Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

The permanent temptation of life is to confuse dreams with reality. The permanent defeat of life is when dreams are surrendered to reality.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Formula One

The refreshing smoothness of Old Monk, corrupted slightly by a heavy fizz of Diet Coke went quite nicely with the heavy roars of 900 bhp engines revving at almost 19000 rpms in the penultimate race of the 2007 F1 season, held at Shanghai, China...and what a race it turned out to be, setting up the finale of an intriguing season just perfectly. Interlagos, we come.

Dateline October 21.

Timeline 2130hrs IST.

'...and when the five red lights go out, the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix is on to decide the WDC in one of the most closely fought F1 seasons in a long time.'

No doubt, 2006 was close after Ferrari's and a certain Schumacher's resurgence during the second half of the season, only to implode at the Japanese circuit when the normally reliable Ferrari engine failed in spectacular fashion to handover the title to Alonso in the final race at Brazil. The year before that, McLaren's incredibly quick but extremely fragile car failed to hold together for Kimi to outlast an amazingly reliable Renault, driven home to both the WCC and the WDC titles by Fernando Alonso. The three drivers in the mix to come up trumps two weeks from now include the two time world champion Fernando Alonso, rookie Lewis Hamilton and the Finn Kimi Raikkonnen. While the three of them fancy their chances, its obviously Hamilton's to lose now as he just needs to finish the race in the top four to be hailed as the 2007 WDC.

But the vagaries of sports is such that beyond making a calculated guess about the outcome, there is no certainty, as there are a host of outside parameters that can come into play. So with all to play for, the fans of F1 can look forward to a weekend that promises to bring to an end one of the most exciting championship battles in recent times.

I will be rooting for Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonnen to do the improbable and come out of this holding the WDC 2007 trophy. He is a true racing driver..not really bothered too much about the politics behind this multi-billion dollar sports. Not that he is a great advertisement for the sport...but no one can accuse him of being unfair or obnoxious. If he says he doesn't care who he drives alongside with...he truly doesn't care.

Lewis drove impeccably in most of his races, though the tag about him being in the same league as Senna, Proust or Schumacher is just hyperbole. In the first year of his F1 career, Lewis has been blessed with an amazingly reliable McLaren that was also one of the two quickest cars this year. Also, unlike Alonso, he didn't have to adapt to a new set of tyres - one of the most important component of an F1 car. He has also managed to cash in on the misfortunes of his championship contenders by being consistently able to bring his car to the finish. Reliabilty issues that dogged the Ferrari's during the early part of the season also played a part in giving Lewis enough room to play with his destiny. All this, is not intended to cast doubt on Lewis's ability, like they say, to come first you have to finish ahead of your competitors, and that he has done that. But the media frenzy with respect to Lewis has become something of a distraction and Lewis has also learned to use them to suit his interests. He has moved away from the image of a naive lil protégé to that of unctuous and occasionally smooth operator. We mustn't forget that he started the train of bitter and acrimonious chain of events that led to the feud between him and Alonso. First he complained that the team was not allowing him to race (Monaco) and then openly defied team orders in Hungary. So he can't cloak himself in the holier-than-thou attitude. Granted Alonso is as temperamental as they come - almost a caricature, but am sure he deserved the respect that is normally accorded to a world champion...especially as he has come fresh after beating The Great One.

To highlight Ferrari's slow start to the season, here are some interesting numbers.

Lewis has had an amazing start to the season, but if you look at the last 10 races, Kimi has consistently outscored or outdriven him and scored more points than him.

Last 10 races (Since Indianapolis)

Kimi : 73 [4 Wins, 2 Second, 2 Third, 1 Fourth, 1 DNF]
Alonso : 63 [2 wins, 3 Second, 2 Third, 1 Fourth, 1 Seventh, 1 DNF]
Lewis : 59 [3 Wins, 1 Second, 2 Third, 1 Fourth, 1 Fifth, 1 DNF, 1 NP]
Massa : 53 [1 Win, 3 Second, 2 Third, 1 Fifth, 1 Sixth, 1 DNF, 1 NP]

This just goes to show how a bad start to your season can have a considerable effect on the chances for Championships. Ferrari had the same problem last year and it is being repeated this year too. Last year it cost Micheal Schumacher the WDC and this year, it will cost Kimi Raikkonnen too...barring a miracle.

But, whoever wins this year...he can be proud and he will be deserved winner.

Bring on the Old Monk...


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