For some, the decision Ferrari face for 2017 may be an easy one and for Ferrari, perhaps it is. For AUTOSPORT’s Edd Straw, it’s seems relatively straightforward too—that’s if Ferrari are serious about winning. Part company with Kimi Raikkonen.
The Finn is running a strike rate of 53.5% in scoring against his teammates since returning to the Italian team in 2014. That’s 286 points to his team-mates’ 535. A rate that is woefully short of making the best attempt at winning a title again.
I won’t recount all the points Edd makes, he does them very well and has crafted a nice thought-provoking piece but I will add the juxtaposition of the Felipe Massa years.
The challenge for me toward the end of Massa’s tenure at Ferrari was that while he is incredibly likable and a real team player, he was not finishing nose-to-tail with his teammate and this was leaving too many points on the table for their rivals. The team have always favored a number one and number two driver scenario and in that format, it is critical that the number two role finish right behind the number one in as many races as possible and should the number one experience issues, the number two must take the lead and deny points to their competitors.
Back during the Massa debate, I advocated parting company with Felipe because he wasn’t scoring enough points. I wasn’t expecting race wins but he was woefully adrift of his teammates and you can’t be far behind and leaving points on the table. I like Felipe a lot and to be honest the departure seemed to be a great move for him at Williams.
It’s not an easy role as Rubens Barichello or Felipe Massa can tell you but it is proving to be difficult for Kimi Raikkonen too. Kimi fans won’t be happy with Edd’s conclusion but in the end, he’s right. Ferrari will need to look at the effectiveness of a second driver and they will have metrics they use to measure the efficacy of their second car’s program. If it isn’t delivering the points and qualifying performances they need, they will make a change.
That’s easier said than done, however, as it becomes a question of who might be a suitable replacement and a lot of consideration has to go in to making a change like this given that Kimi, like Felipe, may be a real team player and comfortable in his secondary role. Who will Sebastian Vettel be comfortable with as he seems perfectly fine with Kimi?
There’s been lots of discussion over Sergio Perez or Nico Rosberg but would either of those drivers be a good fit? Is there another place for Kimi? Return to Renault and replace Palmer? It’s all part of Silly Season but in the end, I think Edd is right because it is the same reasoning I was arguing in Massa’s case, unfortunately Felipe’s replacement hasn’t quite accomplished what the team may have wanted.
On the flip side of the argument, if Ferrari feel he’s delivering enough and the price is right and he gets along with Seb and the team, they may be perfectly fine with what they have.