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Back To The Wilderness?

FEATURE BY MIKE LAWRENCE
22/08/2013

There have been no Grands Prix for a spell so it's been open season on speculation, rumour and gossip. That is something I like to do down the pub with mates, but that is chat-chat, it's not something worth publishing, At noon on Thursday, 15th August, more than a dozen websites led on Kimi Raikkonen's plans for 2014. Half said he was on his way to Maranello, half had Ferrari dismissing the idea. You can hardly say that this was informative.

What gets me is the naivety of some the views expressed,

Ferrari sacked Raikkonen at the end of 2009. For two seasons Kimi had scored fewer points than his team-mate, Felipe Massa (in 2009, that was up until Felipe's accident). One possible reason for Kimi's sensational form since his return to Formula One is that he is comfortable with Fake Lotus.

Ferrari is not for everyone. Fangio secured his fourth World Championship with the Scuderia in 1956 and insisted on a personal mechanic because he believed that the team was sabotaging his efforts. One of the greatest drivers ever sought psychiatric help with his fears.

On the other hand, Lauda and Ferrari was a match arranged by Zeus himself. As with any team, there has to be an emotional fit. We are seeing that as Lewis Hamilton enmeshes with Mercedes F1.

Fernando Alonso's manager visited Christian Horner at Red Bull. Of course he did, it is his job to explore every possibility on behalf of his client. If Fernando thought he could do the job better himself, he would not be giving a percentage of his earnings to his manager.

I bet that Christian Horner has had overtures from most of the F1 grid, the whole of GP2, plus representatives of drivers in other formulae. It is what managers and agents do, so it should surprise nobody.

There has been speculation that Fernando has been trying to spur Ferrari, but he has been around long enough to know that motor racing does not work like that. There is a massive team of engineers and designers dedicated to trying to make a winning car. It is not as though the current Ferrari is a disaster, like the McLaren MP4-28. Fernando won in China and Spain, we are talking tenths rather than whole seconds.

There is no threat or incentive you can apply to anyone, especially an Italian, who works for Ferrari. It is unlike any other employment. Forget that Ferrari is the longest running team in Formula One, it goes back twenty years before the World Championship. Enzo founded Scuderia Ferrari in late 1929 to run works-related Alfa Romeos and to prepare cars for wealthy owners. Nuvolari won most of his races driving for Scuderia Ferrari.

Luca di Montezemolo has said recently, 'Drivers, we've had a lot, some very good, some great, but drivers come and go, while Ferrari remains.' In 1991, Alain Prost said something to the effect that his Ferrari 643 was like driving a truck. He was dropped for the final race and then sacked.

Prost was not only a triple World Champion at the time, in the view of many, he was the outstanding driver of his era. Senna has since emerged as the retro-favourite, but in the day, Prost had at least as many advocates, not for nothing was he nicknamed 'Professor'. He bad-mouthed Ferrari and was shown the door. Prost had to sit out 1992, or drive for a struggling team.

In 1992, Ferrari won nothing and gained just one podium (Alesi, 3rd, Canada.) It is unlikely that Prost could have made a difference to Ferrari's tally, but he might have helped another team, had he been on the market when contracts came for renewal. As it was, he was removed from the game.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 05/09/2013 14:24

"Another entertaining & incisive article from Mike Lawrence.
The Shell\Ferrari business is new to me, so many thanks for that.
The way Mike has punctured the hype and posturing that normally surrounds this matter is a joy to read!"

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2. Posted by The Rumble Strip, 01/09/2013 16:57

"Although the silly season has always provided a fascinating look as to who may go where, keeping interest alive, during relatively quiet news periods, there has to be an argument which suggests that it serves little, if any, purpose.

Whilst one will never stop such conjecture, I’m not sure that it does the drivers and or their current and future employers much good and in some cases can put added pressure onto them, which leads to a downturn in performance.

If driver contracts were therefore limited to being signed in the close season only, this may create more of a level playing field for all involved.
"

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3. Posted by Carugatese, 23/08/2013 21:15

"Excellent analysis of a difficult situation. It is not easy to fill the seat of the second car, it is more challenging
to mantain the seat of the first one than anywhere else. Thanks to Mike Lawrence for his report of Shell's
sponsorship of the resurgent Ferrari at the very beginning of Schuey's era."

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4. Posted by mulder, 23/08/2013 14:18

"Last post should have read "The single best article about the current Alonso/Ferrari situation I have read"."

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5. Posted by mulder, 23/08/2013 14:09

"The single best article about the Alonso/Ferrari I have read. This shows why Pitpass is head and shoulders above all the other sites that purport to have inside knowledge of the sport, particularly Saward's guff.
I had no knowledge of the Shell/Germany stuff before I read this.
Bravo."

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6. Posted by audifan, 22/08/2013 18:49

"the last time ferrari were succesful they not only had a top driver but tyres tailored specifically for them ; now they have a top driver in alonso but no tyre advantage ...both his championships were won with tailored tyres

I admit that ferrari are re-anglicising the team , , but i think it is too late for 2014 even with the aero reduction , 2015 maybe ?"

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7. Posted by K1w1, 22/08/2013 17:13

"Another excellent article from the Dr.
I do, however, take exception to the "fake Lotus" title. They are Lotus. Are they the original Lotus? No. Are they descended from the the original Lotus? No. Was the name of Lotus brought for $$$? I guess you could say that but the bottom line is that the team's name is Lotus and they're doing pretty damned well. "

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