I just wanted to chip in my two cents worth and do a quick straw poll before the news becomes official.
Renault, Ferrari, and McLaren team principals have all but organized a press conference to confirm what many have speculated for months: Alonso will be in red next season and Kimi will be driving a silver car in 2010.
I have commented a few times previously that I wasn't going to believe this until I saw the press release, but the signs from the teams this past week have been impossible to ignore: LdM's slip of the tongue at Madrid, Martin Whitmarsh's silence when asked point-blank at Singapore, and Renault's MD comment about missing Alonso next year.
First of all, I'm completely annoyed that the rumour mongers have got it right.
Secondly, if the rumours are to be believed entirely, releasing Kimi from Ferrari is going to cost the team a bomb. So maybe Kimi didn't demolish the field in 2008 and maybe Massa was delivering a similar performance for a much lower salary.
But wait, Kimi did win the WDC in 2007 and he helped the team deliver two WCCs in the two years since he has joined the team. If he was overpaid, does it make logical sense to pay him not to drive for the team?
It's not like Alonso coming in to replace Kimi would be a whole lot cheaper. The worst part is, Ferrari is releasing their WDC to drive for its main rivals.
Not too long ago, the way I saw the situation was like this: Ferrari retains Kimi for 2010 and it would probably have been his last year in F1. Alonso could wait another year; it's not like he has that many options. Likely only McLaren and Toyota could afford Alonso, (McLaren sure as hell wouldn't have taken him back). Alonso himself probably wouldn't have wanted to drive for Toyota—he hangs in at Renault.
Kimi doesn't have too many options other than Ferrari either. The same two teams can afford him: McLaren and Toyota, with the exception that McLaren actually wants Kimi. And once Kimi moves out of Ferrari, I doubt he would be at McLaren for only 2010; 2011 would be highly possible as well.
So, the likely scenario we have in front of us now is 2010 and 2011: Hamilton and Raikkonen versus Alonso and Massa. Apparently, Ferrari seems confident enough that they will emerge victorious in the championship, which I think is slightly arrogant.
If not for Spygate in 2007, McLaren would have taken the WCC easily. I don't see how this could be advantageous strategy-wise for Ferrari and I can't believe sponsorship could have such an impact.
As for teammate dynamics, Kimi pretty much doesn't care who his teammate is and he wouldn't have problems with any one of the other three.
Any pairing between Lewis, Alonso, and Massa, however, should be dynamite waiting to explode. Alonso and Massa should be entertaining—I'm still amused by Nurburgring '07. Compare that with Montreal '08.
Anyway, I have rambled long enough. I'm irritated that I'm facing the prospect of having to support a team with two drivers I don't particularly like, while my favourite driver is in another team I don't particularly like either.
By the way, if this "rumour" turns out to be untrue in the end, we can all have a laugh about it.
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