Sir, it is very important to have two people fighting for a considerable amount of time for it to become a rivalry and to have two drivers of more or less equal strength going at each other race after race, season after season. There need not be any Suzuka for that. F1 is full of famous rivalries, Fangio and Moss never had any Suzuka, Piquet and Manell had no Suzuka, Clark and Hill had no Suzuka, Senna and Mansell had no Suzuka, Prost and Lauda had no Suzuka. They were all top tier drivers, driven by one thing, to be the best consistently. Not for one season or two or three but their desire to win and be the best in their chosen field spanned years, decades.
I say you take your opportunities, which Kimi did, winning the two races he had to win, but the fate of the championship was not in his hands even with those wins. A points finish in those two races would have given Hamilton the title. Kimi did what he had to do but without Mclaren's gift it would not be possible. So consumed was Mclaren to help Hamilton win, with the hysteria that surrounded in the British press after the falling out between the two Mclaren drivers, that newspapers the next day had headlines like " At least he (Alonso) didn't win." exactly in those words. Or the famous slip from Ron Dennis in China, when he said, WE were racing Fernando.That Fernando, just happened to be driving one of his cars.
I don't know if you are a big Kimi fan, but those are arguments i have only heard from his fans. He, Raikkonen, got an evolution of the 2006 car, which was the best car at that time, developed till the last race, over seen by Schumacher, Brawn, Todt and Byrne as a consultant. What kind of a driver loses motivation after one title? Or can't even develop the car or set it up the way he prefers to drive it or adopt his driving style to get the best out of the car. He banked too much on his talent and never put in the hard work. Sheer talent without dedication and hard work will only take you so far, in his case, to one world title.
Bro, it's really unfair to compare what Schumacher had in 1996 and what Raikkonen had in 2007. Ferrari was very fast, won the odd race, but had no reliability and no structure in place when Schumacher arrived. It took for Brawn and Byrne to arrive at the end of 1996, to set goals and start working towards them and eventually as a team they got to where they did. The title would have gone to Ferrari in 1999, had Schumacher not had his accident. He inherited a very rich and fast team, capable of winning races but lacked discipline. Kimi got a well oiled machine and had to rely on other drivers not finishing races to win a title.
Schumacher's rivals could have been many, Villeneuve, Frentzen, Montoya, Hakkinen and co but none were in race winning cars, never mind championship winning cars most of the time, hence no rivalry to speak off with anyone. If Schumacher ever had a rival it was Adrian Newey.
Alonso, you must think is Raikkonen, that Ferrari will fire:) All that sitting behind Massa that he did in Australia, you think were just team orders that he was too scared to disobey? He has matured as a man and as a driver, knows there is no need to push Massa so hard early on in the season. Like i said in one of my previous posts, unless something catastrophic happens, he will see out his career at Ferrari. I can't think of anything, despite the wishes and desire of all British fans and the English media, to see something happen between the two Ferrari drivers, and should that happen as it might during the season, then it will be Massa, who will be shown the door at the end of the day. It's a different Alonso at Ferrari.
I can't find it right now, but I 'll get you a quote from Luca from 2007, about what he thinks of Alonso, and also a nice piece done by James Allen, about a year and half back, where Luca is on record having said he would have taken Alonso, not Raikkonen and it was a mistake taking Kimi. That had a lot to do with Todt, who was offended when Alonso refused a Ferrari contract in 2002 and signed for Renault instead.
A little gem to leave you with. This has been reported a couple of times too most notably by James Allen, as he researched for his book on Schumacher. Enjoy;)
"Alonso is the driver Schumacher identified as his biggest threat as early as 2002, when the Spaniard was test driver for Renault."
There is a more detailed one some where-that has Schumacher saying, He, Alonso, is the driver that will take my crown. All that in a time when Montoya and Raikkonen were all the rage in F1.