Before Kimi Raikkonen’s move to Ferrari at the end of 2006 he was already deemed a champion in waiting. These claims were rapidly confirmed in his debut season for the Italian team when the dramatic climax snatched the title from rookie Lewis Hamilton and handed it to the un-expectant flying fin.
This was well deserved in retrospect as if it hadn’t been for reliability issues earlier in the season Kimi would achieved the glory in a slightly more comfortable fashion.
He had after all won more races coming through to the close of the season and had provided arguably the stronger performances throughout.
Since his transfer to Ferrari however there was always the sense that Kimi never truly fit into the Ferrari team. Although not unappreciated he was sidetracked often and seen as a follower rather than a team leader.
The follow up to his championship win was also uninspiring, showing none of the flare and ability portrayed in the previous season. His 2008 season therefore did little to help his cause.
He has since returned to a more progressive role in the team this season, out-pacing and out-scoring team-mate Massa up until the Brazilians injury. Yet when rumours began of an Alonso-Ferrari move it became abundantly clear to all that it would be Kimi giving up his seat as opposed to the uncertain return of Felipe Massa.
Such an afterthought to the rumours highlighted the evident lack of loyalty the Ferrari team showed to Kimi, giving up a championship winning driver as opposed to the man who almost but hadn’t emulated him the following season.
Sympathy as a result has poured in for Kimi, as an unwelcome end to his Ferrari career seems as an unjust kick in the teeth.
It might just be possible however that this could be a actual blessing in disguise.
For a driver who has regressed to the occasional powerful performance instead of common consistency a move to a new team will yield an opportunity to reignite his winning ways.
Especially if such a move edges him back to his former team Mclaren, a team who nurtured his talents, and a team who built up his aforementioned reputation of becoming a future champion. It always seemed a crying shame that he never achieved his Champion status at Mclaren.
Such a move in the current climate would of course be taken at a risk. Due to the fate Alonso suffered at Mclaren in a line up where the team appeared to favour one driver over the other this could be a challenge and a half for Raikkonen. The pessimist inside would expect the Fin would be fighting a losing battle in this situation.
Kimi would be required to instantly perform affording no liberties to rest on his laurels and expect results to consistently emerge as a consequence to average efforts.
If this move becomes a reality then the first few races of the 2010 season will be crucial in first enabling his title credentials and second to provide a competitive challenge to his team mate. After all Raikkonen despite his recent downfall is obviously more capable of providing greater competition to Hamilton than current Mclaren number two, Heikki Kovalinen.
The thought of a return to Mclaren for Kimi to replace his fellow countryman is an exciting prospect, and one that Formula 1 neutrals will welcome with open arms.
The focal point with whichever move Kimi partakes in is in whether he can continue his apparent resurgence and elevate himself back to being a title challenger.
The alternative is a career in decline which for someone portraying the level of brilliance Kimi can and has shown would be a travesty and a half.