Would Kimi Raikkonen fit in at Red Bull?
There have been mutterings, rumours and whispers circulating around the tight-lipped Finn, who is currently on a 26 consecutive race run in the points, saying that Raikkonen will be off to Red Bull at the end of the year, to replace the outgoing Webber. In this post, I will look at whether this is a good idea for him, for Red Bull and indeed for their triple world champion Vettel.
First, it must be said that Raikkonen has done exceptionally well in his comeback, after taking a two year break from F1. Last year, he was only out of the points once, which was the Chinese race, and he has been in the points ever since that race.
In the same year, he drove every lap, bar the last one at the Brazilian GP because he was lapped after his little off-track excursion, a feat nobody could match. He has a consecutive race finish record of over 30 races, which stretches back to his first F1 stretch, which ended in 2009.
Since his comeback in the 2012 season, he has two wins to his name (Abu Dhabi 2012 and Australia 2013). He also has several second and third place finishes, with him having a chance of winning at least half of them.
There can be no question that Raikkonen is a supreme driver, amongst the best on the grid, and unbeatable when he is at one with the car, but is he right for Red Bull and, more importantly, is Red Bull right for him?
Let’s get the brutal truth out of the way right away: Lotus simply do not have the staying power and budget to compete truly with the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull for the championship. Sure, they may get close, and with a driver like Raikkonen on their roster, they have a great chance, but I don’t think they will ever achieve it, especially with the competition being so strong in recent years.
This has been proven on many occasions, with Kimi perhaps missing out on several other victories since his comeback, but is he truly happy there? The car underneath him hasn’t always been there for him, which he is no doubt frustrated by.
Of course, he doesn’t have the reliability issues that have thwarted him of two extra championships in his career during his time at McLaren in the early to mid 2000s, but the car (apart from on a few occasions) has never truly looked to compete with Red Bull, which may help him make his decision.
Will he want to be partnered by the ruthless – some would say selfish – Vettel next year, though? Who can say but Kimi. But I would be wary if I were him.