The Italian who should replace Raikkonen at Ferrari

Raffaele Marciello

Jenson Button would be a good short-term option for Ferrari, but Kimi Raikkonen's replacement will be the young Italian the team have dreamed of.

When Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari do call time on their lacklustre reunion - be that at the conclusion of this season or when the Finn retires in 2015 - the man they should first call upon is Jenson Button.

The 2009 champ has proven that when he has the machinery under him, he can get results. At McLaren with Lewis Hamilton, he outscored his team-mate over the three seasons, picking up three more podiums and only two fewer wins. He can also bond with Fernando Alonso over what a grump Ron Dennis can be as a boss.

But crucially, given Button's age, he'll only be a short-term measure. This is exactly what Ferrari need, as the driver they really want in one of their seats is still a few seasons away from being ready for the big time. That driver is Raffaele Marciello.

Raffele Marciello

The 19-year-old has the two qualifications the Scuderia have waited years for: he is lightening quick, and he is Italian.

Already part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, where Jules Bianchi is also a member and Sergio Perez cut his teeth, Marciello is the reigning European F3 champion. He won 13 of 30 races last year on his way to the crown, and had managed to win six in his debut season the year before.

Known as 'Lello', the youngster is currently competing in GP2. He's had a few teething problems, with his only real successes a pair of third places at the Austrian Grand Prix, although he was set to win the Silverstone feature race from pole before a rare engine problem forced him out.

Most importantly for Ferrari, however, is Marciello's Italian nationality (although he was technically born in Switzerland, but we'll gloss over that). The team are desperate to have a native son driving one of their cars. You have to go back 20 years to find the last time an Italian scored a podium for Ferrari, which was Nicola Larini in the '94 San Marino Grand Prix. The last time an Italian won in a Ferrari was Michele Alboreto at the 1985 German Grad Prix, while you have to go all the way back to Alberto Ascari in 1953 to find their last drivers' champion. The most recent chance Ferrari fans have had to see Italian talent in their cars have been Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella's runs as Felipe Massa's replacement in 2009; neither driver scored a single point.

Ferrari's heritage is very important to them, and having a top, young Italian driver in one of their cars would mean the world to the team. There are other drivers who may be more qualified than Marciello, but there were others more qualified than Badoer and Fisichella in 2009, yet they still went for the Italians.

When a long-term seat opens up at the Scudeira, make no mistake – they'll take the chance on the Marciello. It is their dream to once again have an Italian racing and winning for Ferrari.


Marciello photo: Photo: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service