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And So it’s Happened

September 30, 2009

Ferrari have confirmed that Fernando Alonso will replace Kimi Raikkonen as team mate to Felipe Massa for the 2010 season, a move that has shocked absolutely no-one.  Team boss Stefano Domenicali was complimentary towards the Finn, who is widely expected to return to McLaren, in the press release:

….we wish to thank Kimi for everything he has done during his time with Ferrari: in his first year with us, he managed to win the Drivers’ title, thus making his contribution to Ferrari’s history and he played a vital role in our taking of the Constructors’ title in 2007 and 2008. Even during a difficult season like this one, he has demonstrated his great talent, with several good results, including a great win in Spa and we are sure that we can share more good times together in the final three races of this season.

People who know much more about these things than I do consider the expected pairings to work better in terms of car design – Raikkonen and Hamilton like cars that oversteer, whilst Alonso and Massa both prefer understeer, so it should be easier for each team to come to a design which suits both drivers. Plus, McLaren mechanics love Kimi’s testing consistency. I suppose that will make life easier if the team are already well-advanced on work for next year’s car.Raikkonen was magnamimous to Ferrari in his departing statement:

“I have always felt at home with everyone here and I will have many happy memories of my time with the team.”

Most of the comments on various blogs I’ve seen expect Alonso to throw his toys out of the pram again if he does not get ‘first driver’ status, but I rather think he will work better with Massa than many expect. I’ve also read that he won’t appreciate the input from Ferrari consultant Michael Schumacher, although I’m not sure why this would be. I do say this from the point of an Alonso fan – I had huge hopes for him at McLaren, and I just hope now that he can make things work at Ferrari. I also believe he has grown up a bit in the last couple of years, and will have learnt his lesson.

I hope that McLaren confirm Kimi soon, Heikki Kovalainen has underperformed massively in my opinion, and I would like to see someone with the ability bring the challenge to Hamilton, in the new, open McLaren team. I do believe that Kimi can do that, and I hope that he will prove his many critics this season to have been utterly incorrect.

I think Heikki will probably go to one of the new teams. Renault may have him back, but if Kubica is going there, I’m not sure it would be of any benefit to Kovalainen to get shown up by yet another team mate. It’s probably also cheaper for Renault to keep Romain Grosjean on and let him learn. While he has not shone in any way so far, he also hasn’t been terrible, so he’s probably earned another season.

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