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GP Week : Issue 164
18 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Kimi Raikkonen’s forceful move on his team-mate in Hungary was indicative of what kind of a driver he is; how he has lost none of his bite regardless of his sabbatical, and why he’s absolutely the last driver Ferrari would want. According to paddock rumours at the Hungaroring, Kimi’s name has joined a lengthy list of drivers who could partner Fernando Alonso next year. The Scuderia has yet to decide whether they will retain Felipe Massa for next season, and Raikkonen’s five podium finishes so far for Lotus have prompted the them to reassess the man they ditched for Alonso in the first place. Ferrari cut short Raikkonen’s contract at the end of 2009 and paid him a reported 17 million Euros to sit out 2010. It is understood that the relationship between the Finn and Ferrari’s president, Luca di Montezemolo, is fractured, making the chances of Raikkonen and Alonso pairing up next year unlikely. “I always said I have no bad feelings against them,” said Raikkonen. He’s on a one-year contract with Lotus, who are hoping to retain him. “I had a good time with [Ferrari]. Perhaps it could have ended in a nicer way. I’m happy where I am and things are going pretty well, but you never know in the future.” So, not a ‘no’ then. But let’s look at the facts. One: Montezemolo makes the decision, and if he doesn’t like Kimi he’s not going to give him the gig. Two: When you fire someone and then re-hire them, it looks like you were wrong to fire them in the first place – particularly when you paid them gazillions to go away. Three: Ferrari want a driver quick enough to win them the constructors’ championship but by no means quick enough to challenge Alonso. Can you imagine Kimi playing bridesmaid? Jenson Button has been actively courted by the red team but is locked into another year with his McLaren contract, and would be well advised to stay where he is. Sergio Perez is a Ferrari development driver, but the team is understood to be cautious about putting him into a top seat just two years into his F1 career, despite him finishing a sensational second in Malaysia and third in Canada. If you ask me, they should take him. Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta have been spoken about. Mercedes will fight tooth and nail to keep di Resta in their camp. Hulkenberg is okay, but why would you take him over Perez? A safe but uninspiring option would be Heikki Kovalainen, who won the Hungarian Grand Prix with McLaren in 2008 and has impressed at the back of the field with Caterham, though they’ve yet to score a point. He and Alonso get on like a house on fire and, as he proved at McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton, he’d be happy to play an obedient number two for a shot at a race-winning car. The other option is to stick with Massa. But why would you? Felipe circa 2008 was masterful, but he hasn’t stood on the podium since Korea 2010. Something is clearly wrong. If Massa has any sense he’ll retire gracefully at the end of this year and concentrate on family life and being a lifetime Ferrari ambassador, where he’ll get to do a bit of GT racing and things like that. To move to another team – and it won’t be a top team – would be worthless, and I can’t see anyone signing him anyway. “I want to stay in Formula One, but it has to be in a situation where I am in Formula One to race, not just to participate,” Massa said in Budapest. “If for whatever reason I don't have the chance to stay with Ferrari, then I will try and find a direction where I can race. But, otherwise, small teams? I'm not interested.” As for Kimi, I expect him to re-sign for Lotus. But he’ll be loving all this Ferrari talk. Montezemolo, on the other hand, will not. DID FERRARI MAKE A MISTAKE DITCHING KIMI? OPINION OPINION ADAM HAY-NICHOLLS F1 Editor