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Kimi Räikkönen is currently in fourth spot this season. Photo: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP
Kimi Räikkönen is currently in fourth spot this season. Photo: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

Will Raikkonen pair up with Alonso for Ferrari?

Continuing his form of the last two seasons, Kimi Raikkonen is now seeking a 2014 drive that will bring him a second world championship

Looking for a new set of wheels

At the end of the 2009 Formula One (F1) racing season, Ferrari replaced their 2007 Drivers’ Champion Kimi Räikkönen with Fernando Alonso, citing that the Spaniard will be more accustomed to their style of winning.

Karma has come back to haunt the Scuderia Ferrari, for they have failed to add to their titles since. Now, they are said to be reconsidering the Finn for a drive in 2014, pairing him up with Alonso after getting rid of Felipe Massa. To his credit, that is one of the options for Räikkönen.

Since his return to F1—he left for two years, 2010-11—Räikkönen has notched up points in 27 consecutive races, a record previously held by Michael Schumacher. If you take this streak to 2009, Räikkönen has finished 38 races in a row, a run that only came to an end due to a brake failure at the Belgian Grand Prix last month. The Lotus-Renault driver is currently fourth in the driver standings for 2013.

It points to a key difference from his first stint in F1, when he drove for Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari, in that order. Today’s Räikkönen might be a tad slower in qualifying, but his race craft has gone up a couple of notches. Age has caught up, but he is a golden driver in terms of championship points, the only one on the F1 grid comparable to Alonso.

This is what makes 2014 interesting, already. In a season of upcoming unpredictable rule changes, top teams will need two top drivers who can deliver those points. Mercedes are best placed with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. This put Räikkönen in the limelight when Red Bull’s Mark Webber announced his exit from F1 (he will quit at the end of the season in November-end).

“We want to put the strongest drivers in the cars that we possibly can and Mark leaves some big shoes to fill. At the end of the day, we have to do what is right for the team and the pairing that we put together next year will have to benefit the team," said Red Bull principal Christian Horner, after the Hungarian Grand Prix. This was after he revealed that Alonso might have a get-out clause at Ferrari, which further linked Räikkönen to his old team.

This speculation was finally laid to rest this past week, in the build-up to the Italian Grand Prix, when Daniel Ricciardo was announced as Sebastian Vettel’s teammate at Red Bull from 2014 onwards. This makes the young Australian only the second driver to graduate from the young-driver programmer at their junior team Toro Rosso.

Meanwhile, Alonso’s approach to Red Bull was firmly rebuffed by Ferrari president Lucas di Montezemolo and now the two-time champion has no option but to fight out with whatever machinery he is presented with.

Italian politics is not new in the world of F1 and while it may be considered an embarrassment to bring Räikkönen back into their fold, it will make sense if they want to pile the pressure on Alonso. But will the Finn want to go back?

“It might, whatever the decision, feel stupid to somebody else, but then it might just feel right for me," said Räikkönen earlier, in the build-up to the Hungarian Grand Prix in July. “There is no guarantee that the choice will be the right one in the long run, but I will be fine no matter what it will be. You have to live with the decision."

Chetan Narula is the author of History of Formula One: The Circus comes to India.

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