Ferrari put two roosters in their hen house

2014 F1 season

Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Melbourne, 2012Ferrari’s 2014 driver line-up of Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso will be the first time in 60 years they have fielded two world champions.

The team’s long standing preference for having clear ‘number one’ and ‘number two’ drivers explains why F1’s oldest outfit hasn’t paired two world champions since they turned up at Monza in 1953 with half-a-dozen entries including Alberto Ascari and Giuseppe Farina.

Even as recently as last year, president Luca di Montezemolo insisted “I don?t want to have two roosters in the same hen house”.

Montezemolo was referring to rumours that Sebastian Vettel might join Fernando Alonso at the team. But in rehiring Raikkonen – a world champion and winner of 20 grands prix – they have now done exactly that.

The need to get the best

As argued here previously, the move makes sense for Ferrari. The 2010 points system change made life harder for teams who don’t pick the two best drivers available to them.

This year’s championship contest has underlined that point. For the third year in a row, Massa has thus far failed to score as much as half of Alonso’s points tally. Meanwhile Ferrari find themselves under pressure from Mercedes who have a pair of race-winning drivers.

It’s not just the points system which impels Ferrari to increase the quality of their driver partnership. Car performance between the top teams has converged in recent years, making it imperative for teams to ensure both drivers are getting the most out of their equipment.

This wasn’t the case a decade ago. In the early 2000s Ferrari could count on building a car that would take pole position by a second and win by a minute. Therefore they could afford to partner Michael Schumacher with someone who wasn’t going to get anywhere near him.

The rules have tightened so sharply since then that no team – not even reigning multiple world champions Red Bull – enjoy anything like that kind of performance advantage. In Mark Webber, Vettel has a team mate who has usually put him under more pressure than Massa has Alonso. That is set to change.

For Ferrari, rehiring Raikkonen has the added benefit of throwing down the gauntlet to Red Bull, who passed him over in favour of promoting Daniel Ricciardo. But it does raise the question why Ferrari they let him go in the first place.

How will Alonso react?

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Sepang, 2013The most fascinating aspect of today’s news is how Alonso will respond to being partnered with a competitive team mate for the first time in seven years.

Alonso repeatedly made plain his preference was for Massa to remain at the team. Alonso described the pairing as a “very strong team” and reiterated his support for his team mate on the day before Massa’s departure was announced.

Alonso has not come under serious pressure from the other half of his team’s garage since he was teamed with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2007. The explosive consequences of Alonso’s demands for preferential treatment not being met are well known. Relations between Alonso and McLaren deteriorated to the extent that he tipped the FIA off about the team’s use of confidential information from (ironically) Ferrari which he had been involved in.

Renault team principal Flavio Briatore was more willing to indulge Alonso’s ‘number one’ preference during their time at Renault. But it’s hard to imagine Raikkonen being willing to go to the lengths some of Alonso’s team mates have to support his title chances.

In his last Ferrari stint Raikkonen showed he was willing to yield to his team mate when his own championship chances were over – as he did at Shanghai in 2008.

But would he give up a clear shot at a race win while still in contention for the championship, as Massa did for Alonso at Hockenheim three years ago? Would he tolerate Ferrari purposefully earning him a five-place grid penalty so his team mate could gain a position on the grid, as they did in America last year? Or spend time trying to help his team mate in qualifying by giving him a tow, as Massa did last weekend?

Some Ferrari insiders apparently believe Alonso will easily have the beating of Raikkonen. But both are top-drawer drivers and there are going to be days when one is ahead of the other. And it’s hard to imagine a fellow world champion of Alonso’s, who fought him for the title in 2005, being as subservient as Massa has.

Over to you

How will Ferrari handle having two top drivers in their team next year? And which of the two will come out on top? Have your say in the comments.

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158 comments on Ferrari put two roosters in their hen house

  1. Would [Kimi] give up a clear shot at a race win while still in contention for the championship, as Massa did for Alonso at Hockenheim three years ago? Would he tolerate Ferrari purposefully earning him a five-place grid penalty so his team mate could gain a position on the grid, as they did in America last year? Or spend time trying to help his team mate in qualifying by giving him a tow, as Massa did last weekend?

    Definitely not, but Alonso has not managed to win a single championship even with a team mate who never once took point away from him. To win the title again, he’ll need first of all to beat Raikkonen, who will have equal equipment. That is the biggest obstacle, and with Massa he was always the best candidate for the title.
    I hope Kimi can start off by equalling Alonso and then start beating him. I like Kimi as a driver and not Alonso, although I have found myself forced to support him since he became part of Ferrari. Now my hopes are in another driver, and best of luck to him.

