Ferrari in for Lewis Hamilton

Ok. This may seem a bit out there, but I’ve heard a couple of whispers tonight that Ferrari and Lewis are having a conversation.

This of course goes against how we believe Ferrari operates. They predominantly [not always] have had a number 1 and number 2 driver and clearly Lewis would never accept being a number 2 to Fernando. So would Ferrari change their historic approach and have (at the start of the season at least) 2 equal drivers?

On the con side of the debate, McLaren and Lewis are still making noises about staying together, but they are starting to sound like a couple whose relationship has run stale and are about to break up. Really, it’s not that hard to agree terms that have publicly been on the table for many weeks – and we were led to believe by Lewis this would all be dealt with and put to bed during the Summer break.

So the fact that McLaren and Lewis have not yet done the deal adds credence to the view that they are too far apart in negotiations to get over the line. I’ve pointed out in earlier articles how aggressive McLaren and Ron Dennis have been in staking out the ground that Lewis is going to have to take a pay cut. It’s feels like it’s become too personal.

Lewis response was to dismiss Dennis and suggest it was nothing to do with him, and that Martin Whitmarsh was his boss and the only person he would talk to in this matter. Whether you think this is just F1 drama and negotiating positioning or not, the negative consequence of such personal polarised views would surely carry over into the running of the team next year – whoever prevails.

What about Ferrari? Well, these are different times. The top 6 teams are separated by less than 0.5secs in qualifying regularly and clearly the days when Schumacher won the title by so many points that Ferrari with a number 2 who contributed far less, could still win the constructer’s title are gone. Massa has seriously underperformed this year, and even though Alonso is favourite to win the title – Ferrari are nowhere in the constructor’s championship and it is that title that pays the big money, and times are tough in F1

Then we return to the role of Lewis’ management company, XIX. They have a reputation for promoting sporting stars into global brands. A deal with McLaren for less than Lewis’ dad sorted out a few years ago doesn’t look good for them. Also, Lewis going to Mercedes – a team who at present have a car that is no better than 4th or 5th best is also not looking like a great result for their client.

So if Ferrari are going to replace Massa, of all the up and coming drivers this year, Perez has appeared to be the best bet and yet Luca de Montezelemo, the godfather, dismissed him this week as too inexperienced for their team – and he’s from their academy.

This means either Ferrari either stick with Massa, or they have another plan. Massa was slated in August by an Italian press pole as the 24th best driver in the field this year. This was a message from the Italian fans and Ferrari generally does not ignore the swell of opinion from the tifosi.

Ferrari can pay more than anyone for a driver, they have the prestige that any management company would be proud of delivering to their client, but they have to persuade 2 world champions they are better off as joint number 1’s than otherwise. Fernando is an absolute star in the team, but the Ferrari DNA is never to allow a driver to dictate to them.

This co-existence is not so hard to see if the team adopt rules like Red Bull did in 2010 – where the lead driver after the final pit stop would take the chequered flag. This maximises Ferrari’s team points and should still offer them a crack at the drivers’ title later in the season.

Never forget Ferrari want the constructors’ title more than the drivers’ title and signing Lewis is an infinitely better option than anything else open to them at present.

McLaren have been unfazed by the Mercedes stalking horse, but ironically this could be the one move that may irritate them into biting the bullet and backing down. The McLaren door may not be closed to Lewis…  but it’s on the latch from the insde.

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7 responses to “Ferrari in for Lewis Hamilton

  1. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one today..

  2. What a great blog, came across this tonight, but feel that some points you make are mistaken.

    1) “So would Ferrari change their historic approach and have (at the start of the season at least) 2 equal drivers?”

    When you speak of historic approach, you mean back to 1996 surely?
    Ferrari under Enzo Ferrari never had number 1 and 2 drivers, he controlled the team and his belief system was Ferrari cars won races, drivers lost them.
    The Schumacher and Todt era brought in number 1 and 2 drivers. Whether the second driver was chosen because there would be less ripples caused within the organisation or because Schumacher felt less threatened, I do not know, but races like Austria 2001 and 2002 showed us clearly how Ferrari operated.
    As a life long Italian Ferrari fan, those years were difficult. On the one hand we had great success, thankyou Michael. On the other, we had no competition and I would watch the start, maybe to the first pit stop and then switch off.
    As my name suggests, I love a racer, Senna, Alonso, Hamilton, Carl Fogarty, Rossi and early on in his Ferrari career, MSC.
    Senna vs Prost proved you don’t need a full grid to have brilliant racing, just 2 guys fighting.

    2) “Fernando is an absolute star in the team, but the Ferrari DNA is never to allow a driver to dictate to them.”

    Agreed, but Schumacher got away with it for 10 seasons? I’m assuming because Ferrari understood what was needed to return to the top of the tree once more.

    3) “This co-existence is not so hard to see if the team adopt rules like Red Bull did in 2010 – where the lead driver after the final pit stop would take the chequered flag. ”

    This is the exact model that Ferrari honed to perfection in the early years of the 21st century. They would race till the last pit-stops then that order would be held until the chequered flag.

    • Excellent historical perspective – I think Ferrari having a No.1 and No.2 driver marginalises their chance of winning the constructors championship. You are absolutely correct that Ferrari is bigger than any driver and the media don’t really present this – Alonso is king of Ferrari in their view. Even though Alonso is clearly their No.1 at the moment, I could see them returning to the Enzo philosophy. The rules don’t accommodate the kind of dominance they and Schumacher enjoyed with just one driver scoring most of the points.

      Anyway Lewis is now committed to Mercedes. I believe he was genuinely more interested in Ferrari, but they stalled for some reason.

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