I don’t mean to be flippant or cheeky here but the press and many fans seem to be suggesting that the arrival of Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari will put Fernando Alonso on his toes or light a fire under his bum or push him to do better—really?
As a recap, Fernando has scored over 250 points each year he has been in Maranello. He has narrowly missed the championship by a point or three in three of the last four years. The numbers are:
Alonso- Average points over career=7.37
Raikkonen- Average points over career= 4.92
Alonso- Average strike rate for wins= 15.4%
Raikkonen- Average strike rate for wins= 10.7%
Alonso- Average pole position strike rate= 10.6%
Raikkonen- Average pole position strike rate= 8.6%
I feel as if we may be missing the point here. Alonso doesn’t need to be put on his toes or have a fire lit underneath him. He is putting that Ferrari in places that his teammate clearly couldn’t and flattering a difficult car with some brilliant driving skills.
Arguably Alonso may have done better had his teammate been more on his game and I think this is the real issue. Kimi’s arrival doesn’t send a message or put on notice the driver who has been keeping Ferrari alive these last four years. What it does do is increases the reality of two drivers finishing much higher in the points, taking away points from rivals and securing the Constructor’s Championship—and possibly a driver title along the way.
I think it may be a knee-jerk reaction and possibly a little insulting to suggest that a driver of the caliber of Alonso needs pushing, pressing and to be placed on his toes by a staunch teammate. This suggests that he may have been phoning it in and I don’t believe that has been the case for Fernando. However, there was a time with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo felt the duo would be a bad pairing. Here is Kimi’s reaction to that:
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Raikkonen is the Iceman, Alonso the fire of passion. The two are different but equally lethal when driving in anger. Ferrari will have the tools to win and Kimi will increase the strike rate possibility by being on terms with Alonso but as for prodding him out of any sort of malaise, that’s just headline seeking tripe.
I think both Kimi and Fernando have self-motivation enough to drive well at each grand prix. Sure, we can all get a pep talk and be pressed to reach higher limits but I’m not sure that has been Ferrari’s issue with Alonso—more likely an issue for Massa and the team to build a car that can take the fight to Red Bull. With Kimi on board, that motivation could reap rewards in the technical departments and give the team the boost it needs to face 2014 but I doubt it will have a major impact on Alonso or Raikkonen apart from each teammate wanting to beat the other.
This is where I am most likely reading too much into the comments in the press. Perhaps what they really mean is that each driver wants to beat his teammate and that motivation will spur Alonso to press a little harder. I can agree with that but it is a long season and Alonso thinks in terms of complete seasons and total points, not simply beating his teammate. He’s intelligent and knows what it really takes to win titles and it’s not engaging in an intra-team driver battle—such as the one at Toro Rosso—to win a seat somewhere else.
Perhaps the press also means that Kimi won’t yield and Alonso will have to earn his focused attention as the team’s #1 driver. Fair enough, I concede that point and agree that it could be a slight motivator but Raikkonen also won’t have issues if Alonso is besting him—just as he didn’t when Massa beat him in 2008.
To that point, Kimi is apolitical and won’t get distraught if Alonso is beating him. He is paid to drive and when he does drive, it’s sublime. If he’s leading his teammate, whatever. If he’s not, whatever. The goal is to have Kimi place higher than Massa did over the last four years and to stay on par with Alonso and haul points. I think he’ll do wonderfully at that but what if he outpaces Alonso?
Alonso won’t like being beaten and for that simple, passionate reason, the press has a point but to be honest, it is hard to imagine a guy getting more pumped and motivated when he is already driving qualifying laps during the races.
I could be completely wrong on this. Maybe Alonso is cruising and Kimi will light a fire. I just haven’t seen that from Alonso but then I’m not in the garage reading the telemetry and in the driver briefings.
Proof I am talking rubbish:
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For me, win, place or show is fine with Kimi because it is what it is. Win…yes. Place or show? Not acceptable for Alonso and to be honest, that difference in passion for victory, titles and championships is a big difference in the two drivers. It has always been there for Alonso and Kimi isn’t going to ignite it rather taste it when he’s on the working end of it like Massa was in the pit entrance in China back in 2010.