Does Ferrari's Driver Lineup Pose a Big Problem?

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Does Ferrari's Driver Lineup Pose a Big Problem?

Note: So you know where my opinion on this issue is coming from, I would call myself a Ferrari fan as I have said in the many comments about “Chicane-gate”.  Though much more importantly, I am a Formula 1 fan.   

Ferrari may have very well “air gunned” themselves in the foot. They have re-signed Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa for not one year, but TWO years. 

The decision completely boggles my mind for three main reasons: Kimi, Felipe, and the “No. 1 driver team vs. the No. 1 and No. 2 driver team” issue. 

 

Felipe Massa

            Last year, I would say Massa only had three bad drives which were Malaysia (showed awful blocking skill), Europe (bad under pressure), and Hungary (simply a bad drive, but no big deal).  BUT: now in 2008...

Australia: Just an atrocious drive starting with turn 1.

Malaysia:- He ruins an easy Ferrari 1-2.

Turkey: Yes a win, but he passed zero cars and got passed by one, Hamilton: how about pulling to the inside to block so Hamilton can’t pass you in the tight left-hander (even if Hamilton got close on the right-hander, the final corner in that left-right-left section was left again, so he could have kept the position for at Least a few more laps if not until the pit stops) 

Monaco: Kubica was faster and Hamilton much faster. 

Silverstone: Let’s just say this was the single worst performance since the days of De Ceseris! 

Germany: I don’t care how the car is handling, You continually lost time to Nelson Piquet Jr.!!??  And for god sakes, have you learned yet to move to the inside for a block?  (referring to Hamilton’s pass) 

 

Kimi Räikkönen

Well, this one is simple: He Doesn’t Care Enough!

Which is actually is a good thing when you’re under pressure, because pressure, doesn’t affect someone who doesn’t care.  A good race example is Brazil last year, where Kimi was under incredibly enormous pressure and drove perfectly for the win. 

More impressive is the fact that I almost feel as if Massa did drive 100 percent and didn’t just “let” Kimi take the lead as Ferrari probably told him to, since the most incredible set of circumstances that had about a 5 percent chance of happening was actually going to take place, with the only piece of the puzzle left being Massa sneakily giving Kimi the lead. 

A perfect driver example would be Montoya, who did well, but could have done much better. 

The issue with all this is:

  • If you want Kimi to drive specifically well for a particular race and he doesn’t feel like it, he won’t, which we have seen this year, along with the whole middle portion of last year. 
  • If you want to talk to Kimi about important set-up issues, you won’t get great info out of him, because he doesn’t care enough and just wants to go back on his yacht. 
  • He’s talked about retirement at different times, and as Schumacher said: if you’re even thinking about retirement, you need to get out, because in F1 you need 110 percent concentration 100 percent of the time. 

I will say driving wise, when Kimi does care, I’d argue that he’s the best driver in the world at this point, and has been since Schumacher retired (Although the talented Hamilton is almost there as he gains more experience every time he steps into a car). 

 

The “No. 1 driver team vs. the No. 1 and No. 2 driver team” issue

Ferrari of all teams should know: a team is a great success when there is one main driver, and one driver helping him and the team out.  One attacker, one defender, One completing one objective, one completing another.

When both drivers are fighting, you get emotions going all around, tangling and tripping over each other.  It destroyed McLaren last year; it made Massa furious last year. 

Prost and Senna wanted to kill each other; Mansell and Piquet wanted to kill each other.  I could write a whole article on A. how haveing 2 great drivers doesn’t work, or does work externally but doesn’t at all internally, and B. how a No. 1 and No. 2 works perfectly because everyone knows their mission and everyone has a known objective: like a massive clock with hundreds of gears all working off of each other. 

So what would I have done?  Well I obviously would have to get rid of one of them because of this the No. 1 driver issue, although I don’t know everything about each driver so I can't say which one I'd choose. 

It’s apparent that Schumacher and Massa have a strong connection, so I know Ferrari would have to dig deep to say “Felipe, we’re trading you.”  With Kimi, you would probably have to force him into retirement. 

It’s just there are a couple of young drivers that haven’t been picked up by the big teams yet.  They will be the future great drivers, and Ferrari is not jumping at the opportunity to grab “Their Hamilton” or “Future Schumacher.”

I’ve been saying since the beginning of 2007 (and I have proof of it) that Vettel is the guy Ferrari should be trying to get, and then I was talking 2009. 

Now by the time a position opens, Vettel will be with McLaren or BMW Sauber, because he’ll be done doing his time in the "lesser" teams after 2009.

That’s what bugs me the most: not just keeping Felipe and Kimi for 2009, but also for 2010!  Who knows which great young drivers may pop up next year, and Ferrari won’t be able to take advantage of them either.

I guess Ferrari only likes experience.  Let me say though, that Frank Williams didn’t take a man named Ayrton Senna after an absolutely unbelievable test session in 1984, because Williams didn’t like inexperience, no matter how good the driver (apparently).

The only good thing that I can see about this timing, is that Bruno Senna will have had two years in F1, and will be ready (if he drives as well as I think he will) to go to one of the big three. 

Ferrari will hopefully jump on it, especially with his connection with friend Gerhard Berger, who used to be a Ferrari driver, and the fact that he will have a Ferrari engine behind him in 2009 with Toro Rosso.  (Although as Bill has said, he may be with McLaren as a test driver in 2009 and a driver in 2010.  I think that'd be a Big money maker for a year, "Come see Hamilton and Senna!", but it could get ugly like 2007 as well, depending on how well Senna drives)

Overall, I just think Ferrari is in big trouble, with Massa’s heavy Brazilian/Italian emotions, and Kimi’s non-existent emotions. 

 

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