Kimi Raikkonen is a Formula 1 throwback, a party-loving fan of the late champion James Hunt, but if the Finn returns to Ferrari next season it would be a blast from a past even more distant than the 1970s.
In the aftermath of Felipe Massa announcing on Twitter “From 2014 I will no longer be driving for Ferrari”, media reports have put Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, on pole position for what would be a sensational signing by a team he left in 2009 to make way for Fernando Alonso.
The 33-year-old with the glacial gaze, and ‘Iceman’ tattooed on his forearm, still has plenty of supporters among the Ferrari ‘tifosi’ as the team’s first champion of the post-Michael Schumacher.
Raikkonen is a man who refuses to be anything other than himself, an often taciturn soul who would happily skip most of his media engagements and likes to let his driving do the talking.
If he does return, and the whispers at Monza spoke of a done deal although Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said no decision had been taken and Lotus were still hoping to retain Raikkonen, then it would be a break with years of Ferrari tradition.
Assuming Alonso does not produce any bombshell of his own and that it is Felipe Massa who is replaced, Ferrari would have a former world number one on both sides of the garage next season for the first time since most fans can remember.
In the 1950s, team founder Enzo Ferrari had Italian champions Albert Ascari and Giuseppe Farina racing in his cars together but current chairman Luca Di Montezemolo has been against having “two roosters in the same henhouse”.
Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell were there together in 1990 but the Briton would have to wait until 1992 with Williams before he became a champion.
Since the arrival of Michael Schumacher in 1996, Ferrari has been a team with one driver clearly ranked ahead of the other.
The German notched up five of his seven titles with Ferrari, taking all but 19 of his 91 wins with the Italian team in the decade between 1996 and 2006.
His three team mates – Britain’s Eddie Irvine and Brazilians Rubens Barrichello and Massa – managed just 15 wins between them over that period.
Even if speculation about Massa’s future has been a regular occurrence of recent seasons, the Brazilian did little to merit an extension and his departure became inevitable.
The common consensus was that Ferrari was generous with their patience with a driver that nearly died in one of their cars during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian GP, and since which the Brazilian has not won a race.
In fact, out of the 70 races as Alonso’s team mate, Massa has not won once and has had eight podium finishes, while the Spaniard has taken 11 wins and made 42 podium appearances. (Reuters)
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Free eBook: Kimi Raikkonen – The Champion Year 2007 in his own words
A blast from the past! With Kimi Raikkonen’s renewed flirtation with Ferrari grabbing the headlines, and perhaps even a reality that he will return to the reds, we present a digital ebook of his championship winning year – 2007 – with the Maranello squad. All in his own words and with great (historic) pictures. Enjoy!