musings and news on the world of F1
Perhaps the biggest topic of conversation and ongoing speculation within F1 surrounds the relationship between Vettel and Ferrari. A link-up between them at some point seems inevitable.
Vettel has often been seen as Schumacher’s protégé, leading to expectation throughout his career of being destined to be a Ferrari driver. It seems it would be a great relationship, and surely Vettel will one day drive for Ferrari – it is simply a question of when not if that will happen.
Take a three-time world champion who’s the number one driver for a top team, take a two-time world champion who’s the number one driver at another top team, and put them together. One of two things will happen. Either they’ll coexist and drive each other to even higher levels with them and their team dominating F1, or they’ll be an implosion like with Hamilton and Alonso at McLaren.
Could Alonso and Vettel, two multiple-time world champions both used to being the clear #1 driver in their team and who’ve been fierce rivals coexist alongside each other as teammates? That’s a tricky question, and one unfortunately Ferrari can’t really know the answer to until they bring them together.
Right now, Alonso is the #1 driver at Ferrari. He has the whole team build around him and in Massa a teammate willing to support his championship quests. So, why would he want a 25 year old triple world champion at his side? It wouldn’t seem on first thought to make much sense. But thinking some more about it, the old saying “keep your enemies close” could well be poignant here. With Alonso and Vettel as teammates, it’s a level playing field: same team, same car. It would be easier for Fernando to size-up the man who’s been his main rival. Likewise, this could be one reason Seb would be similarly willing to share the team’s support.
Of course, it’s not known how much power Alonso actually has to veto a move by Vettel. Whilst it may irk Fernando to find himself paired with Seb, Ferrari surely won’t risk missing out on the chance to bring Vettel to the team, particularly with Alonso not far from retirement and the long term plan for Vettel as his replacement as team leader.
Massa’s downturn in form has led to much speculation about his Ferrari future, with Felipe’s replacement for this season seeming almost inevitable. Perez was expected to move to Ferrari at some point, but not only did he not replace Massa but he’s now at rivals McLaren on a long-term contract. Massa being retained for the 2013 season, in what seems to be a stalling tactic to assess other options, has heightened speculation of Ferrari’s plans for 2014 onwards.
Alonso is contracted at Ferrari until 2016. At this time he’ll be 35 years old and has said he’ll likely retire, or at most go only a few more years. Whilst Ferrari’s focus remains very much so on Fernando, they will have started thinking about their future post-Alonso. Vettel would make the perfect replacement.
It’s not certain that Vettel has already arranged a move to Ferrari, and he could of course choose to stay at Red Bull for a few more years. With the success he’s had with the team that would be an easy and sensible decision, and at 25 there’s no need for a sudden jump to Ferrari. It would be tough to pass up the opportunity though, and surely the chance to drive to Ferrari would be just too tempting for a young man who wants to go down in history as one of the best.