Category Archives: Renault

Kimi Raikkonen will only race for the right team in 2010 – surely the only option is McLaren?

On his official website Kimi Raikkonen said:

I am very motivated to win races and a championship again and will only remain in Formula One if I can race for a team that can give me a car to fight at the front. Let’s wait and see what happen.

Let’s look at this realistically, who are the teams set to compete in Formula 1 in 2010 that will be fighting for the Championship:

Red Bull
If it hadn’t been for Brawn GP’s fairytale start to the 2009 season then Red Bull would have beena good bet to win the Drivers Championship with Sebastian Vettel and probably the Constructors Championship with Mark Weber as his team mate. Vettel and Weber are two of just a handful of drivers that are confirmed for 2010. this means that although Red Bull could enter next season in Formula 1 as the favourites, there is no room for Kimi Raikkonen in 2010.

Brawn GP
They had a fantastic head start coming into the 2009 season and built up an unassailable lead in the first 6 races of the season thanks to the developments they made to the car while under the Honda badge and at the sacrifice to their 2008 season. While nobody expects to see such dominance in 2010, they will still be one of the teams fighting it out at the front of the grid.

While the 2 race seats at Brawn GP are still unconfirmed, we’re all just waiting for Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg to be confirmed. As much as the UK press like to try their hand at fantasy booking an all British driver team at McLaren, it isn’t going to be happening. What this means is no race seat for Kimi Raikkonen at Brawn GP in 2010.

Ferrari
While 2009 was quite a poor season, at least in terms of the previous successes of Ferrari, you wouldn’t bet against them coming back strongly in 2010 and they in fact started working on their 2010 car towards the end of the 2009 season.

Ferrari has been Kimi Raikkonen’s home for the past 3 seasons, and where he won the Drivers Championship in 2007 while finishing 3rd and 6th in 2008 and 2009 respectively. However, the least surprising move in Formula 1 saw Ferrari sign Fernando Alonso for the 2010 season, who along with the returning Felipe Massa makes up their Driving team for next season. Once again, no room for Raikkonen in 2010.

McLaren
Like Ferrari, McLaren had a bad start to 2009 but by the middle of the season they seemed to be catching up and by the end of he season Lewis Hamilton had scored more points than any other driver in the 2nd half of the season. Ironically it was Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari who had scored the second most points in that same period. Martin Whitmarsh has said that the McLaren will be faster in 2010 so we can expect the MP4-25 to be battling Red Bull, Brawn GP and Ferrari for the big points next season.

Hamilton and Raikkonen – competitors in 2007, team mates in 2010?
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No disrespect to any of the other teams, but it would seem that if Kimi Raikkonen does indeed what to drive next season and be competitive, then McLaren is his only choice. It’s recently been said that Raikkonen could earn more by not driving next year than if he were to drive with McLaren. The figures being banded around are €17 million if he takes 2010 off and €15 million if he accepts the offer to drive for McLaren. In the world of McLaren the minimum €2 million pounds extra they’d need to offer Raikkonen to match his sabbatical earnings seems like a drop in the ocean, but then why should they offer him more?

It could be argued that if money is the only thing motivating Kimi Raikkonen is he really the right choice for the team and should McLaren look elsewhere to fill that second seat. I discussed the 2010 driver options here, and to be honest, even a money motivated Kimi Raikkonen could be McLaren’s best option for 2010 to get the most points possible. That is unless Renault do indeed quit Formula 1 in which case I’d get Robert Kubica into that second seat quicker than you can say ‘enjoy your ice cream Kimi’!

All will no doubt be revealed soon and I won’t be at all surprised to see Kimi Raikkonen announced as McLaren’s second river for 2010 – for how much is anyone’s guess.

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Nico Rosberg, Red Bull, Renault, Robert Kubica, Sebastian Vettel

Who will be McLaren’s 2nd driver in 2010?

With the 2009 Formula 1 season over, next on the agenda is for McLaren is confirming who their second driver will be, the man who will be Lewis Hamilton’s team mate next season. At the moment there are three possible contenders, so let’s go through those three options.

Kimi Raikkonen

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Currently at Ferrari where he has been for the past 3 seasons, Raikkonen has been linked with McLaren ever since it was clear that Fernando Alfonso was moving to Ferrari from Renault and even before. Though he won the Drivers Championship at Ferrari in 2007 it never seemed like he was a good fit for the Italian team, and though Felipe Massa is yet to win the World Championship, as soon as rumours of Alonso moving to Ferrari started people naturally assumed it would be Raikkonen who would be leaving.

If Raikkonen did come to McLaren it would be a return to the team that was his home from 2002 – 2006, and one where he had great success, especially the 2003 and 2005 seasons where he finished 2nd in the Championship to Schumacher and Alonso respectively. Raikkonen seemed to have much more drive and desire to win back then, maybe a return to McLaren will see that passion re-ignited for the cool Finn.

