The phantom Ferrari vacancy

Consider this hypothetical outcome.

Friday, 3rd October 2014 – Suzuka International Circuit

A press conference has been called at the McLaren motorhome.

Present are McLaren’s Ron Dennis and Eric Boullier, accompanied by Honda’s Yasuhisa Arai.

The former sits before the gathering media calmly, the steely glaze of his eyes not lost to onlookers.

As the press take their seats, Dennis affords himself a fleeting glance at Arai – a wry grin emerging on each man’s face, before casting his attention to the fourth estate, uttering in his infamous ‘Ronspeak.’

“It gives me pleasure to announce that Fernando Alonso will race for Honda (insert title sponsor here) McLaren in 2015. Fernando is an individual who has previously represented our company. Sadly the previous relationship did not transpire optimally, but with his return it is our intention to rectify this.”

“McLaren has not achieved desired results in recent campaigns, we are an organisation which exists to win championships, but foremost we are an organisation which exists to win races. With Fernando arriving, it is expected that results will return to an appropriate level”, remarks Dennis.

“I’d now like to invite Fernando to say a few words”, he adds, as the Spaniard walks on stage to the blinding flash of cameras and smartphones.

“This is something I didn’t expect to be doing, but what happened in the past is a long time ago, it was racing…”, Alonso’s voice trails away. It is clear from his facial expression that he’s reconciling how the events of 2007 indirectly led to his failure to add another title to the pair he claimed in 2005 and 2006 – he might as well blurt out, “if only I’d known that seven years later I’d still be after my third.”

“I gave Ferrari many chances to win, but there is only so much a samurai can achieve before he grows tired, I could do nothing more”, the Spaniard continues.

And with that, the Ferrari-Fernando Alonso marriage is dissolved after five seasons, leaving a seat at the iconic Prancing Horse vacant.

Several names are immediately put forward as is the case when the first die of silly season is cast. Some suggestions are fanciful, others logical, despite the outfit’s poor fortunes, it is the ride of a lifetime.

Sebastian Vettel rejects Maranello’s advances, choosing to honour the final season of his contract at Red Bull, the four-time champion hoping to regain his mojo following his most wanting campaign to date. Yet the German reiterates his desire to one day race for the marque, suggesting a different answer to the question twelve months down the track. “Obviously it it would be a huge honour to represent Ferrari, but I have unfinished business here. Obviously things have gone not so well this year, but I hope to do a better job next season.”

Lewis Hamilton asserts his happiness at Brackley, remarking “it’d be amazing to race for Ferrari, I’ve got massive respect for them, but the ride I’ve already got is freaking amazing.” The consensus is that the Briton wants another twelve months to gauge inter-team relations with Nico Rosberg, feeling he is beginning to assert himself over the German. The 2008 World Champion is also keen to assess his former employer McLaren’s fortunes in their new/old direction with Honda with a driver of Alonso’s calibre at the wheel. whilst baring in mind the allure of claiming titles at three outfits if Ferrari’s 2015 challenger shows promise.

Jules Bianchi takes every opportunity he can to stress his readiness to make the transition from backmarker to er, midfielder. The Frenchman feels that two campaigns, as opposed to the previously practised three – in the case of Felipe Massa, are sufficient to carry the weight associated with driving for the famous team, and to handle Kimi Räikkönen on the other side of the garage.

Other names which inevitably come into the equation includes Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button. Even Kamui Kobayashi – who served as a test driver for Ferrari in 2013, is linked to the seat.

As is the case in Formula One, nothing can be ruled out. What’s your opinion on the identity of Alonso’s replacement, should the Spaniard make the departure which seemed inconceivable just weeks ago?

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