It’s been quite a year. McLaren attacked and fined by the FIA claiming they had access to Ferrari secrets – an Oxymoron if ever there was one. Revelations from Ferrari that things are only illegal when they are, err, discovered to be – so the illegal floor they used to gain an aerodynamic advantage with when winning in Australia was, err, not really illegal… hmm.
We had a new circuit layout at Spa – previously one of the world’s most interesting, and feared, circuits of the year. Now the circuit has been totally neutered with the effective removal of the La Source hairpin and the construction of the Eau Rouge bypass and unsurprisingly Spa subsequently produced one of the year’s most boring races because of these changes. Bernard, really!
For all the controversy though, we have had one of the closest years of racing ever. With just one race to go, we have three drivers who could all walk away with the Championship tomorrow. That would have been impossible during the Schumacher era – not because of Schumacher’s on the track talent, which itself was prodigious when not under pressure, but because he always got contractual number one status, something that is actually illegal under the rules. It was never tested though despite many team mates, including both Johnny Herbert and Eddie Irvine, having confirmed this on record by saying there was no true sharing within the team. For instance, MS could take their car data and use it for himself, but they were prevented from using his. Rubens Barichello famously described himself as “Driver 1b” after he eventually realised which way the cookie always crumbled.
Ironic that this weekend the
Max Mosley FIA witch hunt against McLaren demanded that an FIA scrutineer should sit on the McLaren pit all weekend to “ensure fair treatment for Alonso”. This is after Alonso’s outburst at the last GP in China where after qualifying he could not accept that he was beaten by rookie Hamilton, instead throwing a hissy fit and ripping a door off its hinges in the McLaren motorhome and shouting to the press that he had “received unfair treatment” which is his standard response to being beaten fair and square.
Of course, Alonso is dead against this. He has publicly said that he “doesn’t think such a move is necessary.” Of course he doesn’t. If he is beaten this weekend, which seems not unlikely, he will not be able to claim he only lost because Hamilton got better treatment than him! Hoist by his own petard… but so Mediterranean. I’ve beaten people like that before: they can never accept someone else is better. And Hamilton is way better.
So, will Raikkonnen regret leaving McLaren? Will Alonso regret joining? Ron Dennis will probably regret signing him, the world’s most expensive ever driver. Ferrari will probably regret their control of the FIA was so openly demonstrated this year. Max Mosley will probably come to regret many of his actions this year, not least of which will be his childish and self-belittling public attacks on three times World Drivers Champion and Grand Prix winning team chief Sir Jackie Stewart (now retired) when Mosley reportedly described dyslexic Stewart as a “certified half-wit” while at a lunch with journalists.
The only man to probably have no regrets this weekend will be Hamilton. He may have been white hot molten iron previously, but he has now passed through the F1 mill of deceit, intrigue and politics, coming out as weapons grade forged steel. His reputation, at least, is secure.
And as Nietschze said “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.”