F1: Massa Exits Ferrari, Raikkonen Return Rumours Grow Stronger Photo:
TMR Team | Sep, 11 2013 | 5 Comments

Felipe Massa has revealed he will not be racing a Ferrari in 2014.

The news, announced personally by the Brazilian driver via his Twitter and Instagram accounts, clears the way for the Maranello based team to confirm Kimi Raikkonen as his successor.

"For next year, I want to find a team that can give me a competitive car to win many more races and challenge for the championship which remains my greatest objective," said Massa, 32.

Massa is being linked with a possible move to the German touring car series.

"I do not like endurance races," O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper quoted Massa as saying recently in Hungary.

"DTM is something I see as possible for me."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, however, was silent on the subject of Massa and Raikkonen when he appeared at the Frankfurt motor show on Tuesday.

"When there's news we'll let you know," said the Italian, joking that he is in talks with Michael Schumacher.

But there remains little doubt that former team driver Raikkonen has been signed, with an announcement now imminent.

It has been rumoured Fernando Alonso is so angry at the prospect of his roost being unsettled by Raikkonen that he has looked into switching to Red Bull, Lotus and even McLaren, where he had such an unhappy campaign in 2007.

But the Spaniard said on Twitter: "Whatever decision the team will take will be good for me, and we will keep working to give Ferrari the best results possible."

Christian Horner, team boss at Red Bull, thinks Alonso threw some toys out of the pram until it became clear Ferrari really was intent on signing Raikkonen.

"It is unusual for Ferrari," he said on Austrian television Servus TV, "because they have always had a clear leader and a clear number 2.

"Now they are going to have two number ones."

Some, however, believe the term 'number 1' is not really applicable to the odd and aloof Raikkonen.

Indeed, Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali was quoted by EFE news agency on Tuesday as saying there is "no doubt" Alonso "is a leader" who can "move mountains" for the Italian team.

Triple world champion Niki Lauda, however, thinks Alonso was lucky to survive his Monza qualifying outburst, when he either called his Ferrari colleagues "stupid", or - sarcastically - "geniuses".

"Let's say that (as a Ferrari driver) I would not have had the chance to say it a second time," the great Austrian is quoted by La Rebubblica.

With Raikkonen heading to Ferrari, then, the next matter to be resolved in the 2014 'silly season' is who will replace him at Lotus.

The smart money is on Nico Hulkenberg.

"He has had a good weekend," team boss Eric Boullier said at Monza, "but we already knew that Nico is a fast driver.

"I've known him since he raced in formula BMW; a long time. From what I understand, Nico is also on Ferrari's list, so we all have plans.

"If the first one fails, you have a plan B," the Lotus chief is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.



Alonso, Raikkonen could 'tear Ferrari apart' - Marko

The F1 world is only now waiting for the announcement.

"It's done," agreed Autosprint correspondent Alberto Antonini. "Kimi Raikkonen has a Ferrari contract in his pocket."

It is explosive and significant news, because - at least on paper - Fernando Alonso alongside the Finn is arguably the best driver duo on the grid.

"If it works, the constructors' title will be harder for us," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko told Bild newspaper.

"Or they could tear each other apart. Wait and see," he added.

Indeed, Spaniard Alonso has made clear his strong desire to continue to be partnered by the Brazilian Felipe Massa.

"I have a great respect for Felipe," he is quoted by Brazil's Globo. "He is a great professional and works very hard on the race weekends but also in the simulator.

"If the team decides to keep him, I'll be happy," added Alonso.

So it's there where the problem may lie. Having already flirted with Red Bull, the latest rumours are linking Alonso with a shock switch to McLaren or even Lotus.

"To be honest, we have several plans," said Lotus team boss Eric Boullier, facing up to the prospect of probably losing Raikkonen.

"After Ferrari fills their vacancy, our seat will be the most coveted. So we can afford to see what happens."

The leading candidate to replace Raikkonen at Lotus is the German Nico Hulkenberg, who put his CV in the limelight with a top performance at Monza.

But the experienced Massa could be another option.

"Ferrari is a super team; it's difficult to find another like it," the Ferrari driver said. "So it's important to look at all the options."



