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Take five - Race stars: The rivals // Ferrari present the most intriguing partnership of 2014

Published by Christine

Pocket F1 Handbook 2014

We're mere inches away from the 2014 season starting, and that means it's time to highlight the fifth of five reasons to be super excited about the new Formula One year. Extracted from my top ten list of things to look forward to in the season preview Pocket F1 Handbook: Guide to the 2014 Grand Prix Season, the list picks out the best of what is to come. We've looked at the potential for teams in 2014, and how the cars may cope, but now it's a look at the drivers - and a particular pair indeed.

There are a lot of interesting teammate partnerships up and down the grid this year, including the potential title battle between Hamilton and Rosberg, the incoming Ricciardo squaring off the now-veteran Vettel, and rookie challenger Magnussen learning from Button. The line up that everyone wants to watch, however, is at Ferrari. Double world champion Fernando Alonso alongside the comeback king Kimi Räikkönen.

Neither driver is known for playing particularly well with others. Kimi is infamous for his lack of interest in conversation and paddock relationships, whilst Alonso has proven a demand for inequality in the past. Now, the pair come together to form what could be the most explosive partnership the sport has seen since, well, since the last time Alonso fell out with his teammate.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali has managed to avoid saying anything about anything in terms of managing the pairing, falling back on the old "whatever is best for the team" adage. He does describe the attitude he expects from his drivers though.

[Kimi] knows his worth and he knows what team he has returned to and what challenges he will face, having a world champion like Alonso alongside him for whom he has respect and he will have to adapt to working with him.

Fernando is extremely intelligent and has managed to stay ahead in whatever car he has driven. We feel close to him partly because it was such a long time ago that we decided to invest in him.

- Stefano Domenicali, team principal, Ferrari

Ferrari are taking a huge risk with this pairing, and they know it. They’re pushing the fire and ice symbols, highlighting the chalk and cheese nature of their new team. But it could deliver for them in spades. Fernando has the ability to drag speed from underperforming cars wherever possible, and Kimi can just get in a car and drive it flat out until it breaks. Both could be useful in a season where unreliability will be a key factor, and developing the speed comes later.

Ferrari drivers, head to head
Fernando AlonsoKimi Räikkönen
Age3234
Championships21
Races217194
Wins3220
Pole positions2216
Last winSpain 2013Australia 2013
Stefano Domenical in Bahrain
Credit: Ercole Colombo

On top of their undeniable talents, both drivers know how to put a championship campaign together. Kimi’s 2007 win was achieved with an inconsistent car, but the Finn hauled himself onto the podium wherever possible to take the title (over Alonso, as it happens) by a single point. Alonso, meanwhile, soared to success with Renault in 2005 and 2006, but has yet to regain his title footing. For the past few years, Alonso has been close but a third championship has so far eluded him.

For both drivers, the pressure is starting to creep in. Ferrari could be their last stop in the F1 paddock, so they need to maximise the opportunities presented to them. They may not have the fastest car or the strongest engine when the season begins, but between them, they have to push the team to success. If two of the biggest names in the sport can’t do it, who can?

All content in the series Five things to look forward to in 2014