Clip The Apex
This year's silly season has started early for one of the most beloved current F1 drivers. I'm talking about Kimi Raikkonen. After 2 impressive seasons with Lotus, Ferrari decided he was the right man to replace Felipe Massa who they wanted to replace after performing poorly for a couple of seasons. An why wouldn't they think Kimi was the right choice. After all he gave the team the latest WDC to date.
After struggling last year and not really improving much this year, it's clear that KR won't be in the team next year (and there's no noticeable improvement, he will be shown the door before end of the year).
Many names have been mentioned to be Raikkonen successor; from Bottas, to Riccardo to Hulkenberg. In the short term, there's also talk about bring Gutierrez to finish the season as Ferrari's #2.
Where might Raikkonen go? Lotus would probably be receptive to welcome him back. Hass could receive him in exchange for some engines. If not F1, then what, back to Rally? Sportscars racing to follow in Mark Webber's footsteps? DTM like Mika did? IndyCars to join his pal Juan Montoya?
It is not the most popular of Grand Prix circuits. It is tight and twisty, staggeringly difficult to overtake on, and not especially scenic. Its nicknames hardly inspire confidence - "Monaco without the walls", "the Dustbowl", "Hungaboring". They're also not especially fair.
This is the circuit of the first Grand Prix of the Eastern Bloc, still the only one in that huge area of land between the Berlin Wall and the Black Sea. It is a circuit where the dominant team often fails to dominate: not the only circuit where Red Bull and Mercedes shared the wins between 2013 and 2014, but the only one where they won in the wrong order!
It has been the scene of some drama in the last 10 years as well! 2006 saw Alonso and Schumacher gain separate and equal time penalties before qualifying, and both fail to finish as Button took his inaugural spoils in the rain. 2007 saw the spark which lead to the McLaren implosion. 2008 saw Massa recover his form from a tough summer, but his engine to fail allowing in Kovalainen. 2009 saw the slowest circuit in the world see KERS big break through for Hamilton's McLaren. 2010 was the year of Vettel and 10 car lengths, handing Webber an underserved win. McLaren had a wet battle royale in 2011, when Button made the right calls to take the honours. 2012 saw Grosjean piling on the pressure on Hamilton for half the race, before losing out to both the Englishman and Raikkonen. 2013 was Hamilton's first win for Mercedes. 2014 saw Ricciardo and Alonso hold off the Mercedes.
Hamilton, of course, could well count this his best circuit. He's had 4 victories - each time with Raikkonen second. Vettel has never won here - there's been no German win since 2004. Raikkonen has had to wait since 2005. McLaren have secured a lot of the victories in the last 10 years, but they're obviously going to need divine intervention here. Both of their drivers won their only victory before their respective title years here.
I doubt there'll be too much overtaking, but it often delivers intrigue and interest. Budapest is now a circuit with true history in F1. Will it be a Mercedes win? Well, it doesn't always follow...
Having started winning again at the start of 2014, Lewis Hamilton has pointed out that the trophies recieved by those lucky podium placed drivers are not very good. This is a repeated claim from Hamilton, after he complained in the podium interviews at Silverstone last year that he was receiving a selection of red pipes rather than the traditional winners' trophy at the British Grand Prix.
It was Hamilton's point that Grands Prix should have desirable and historic trophies for victory, rather than having a plastic version of a sponsors' logo as the reward. I agree: I find it difficult to believe that Formula One could claim to be an élite sport with trophies that scream out Poundland. Since the Monaco Grand Prix is sold exclusively on wealth and prestige, why is it giving out this trophy?