• The Inside Line

He said, she said

Kate Walker
September 8, 2013
Red or black? Place your bets © Sutton Images

He knows that I know that he knows that she knows. But what do we actually know? Not very much.

Kimi Raikkonen is definitely moving to Ferrari. But Felipe Massa is keeping his seat, and Nico Hulkenberg is about to don a red race suit for the first time. Either Ferrari are running four cars next year (hint - they're not), or a lot of the current gossip doing the rounds of the paddock isn't quite accurate.

In the four days since the Italian Grand Prix weekend began, the Ferrari-centric rumour mill has undergone a series of revolutions. On Thursday, Massa's Scuderia future was dependent on a run of strong performances over the next few races, with the Brazilian likely to keep his seat with the Italian team. But by Saturday, Raikkonen was looking rather more likely to make the move few expected.

It's no secret that the last Ferrari-Raikkonen relationship didn't end with hearts and flowers. Instead, there was a massive payoff, more than a few harsh words, and a number of bruised egos.

But this is motor-racing, where such inconveniences can be overcome if there is the potential of sporting glory, of titles and trophies. Egos can be soothed and arguments forgotten in the glare of a trophy cabinet heaving with newly-acquired silverware.

Earlier this week Lotus announced a two-year sponsorship deal with Emaar Properties. And while the financial details of such arrangements rarely make the public sphere, it looked as though the Emaar deal might be enough to help the Enstone racers retain their star driver. Raikkonen wants a car that can challenge for championships for the duration of the development race, and while Lotus have been quick out of the box they've lost out to their big-spending rivals as seasons have progressed.

With new Middle Eastern investment, it was thought, Lotus would be able to offer the Finn a regular paycheque and a car heaving with updates from Albert Park to Interlagos.

But whatever deals other teams do, it's hard to argue with the potential offered by Ferrari. Recent years might not have seen the Scuderia produce the best cars in their long history, but 2014 will see a car designed with the input of James Allison, who was instrumental in the development of Lotus' recent run of contenders. Add to that the racing legacy and piles of sponsorship cash and it's easy to see why Ferrari might well make Kimi an offer he can't refuse.

There are those within the team who would prefer to retain Massa, as a known entity who does the job (mostly) without causing any ructions. Greater consistency would ensure a new contract for the Brazilian, who doesn't upset Fernando Alonso - at present there is only one rooster in the Ferrari hen house.

But Ferrari is a team accustomed to winning, despite a history long enough to have included the odd dry spell. In Maranello - across Italy, in fact - the feeling is that it has been too long since the Scuderia have added another title to their collection. It has not escaped notice that their last drivers' title was won by Raikkonen, while their last constructors' title was earned when the Finn was racing in red.

On Saturday, Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo said that a decision on the team's 2014 line-up would be taken in the next few days, meaning that Massa no longer has the opportunity to save his seat with a string of strong performances during the final round of flyaways. If Felipe stays, it will be on the grounds of a decision already taken.

It's rumour, supposition, gossip, and intrigue. He knows that she knows that none of us will know a thing for sure until Ferrari make it official.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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