As Fernando Alonso’s Formula One career winds down in unspectacular fashion, might Kimi Raikkonen be risking the same fate?
Lewis Hamilton’s expected title win did not quite come to pass at the United States Grand Prix and so the post-race focus was instead on two veterans of Formula One.
There were contrasting fortunes for former world champions aged 39 and 37 respectively in Austin. Kimi Raikkonen stormed to victory, while Fernando Alonso failed to complete the first lap.
As Raikkonen celebrated his first race win since 2013, Alonso, wiped out by Lance Stroll at Turn 4, grumbled about the driving of his younger rivals.
“These guys are impossible to race with,” the irate Spaniard told his team radio, before adding to the media: “There are more amateurs here than in the other series.”
The closing weeks of Alonso’s season will not befit a glorious career, but Sunday’s events were hardly out of place with the rest of the year. The two-time champion has again lagged behind with McLaren, who lack the tools to compete with those he once dominated.
Disappointed race. Only 600 meters before getting hit from behind. Watching now the replays not much anyone could do, too many cars together into T4 . Just that. Just unlucky today. Now focus, preparation, and let’s hope this brings a nice result in Mexico next week.
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) October 21, 2018
The Finn may have endured a stretch of 111 races without a win prior to the weekend’s triumph, but he is third in the standings and made the podium for the 10th time this year in Austin.
Raikkonen will finish the campaign in competitive shape, yet it is his future plans that provide some concern. A return to Sauber, while offering an emotional tug, is unlikely to see one of the sport’s modern stars go out on top.
“Proving some people wrong is enough fun for me,” Raikkonen said after winning in Texas.
He added: “I think people don’t understand I’m actually very happy with where I’m going [Sauber].
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) October 22, 2018
“It’s roughly 40 minutes from my home, for sure my family will be happy and I’m happy to be with my family. I think it’s probably the best thing and I wasn’t at any point disappointed with the decision.”
Alonso similarly left Ferrari on his own terms, though, and it has not made the subsequent years any less frustrating as he has muddled around the middle of the F1 standings, punished for the latest in a series of questionable career moves.
Raikkonen has already quit F1 once after an uncompetitive season in 2009 and surely would not enjoy similar toils regardless of the location of Sauber’s team base.
Indeed, as he spends a week reflecting on a race win for perhaps the final time, the Iceman could be excused for wondering if he should have joined Alonso in walking away from F1.