Formula 1


Why Ferrari must deliver for Alonso in 2014

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Poor old Fernando Alonso, the guy has rarely had a period of calm in his F1 career.

From the wonder kid that Michael Schumacher handpicked to be the next big thing, to fulfilling that expectation dethroning the great German in 2005 and retaining his crown in 2006.

Then came the tragic move to McLaren where a young whippersnapper by the name of Lewis Hamilton put up a major challenge few expected and made Alonso's life a living hell – revealing the devil inside.

With that chapter firmly closed and following a return to comfier surroundings at Renault, Alonso would then find himself embroiled in another scandal as his more obedient rookie team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr. took the concept of being a ‘number two’ driver to the extreme deliberately crashing his car at the Singapore Grand Prix paving the way for the Spaniard to claim a shock win.

While things dulled down in 2009, Alonso found himself a new home for 2010 at Maranello replacing Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari. This seemed like a potential dream combination and things started well winning his first race for the Scuderia in Bahrain.

Sadly however another young whippersnapper made his presence felt, Sebastian Vettel stunned the world by claiming his first world title at the final race as the usually predatorial Alonso got stuck, ironically, behind a Renault driven by Vitaly Petrov.

From then the dream partnership has become something of a colossal flop as the combo of paella and pasta fell to the might of wurst and apple strudel.

Much like the Schumacher days, Alonso has been the one fighting hardest to topple the Dachshund – in this case Sebastian Vettel – but has come up short on every occasion as the German carves his own piece of F1 history.

That failure has led to a growing frustration from the double world champ who at 32 finds himself with only half the number of titles compared to Vettel at 26, that despite being repeatedly described as the better of the two drivers.

Indeed the old 2007-spec Alonso has begun to rear its head with the flamboyant Spaniard
publicly criticising the team he is contracted to until 2016.

That earned him a private clip round the ear by team boss Stefano Domenicali while the company President Luca di Montezemolo followed Alonso’s lead and went public with his slap on the wrist.

Speculation began to swirl after his manager was spotted at Red Bull, ‘could Alonso be on his way out?’ came the cry though those farfetched hopes were soon dashed as Daniel Ricciardo was installed alongside Vettel for 2014.

As things appeared to simmer down and any bruising to the egos tended to, Alonso and Ferrari began to look ahead to the new era coming this year as the best chance to end a seemingly endless streak of Vettel dominance.

Then came the rumour that won’t stop running, could Alonso be brave enough to go back to the team that he fell out with so badly seven years ago as they embark on a new era for themselves? In other words could Alonso rejoin McLaren for the Honda reunion next year?

The denials of interest have been many, the claims of happiness in abundance yet still the questions are asked.

Christmas in the Alonso household must have been the quietest in years as Fernando desperately tries to get the noise of journalists asking the same question over and over again out of his ears, yet it will likely all start again once testing and the season kicks off in the
coming weeks and months.

For Alonso it is a nice situation to be in, as the next generation rises through the ranks he remains one of the most wanted drivers in the sport, anyone would want the skills of the man from Oviedo in their car, even Red Bull no matter what they say.

Of course he has the job security at Ferrari for another couple of years and if the crew in the factory can finally produce a car capable of battling the best Adrian Newey can produce then Alonso would have no problem at all in proving why he has the reputation of the best driver on the grid.

Yet if this year does go wrong and/or the relationship with the man who he replaced in 2010 and makes his return to Ferrari, that being Kimi Raikkonen, goes pear-shaped would a move to McLaren be such a bad idea?

Certainly the thought of Alonso back behind the wheel of a McLaren would dig up memories of the events of 2007, yet the potential from the Honda reunion would give him hope of finally adding to that tally of two world titles.

He would also likely be the lead driver as Kevin Magnussen looks to become the first star from McLaren’s youth program since Hamilton, though that thought in itself could play against a potential move.

It’s an interesting year for Fernando, if he’s sitting pretty towards the top of the championship and all is rosy with Raikkonen then the rumours of a potential move might end, although the spin from those at McLaren may continue.

However if there are more thorns in the garden by mid-season then the surroundings in Alonso’s world might be a lot different.

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