Age counted against Raikkonen at Red Bull - Marko

Kimi Raikkonen's age played against him as Red Bull made its decision about who should replace Mark Webber in 2014.

That is the claim of Dr Helmut Marko, who as team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's right-hand man had arguably the most powerful voice before the reigning world champions ultimately signed the in-house talent Daniel Ricciardo.

"We decided what was best for us in the long term, not just what was best immediately," Austrian Marko told Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

"How old is Kimi, 34? Daniel is 24. And the contract is for three years.

"So Daniel was the one who offered the best prospects for our team," he added.

But Marko also acknowledged that 2007 world champion Raikkonen, who is actually 33, and his status in F1 as one of the established top drivers may also have counted against him.

"Managing two drivers like Sebastian and Kimi would not be easy," he admitted.

"Each of them would have the obligation to be the best."

What, then, is expected of Australian Ricciardo? "He knows," said Marko.

"We hope that after three or four races he is able to start challenging Sebastian.

"I'm not saying that he has to beat Vettel; what I hope is that he brings the points we need to win the constructors' title."

In that way, it is clearer why Raikkonen was not ultimately signed -- Red Bull wanted a true replacement for Webber, not another Vettel.

"We need Daniel to be as fast as Mark," said Marko. "Sometimes Mark was on the same level as Sebastian, and sometimes even better. That's what we want from Ricciardo."

For exactly the same reasons, it is now obvious why Red Bull's flirtations with Fernando Alonso also came to nought.

"We've never worked with Alonso," Marko said, "and these combinations (two world champions together) requires knowledge about the character of the two drivers.

"With some it is possible to work together, others not. From what we saw of Alonso we thought there was not a way to manage the relationship."

Something else may also have played against the signing of Raikkonen, Marko hinted.

"Only the best and most intelligent drivers will be at the front" in 2014, when the huge challenge of the new technical regulations will be in force.

"They will have to figure out how to use the turbo engine without traction control, use the two energy recovery systems and manage the consumption of fuel," said Marko.

"We have an extensive simulation programme underway already to better prepare our drivers," he revealed. "So this requirement also guided us in choosing Daniel."



Red Bull won't stop me winning - Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo insists Red Bull will give him a fair shot at race wins even though his teammate is the multiple world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Some believe that, despite the champion team pledging identical equipment and support for the young Australian in 2014, Red Bull chose Ricciardo over a high profile candidate like Kimi Raikkonen in deference to Vettel's likely status next year as a quadruple title winner.

Indeed, while "excited" at the prospect of going head-to-head with Vettel in F1's top team, 24-year-old Ricciardo also admitted he is somewhat "nervous".

"And I'm curious," he is quoted by Spain's EFE news agency.

"Curious to know how much faster I can be with a big team."

Ricciardo acknowledged, however, that taking on Vettel at Red Bull Racing - a task that ultimately broke the relationship between the German and outgoing teammate Mark Webber - is a "big wave" to surf.

"It's true," he said. "A very big wave.

"But it's also the greatest opportunity I've ever had. I want to see if I really am the best in the world, or, at least, one of the best.

"And there is no greater challenge than to compete against the best. I will work as hard as I can.

"If I can be as good as him or better, I'll be happy. And if he crushes me, at least I will have tried.

"I believe in my ability, but when I measure myself against Seb then I will know for sure."

But will Red Bull really give Ricciardo a free run at Vettel? A free run at grand prix wins, even the title?

"Yes," Ricciardo answered.

"They've said that if I'm fast and I am able to win, then they're not going to stop me."

As for the rest of the 2013 campaign, Ricciardo said Vettel's rivals have an almost impossible task to stop him winning a fourth consecutive title.

"While there is a mathematical chance, there's a chance," he smiled.

"But with the consistency that he has, then if he doesn't have failures or accidents then it's going to be difficult for them.

"Because even when Seb doesn't win, he's on the podium."

Ricciardo said Vettel is now at the top of his game in every area as a F1 driver.

"Many people think it's easy when you have the best car," he said. "I don't think so.

"Yes, he has a very good car, but when he doesn't win he's on the podium. And doing that every weekend is not easy.

"He is very focused mentally and doesn't care what people say. Almost no mistakes. That's how you win championships," added Ricciardo.


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