In Italy, Formula One is huge as is its representation in the daily print media. The main focus is the Italian obsession with Ferrari though at times Maranello and the newspaper barons play games with each other.
Newspapers claim scoops via ‘sources in Maranello’ which over time prove to be equally un-reliable as reliable.
That said, the connection between the Ferrari and the Angelli families times gives the Turin based publication – La Stampa – a natural advantage and the edge over others.
Whether the focus should be on the lack of performance in general from the Ferrari team, is debateable; however, the print media have Kimi the sacapegoat in their cross hairs.
Over the weekend, the Corriere dello Sport has released stories stating that the Maranello team will therefore not exercise the 2016 ‘option’ to extend Raikkonen’s existing contract. This option expires on 31st July, and so announcement is expected after then.
Corriere dello Sport correspondent Fulvio Solms backs the apparent decision to oust Raikkonen. “Kimi did not fit with the last two Ferrari cars,” he told Speed Week. “He did not fit with the new team management. Sometimes he seems not to fit even with himself.”
This is bad news for Raikkonen, its as though Maranello has sent him a message, though it would be more absolute were it penned in La Stampa.
The same newspaper reports that Valtteri Bottas has agreed a 12m euro a year contract with Maranello starting from 2016 and Williams’ demands of double digit million compensation to allow their driver who is under contract for 2016 to leave – has been met.
This is a surprise move by Ferrari given that since the last 6 racers of 2014, Felipe Massa is growing stronger in the battle of the inter Williams pairing. It appears Valtteri Bottas has been put under considerable pressure by the former Ferrari driver and at times has been found wanting. Surely this is not what Ferrari intended.
Luca de Montezemolo revealed this weekend, that Ferrari had taken the decision under his leadership to replace Raikkoinen with Bianchi, prior to the tragic events in Suzuka last October. “He was a member of the Ferrari family and was the driver we had picked for the future – once the collaboration with Raikkonen was over”.
Nico Hulkenberg was Ferrari’s other option, though his dalliance with WEC may have counted against him with Ferrari.
Hulkenberg confirms there are a number of teams interested in acquiring his services for 2016, so maybe Bottas has turned red and the domino effect on driver recruitment is beginning.
Further, having battled through the season with little money and a modified 2014 car, Force India are now well placed to consolidate 5th position and even challenge Red Bull who are just 23 points ahead for fourth.
However, this tale is about the death knell for the F1 career that belonged to Kimi Raikkonen. Surely the iceman will retire whilst ‘at the top’, rather than slide off to drive a midfield car?