Kimi Raikkonen is a Formula One throwback,a party-loving fan of the late champion James Hunt,but if the Finn returns to Ferrari next season it would be a blast from a past even more distant than the 1970s.
With speculation mounting on Tuesday about an imminent Ferrari driver announcement,media reports have put the 2007 world champion on pole position for what would be a sensational signing by a team he left in 2009 to make way for 2005 and 2006 world champion Fernando Alonso.
The 33-year-old still has plenty of supporters among the Ferrari ‘tifosi’ as the team’s first champion of the post-Michael Schumacher era and last to date. If he does return then it would be a break with years of Ferrari tradition.
Assuming Alonso does not produce any bombshell of his own and that it is Felipe Massa who is replaced,Ferrari would have a former world number one on both sides of the garage next season for the first time since most fans can remember.
In the 1950s,team founder Enzo Ferrari had Italian champions Albert Ascari and Giuseppe Farina racing but current chairman Luca Di Montezemolo has been against having two roosters in the same henhouse.
Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell were there together in 1990 but the Briton would have to wait until 1992,when he was with Williams,before he became a world champion.
Since the arrival of Michael Schumacher in 1996,Ferrari has been a team with one driver clearly ranked ahead of the other. The German notched up five of his seven titles with Ferrari with the Italian team between 1996 and 2006. His three team mates Britain’s Eddie Irvine and Brazilians Rubens Barrichello and Massa had managed just 15 wins between them over the same period.
Even if speculation about Massa’s future has been a regular occurrence,the Brazilian has done little to merit an extension. In 70 races as Alonso’s team mate,Massa has not won once. He has had eight podium finishes while the Spaniard has taken 11 wins and made 42 podium appearances.
Between the improbable confirmation of Massa and the probable arrival of Raikkonen,it’s not difficult to imagine what Alonso would prefer, said Tuesday’s Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. I have a lot of respect for Felipe. We’ve been working very hard and close for four years to give Ferrari the maximum, Alonso said in a response to fans on Twitter on Monday. Whatever decision the team will take will be good for me and we will keep working to give Ferrari the best results possible.