Never go back to an old love, they say. Yet that is what Ferrari have done in signing Kimi Raikkonen to partner Fernando Alonso for the 2014 Formula 1 season.
For those on the outside, it is an enticing prospect. Two of the four men recognized as the best drivers in the world – the others being Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – will be in the same team. Two completely different characters – fire and ice. Who will come out on top? What a spectacle it promises to be. But the auguries for it ending well are not good.
Ferrari have tended to operate on the basis of having a number one driver and a second who supports him. It’s almost part of the DNA of the team. How will it work now they have decided to shift to a different approach – two drivers of equal status allowed to fight it out, theoretically for the benefit of all?
On paper, Alonso and Raikkonen is probably the strongest driver line-up in F1. In theory, it makes Ferrari a formidable force – assuming their car and, particularly, new V6 turbo engine is competitive in 2014.
But the potential for disruption is clear.
Alonso famously almost brought McLaren to its knees in his demands for priority status when he was teamed with Hamilton in 2007.
He has since made it clear that his problem was not with Hamilton per se, but with the team. Team boss Ron Dennis, it has emerged, had promised him he would be team leader, and then not delivered.
That is now what has happened at Ferrari, too. Worse, in fact. Alonso has been team leader for four years and has now been told he is equal with Raikkonen.
Ferrari, apparently, don’t care how he feels about that, although he has told them he’s fine with it. How will Alonso respond? Will he behave in the manner of, say, Hamilton and Jenson Button at McLaren from 2010-2 and treat it as a challenge to enjoy, and see out his contract to the end of 2016, as he said he would last weekend? Or will he feel betrayed and seethe inwardly until a flashpoint triggers emotions he can’t control?
Most insiders the BBC have spoken to believe Alonso will probably edge the on-track battle with Raikkonen, that he will be faster more often than not. If that’s the case, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario whereby Alonso is ahead on points, but there comes a race in which Raikkonen is in front and Alonso can’t get by. Or perhaps the team mess something up for him. And that becomes the trigger point for a fallout that leads to Alonso leaving Ferrari at the end of next season.