Meet the new Ferrari driver, same as the old Ferrari driver.
Indeed Kimi Raikkonen will be back at the Scuderia for 2 years beginning in 2014, confirming the newest worst-kept rumor in the Formula One paddock. It follows a day after Felipe Massa confirmed he’d leave the team after an eight-year run featuring more than 100 starts, as the second longest tenured Ferrari driver only trailing Michael Schumacher.
Meanwhile, it’s Raikkonen’s second stint at the team after his three-year run from 2007 to 2009, and gives Ferrari two World Champions in its driver lineup for the first time since 1953 as he partners Fernando Alonso.
Raikkonen’s official take, to the Ferrari website: “I can’t wait to be driving a Prancing Horse car again and to reacquaint myself with so many people with whom I had such close links, as well as working with Fernando, whom I consider a great driver, in order to bring the team the success it deserves.”
From Ferrari team principal, Stefano Domenicali: “I am pleased to welcome Kimi back to the Scuderia, the team with which he won his world championship title. I sense he is very happy to be returning to Maranello and very determined to tackle the work that awaits him in the best way possible.”
And, the diplomatic, PR-speak quote from Alonso: “I’d like to welcome my new travelling companion: together, starting next year, we will have to tackle a very demanding technical and racing challenge.”
Note the words “travelling companion” there instead of “teammate” from Alonso; he’s undoubtedly game to the challenge of having a front-line teammate who will push him at every opportunity.
How the two get on as teammates, and how Raikkonen’s laid-back, barely caring attitude fits will be fascinating to watch evolve.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.