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The history behind big-name Ferrari driver moves

In the history of Formula 1, many drivers have made the switch to the Italian team, but was it always successful? RacingNews365 lists the most notable transfers.

Driving for Ferrari in Formula 1 is seen as the ultimate prize. The allure of the Scarlet Red cars coupled with their heritage as being the most successful team makes their seats highly sought after, and as Sebastian Vettel once said, "Everyone is a Ferrari fan. Even if they say they are not, they are Ferrari fans."

Even Lewis Hamilton could eventually say: 'No' only so many times, and he follows in the wheel tracks of some of F1's biggest World Champions in heading to Maranello over the years, but can he be the man to end the drought that stretches back to 2007 and 2008?

Sebastian Vettel

When he was a child, Sebastian Vettel was inspired by the three Michaels.

Schumacher, Jordan and Jackson. One was the new F1 champion from Germany, another was creating a dynasty in the NBA and the other was the King of Pop.

After a poor first year with Red Bull of the turbo hybrids, Vettel left for Ferrari, replacing Fernando Alonso, who in turn left Kevin Magnussen without a seat at McLaren.

Both Vettel and Ferrari went winless in 2014, but in just their second race together, he pulled off a tyre management masterstroke in Malaysia to hand Mercedes their first actual defeat of the era when they had not had reliability concerns or run into each other.

No wins followed in 2016, before the aerodynamic reset proved strong with Vettel challenging in both 2017 and 2018, but coming up short. His crash from the lead at Hockenheim halted his challenge against Hamilton.

By 2019, Vettel was joined by star of the future Charles Leclerc, but the car was not quite as good as the 2018 one with just three wins all season, before Ferrari dropped the ball in 2020 and 2021, by the latter of which Vettel had departed for Aston Martin.

Kimi Raikkonen

Vettel's longtime team-mate at Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen, has driven for Ferrari for two periods. The Finn was their last World Champion in 2007, but was replaced by Fernando Alonso for 2010 and paid not to race.

He made a foray into WRC in 2010 and 2011 and returned in 2012 with Team Enstone, then under the 'Lotus F1 Team' guise. That season he finished behind Vettel and Alonso, and was the only driver to finish all 20 races of the season.

For the 2014 when F1 switched to hybrid engines, Ferrari elected to replace Felipe Massa in favour of an all-World Champion lineup. Raikkonen had initially announced that he would probably quit racing after his two-year contract, but he was still enjoying himself so much that he put this decision on hold.

In 2015, he got Vettel as a teammate and the two tried to upset Mercedes' dominance. This proved unsuccessful and in 2018 it was announced that Charles Leclerc would replace Raikkonen at Ferrari. The Finn would return to the team that gave him his debut, Sauber, for his F1 swan song in 2021.

			© Ferrari
	© Ferrari

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso has already had quite an extensive F1 career, including at Ferrari. The Spanish driver became world champion in 2005 and 2006 when he drove for Renault. At that time, he was the youngest ever F1 world champion. In 2007 he made the move to McLaren, although this was short-lived, as the two-time world champion returned to Renault in 2008.

While the team failed to capture the form during their title-winning years, he continued to drive for Team Enstone for another year until Raikkonen elected to leave Ferrari.

Alonso's presence at the team was felt immediately, taking victory at the opening race of the 2010 season in Bahrain and going on to mount a title challenge that included three other drivers.

In both 2010 and 2012, he was pipped by Sebastian Vettel in the final race showdown, oppting to return to McLaren, armed with Honda engines, for 2015.

			© Ferrari
	© Ferrari

Alain Prost

Alain Prost already had three world championships under his belt when he made the move to the Scuderia in 1990.

Another bitter title with Ayrton Senna followed that year for the reigning World Champion, with it all coming down to Suzuka, where if Prost failed to finish, Senna would be champion.

And so, at the first corner, Senna made sure Prost failed to finish, 12 months on from the Frenchman turning into Senna at the chicane.

This would be as good as it got for Prost at Ferrari - with the team suffering from a poor car in 1991, which hastened Prost's departure after being perceived to having criticised the car publicly.

Michael Schumacher

Although Michael Schumacher is Ferrari's most decorated driver to date - with five titles and 72 victories - success did not come instantly.

When he made the switch to Ferrari in 1996 after winning two titles with Benetton, the Italian team was in rebuild mode, with the first assault coming in 1997.

That year, Schumacher suffered the dubious honour of becoming the first, and to-date, only driver to be disqualified from the championship for ramming title rival Jacques Villeneuve in Jerez to try and eliminate him, failing to do so.

Come 1998, a jump start from pole in Japan and puncture denied him a shot at defeating Mika Hakkinen before breaking his leg at Silverstone in 1999, ruling him out for months.

But by 2000, all came together, as the run of five straight titles kicked off the new millennium with a bang.

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