    • I can’t see Kimi signing a contract to be secured #2 driver in Ferrari, he’s not gonna bow like the former brazilians (sorry, no pun to brazil in general). So I trust Ferrari to hand him equal equipment and give equal chances to drive for positions. Now all we need to hope is 1) Ferrari builds a good car&enginer for 2013 and 2) Kimi settles in as fast as possible in Ferrari. Though if he doesn’t, he can always mimic Hamilton when reasoning his results, or the lack of them ;)

  2. Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 11th September 2013, 13:55

    I don’t really see Alonso beating Raikkonen, let alone “easily”.
    But I’m absolutely delighted at the chance of being proven completely and utterly wrong about that!

    • Shreyas Mohanty (@) said on 12th September 2013, 5:51

      @stefanauss Both are top drivers. Obviously one will come out on top, though the competition will be very close. No “easy” wins, as some people have mentioned here. IMHO, we will know who has the upper hand mid-way through 2014. Anything before that is just speculation.

  3. MB (@muralibhats) said on 11th September 2013, 14:01

    Although I don’t think there will be m(any) issues with Alonso and Kimi, Alonso may not be very happy with Kimi not contributing much to the development of the car.

  4. 1123581321 said on 11th September 2013, 14:05

    Hah ferrari that is an awesome move :D had the balls to put two nr1 in team. I however bet on alonso

  5. raikonnen won the championship in 07 mainly because of hamiltons failures in the last 2 races. after that he got worse and worse. his good results at lotus are helped by
    lotus’ good tyre wear. he is not the great driver he was in 03 to 05. on the other hand alonso has improved as he gets older.

    • MB (@muralibhats) said on 11th September 2013, 14:10

      LOL. Alonso was so luck in 05 and 06. Other drivers didn’t score points :P .. MSC had engine failure. :D

    • Has there ever been a WDC or even a race winner who, in the end, didn’t have better luck, material and reliability than his opponents? I’ll wait.

    • I doubt you really followed F1 back then.
      pre-2005, who’s the ones who could challenge MSC? Hakkinen, Coulthard, Montoya, Raikkonen, Barrichello. Alonso’s still developing. 2005? Ferrari dropped like a stone. ALO only won the championship because Kimi and McLaren literally had problems every weekends! 2006 – best performance by Alonso, no doubt about that. MSC was strong too. 2007 – McLaren as superior as Ferrari. Result? RAI got the championship with 6 wins. ALO and HAM 4 wins, MAS 3 wins.
      Post 2007? Raikkonen was dropping yes. However Alonso had not have better better form I should say.

      Since then, Alonso was growing stronger as a driver. He regarded as the most completed driver. Kimi? after back from rallying, people is also rating him higher than before. Alonso maybe better than Kimi. but why say that now, while we got next year to prove that?

      • @adityafakhri

        In 2006 Alonso started very well and Ferrai was off the pace in the first part of the season and after getting their performance back Schumacher dominated the field and was on verge to overcome Alonso until teh last two races where he experienced mechanical problems.

  6. I just hope Ferrari build a car competitive enough to fight for the WDC next year. It would be such an anti-climax if Alonso and Raikkonen end up fighting it out for 5th and 6th in the championship.

    It will be an interesting matchup as i see them as having similar strengths as drivers. I don’t think either is lacking in qualifying, but i think their main strengths are on race day; strong race pace, decisive when overtaking, but can play the percentages when necessary, which is why they are such consistent points scorers.

    I expect Alonso to come out on top. He has the advantage of being in the team the last few years and possibly having the car more designed to his preferences (although next year’s car is a clean slate so Kimi may be able to have some input still). I also expect him to show just a fraction more outright pace over the season, although this is just opinion and i’m sure others will have the opposite view.

    Either way, it makes for an exciting prospect. I just hope it’s a close contest and they have the car to make it matter!

  7. I think Ferrari rehiring Raikkonen is an excellent idea and shows that the team knows they need to change in order to start winning championships again.

    Alonso has been the closest competitor to Vettel and Red Bull in recent years but without a strong team mate to take points of Seb its no real surprise that he’s won nothing since joining the team. It’s all good and well if Massa gets a podium now and then but he has spent quiet a while floundering in 8th place while Alonso brings the bulk of the points. The addition of Kimi to the team will certainly change all that considering how consistent he is. Not to mention he knows the team well so hopefully settling in will not be an issue.

