would be a match for any other driver on the grid.


Ricciardo isn’t going to Ferrari as long as Vettel is there & delivering the points.


To me lt looked like Vettel had the speed and made it work and I dont like the way Brundle is trying to make out that it was preplanned. Ricciardo did the same thing to Max and Bottas and no one is claiming that it was intentional. Mercedes did the same with Bottas because on paper pitting first looked the best option. Martin is again showing his cynicism which is why he is my least favourite commentator. Kimi was unlucky with traffic and the last time I looked Ferrari dont control that.


Taking to other engineers in airport lounge they feel Vettel was faster

That was proven when he had the extra laps once RAI pitted

Kimi had traffic on our lap and slowish stop – I’m analysing closely for Tuesday’s strategy report which will give definitive answers

Ashish Sharma

Waiting eagerly for this.

I agree that Vettel was faster, but what i would like to know is if there were there radio messages to Kimi to ask him to speed up knowing Vettel was a threat when he stopped. Even if one believes that Ric and Vettel did luck into the better strategy, Ferrari didn’t seem too keen to ensure a Kimi win.


All of us could see Vettel was so much quicker than Raikkonen this race. So basicly what we are discussing here is:
Was it possible for Ferrari to plan a strategy were the (much) faster driver is not going to win…
Kinda weird

Ashish Sharma

Not just possible, very easily. This is Monaco where track position, not speed, is everything. With an optimal, even equal, strategy Kimi would have won.
What we are discussing is this – Did Ferrari, despite saying in the press that it didn’t, actually give Vettel the superior strategy for the win.


Ferrari just protected a “One Two”. Decisive was that Räikkönen was too slow around the pitstops thus putting Vettel in danger of an overcut by Bottas and Verstappen.
I’ll explain why so you understand….
If Vettel would be called in first he only had a margin of a few seconds on Bottas and Verstappen. This because Räikkönen was not allowing him to go faster.
So a slight error in the pit would cost him places unnecessary.
Furthermore even Mercedes reacted on Verstappen trying the undercut and almost made it stick. So it is not that the undercut or overcut strategy was better or worse, decisive was that Vettel had so much speed left in the US. Read James’ article on that.


Ferrari had no need to react to Max and Bottas. They ended up behind Sainz and were anyway getting held up. Kimi was always going to come out ahead of Sainz. So it is clear what they did.
Kimi needs to up his game and beat Vettel if he can. Otherwise Ferrari are always going to favor Vettel. Even in earlier races they compromised Kimi’s strategy whenever they felt there was a chance to benefit Vettel against Hamilton.


James, you don’t need much brain to calculate where the car will join the traffic after the pit stop. Ferrari knew that KR will get stuck behind backmarkers. Of course, the Ferrari engineers will tell you that SV was faster. What else do you expect them to say. The truth is that KR could keep a safe distance from SV since the start of the race, except for the backmarkers. Ferrari say that they tried to cover DR, but that is rubbish, of course. I am looking forward to your Tuesday’s strategy report, which I am sure will correctly report what exactly happened.


Read the Sky F1 analysis. Kimi lost 3 sec on his outlap getting stuck behind backmarkers. That’s where the race was lost. Their lap times were very similar before and after the pit stops. Let’s just be honest about it. Ferrari gave it to Vettel.

Aaron Noronha

Dude kindly look at the laptimes he kept Kimi within range until Kimi pitted and in clean air just blew Kimi away. Like I said before even if Vettel was pitted first he would have beaten Kimi because of how fast he switched on the harder tyres and how fast he was on his outlap. I am pretty sure Kimi fan boys would have been crying claiming Kimi as lead driver should have got first priority if the y had pitted Vettel first and he came out ahead of Kimi.


You don’t know what your talking about. Go read the Sky F1 race analysis. Their lap times were very close before and after the pit stops, but Kimi lost 3 secs on his outlap getting stuck behind backmarkers, that’s where the race was lost, and Ferrari knew it. There was no reason to pit Kimi so early.


I think you will find it is the timesheets saying Vettel is faster, and not just Ferrari engineers


Being faster when you cannot overtake is largely irrelevant. Ever followed a slow vehicle down a country lane?

So switch positions in the pits to favour your WDC contender.


Kimi was asking for a stop….


I he wasn’t.


Bring back Alesi or Berger. Can’t stand half the grid anymore.


Ferrari has a front row lock out and all of a sudden everybody knows were Vettel is going and Räikkönen is replaced with…
Its way too early for that and as Lauda is saying, Vettel isn’t going anywhere soon.
I wish, at this stage, we could talk about other things than rumours on driver line ups for next season.


