In motor sports, teammates at times can be one’s main rival.
Kimi-Matias Raikkonen returns to the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team in 2014. As things turned out, the Italian Prancing Horse team signed the Finn exactly seven years and one day ago, the Finn signed to the Italian Prancing Horse team as the driver to replace Michael Schumacher.
Was that a coincidence or was it due to the timing of Felipe Massa’s announcing that he was leaving Ferrari at the end of 2013? It had been expected that the Brazilian and Ferrari would part ways. Perhaps instead of Ferrari announcing the departure of Massa, they allowed him to do so, or he simply beat them to it. Either way, Massa will be missed and hopefully finds what suits him best for his future.
One will never know for sure; but for Ferrari to announce Raikkonen so quickly, the future was already decided.
If the team’s number 1 driver, Fernando Alonso was aware, he did not let on; only saying “He would respect the team’s decision” several times over the past weeks. Yet the Spaniard also stated that “he hoped Felipe would stay”.
Perhaps Alonso is concerned on going head-to-head with the Finn considering that he was the driver who replaced Raikkonen at Ferrari for the 2010 season. Raikkonen was displaced by the Spaniard due to the Santander sponsorship that came with Alonso.
With the arrival of Raikkonen, Alonso’s status as the number one definitely changes. Especially since Raikkonen surprised the world when he finished third in the 2012 title fight. Yes, Alonso did place second to Sebastian Vettel, and yes it was oh-so-close, and yet the Iceman grabbed the headlines, more than once during the season.
One will never forgot his radio message to the Lotus team “Leave me alone, I know what I am doing”. Raikkonen is known for his ice-cold stare, his quick remarks, and ability to take a short nap while sitting in the car before he takes his Formula One car onto the track.
The 2007 World Champion did take a break from Formula One for two years when he contested the World Rally Championship in 2010 and 2011. He also made a few public appearances which is rare for the Iceman.
At one of SEMA Shows in Las Vega, the Finn’s brother, Rami, was with him, and yes Kimi did smile and joke around during the photo shoot and with the crowd that gathered around.
While he is known for his blunt and monosyllabic mannerisms, Raikkonen is who he is, like it or not. However if you really pay attention, the wry smile shows, and at times the grin. And yes, he yawns more often than not.
Least us not forget that the Finn took on NASCAR as well - seriously! But for sure it was not his domain. Yet he took on the challenge with the Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series.
After his foray in WRC ended, Raikkonen return to Formula One after being wooed by the Lotus F1 team.
Now he is back with Ferrari with a two-year contract, and truly on equal ground with Alonso!
Will the two be able to team-up with neither being the number one driver is yet to be seen but without a doubt if Ferrari has a top-notch 2014 car, they will be a force to reckon with.
One side note: Raikkonen made the Forbes magazine's The Celebrity 100 list twice. Alonso made it onto the list this year. They both also made it onto the Forbes highest paid athletes list over the years.
The 2014 season is taking shape, and at this time, it appears that Ferrari will be one of the top contenders, along with Mercedes. Yes Sebastian Vettel is a force to reckon with but his new teammate is a young driver - still wet behind the ears for a team as powerful as Red Bull.
Personally, I expect to see both Ferrari drivers up front more often than not next year. That is of course, if their egos do not get the best of them!