Sobering reality of Kimi’s departure from Ferrari

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If you were thinking in purely commercial terms, you’d have Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari with Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso at Red Bull with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo at Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton—or some variation of that.

If teams were really working to put on the best racing they could for the fans, then having the best drivers on the grid in the best cars on the grid capable of producing epic battles each weekend might be a good thing to do.

There are a lot of reasons this isn’t happening but it’s fun to think about. Regardless, Kimi’s departure from Ferrari may not have sunk in for some but as Toto Wolff says, it’s a bit of a shame, really.

“I think it changes a lot for F1 that Kimi is not in Ferrari anymore in a car that is able to win races,” said Wolff, in an interview with selected media including Autosport.

“He is a formidable character. He is one of the very few people in this day and age, with social media and the ego getting out of control, that stays true to himself.

“He has his values and stays true to his values, and he is authentic. That is what the fans love. So Kimi not in a Ferrari is a blow for all of us.

“But at least he is not out of it completely. He is in Sauber and it is shame that, with Fernando [Alonso] going completely and Kimi changing from Ferrari to Sauber, we are losing two unbelievable personalities in some way. Kimi and Ferrari as a combination was attractive.”

To be honest, Kimi is one of those personalities that would leave a void in F1 if he were to leave now. Fans generally like Kimi for his no nonsense approach. Sure, Sauber may not be fighting for wins in 2019 but perhaps Kimi can give the team a fighting chance to compete for best of the rest? Toto says:

“Kimi says he is coming to enjoy things with Sauber, but the Sauber proved to be a best of the rest car,” explained Wolff.

“It is also just 40 minutes away from home, so he is able to stay at home. I think with Fred [Vasseur, team boss] they have a racers group that is coming together, and a strong relationship with Ferrari, so why would he not continue to do what he enjoys doing?

“We were too much driven about what should he do: should he leave F1 because it is not a winning car anymore? But we are all here to be happy and we are all here to enjoy ourselves, and if driving is something that he truly enjoys then he is right to follow his passion.”

Some fans and pundits have called the move a shame—just as they have in regards to Robert Kubica at Williams—for denying a young driver a seat. I call BS. I’m glad they are both in the series. The notion of watching two more teenagers bounce around the grid knocking wings off, making silly moves and trying to hone whatever skills they have isn’t that fun. Watching two ace drivers like Kimi and Robert take the fight to each other is.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Tom Firth

I don’t think it is a shame that Kimi is going to Sauber as far as the idea goes though admittedly part of me wanted to see him finish his career on top at Ferrari. His move to Sauber should be interesting though particularly now he’s got Kubica as a rival within that part of the field. The shame would be if Sauber couldn’t deliver the goods which we’ve no reason to believe they can’t and it meant Kimi found himself in the same place as Fernando Alonso or Damon Hill did at the end of their F1 careers.

Heath

Kimi is an ok racer he gives you exactly what the car is capable of and nothing more.I’m not trying damn with faint praise he’s a World champion but there has been a lot more times where he hasn’t really exerted himself thats why he’s at the junior team now just in case young Chuck turns out not to be all that in the big leagues, Ferrari need more than a steady driver to challenge Mercedes.

John Palermo

It is a shame to see Kimi go. But, why did it have to be that way? We could have had Seb, Kimi, and Charlie all at Ferrari if teams were allowed to have 3 cars. :) Just saying. Anyway, I liked Kimi a lot. He was great, but there were times I wish he performed better at Ferrari. He came strong at the end, but it was too little, too late. Charles could be a phenom in the making. We’ll never know until we see him in a top drive next year. That will be more exciting than having… Read more »

Peter

excellent article. thanks for the Xmas gift.

Fabio

Toto is sad that he’s leaving because he knows that Kimi was easy to beat. Charles is going to a lot tougher.

Twistedcurve

I’m a Kimi fan. I wanted to see him stay at Ferrari. That’s not to be, so lets see what Sauber can produce for Kimi to drive. I don’t expect to see it fighting up front but I do see Kimi moving it up the field. Kimi’s biggest problem is going to be starting in the dangerous part of the grid. The part where carelessness and danger runs rampant at the starts. Up front they have to watch for Verstappen, but starting back further is like starting being surrounded by multiple Verstappens.

greg packham

Let’s hope it turns out like Lotus.

Rich

Lotus wasn’t a winning team either, until Kimi drove for them. Ferrari had him on a leash because they SO wanted Vettel to be champion. They should have pushed Kimi as #1, they would have 2 more championships. The ice man doesn’t fold under pressure.

I will be happy to see more #1 driver’s in #1 seats this year. It will be interesting…

Nige

Agreed! For me, the tragedy of the situation is there are only 10 teams. There should be 15!

Dan Cooper

Hmm I respectfully disagree. I think Kimi is a great driver long past his expiration date and the only reason he’s been in this long is because of one of the things that make F1 so boring – the need for top drivers to be unchallenged by their teammate. Kimi’s job at Ferrari was simply Seb support, and his sacking showed Ferrari have lost faith in Seb. Now they know with Leclerc Seb will either step it up or, more likely, leave in a panic like he did from Reb Bull and save them some money. If top drivers could… Read more »

Dan Cooper

I pretty much agree with you. I think Seb’s a great driver, and the way LH is driving right now, it’s no shame to succumb to that pressure. I guess my main point just is, I don’t disagree with the team’s calculus, I’m sure it’s a hell of a lot more pleasant and less work to win both championships Lewis/Valterri style than it is to win it Nico/Lewis style, but like so many engineering/logic based decisions about how to win in F1, it’s a bit contrary to what a fan would want. It means the truly evenly matched cars aren’t… Read more »