Hans. Not going to happen. Most of fella here like to gossip rather than being technical


Sad but true I guess….
Leave them alone, they know what they are doing… 😉


To be honest, it hurts to say he must quit. I love him since Michel era but he must consider that he is making unforced error which hurts a lot. He should walked away with dignity.

Tornillo Amarillo

Sainz is better than Perez.
Perez is easier to hire than Sainz, but Perez personality I don’t know if it is perfect for Ferrari.
No need no keep Kimi with such a good alternatives.
If RB releases Sainz, he will be the Ferrari driver in 2018 IMO.


Typical Ferrari, they decided the race before it began and everybody had to endure the charade known as the Monaco grand prix. What an ugly race. Fixed.


nonsense…..The strategies only came into play as the race unfolded.


Why would you bring in your leading driver knowing he’s going to come out into traffic on a track nobody can pass on? That strategy only made sense knowing Kimi is regarded as number 2 by Ferrari. They swapped positions, no question.


Ferrari knew exactly what they were doing. Kimi lost 3 sec. to Vettel on his outlap. Race was lost there and Ferrari knew it would happen.


Too close to call.
So far, while Vettel has been at Ferrari, he has clearly got the better of Kimi.
But when we consider alternatives, we will only find drivers who will ‘stir the mud’ at Ferrari, and they need to avoid that while they have (finally) established competitiveness.
Clearly, Vettel has the speed to win the championship(s) (depending on whether Mercedes are gaming the entire sport with loads of ready-to-go stuff in the bag, but it is looking as if they may NOT have it; yet, as many of the usual suspects feel ,I won’t believe it until Ferrari have won the championship!)
Perez is personally aggressive, so is Sainz. I see them bringing much greater risk of instability due to team mate friction.

Still, will Kimi want to stay?

I think, on balance, Ferrari may want to keep him for team stability.

Aaron Noronha

As long as Vettel is ahead of Hamilton, Kimi needs to be ahead of Bottas in the championship by the next 6 or 7 races for him to have any realistic change of keeping his seat. It’s still possible they might retain Kimi, although in my humble opinion they should give Sainz or Perez or Grosgean an opportunity instead of relying on a driver that’s fairly inconsistent. Don’t get me wrong even Vettel has off days but they very few. Hamilton has had 2 off races this year and he is still 2nd in the WDC. Kimi needs to carry his improved qualification form into the race. As for now he is a destined no2 driver.


On Kimi: Leave the man alone, he knows what he’s doing :p Experienced and pressure-proof.
On Vettel: only going to Merc if Ham leaves. Merc has no need for a second Ham/Ros scenario
On Perez: viable option, fast, clean and reliable, easy on equipement.
On Grosjean: Cracks under pressure, fast but prone to stupid mistakes, hard on equipement.
On Sainz: viable option: fast (could match VERST), low profile and calm, and young
On Alonso: I guess bridges burnt, very fast but way too much trouble, doesn’t understand “team” and his age doesn’t help. OTOH, has probably a pact with the devil to be that fast 🙂


I’d wait until Sunday late afternoon to see how things go.


My money says Daniel Ricciardo, not only he got talent with the balls, though an a Oz born and bread but Italian a pedigree, and since the arrival of Marchionne the moto is Italian made, and they have proved the point with this year car !


Ooh Tough Call.. I would love to see Sergio Perez in Red next year no doubt about it. But since Kimi is performing better at times this year, he could make it easier if he makes a grace full exit on his own this year when in top form, rather than risking an exit in those 2014 kind of years when things don’t suit his driving style.

It could be a fairy tail ending if he could retire this year winning his last race at abu dhabi to boot and then next year reboot with Perez!


I guess we wont know what Kimi is doing till the Vettel side is locked down.
Great day for Kimi yesterday and was slightly spoilt at the end by some geezer we never saw before conducting interviews over a poor skype connection as we watched in super ultra HD


That sounds reasonable. I wonder if Perez has been around too long without doing anything spectacular. Sainz has more development potential perhaps.

Both would be good #2 drivers to Vettel. Hamilton and Alonso are both old and problematic. Vettel is good enough to deliver the championship, so no need for 2 #1 drivers I’d say


I think Kimi will stay another year for his stability and ability. Hopefully Ferrari will let Kimi and Vettel race over the rest of the year, but ultimately I feel Vettel will continue to be the “number 1” driver in the team (from the teams perspective) because of his consistency.

Monaco should be interesting…if the ultra soft does last the whole race as was suggested during practice, I guess we won’t see any pit stops until a safety car period. Is it still possible to do a Schumacher-style pitstop on the final lap (1998 Silverstone for 10 sec penalty) and change to the alternate tire? (i.e Keep Kimi out the whole race, enjoy the blue flags and avoid a slow outlap…) The start/finish line isn’t until the pit exit… I’m all for controversial wins 😉
But seriously – fingers crossed it’s not a procession.

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