Vettel-Ferrari 2014 discussion
30th September 2012, 14:22 at 2:22 pm #132165
I read a piece by Will Buxton recently, saying that apparently, most people in the paddock are sure the Vettel-Ferrari linkup for 2014 is going to happen, and says that it’s the exact same type of thing Fernando Alonso was meant to have – an 18-month pre-contractual agreement (Alonso signed in mid-2009, for a drive starting in 2011). I myself seem to remember Alonso admitting as such – that he was slated for a 2011 transfer, but was brought forward to replace Kimi.
I know a lot of people are saying Alonso will never allow another serial winner as a teammate, let alone a multiple champion, and I completely agreed. After some thought, however – along with some coaxing from a friend – I’m not so sure any more.
But maybe Alonso has no veto power over this decision – ie it’s a decision made high enough in the food chain that Alonso has no authority to overrule it. Or of course he has no veto power over teammate selection anyways. Montezemolo seems to rate Vettel quite a bit – so I’m definitely not discounting the possibility. After all, he did praise Vettel just some 3 weeks ago, in relation to Ferrari, and with Perez now off the books, at least for the very near future – it has just fanned the flames.
Ferrari hasn’t generally had a habit of pairing two good drivers together – that generally comes with McLaren rather than Ferrari – but since Domenicali, they haven’t exactly paired a numpty with a demon racer either. While I realise Massa now falls into the numpty category, I think when they initially signed him back on for 2010 – they were intending to put Alonso alongside the 2009 Massa, who in my view was putting in decent drives in a less-than-decent car. I don’t think that when they put Alonso on the board for 2010, they were intending to pair him to a numpty Massa – they were intending to pair him with good Massa.
Alonso is not old by any means – there are certainly others (such as Webber, de la Rosa, Schumacher, and as early as last year, Ruby Botticelli) but in modern day F1 he is no spring chicken either. He’s putting in some absolutely demon drives this year (and last year too, though the lesser machinery has somewhat subdued the impact last year) but at some point his powers will wane with age, and not long after that he will definitely retire.
The last time they hired a German driver, things didn’t turn out too bad. When Schumacher was at Ferrari, he was already very close to Vettel – and many people considered Vettel a Schumacher protege. In fact before Vettel had any F1 linkup (through BMW, before Toro Rosso) he was often in the Ferrari garage with Schumacher, leading to speculation that he might be one day groomed to be the new Ferrari lead.
My aforementioned friend brought forth an idea, which I personally thought was pretty logical, which I shall now present to you. In the paddock, the general consensus is that the Hamlonsotel trinity are the best drivers on the grid. Amongst the 3, Vettel is the youngest. In fact it’s still possible that we get a situation where today’s top drivers – bar Hamilton, who is only two years younger, and Vettel – have retired, leaving a potential gap in the talent field where the new top drivers are still getting on their feet, while the old guard have gone (in a similar fashion to the Schumi era – Alonso/Hamilton/Vettel weren’t there yet, but Senna/Mansell/Piquet/Prost was waning).
I wonder – and my friend does to – whether Ferrari is seeing this “talent gap” emerge and are planning ahead by getting Vettel for 2014, and then aligning their big guns behind Vettel, in an attempt to use those years to replicate the Schumacher era.
Now – keep in mind that this was something I and my friend were talking of over a coffee! It’s not the most thorough think-through by any means!
The obvious question is – why not just do that for Alonso, or Hamilton? To answer, in this “talent gap” my friend is proposing – Alonso would probably be retired already, or beyond his prime. As for Hamilton… I don’t know. lol.
It is often said “there is no smoke without fire” – and I certainly think this is the case here. After all, why else would they let a driver that McLaren felt was top-drive-ready slip as a potential Massa replacement?
Thoughts?30th September 2012, 15:45 at 3:45 pm #211523
@raymondu999 I completely agree. I also see that some years in the future the current championship rivals will have retired, apart from Hamilton and Vettel. McLaren have signed Perez and if all goes according to plans he will be the championship contender in the future, once or even before Button retires. After Alonso’s retirement Ferrari need another driver. Despite di Resta and Hulkenberg being two very strong drivers, it’s not difficult to understand why they should prefer Vettel. They are obviously aiming for him, and unless they keep Massa until then his replacement will only be provisional – or he will be Alonso’s team mate and then Vettel’s if Vettel arrives when Alonso leaves, which is less likely.30th September 2012, 16:14 at 4:14 pm #211524
This all makes sense to me from Ferrari’s perspective. I’m still not sure what to make of it from Vettel’s perspective. I have a hard time imagining him, after another world championship or two (maybe), leaving Red Bull, especially if Adrian Newey is still there. I’m not sure the lure of driving for Ferrari would necessarily be enough…30th September 2012, 16:19 at 4:19 pm #211525
It’s easy to see why Ferrari would want Vettel, and also Vettel has sometimes admitted the lure of driving for Ferrari. What I don’t understand is why Vettel, not that long after signing a contract with Red Bull up to and including 2014, he would opt out of the final year of that contract and sign for Ferrari (this rumour is pretty old already) – and then lie about it to his team, if Horner’s comments in the press are to be believed. One thing I would believe is that Vettel has performance clauses in his contract, and that he has an agreement to drive for Ferrari if Red Bull doesn’t make the required performance, and Ferrari does.
Another question mark I have is with regard to the timing. Wouldn’t 2014 be a good season to stay with your current team, to see how the balance of power plays out with the new engines rather than commit yourself from 2014 for who knows how many years? We are very used to Mercedes and Ferrari producing the strongest engines, but who is to say that Renault won’t produce the best engine for 2014?
