Alonso’s action affects Button’s 2010 ambition
LAST Wednesday Ferrari revealed Formula 1’s worst kept secret – Fernando Alonso will drive their cars from next season.
This news was as not surprising as a perfectly healthy person waking up in the morning.
Ferrari are the most successful team in F1 history, with 15 drivers’ titles, and combining them with Alonso, the most successful current driver, will create a formidable partnership in 2010.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Alonso said he considered himself not the fastest or the most technical driver in F1, but did consider himself the most consistent.
His performances this season have back up his claim, with no greater disparity between teammates existing on the grid.
He has picked up 26 points, including a podium in Singapore and a pole position in Hungary, while his two teammates Nelson Piquet Jnr and Roman Grosjean have no points and only one top-ten finish between them.
Alonso’s arrival at Ferrari forces 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen aside.
When Alonso’s move was announced, Ferrari’s press release contained the following from Raikkonen.
He said: “With common consent, we have agreed to terminate the contract binding me to Ferrari to the end of 2010, one year ahead of schedule.
“I have always felt at home with everyone here and I will have many happy memories of my time with the team.”
In Raikkonen’s nine-year F1 career he has never managed to construct such long sentences, so I doubt that quote ever left his mouth.
Raikkonen’s next move is F1’s new most widely known unknown – he will return to old team McLaren next season.
Based on previous success and a second-half of the season resurgence, the smart money predicts that Ferrari and McLaren will be the two teams to beat in 2010.
Where does this leave 2009’s champion-elect Jenson Button?
Button’s season resembles Hull City’s 08-09 Premier League campaign, starting with unexpected success, suddenly replaced by a drastic drop in form.
If Button had won six of the last seven races to make up a huge points defecit and win the title, then he would be lauded as a great champion.
But he won six of the first seven races and has stuttered to an inevitable title ever since, leaving some questioning if he will be a credible champion.*
Lewis Hamilton and Raikkonen won the title by just a solitary point in the last two seasons.
In contrast Button currently sits 14 points clear of his nearest rival, teammate Rubens Barrichello, a victory margin not surpassed since 2005.
He has won three more races than anybody else, nobody has more podiums or pole positions and Barrichello has only beaten him five times in 15 races.
But yet questions remain, as if the championship started at June’s British Grand Prix, Button would sit joint fifth with Sebastian Vettel, Raikkonen, Barrichello and Hamilton all at least 10 points ahead of him.
After winning the world title in 1996 with a dominant Williams car, Damon Hill only became a credible world champion in the subsequent seasons, when he recorded Jordan’s first win at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1998, following an even better second place at Hungary in 1997 in a horrendous Arrows car.
Button is not expected to feature much at the front of the 2010 grid, but that is what he must do to prove the first half of this season was not just him reaping the benefits of a much superior car.
But Alonso and Raikkonen, not to mention the dethroned 2008 champion Hamilton, will be out to make sure that does not happen.
* for the record I think he would be a very credible champion.
Written by Andrew Brook
October 6, 2009 at 7:37 pm