Formula 1 2015: Sebastian Vettel to Ferrari


4 time World Drivers’ Champion Sebastien Vettel shocked the racing world last night by announcing he is leaving Red Bull at the end of the season.  He made his decision known just before the start of qualifying at Suzuka, much to the surprise and consternation of his current team. Where will he go? We have no official word, but it is believed that he is headed to Ferrari to replace Fernando Alonso.

Since March, we’ve been speculating that Fernando Alonso would leave Ferrari to drive for McLaren. With Honda set to be McLaren’s engine supplier starting in 2015, most observers were expecting some sort of big announcement to take place this weekend during the Japanese grand prix at Suzuka.

It didn’t come from Alonso, but we got our big announcement!

Formula 1 prides itself on being the most sophisticated racing series on the face of the planet, with a technical rule book several inches thick. Starting this year, it features incredibly complex hybrid electric power trains. But the thing that really drives Formula 1 is ego. Every driver wants to win multiple championships and every driver wants to drive for the fabled Ferrari team at some point in his career- but when Alonso went to the Maranello team 5 years ago at the height of his powers, the Scuderia stumbled, making mistakes that cost Alonso the title in 2010 and 2012. As such, his time at the fabled team has been frustrating. The proudest team in Formula 1 history has given him a succession of uncompetitive cars while Red Bull- who offered Alonso a drive in 2008- has since collected eight world titles.

In particular, the new Ferrari hybrid power train has been a huge disappointment, leading to wholesale changes in the top management of the team, most notably Luca di Montezemolo after 27 years at the helm.

Alonso has wanted out of his seat at Ferrari since it became clear at the the team had given him yet another underperforming car this season. Rumor has it that he made overtures to both Mercedes and Red Bull but was told by both that they had no need of his services. And so he decided to throw in with McLaren, hoping that Honda’s legendary prowess at building winning racing engines will light a fire under a team that has not had had much success so far this century … but what assurance does he have that is going to happen? And with Ferrari languishing in the middle of the pack since Michael Schumacher drove for the team many years ago, what guarantee does Vettel have that the Maranello squad will find success any time soon?

The answer is that no one can predict the future (except Gas 2, of course). Alonso turned down a chance to drive for Red Bull before he went to Ferrari. Had he done so, it could have been him winning 4 world championships in a row instead of Vettel. In the final analysis, Alonso, who is generally regarded as the best of the current drivers, has only two world championships to Vettel’s four. Fernando would dearly love to add to his total before his Formula 1 career comes to an end.


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Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.