Sebastian strikes me as quite a straightforward character, and the most straightforward thing to do would be to serve out his contract and see what his options are in 2013. But maybe that thought is way too naive for Formula 1.30th September 2012, 18:36 at 6:36 pm #211526
It would make logistical sense for vettel to take over at ferrari at 2016 when presumably fernando would retire at the age of 35 and seb would lead ferrari. But fernando is physically in really good shape he could carry on till he was 37 or 38 and then what would happen if he stayed on at ferrari. I do think seb will end up at ferrari in 2014 because i cant see massa staying after 2013 and perez has gone to mclaren unless someone like a bianchi really burst through or hulkenberg.
I do think that alonso has power on who comes in, and i’m just thinking out loud but what if he does not rate seb to be as good as him, this season most of the time he has talked about hamilton being his main threat and how he is the toughest.
Maybe he knows he can beat sebastian vettel.30th September 2012, 18:59 at 6:59 pm #211527
If the move does happen it’ll also be interesting as to what RedBulls driver lineup will be. It really hinges on whether Webber will still be with the time in 2014, if not it leaves both RB seats open for the RB juniors. Will RB want to promote two of them at once though?30th September 2012, 22:03 at 10:03 pm #211528
I’m pretty certain Vettel will be in a Ferrari in 2014. If Perez’s McLaren contact is 3 years (the common opinion) then this leaves him available in 2016, right at the same time Alonso’s current contract expires…30th September 2012, 22:29 at 10:29 pm #211529
that being said there are also some good drivers now, alot of them have sat in the background as test drivers, but there are good contenders for redbulls replacement, i dont know when kimi , nico or romains contracts run to, but this year lthey have been showing good races and point win considering.
as for vettel, if ferrari want him they could eaisly find out the flaws in redbulls contract ie performance claues, then they would, as mentioned, he hung out in ferraris garage, and i was also lead to belive alonso and vettel got along quite well,30th September 2012, 22:43 at 10:43 pm #211530
I think a big deciding factor will be Adrian Newey. Not that I think Vettel will be scared to part with him persé, but 2014 is when a big regulation change is going to happen (the engine). Last two times that happened (1998 with the grooved tires, 2009 with slicks and aerodynamics), Adrian Newey built the car to have for two seasons (McLaren MP4-13, Red Bull RB6) while the big names (Williams in ’98, Ferrari in ’09) were nowhere to be found.
While I’m sure he’ll be keen to prove himself against Alonso, it would be very risky to move away from Newey in such a crucial year. Any other year, sure, but would anyone want to take that risk in 2014?30th September 2012, 23:45 at 11:45 pm #211531
Newey’s contract with Red Bull runs out at the end of next season, he’s most likely to retire. Once Newey is gone Ferrari is a much safer bet than Red Bull.1st October 2012, 2:07 at 2:07 am #211532
If Kingshark is right about Newey retiring, than that’s the answer. Vettel is young, fast, and confident, I doubt he’s scared of Alonso.1st October 2012, 2:19 at 2:19 am #211533
Newey’s contract with Red Bull runs out at the end of next season, he’s most likely to retire. Once Newey is gone Ferrari is a much safer bet than Red Bull.
I believe Newey has said that he is quite happy at Red Bull, and that he intends to end his career there. It’s certainly not an announcement of an imminent retirement – it was in response to talk that Ferrari was trying to lure him over – but it certainly tallies with Kingshark’s comments. If Vettel were to leave Red Bull, it would probably be because Newey was no lonegr in the picture.1st October 2012, 4:27 at 4:27 am #211534
I think we need to take it easy on this whole dominant car-thing sometimes. Red Bull deserve credit too for what they have achieved over the past 3 seasons, and frankly not all of it was because Adrian joined them and turned everything he toughed into gold.
Newey is a great car designer, no doubt, but he isn’t God.
Truth is, there’s a lot more to a team than just one man. Every team has its ups and downs, successful eras and forgettable ones. However, I have no doubt in my mind that Ferrari is the safest bet out of any team for long-term success.1st October 2012, 6:48 at 6:48 am #211535
That makes sense. James Allen has very well explained why the global financial crisis makes it very hard for new superstars to arise in F1 these days:
One can envisage a situation, five years from now, when Button and Webber will be retired, Alonso aged 36 will probably be retired, or close to it. So that will leave Hamilton who will be 32 and Sebastian Vettel, who will be 30 and there is no sign of a driver who will rise to challenge them.
I think Ferrari understand that, which explains why they might want to get their hands on Vettel even if they don’t need him as early as 2014 or even 2015. Otherwise another team might make a long-term agreement with him.
As I understand, Ferrari pushed their most successful driver of all time out at the end of 2006 and hired the 27-year old Raikkonen instead because they were worried about the future. I wonder if they had seen Schumacher’s performance level starting to decline by then.
I also believe that Alonso’s alleged ‘fear’ from strong team mates often gets exaggerated. I guess that Ferrari already had some kind of future agreement with Kubica before his disastrous crash and he wasn’t exactly a number two driver. It might be that Alonso has certain preferences in that sense and wants a team mate who is easy to work with but I would be surprised if a driver such as Alonso didn’t believe he could beat ANY team mate. For example, I think that Button wasn’t ‘afraid’ of Hamilton when he joined McLaren and rightly so.1st October 2012, 7:11 at 7:11 am #211536
@adrianmorse It could be that Horner simply doesn’t tell the truth, just as it is often the case in our sport. Lauda said that Hamilton wouldn’t join Mercedes two or three days before the switch was officially announced, and Lauda himself was signed as well, having been involved in the talks between Hamilton and Mercedes before. And Whitmarsh said they had no plan B in case Hamilton left… I’m not saying that everyone lies all the time in F1 but I guess this is not the most honest place on the earth either :)
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