hung it up
So yeah, it’s not an ideal situation. I’ll support Sebastian whoever he drives for. That’s not the problem. It’s the Ferrari thing. As cool as a brand they are, and as much as I adore their road cars, being the petrolhead I am, their F1 team…Not so much.
And then there’s the magnitude of the switch itself. The former World Champion knocked off the throne by a dominant Mercedes package, and now, is heading to Maranello, with his career still not quite fully established, according to many.
The thought alone that a four-time consecutive World Champion still needs to convince people of his greatness to me, is mind-boggling, but he’s the victim of the new age of Formula 1, where we give so much credit to a great car, that the driver in the best car gets criticized. I suspect Michael’s success at Ferrari (A car known for bulletproof reliability as well as speed), may have something to do with that. Makes you wonder how the reception would be for him if we had massive amounts of social media…but that’s for another blog.
Many still think, because he was in the best car, it neuters his ability and makes him look better than what it actually is. Now, I’ve written before as to why I think that’s a terrible argument and one that weakens EVERY driver in the sport who’s won, but if there’s one exciting element that could come as a result of heading to Ferrari, it’s the chance of silencing every doubter that Seb has left.
Over the last three years, I’ve had countless people argue with me on the Internet over Seb’s “greatness”, and that he “needs to win in a weaker car”, and Ferrari at the moment, are the weakest they’ve been in nearly 25 years. The possibility of maybe, just maybe Seb winning there, a 5th title having had a team built around him, following his idol in Schumacher, would cement Sebastian as of the greatest drivers the sport’s ever seen.
What worries me though, is the parallels you can draw between this, and his arch rival, Fernando Alonso. He was a guy who benefitted from a uprising Renault team, won two straight titles, and has gone up and down the paddock since then, desperate to win with a second team, or with a team that was built around him. McLaren were all for it…just not with him. Renault on the way back just wasn’t the same, and Ferrari came close but couldn’t quite get over the hill. I fear Seb may be taking the same path.
Formula 1 and success, can so often be linked with timing. Alonso could have gone to Red Bull in 2007 and declined. Imagine if he had! Lewis Hamilton very nearly stayed at McLaren in 2012, and hit the jackpot by switching to Mercedes. The list of examples goes on and on. Timing is so imperative, because one minute, a team can be amazing, the next, it can be terrible. Anyone who supports Williams can vouch for this. 2013, their worst ever season. 2014, their best in a decade.
I don’t want Seb to be another notch on Ferrari’s failed bedpost. And I fear that, having just seen Fernando’s ultimately failed run with the team after 5 seasons of trying, that history could be about to repeat itself. And that, worries me. It’s the knife-edge that makes F1 as compelling as it is, at times.
I’m cautiously optimistic. Even I can’t deny, seeing Seb in the red at Fiorano made me giddy, there is something just ultimately special about that Ferrari red, and why its able to attract so many brilliant drivers over the years, and you have no idea how badly I want this to succeed, as the selfish fan that I am, but boy, it’s daunting, and I fear whatever happens, he’ll be playing second fiddle to the incredible Mercedes team. Not to mention the other new starts coming up through the ranks in Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.
This next chapter is one I embrace and fear. And that’s what Formula 1 is all about. And I hope at the end of it all, I can raise that pointed finger again.