Kimi Raikkonnen’s return to Ferrari for the 2014 is an interesting signal of intent from Maranello as they look to fight back against Red Bull’s dominance in recent years.
Raikkonen was the last man to win the driver’s championship for the Scuderia and six seasons without success on that front have clearly hurt this once dominant team, who are now saying to the grid that they are no longer a team that focuses on one driver.
With Red Bull signing Daniel Ricciardo for this season they now have a weakness as the Australian adjusts to life battling with Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari have clearly signed Raikkonen to also help them push for success on the constructor’s front.
It is the first time in decades that Ferrari have signed two of the top drivers on the grid together and fans are relishing the prospect of watching two of the sport’s biggest drivers battle it out on the circuit.
However, Raikkonen left Ferrari one-year earlier than expected at the end of a disappointing 2009 season and was often criticised by Luci di Montezemolo, leaving many fans to speculate over whether or not his return to Italy will be a success.
History has proven that the sport’s biggest stars often fail to work in harmony in the same team and Fernando Alonso is now being asked to share his status within the team, something that he did not respond well to during Lewis Hamilton’s rise to prominence in 2007.
Alonso’s current relationship with Ferrari does not appear to be overly positive and he has made it well-known that he would have preferred to have had Felipe Massa alongside him in 2014. The Spaniard clearly sees Raikkonen as a threat both on and off the track and this could have a big impact on the atmosphere within the team.
When Raikkonen returned to the sport with Lotus in 2012 he enjoyed the luxury of having more freedom within a top team compared to previous years and he appeared to be a better driver for it. A return to Ferrari means a return to a life of constant focus in the media, a subject that Raikkonen is known to despise.
What is also interesting is the fact that Ferrari have hired Raikkonen on a two-year contract despite his advancing years. Now aged 34, he will be the oldest driver on the grid in 2014 and appears to be a stop-gap signing while Jules Bianchi gets more race experience under his belt. Time is no longer on his side and the expectation on him at Ferrari will be far greater than what he was used to at Lotus.
When Ferrari tore up Raikkonen’s contract in 2009 nobody would have expected to see him back behind the wheel for the same team five years later. The stage is set for what will be a fascinating season at Ferrari and time will tell whether or not the enigmatic Finn will be able to have the desired impact.