Monday, November 3, 2008

Instant Conclusions From An Unforgettable Conclusion

Sunday 2nd November 2008

Sometimes words are just not needed...

Formula One, Bloody Hell
Wow. Just wow, because sometimes commentary is irrelevant and unnecessary. Anyone who watched the 2008 Brazilian GP will never forget it. 'Incredible' is an over-used word but not on this occasion.

There Can't Have Been An Ending Like It
After approximately 3000 miles of racing, eight months of competition, 900 laps of action, it came down to the penultimate lap and a single point. There can't have been an ending like it in the history of F1 and only a handful of comparable conclusions in the annals of sport.

Massa Is A Class Act
Both on and off the track, Felipe Massa was a champion in Brazil (an apology is due from those who suggested that he would crack under the weight of pressure and expectation in front of his fanatical home support).

"We ought to be proud of our race, we ought to be proud of ourselves," he remarked the Brazilian in the post-race press conference.

The person who ought to be proudest, though, is Massa himself. He could not have driven better and he could not have acted with greater class or dignity. The Brazilian is a Champion in all but name.

The Race Result Is A Clue
05 L. Hamilton McLaren + 38.907

06 T. Glock Toyota + 44.368

Glock lost over five seconds to Hamilton in the corner-and-a-kink that were tarmaced between the point where his Toyota was overtaken and the McLaren crossed the line to crown Hamilton Champion. Five seconds. There was nothing fishy about his late demise; he was simply sliding around on dry tyres completely unsuited to the conditions.

It was close - by jeez it was close - but the timesheet reveals it was honest too. Nor, in response to the accusation that is already clogging the airwaves, was it lucky; Glock was only in front of Hamilton because, unlike the rest of the field, he opted to stay on dry tyres.

Hamilton Is A Deserved Champion
True enough, Lewis Hamilton is the Champion despite winning less races than Felipe Massa, but that fact becomes redundant once it is recalled that it was Hamilton who crossed the line in first place in Belgium and it was Massa who was subsequently - and scandalously - gifted his victory on the whim of the stewards.

Hamilton is a deserved Champion and but for the meddling of the stewards - strangely and inconsistently anonymous in Brazil despite any number of unsafe pit-stop releases and Jarno Trulli shunting Sebastien Bourdais off the track in a far more obvious infringement than which Hamilton was deemed guilty of in Japan - would have won the title in China or before.

Now For 2009...
The narrowness of his triumph means that Hamilton, even as the youngest-ever Champion in F1 history, still has plenty to prove and, upon sober reflection before winter testing resumes, the 23-year-old is likely to realise as much. His winning tally of 98 points is not, by Championship-winning standards, impressive: Kimi Raikkonen won with 110 last year, Michael Schumacher scored 148 points in his final title-winning year of 2004, while Fernando Alonso notched up 133 and then 134 for his back-to-back triumphs of 2005 and 2006.

Hamilton still has plenty to prove and any claim of greatness is hopelessly premature. One lingering impression from this season is that he actually drove better during his rookie year - possibly as a consequence of being partnered and pushed by Alonso rather than the hopelessly inadequate Heikki Kovalainen. He's good, no doubts about it, but nobody, including Hamilton himself, can yet be sure precisely how good. A great future awaits - possibly - but he still has to prove it and earn it.

The Lesson Of McLaren 2007 Has Scared Off F1's Big Guns
A late introduction into Brazil's tale of the unexpected, Sebastian Vettel's cameo may prove a glimpse of an exciting future: one which sees the German jousting with Hamilton, challenging Alonso and chasing Massa. Somewhere in that heady and enticing mix must also be Robert Kubica as well as F1's forgotten man, Kimi Raikkonen, if an intensive programme of winter testing succeeds in ironing out the flaws that have reduced him to a support role for the past month at Ferrari.

For F1, the future is bright. It is also varied.

Jarno Trulli, Jenson Button and even Mark Webber might quibble with the argument, but, unless Alonso surprises us all and abandons the Renault ship again, F1's top six drivers are poised to begin the 2009 season in five different types of machinery.

ITV Could Not Have Had A Better Send-Off
Saving the best to last, that was one helluva way to bow out.


Source : Planet F1

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