Ferrari had to make a tough decision for 2014. Culling your drivers is never fun but in order to get the best from both drivers, Ferrari felt it was time to part company with the struggling Felipe Massa. In his place, a returning Kimi Raikkonen will slot in as Fernando Alonso’s teammate next year but the Spaniard reckons the Finnish driver is no quicker than Massa:
“For next year, with Kimi, we can do a very good championship for Ferrari, and try to again score as many points as possible,” said Alonso ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
“But I think in terms of speed, Felipe is not any slower.
“When they were racing together, Felipe was as quick as him in a way.”
In 2008 Felipe Massa was one point away from being World Champion and over 20 points ahead of Raikkonen. In the end, Massa was doing better than Raikkonen but then the duct tape was coming off the relationship between Ferrari and the Fin so one could argue as to how motivated Raikkonen actually was.
What Alonso may be missing is that even when Massa out-scored Raikkonen in the championship, the Fin was right on his tails in third place scoring nearly as many points as Massa did and taking away points from the title-winner, Lewis Hamilton, when possible. It gave Massa the world championship for 8 seconds in Brazil.
In 2007, when Raikkonen won the Championship, Massa was 4th and now in Massa is 7th with his teammate 2nd. The issue is that Massa may be quick periodically but the key to winning is to have teammates finishing nose-to-tail in the championship. It’s about Massa finishing right on the heels of his teammate ensuring that he’s maximizing the point scoring, taking points away from challengers and giving Ferrari the best possible position in the points race.
Just as Kimi was 2nd to Massa in 2008, Rubens Barrichello finished 2nd to Michael Schumacher in 2002 and 2004. The only time Massa has finished directly behind his teammate was in 2006 and he was some 40 point away from Schumacher who finished 2nd that year.
Being as quick as Kimi Raikkonen on occasion is one thing, being part of the complete year and points haul is another. For those reasons, I believe, Ferrari have parted ways with Massa and elected to re-hire Kimi Raikkonen.