    The only problem with having both Alonso and Raikkonen (aside from the whole number 1 and number 2 driver stuff) is that both drivers are getting old and so Ferrari don’t appear the have a plan for the future. However it’s not like the talent pool has decreased and I’m sure when the time comes, Ferrari will replace them with worthy successors.

    Overall I think this is the best driver line up I’ve seen in a long time and Ferrari will certainly be strong favourites to take the constructors title. I just hope that both drivers are willing to compromise and help each other if the situation arises that one needs to take the number two role. Hopefully though that won’t be the case as I’m fairly certain if Ferrari build a good car, both will be challenging for the title come the final race.

  8. Vincent said on 11th September 2013, 14:13

    i would’ve preferred the Hulk driving in red, but this combination will at least be source for some great fireworks on the grid :)

  9. Interesting. We’ll see what happens, but I must say, replacing Massa with Raikkonen has increased my respect for Ferrari. Only time will tell how this will pan out.

  10. stefano (@alfa145) said on 11th September 2013, 14:45

    interesting tweet by andrew benson, linked at the end of the article, saying alo will have the best of raikko on qualy and first laps of races.
    No mention on final laps of races, where points are made and victories are taken.
    That’s where raikko will be ahead of alonso.

  11. Whether Alonso defeats Kimi or Kimi defeats Alonso, one thing is for sure : one driver’s reputation is gonna be hit. These two have been near the front end of the grid for the last 10 years in different teams with different team mates. Hence, a direct comparison has never been possible.
    This is a great news for the neutral F1 fans. However, for fans of the specific drivers, this is a crunch time.

    • Most likely one of them will take a hit when other one comes out as winner, but so what? Alonso took a hit at 2007 and eventhough it’s mentioned alot, it really wasn’t that big blow for him, he still managed to get good profile as F1 driver and big fan pool. And this is without him winning any more WDC’s since. So, it’s not the end of the world to get a hit.

      • But there is a difference. If the driver is beaten, it will be the second time in their careers. Alonso was matched by Hamilton and Kimi was beaten by Massa in 2008-09.

        And the first hit did setback both their careers. Alonso had to spend 2 years in uncompetitive machinery and Kimi had to spend 2 years out of the sport.

        A second failure to beat their team mate could well result into ouster from the list of the top-tier F1 drivers.

        • Except that Alonso didn’t *have to* spend 2 years in uncompetitive machinery, he *wanted to* move out of McLaren. Also Raikkonen didn’t *have to* leave the sport, also it wasn’t because of that, it was because they wanted Alonso in and Santander brought the cash to do it. Raikkonen could’ve moved to another team, but he was already fed up with the politics since 2008 so he *wanted to* take a break. And neither of them will be considered any less after 2014 season, they’re still among the top4 drivers of the grid regardless.

    • Deb Luhi (@debeluhi) said on 11th September 2013, 23:52

      I think Alonso has got more to lose than Kimi. At the moment he’s regarded as the best driver in F1 and Kimi, although showed that he still can race, has more “cool” factor to his image than being the best.

  12. This will end in tears. For Fernando. Luca is not sentimental about his lead drivers. Schumacher, Raikkonen went down the plank when Luca got tired of them. Now Raikkonen, former victim of this caprice, is back because Luca is tired of reading about Alonso’s cool samurai tweets in the papers, and his ego got a hurt because someone else at the company seems more important than him. For a team that prides itself on hierarchy, to bring in two WDCs, only tells you that one of the two is on the plank. Alonso should hustle himself over to Boullier and elbow Mr. Hulkenberg out of line. He doesn’t want to be left with nothing but FI/Sauber in 2015.

  13. Merv (@) said on 11th September 2013, 15:10

    Regardless of who beats who next year, people will just say that one driver got better equipment than the other, as they do about RedBull.

    They are both very consistent performers and Ferrari will surely be favourites for the 2014 constructors championship, it’s hard to imagine they won’t have 2 cars in the top 6 every race weekend.

    I really hope somebody can challenge Vettel next year. Perhaps Lotus will pull a beast out of the bag, or the new regs mint help Mercedes, but I already think it’ll be SV for drivers and SF for constructors.

  14. Jason (@jason12) said on 11th September 2013, 15:46

    BRAVO Ferrari!!!
    I’m so excited…..

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