Yesterday the Motorsport.com media giant announced that Ferrari are seriously considering going against their traditional methods of driver selection by opting for the young Monégasque, Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari never take on a rookie, or even a driver with only a season or two experience, yet this might change for 2019 with a rookie about to drive his 8th ever Grand Prix weekend.
Sauber’s Charles Leclerc has comprehensively outperformed his teammate and veteran ‘journeyman’ driver Marcus Ericsson, by scoring points in three of the last four races. Certainly the youngster has impressed all by outdriving his car regularly and, as part of Ferrari’s young driver program, the bosses in Maranello approve.
On the other hand the 2007 world Champion for Ferrari, indeed their last world Champion, has been on what seems like a perpetual cycle of single year contract extensions at Ferrari. Many have questioned the validity of keeping the ageing Kimi Raikkonen as partner to Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari boss Marchionne said back in December that the Kimi Raikkonen needed better results and that “probably 2018 is the last season to find the right key”. The reality is that the Finn did indeed turn around his form at the start of this season, and had often been on par with the 4 time world Champion and team mate Sebastian Vettel.
Pity the red team tried in ernest to hamper Kimi, favouring Sebastian, thus often ruining Raikkonen’s race on several occasions in 2018.
During Thursday’s pressers, Motorsport.com directly asked Kimi his plans for continuing on with Ferrari and of course received a typical monosyllabic and cryptic reply:
“Not any different to one week, two weeks, a month ago”
Could Ferrari be serious about putting in Leclerc to partner Vettel?
Well it seems like their only real option.
The plans at Ferrari had been to keep Raikkonen on at least for another year, further assessing Leclerc with a view to possibly gain promotion to Ferrari for 2020. But it seems that Raikkonen has forced their hand somewhat.
TJ13 understands that Kimi Raikkonen now wishes to retire by the end of this season, citing a desire to spend time with his new family. The reality is that family is only part of his reasoning, surely the treatment of the Finn by Ferrari when his was in form, has only reaffirmed the desire to stop racing for the team.
When considering the alternatives to Leclerc, Ferrari find themselves at somewhat of an impasse. Options for a more experienced driver, the usual route for the red team, include Ferrari affiliated Romain Grosjean, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg or Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo will very likely be retained at Red Bull – Ferrari’s ‘no.1’ man Vettel would not enjoy having the Australian return as team mate, limiting Danny’s options somewhat. Hulkenberg and Grosjean have been ‘nearly men’ looking to Ferrari for years now, but it’s unlikely they’ll be heading toward the front of the grid in a scarlet car.
Let silly season commence.
— TheJudge13 (@thejudge13) June 19, 2018