Now, before I begin I must stress that I am a massive fan of both of these drivers. Rubens, like Felipe Massa, is a smiley, universally loved Brazilian for always wearing his heart firmly on his sleeve. The Iceman too is massively popular, and we all love him for largely not really giving a monkeys about any political nonsense. Never change Kimi.
So this article is not to discredit either driver, but having watched Kimi finish in 2nd on Sunday afternoon, behind his teammate, I was suddenly thrown back 15 years and felt as if I was watching Michael Schumacher lead home Rubens in a dominant early 2000s Ferrari 1-2. Despite Kimi being brilliant on Saturday, his strategy meant that he lost out to Seb during the pit stops. Vettel pulled some blinding in laps – that were very Schumacher esque – to build a gap whilst Kimi was stuck in traffic.
The Ferrari was the class act in Monaco, and I don’t feel as if the Red Bulls or Bottas ever looked like they were going to catch the scarlet cars. So why pit Kimi if he was going to end up in that traffic? He had track position, a few more laps and Raikkonen could’ve pitted and then rejoined in front of Wehrlein.
Now perhaps this is just coincidental, the same thing happened in the Red Bull team. Split strategies meant that Ricciardo jumped Bottas and Verstappen by going longer in his first stint and banging in fast lap times before pitting. So it wasn’t unique to Ferrari. If it was orchestrated, it was in no way as obvious and unsporting a way as some of the tricks that Jean Todt’s team often pulled (Austria 2002 screams to mind). However, I just get the feeling that already Kimi has been resigned to supporting player to Vettel. Yes Vettel is in with a shout of the title whereas Kimi probably isn’t so it makes sense to prioritise the German but it is still a shame.
Rumours in the Monaco paddock before the race suggested that a swap might happen as Vettel, supposedly, has a Number 1 status in his contract. Again, just as Schumacher did. This would make sense considering the preferential treatment he had at Red Bull, why would he have moved to Maranello without that sort of a clause? Either way, even if it isn’t true, it still saddened me to see Kimi quite so resigned after the race in Monaco. It’s a look I recognised from seeing Barrichello play the supporting player to Schumacher on several Sunday afternoons.
I suppose we will have to see. Let’s hope Kimi can keep this form and can be at the front at a circuit where overtaking is possible. If team orders come into play then it will speak volumes. I hope they haven’t resigned him to the role of Number 2 driver as they did with Barrichello. Rubens is a talent that deserved a few more wins than he actually achieved. Kimi too is the same. He is, after all, a world champion and deserves an even shot at the title. Ferrari are desperate for their first drivers title since 2007 and constructors since 2008, but they won’t want to upset their supporters in an age where fan engagement is rapidly growing.