You’d have to assume World Championship contender Fernando Alonso will remain with Scuderia Ferrari in 2014, despite his mid-season altercation with Stefano Domenicali, the principal of the Italian team. However the name of the second driver at the team is still up in the air. Felipe Massa currently sits in that seat, however his performances this season have been rather hit or miss, more than often disappointing as Alonso impresses.
There are five drivers who have been linked to the drive in recent weeks and days, Massa, Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen, Paul di Resta and Jules Bianchi. Here I will attempt to give the pros and cons for each driver, and try to work out who would be the best fit in the team alongside Alonso.
Pro: Has the support of Domenicali, who recently came out and spoke of the Brazilian in a positive light, showing him to be the preferred driver for 2014, providing he can bring the results in.
Pro: Has shown himself to be a solid number 2 driver to Alonso over the past few seasons, helping out the Spaniard when possible.
Con: Has a habit of disappearing into obscurity some weekends, and has had issues this year with the odd crash, most notably at Monaco and Montreal.
Pro: Has shown speed in every car he’s driven in to date, both in Formula One and in junior categories.
Pro: Excellent in changeable conditions, grabbing pole position in Brazil for Williams, and leading the same event in a Force India.
Con: Never had the responsibility of being in a top team, and hence never having the pressures that brings.
Pro: One of the top racers currently on the F1 grid, extremely highly rated throughout the F1 paddock, and loved by many fans.
Pro: Is a known quantity within Ferrari, having won the championship with them back in 2007. They know what he’s capable of.
Con: Wouldn’t settle for a number 2 drive within the team, and would & could never want to play a supporting role to Alonso.
Con: Gets disillusioned too easily. If things aren’t going his way, he’d much rather be eating an ice cream.
Paul di Resta
Pro: Solid performer, who on his day can compete with the best. His Singapore drive in 2012 was great for the Force India driver.
Con: Like Hulkenberg, has never experienced the pressures and tension of a top drive in Formula 1.
Con: When its not going his way, at times it looks like the Brit gets disillusioned. Has on occasion been a little outspoken about his team, something Ferrari wouldn’t tolerate.
Pro: Part of the Ferrari family, and has been for a number of years. Participated in numerous tests for the team in the past.
Pro: Very highly rated, has a reputation of being very quick. Marussia have been impressed this year, Force India last year when he was their third driver.
Con: Maybe too soon for him to be in a top drive. Ferrari want him to join a midfield team for 2014, rather than take the Ferrari drive.
Conclusion and Reasoning
So what can we make of the dilemma Ferrari have? It all depends on whether or not Felipe Massa can up his game. However, he shouldn’t be needing to up his game to save his job year in, year out. Last year was the same story. But he has the support of Domenicali if he does.
Its highly unlikely (but not impossible) that Kimi Raikkonen will re-join Ferrari from Lotus. Ferrari will not want two drivers that will both demand number 1 status within the team, they much prefer concentrating on one driver.
Jules Bianchi is the complete outsider for the drive, Ferrari have made it clear they would rather see him in a midfield team, such as Sauber or Force India, rather than at Marussia where he is now in 2014, and certainly not as Fernando Alonso’s teammate.
The other two drivers, Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta both have a reasonable chance of getting the drive, I rate Hulkenberg in particular very highly, he & di Resta would do a solid job at Ferrari in my opinion.
If it was up to me, I’d take Nico Hulkenberg. Ferrari, and Stefano Domenicali, its up to you!