Lewis Hamilton must hope his move to Mercedes pays off, for the news coming out of Ferrari contains little cheer for him.
If Fernando Alonso quit for Hawaii tomorrow never to return, the SOS would go out first to Sebastian Vettel. At least Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezemolo included Hamilton in his shortlist of two, the only drivers capable of replacing the great Alonso, whom the boss described as an identikit of past Ferrari greats Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher.
“Between all the drivers Vettel and Hamilton could be perfect for the Ferrari of the future with one difference – Vettel is younger. First of all, I think of all the drivers at the moment we have the best in Formula One, in terms of speed, in terms of intelligence in the race and capability to work with the team. When you have the best driver you have to put him in the best condition to succeed, to win and have a good environment without peer troubles.
“But if Alonso decided tomorrow to go to live in Hawaii with the girlfriend I have no doubt that for human and professional reasons [I would choose] Vettel. He would be very good for us. Vettel I like because he is not presumptuous. He wants to win but he is not arrogant. Michael told me many years ago that coming from karts Vettel had the most potential of any young driver and he was right.”
The allusion to peer troubles tells us that there is no chance of Vettel arriving while Alonso remains. The double world champion of 2005-06 met with Di Montezemolo last Saturday before heading out for a Christmas break. The mood was good and the love-in remains strong, as the comparison with Lauda and Schumacher demonstrated.
“Niki was very intelligent in the race and the first driver to be closer to the team, details, working even in the night. Michael was for me a war machine in the race because he was in condition to do 60 laps like qualifying.
“Fernando is a good mix between the two. He is very intelligent. He knows when to push, how to save the tyres, when to attack, super intelligent and super quick, too. It is difficult to make comparisons [across different eras] but he is right at the top. I’m very happy with Fernando. He is a key member of the team.”