Disclaimer: as readers of this blog would be well aware, I’m not Kimi Raikkonen’s biggest fan. Terrific driver in certain circumstances, sure, but I reckon he’s been living off past glories for the past six years. I didn’t enjoy him mailing it in when he found the 2009 Ferrari not to his taste (how can you not be motivated to drive for Ferrari?), and while I felt for him to some degree when he wasn’t being paid properly by Lotus after producing plenty of good performances in his two years at Enstone (as much as you can feel sorry for a multi-millionaire), I felt his return to Ferrari would be a disaster even before he turned a wheel in 2014.
For one, he was put there to give Fernando Alonso the hurry up, and while there may not be much between them in sheer driving talent, Alonso summons up more willpower in one race than Raikkonen seems to have exhibited for years. Unless the car was in the league of, say, a world-beating Mercedes, there was no way he’d be a match for the Spaniard, and so it has proved as the F14-T has proved to be yet another enormous disappointment coming out of Maranello. I was also no fan of giving someone who’d had their time (and had it successfully) at a top team in the autumn of their career another chance in lieu of a younger, cheaper, hungrier alternative like Nico Hulkenberg. Sure, Hulkenberg is much, much lower in profile, but he gives you what he has, will generally perform to the capabilities of the car he’s in and will be more of a team player to boot. Would Hulkenberg be so far behind Alonso if he was in the second Ferrari? I very, very much doubt it.
We look at Raikkonen’s underwhelming second stint at Ferrari and how he’s planning on turning things around in Episode 61 of ‘The Inside Line’, while we also review last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix as F1 returned to the spectacular Styrian Mountains after an 11-year absence. Speaking of return, it was no surprise that Mercedes returned to the top step at the Red Bull Ring after their momentary blip in Canada, while Nico Rosberg’s sixth career victory saw him pass his dad Keke on the all-time winners’ list, and there’s likely to be plenty more to come given Mercedes’ dominance this season.
Catch ‘The Inside Line’ on SPEED TV Australia (Foxtel/Austar channel 512) at 7pm on Wednesday June 25, and/or on ESPN (Foxtel/Austar channel 508 in Australia) at 8.30pm on Thursday June 26. We’re also in more than 40 other countries, so be sure to check your local guides to see the show.