Finally, after much speculation, Ferrari announced Alonso’s move to Ferrari signing a three-year agreement. Ferrari offered Alonso a five-year deal of $220 million – $44 million a year, higher than Raikkonen’s current salary. His move to Ferrari means Raikkonen has to make way for the Spaniard. Raikkonen is rumored to return to McLaren, replacing Heikki Kovalainen. A friend of mine brought this to my attention the other day: the 2006 season saw Alonso sign to McLaren for the following year, taking Raikkonen’s place, while Raikkonen was welcomed at Ferrari. Three years later, Alonso makes the same move into Raikkonen’s perfectly shaped Formula 1 seat – this time seeing Raikkonen take his initial seat at McLaren.
Alonso + Massa and Hamilton + Raikkonen reinforce my reasons for purchasing tickets for the Bahrain Grand Prix, opening the 2010 season.
Much could play out: Alonso and Massa could be part two to the Alonso Hamilton cock fight of 2007. Part three could be taking shape with Hamilton and Raikkonen.
Alonso and Massa are both Spanish – Spanish from across oceans but a large enough similarity to keep them happy. Ferrari has a small reputation for molding a star driver (Schumacher Barrichello) but with this pair, both have equal opportunities to extend their career CV’s. Ferrari will want success for both of them equally (I hope).
Norbert Haug has been quoted saying he has no worries concerning harnessing two star drivers. During his relationship with Raikkonen in previous years, everyone got along very well. With a few engine failures here and crashing suspension due to a flat-spotted tyre, Raikkonen was a hands reach away from, most probably, two World Championships. One of his main career goals was to obtain the title, which he did at his first year with Ferrari. For almost three years now, McLaren have been evolving around Hamilton, around his driving style, around his attitude and his driver feedback. Everything has been finely tuned to suit their World Champion, decorating the pits as Hamilton’s sanctuary. Ice cold Raikkonen, however, is ice cold. He rarely talks, rarely smiles, and almost always performs to the maximum. That layer of ice will be just enough to block out any Hamilton nonsense Alonso was affected by. It might even affect Hamilton – a teammate who doesn’t give a shit, who doesn’t talk? To me, someone with that attitude is communicating superiority. ‘I don’t care if you’re world champion and that this is your house,’ Raikkonen would think and act. And with that attitude, he could succeed, most definitely.
Another minor note to the realization of this change: Raikkonen departed McLaren and grabbed the title at his first year with Ferrari. He has now left Ferrari for his first (first year of his second McLaren attempt) year at McLaren. Could this be a built up for Raikkonen’s second World Championship?
With two titles under his belt, we know Alonso has got what it takes. At times I hated his attitude on track, but then again, winning has a way of turning you into something overconfident, cocky, and egocentric. Remove all that hatred you might have had to him and focus on his talent during the ’05 and ’06 seasons. If you want go back to ’07 where he suffered all this bias from the McLaren team and was still able to aggressively fight his way around it – holding Hamilton at the pit because..because..he’s Spanish and wild and felt like it. If you look at it like that, Alonso is the greatest, well-rounded, driver on the grid. In an interview with F1 Racing magazine last year, he even said he thought he was the best driver around. I mean, the first step to being champion is believing in it first, right?
Please note: “…that terminating Raikkonen’s contract is costing Ferrari a whopping 45m euros ($66m), partly paid for by the Spanish sponsor Santander,” reads F1-Live.com.
I can’t help but stress: for those of you in the MENA region, purchase your Bahrain GP tickets. It will be anything but disappointing.