Best non-story of the off-season is: Vettel to Ferrari


Here’s a story that has serious legs.

I suppose it’s because it involves the most storied team on the Formula 1 grid, Ferrari; the driver most people consider the best today, who also happens to be a two-time champ, Fernando Alonso; and the current world champ, who also is the youngest ever, Sebastian Vettel.

Toss those three items, shake a bit and what do you get:

Vettel to Ferrari, maybe, maybe not — but with Alonso standing firm and unflinching at the threat.

All this, and Vettel has a contract with Red Bull, which as of right now has to be your odds on favorite to be a top contender for the foreseeable future. Oh, and Ferrari does have a second driver (although we know how easily that can change).

To jog your memory, the sequence of events has been like this:

Luca di Montezemolo suggested that “sooner or later, he will be driving a red car.” Not any time table, and not any surprise that Ferrari would be thining: Man, someday down the line if this kid keeps winning, we should get him in our car.

Still, the press managed to track down obvious No. 1 Ferrari driver of the moment, Alonso, and ask his opinion. He obliged:

“I’m not afraid at all of Vettel. Should he come to Ferrari one day it won’t be a problem, I have nothing to say on that.

“But I’m not afraid to face any team-mate, because I’ve never feared them. None of my team-mates have ever done a single point more than I have, so I don’t see why I should be afraid of anyone.”

Fun quote. I love when someone — anyone, politician, athlete, celebrity — includes a variation on “I have nothing to say” and then does say something. (In another variation, mostly for our American fans, did you see Baltimore’s Ray Lewis after his team’s win this weekend say, “Not to put Coach Ps business out there…” and then proceed to do it? It’s akin to saying, “Not that I hate your guts, but man I really hate you.”)

Well, now Red Bull has gotten into the game. Specifically Helmo Marko. He’s being quoted in Bild as saying that Vettel wouldn’t just leave the team because of the Ferrari legend. And, Marko adds, Vettel would only join the team if all the variables were right — and that includes Alonso not being there. Doing otherwise would be “stupid”.

And that, folks, means we have a third round of news on a story with no solid basis other than it being obvious that if all the pieces could fall together, Ferrari would grab up Vettel in a heart beat and Vettel would jump to Maranello just as quickly.

So, is there anything more substantial and useful about this story? The attention on Vettel does reinforce that he’s the presumed next big thing — or already big thing. The Robert Kubica to Ferrari rumors didn’t generate this kind of back-and-forth, for instance. It also suggests that Felipa Massa’s seat is tenuous to an extent: Ferrari is playing to this storyline, and likely sending him a message. And, like Ferrari or not, it is the “big team” and news about it generates interest.

There’s also the need for the press to have something to feed upon, and this story is filling that. Last off-season, the Michael Schumacher returns storyline was big enough to fill every craw. The Lotus naming fight isn’t quite as exciting.

I guess we all can be thankful that we’re two to three weeks away from the car launches. Then it will be back to our regularly scheduled programming. Until then, thanks to Red Bull for providing us another chapter in this tale.

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