F1 Silly Season News: Ferrari

Raikkonen Monaco

With F1 on its summer break, we’re taking a look at the 2015 driver market. Next up it’s perennial under-achievers Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso has long been ranked among the best drivers in Formula One. Many pundits see him as the most complete package on the grid, and though he is now 33 that talent is not dimming. Arguably, he has been better this year than in previous seasons.

But for all the plaudits he has not won a world title in almost a decade, and with Ferrari continuing to provide him with sub-standard cars the Spaniard is growing restless. His contract runs through the end of 2016, but there are rumours that both McLaren and Williams wish to lure him away from Maranello.

This remains an outside bet. Alonso is adored at Ferrari by both the fans and team members. There was a spat with Luca di Montezemolo last year, but even il presidente knows Alonso is almost priceless to the team.

And who's to say either of those teams are a better bet? McLaren will need time to reacquaint themselves with Honda, while Williams' revival could be a flash in the pan.

But let's play the hypothetical game. If he does leave, the Scuderia have two realistic options: promote junior driver Jules Bianchi to a seat alongside Kimi Raikkonen (whose spot would be safe to guarantee continuity) or hire a big name like Sebastian Vettel. The German is still under contract at Red Bull, but 2014 has seen cracks appear in their relationship - and everyone has a price.

The former would seem more likely. For starters, Vettel’s signature would be very tough to come by; secondly, Bianchi has been impressive this season, notably in knocking Raikkonen out of qualifying in Hungary. Should a seat open up at Ferrari it would make sense to promote a quick youngster who already knows the team well, then target a big name when Kimi hangs up his gloves in 12 months time.

Ferrari have also expressed interest in Nico Hulkenberg in the past, while Valtteri Bottas is the latest sensation, and Romain Grosjean should be considered for having shown extremely well in late 2013.

But this is all conjecture and the chances are high that Alonso will remain on board - if only for lack of a better option. This would almost certainly mean an unchanged line-up for 2015 - unless the team elect to fire the under-performing Raikkonen.

In this case Bianchi would be a shoe-in. It would make plain sense to allow the Frenchman to learn from Alonso, while Fernando would feel even more secure in his number one status at the team alongside a dutiful youngster. 

But paying Kimi off (again) would be costly and there is still hope that, given a good car for 2015, the Finn has a final star performance or two up his sleeve. It's not certain yet, but Ferrari are likely to announce an unchanged line up ahead of the Italian Grand Prix next month. 

VERDICT: Alonso and Raikkonen seems most likely, though Bianchi could get his big break if Fernando walks or Kimi is shown the door