Nick Heidfeld

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Nick Heidfeld is nothing if not consistent, but is that enough? At BMW he has played second fiddle to Robert Kubica, at least in the eyes of the critics who see Kubica as one of Formula 1’s future stars. Just read this opening paragraph from his Wikipedia entry:

Despite his recent success, Heidfeld is yet to win a race during his nine seasons in Formula One. This means that amongst the current drivers, he has had the most GP starts without standing at the top spot on the podium. Heidfeld has now started over 150 races, so if he were to eventually win a race he would break the record for most starts before a maiden victory. This is currently held by Mark Webber, who claimed his first victory on his 131st attempt. Heidfeld also currently holds three other dubious records; he is the driver who has scored the highest number of world championship points without a Grand Prix win, shares the record for the most podium finishes without a Grand Prix win with Stefan Johansson, and has the most second place finishes without a win, with 8. He also holds the record for the most consecutive race classifications with a tally of 41, as well as the most finishes in a season when he finished all 18 races in the 2008 season.

While interesting, that’s hardly a list of achievements to get you excited about a driver. However, as a 2nd driver and someone to grab a decent haul of points in support of Lewis Hamilton he could be a good fot for the team. There is also the fact that he is German and as a team that has Mercedes as a major shareholder, that can only be a good thing, especially in a sport that seems to more about the PR than ever before.

Heikki Kovalainen

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When Kovalainen did a straight swap with Alonso, between Renault and McLaren, to start the 2008 season, it seemed like the young Finn was set to have a great career in Formula 1. In 2008 he ended up 7th in the Championship, while team mate Hamilton won the World Championship. If his first year was unspectacular then his second year with McLaren was even more so. McLaren didn’t have a competitive car in the first half of the season but when they came good for the last 8 races, unlike team mate Hamilton, Kovalainen didn’t seem to make the most of his opportunities and while he often qualified pretty well he couldn’t carry that form through to the actual race. In a season that Hamilton battled up to 5th place in the Championship, Kovalainen ended the year in 12th place. That quite frankly is not good enough for a driver wearing the prestigious McLaren team colours.

Looking at Kovalainen this season it seems as though he’s lost a lot of confidence, and in a team that could well be renamed at Team Hamilton, that may not be easy to get back if he were to stay where he is. However, Kovalainen is reportedly very good with all his PR commitments, something that McLaren is putting more emphasis on with every passing season. This is something that Raikkonen has always tried to steer clear of so from that respect Kovalainen is a better fit than his Finnish compatriot. If Kovalainen were to stay with McLaren he would certainly need to step up his performance, but that’s something that the team need to help with just as much as Kovalainen himself.

The Verdict

All three of these drivers have one thing in common, something that makes them a good fit within the team and a natural fit as the second driver at McLaren – they would all be happy accept their position as the number 2 driver in the team and let the lion’s share of the attention fall on Lewis Hamilton.

In my mind Kimi Raikkonen is head and shoulders above Kovalainen and Heidfeld from a racing point of view, it’s just his aversion to interacting with people that may hamper his chances, but surely that’s not worth giving up championship points for?

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Filed under BMW, Constructors, Drivers, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Heikki Kovalainen, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld, Renault

Heikki Kovalainen – last chance weekend?

It’s almost a certainty, that unless Kimi Raikkonen decides to chase a career as a rally driver he’ll be the second driver in the McLaren team for 2010, along with 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. This of course means there will be no race seat for Heikki Kovalainen next season, so where does he go next? The rumour had him down as Robert Kubica’s team mate at Renault but with their recent signing of Timo Glock that won’t be happening. So, does that leave a space for Kovalainen at Toyota, if they compete next year? Could we see the Finn at Williams in place of Nakajima, who surely won’t retain his seat at the team for next season? Could he get a seat at one of the new teams? Whatever the answer, this weekend in Abu Dhabi could be critical for the career of Heikki Kovalainen.

mc-heikki

Racing in F1 in 2010?

At the brand new Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Kovalainen was 12th quickest in 1st free practice but improved up to 1st in 2nd free practice. It was team mate Lewis Hamilton who went the quickest in 1st free practice and he was also Kovalainen’s quickest rival in 2nd free practice. It looks like McLaren have the MP4-24 in good form for this weekend, though we all know free practice sessions usually have little bearing on the race results, hence Nico Rosberg not being atop the Drivers Championship!

As a McLaren fan, and I know it will sound harsh, but I won’t be sorry to see Kovalainen leave. I have nothing against the guy personally, but as a racing driver he doesn’t seem to have the determination and drive needed to succeed, something that is especially highlighted when you’re the number 2 driver to Lewis Hamilton who goes into every race like the championship depended on it. This season he’s had a few occasions where he’s qualified in a decent position, sometimes ahead of Hamilton, but he hasn’t capitalised on it during the race. Compare that to Hamilton who in the last race in Brazil qualified in 17th and finished on the podium in 3rd and you can see why McLaren are looking to replace him.

Kovalainen needs to take his free practice 2 form into qualifying and then into the race, this is his last chance to impress any potential race team bosses and secure a race seat for 2010. Also, for purely selfish reasons, I want Kovalainen to do well, get some points and help secure 3rd place in the constructors championship ahead of Ferrari!

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Constructors, Drivers, Ferrari, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Renault