Over the summer break it was expected that Red Bull would announce who was filling the soon to be vacant second seat at the team. Eagerly we waited, and still, there has been no confirmed announcement from the team or any drivers. My poor nerves have been on edge especially over the past two weeks with a Finnish newspaper reporting that Kimi was moving to Ferrari, rumours that seemed to be confirmed as Kimi’s manager announced that talks with Red Bull had broken down a while ago. However, only last night Christian Horner came out and said that Kimi was still very much in contention. Various Australian news sources are reporting that the Red Bull seat is going to Daniel Ricciardo. Still, nothing has been confirmed, by anyone, at all. So as we’re all waiting, here are some of the options:
Kimi Raikkonen to Red Bull
Potentially a driver team set to dominate the 2014 season, despite quite radical changes to the cars for next year. I would expect the Red Bull Renault RB-10 to remain a dominate car on track given that Renault have had experience in making small turbo engines for decades. So a move to Red Bull could be in the best interest (points wise) for Kimi, even if he’d be more involved in publicity events for the team. The issue that arises with this move, is who would be the number two driver? Obviously the official number one driver would be current world champion Sebastian Vettel. Although, out of the major teams, Red Bull seem to have less of a hierarchy difference between the two drivers.. Well, most of the time (Silverstone in 2010). Though if it came down to it, I’d think Kimi would obey team orders similar to a Multi21 as much as as Seb did in Malaysia. Kimi is not meant to be a number two driver.
Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari
There is the similar issue as who would be the number two driver between Alonso and Kimi (assuming it was Massa who was given the flick). Though the Ferrari team have been very vocal about backing Massa despite a more than unlucky 2013 season so far. Which raises the question of would Alonso move to Red Bull? Rumours have been circulating of this move, but it seems to be more gossip than fact (I hope). It would however, make clear that Kimi would get the number one seat at the team. As far as competitiveness of the team goes, Ferrari feel that reliability of their 2014 engines will be a major issue for the team. Unlike Renault and Honda, Ferrari have very little experience in manufacturing small turbo engines, despite having the definite resources to developed them. Taking Kimi back on in 2014 would mean for the team admitting they made a mistake in 2008 by letting the Finn go a year early to replace him with Alonso. Awkward.
Kimi Raikkonen to stay at Lotus
This move (or lack there of) seems to be less spoken about, although I still feel it is a possibility. Lotus have shown real strength throughout this season, and despite rumours of financial crisis, are confident in their 2014 developments. It wouldn’t be the craziest move if Kimi decided to stay with the team that gave him a “second chance” and a seat in Formula 1. While Kimi is without a doubt, a race car driver through and through, I do feel like he’d show a bit of loyalty to a team that has been so good to him. Despite rumours, Lotus know that wherever Kimi is, investment will follow, so it would be in Lotus’ best interest to keep him onboard.
Daniel Ricciardo to Red Bull
To me, this feels like the most likely option if the seat doesn’t go to Kimi, especially as it would mean “graduating” from Toro Rosso. Although I have to admit I would be disappointed, not because I don’t feel Ricciardo has the talent for RB, but the exact opposite. I’m worried that if Ricciardo went to Red Bull now, when Seb is at the height of his career, he’d be stuck as the number two driver in the team (and possibly his career). Ideally I’d like to see the seat go to Kimi at Red Bull, and then when Sebastian’s contract expires, for Ricciardo to step up and take the seat then when he’s had a few more seasons experience. On the other hand, Ricciardo’s past experience in the Red Bull car at testing (and his performance so far in Formula 1) might just mean that he could give Seb a run for his money.
While I feel like it will be most likely that the Red Bull seat will go to Ricciardo, nothing will be certain until the teams make their announcements (any day now). Until then, I will be eagerly refreshing Formula1.com for any updates.