#7 – Kimi Raikkonen – Finland – 11 Starts, 27 Points, Best Finish: 6th (Hungary), Championship Position: 12th
#14 – Fernando Alonso – Spain – 11 Starts, 115 Points, Best Finish: 2nd (Hungary), Championship Position: 4th
The Scuderia Ferrari team’s season could only be described as mediocre at best, and already has cost Stefano Domenicali his job as Team Principal and Luca Marmorini his role as Engine chief. The team currently sit third in the championship and are involved in a battle to hold that position with the resurgent Williams team.
The team have laboured with an overweight engine, and therefore car, all season, and the failure to get anywhere near the dominant Mercedes team cost both Domenicali and Marmorini dearly. Bahrain was the last straw for the Team Principal, with Marco Mattiacci coming into to replace Domenicali, while Marmorini left the team following the Hungarian Grand Prix to be replaced by Mattia Binotto.
Fernando Alonso remains as one of Formula 1’s quickest and most consistent drivers, and continues to put the Ferrari in places it really ought not to be. The battle with new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was meant to be one of the biggest talking points of the season, but the Finn has so far not been in the same league as the Spaniard. Alonso has currently scored 115 of Ferrari’s 142 points, including two podium finishes, while Raikkonen has only 27 points and a best finish of sixth.
The lack of form from Raikkonen is alarming. The new-for-2014 cars have obviously not suited the Finn from the offset, but he has been completely out-driven and outclassed by Alonso. He has often struggled in qualifying, and has failed to reach the final part of qualifying five times. He started out in Australia by finishing seventh, a result he matched in Spain, and finally broke into the top six in Hungary last time out.
His only race where he could consider himself truly unlucky was in Monaco. The Finn qualified sixth and made a good start to the race to be running third. Unfortunately his race unravelled during a safety car period, when the Marussia of Max Chilton hit him while un-lapping himself that gave the Ferrari a puncture and resulted on a pointless afternoon.
Silverstone was the worst weekend for the Finn, starting low down and then crashing violently on the Wellington Straight on the opening lap after running wide exiting the Loop. He was lucky to escape serious injury in the vicious looking crash, and only missed the following test session at the same track while he recuperated.
As for Alonso, he is the only driver to have scored points in every race in 2014, and has more than often got the best out of the Ferrari where Raikkonen hasn’t. He has only missed out on reaching the final part of qualifying once, and that was at Silverstone where both Ferrari’s were caught out by the changeable weather conditions in the first part of the session.
He took a well earned podium finish in China, finishing the best of the rest behind the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but his best result came in Hungary when he was leading until a couple of laps from the end but was helpless to resist the attack from Daniel Ricciardo, who on fresher tyres was able to take the victory in his Red Bull. He was also good in Austria, and was in the final stint one of the quickest drivers on track, and finished just a few seconds shy of a podium in fifth.
Expectations at Ferrari are always sky high, as they should be in a team with one of the biggest budgets in F1. This year, they have fallen short of their targets so far, and with the pace of the Williams team as it is right now, they will be lucky to keep hold of their third place in the championship standings.
We all know Alonso will keep pushing until the very end; his never give up attitude has been seen time after time. As for Raikkonen, small signs of improvement have been evident in the past couple of races, but he still finds himself well behind his Spanish team-mate. Motivation has been an issue in the past for the Finn, but right now he believes he has not lost any of his speed and expects to improve further when he finally gets on top of his car.
Spa is next for Raikkonen and Ferrari, a track that the Finnish driver usually excels on. It will be a good indication about just how far he has come to terms with the car and if all the positive vibes coming from the Finn are genuine or just words to stop people speculating over his future. Both Ferrari drivers are under contract for 2015, but both remain linked to other drives, or in Raikkonen’s case, retirement, to be replaced by Marussia driver Jules Bianchi. If motivation IS the cause of Raikkonen’s apparent loss of speed, then retirement is entirely possible.