Saturday, 3 November 2007

Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

It has finally been announced that former F1 world champion Fernando Alonso is to leave McLaren. Hardly surprising given the season just gone. I'm a hugely disillusioned former Alonso supporter. His rise to greatness and double world championship glory with Renault in 2005 and 2006 won him many fans. He seemed focused but fun, competitive but grounded. How wrong we were. His petulant behaviour this year, when confronted with such unexpectedly stiff competition from newcomer Lewis Hamilton, has been disappointing in the extreme. Great champions hate to lose, but lose they must at times and the measure of the man is in how he does so. Alonso chose to throw all his toys out of the pram. Instead of using the competition to motivate himself and prove himself a worthy champion, he resorted to mud-slinging and taking cheap shots at his team. Having been such a pro-Alonso viewer at the start of the season, it was a shock to find myself desiring a Raikkonen victory more than an Alonso win, when the racing climaxed in Brazil a couple of weeks ago. Little Lewis should have won it really. It was his to lose - 12 points ahead with 2 races left - he should have had it in the bag. But lest we forget, this was his first year in F1. His first drive at a number of the circuits. Yet he made an incredible impact. Surely it won't be many years before he makes that final step up.

I was much aggrieved to read of Max Moseley's comments in relation to Hamilton this week. In an interview with the BBC he claimed that the young man could have a negative effect on the sport. Negative? Excuse me? What on earth is he talking about? He said, "If he does the same thing next season as he's done this season, it will certainly have a big effect. It will start to be negative because we'll get the Schumacher effect where people start writing to me saying can't you do something to slow him down." The same as he's done this season? The tightest and most exciting year of F1 in eons? Where going into the final race there were three potential world champions? Hamilton didn't even win it! Moseley is the president of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) and along with Bernie Ecclestone, to all intents and purposes the owner of F1, has a huge amount of influence over and control of the sport. It is irresponsible for him to speak out in this way. He is showing favouritism to other teams in doing so, and damaging the reputation of the sport he claims to be protecting. Two men should not have such almost monopolistic control over a world sport.

Lewis Hamilton has provided the dose of smelling salts that F1 needed. He and other young drivers such as Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica are the future of this sport, not cronies like Moseley and Ecclestone.

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