The Invisible Autocrosser

June 19, 2013 at 10:53 pm

For the past several weeks, I have joined millions of other Americans in being glued to the NBA playoffs and finals, as well as the race to the Stanley Cup in the NHL. Throughout all of this, I have been inundated with commercials showcasing athletes at their fiercest, pushing their bodies beyond the limits of endurance and replenishing valuable electrolytes with a plethora of Gatorade products.

I get it. They are the top of the physical specimen foodchain and deserve close-ups of battle scars and dripping sweat. But through all of this, I notice every commercial showcases most major sports leagues, even those that are months away from championship-caliber events. So here’s my question: where are the drivers?

E30 autocross

After autocrossing for the first time this season last weekend, I’m reminded how on even the most basic level, racing is exhausting. The level of concentration it demands. The way it forces you to improve every few minutes. The unpredictability of piloting a 3,000 lbs. hunk of steel as your primary means of improving your times. Memorizing a course after a brief walk-through. Analyzing what you did wrong in a five-minute break before you go back on the course and try to shave a tenth of a second off your last run. And so on.

Do I need to train for five hours a day, develop a ridiculous diet and hire a coach? No, but professional drivers do. And it’s about time they were represented in the media more widely than Ken Block and his various knock-offs. Hopefully, movies like Ron Howard’s forthcoming creation Drive will open some eyes to the grueling and competitive nature of major-league racing such as Formula 1. For now, I would like to see your average high-school soccer player settle into an ancient rear-wheel drive coupe and try not to sweat when navigating the Chicago Box.

A Road with Many Turns – Why there are no Americans in F1 Part III

June 12, 2013 at 11:40 am


Part II left off in 1995 when Elton Julian’s possible ride at Larrousse vanished due to financial reasons. 1995 can be seen as the turning point in the CART/F1 war with the emergence of the Indy Racing League (which could be another multi part post in itself). The emergence of the IRL divided open wheel racing in America which destroyed the power CART had as it no longer had the Indy 500 and allowed Nascar to develop into the 800 pound gorilla it became. The fall of CART and the rise of Nascar caused a change in direction in the development of young racers in America. Young drivers who wanted to be rich, famous and race in the biggest series only thought of Nascar as sponsors and manufacturers began throwing money at the series.

By the end of 90’s, CART was still offered great racing, but was no longer a threat to F1. It was now seen as a second rate series where there were some talented American’s racing against foreign drivers who were either “rejected” from F1 or waiting for an F1 seat to open up.

One of the criticisms of F1 during this time period was that in order for F1 to be a true World Championship, it needed to have a race in America. Many of sponsors and manufacturers in F1 viewed America as one of if not their biggest market. In 2000, F1 returned to America in 2000 with the USGP at Indy. Yes, the famed brickyard built a road course inside the oval. Perhaps it was Bernie Ecclestone’s way of saying thank you to Indianapolis Motor Speedway boss and IRL creator Tony George for starting the IRL and destroying CART.

The first USGP was a major success with and estimated crowd of 225,000 which is estimated to be the largest attendance for a Grand Prix in the modern era. The races after however were less attended and featured controversies such as the 2002 Ferrari “Dead Heat” and the 2005 race where all the Michelin teams withdrew after the formation lap leaving only six Bridgestone shod cars left to run the race. The 2007 race was the last USGP held at IMS due to dwindling attendance, the high sanction fees of having a Grand Prix and lack of a title sponsor

In 1997, Red Bull entered the US market. Red Bull was already know to fans european racing as it sponsored teams and drivers in a wide variety of series including F1. Trying to link their passion for racing with their new market of America; in 2002 Red Bull teamed up retired CART star and former F1 driver Danny Sullivan to create the Red Bull Driver Search. The program’s goal was to create an American F1 Champion, by taking young American talent and develop them in the open wheel racing ladder with Red Bull backing.

One of the first driver’s chosen was young karter with the perfect name for a racing driver: Scott Speed. Speed was a young karting star from California who had shown promise by winning the Formula Russell Championship in 2001. In addition to living up to his name, Speed was young, good looking, personable and very much an individual; the type of driver Red Bull could easily market.

Speed’s first year under Red Bull’s wing was a disaster. Speed was running in British F3 championship when he began suffering from Ulcerative Colitis and had to return to the US to take care of his condition. 2004 was a better year for Speed as he won Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup and the German Formula Renault championship in Red Bull colors. For 2005, Speed was promoted to GP2 and finished 3rd in the Championship. In addition to his Gp2 duties, Speed also acted as the Red Bull F1 team’s test driver at Canadian and US GP’s.

By 2005 it looked as if the US would finally have an American in F1 with Speed having success in the European Formula ladder, something an American hadn’t done in many years. Speed with combination of talent, Red Bull backing and the need for F1 to make ground in the US had a solid chance at being in F1.

Speed was not the only young talent Red Bull had under their wings. By 2005, it seemed as if 90% the young promising driver’s on earth were involved in the Red Bull Junior Program. In 2005, Red Bull bought the struggling Minardi F1 team and re named it Toro Rosso. Toro Rosso acted as junior team to Red Bull’s main F1 squad. A place where there young talent could develop in F1 without being on the main squad.

For 2006, Speed was a Toro Rosso driver, a team part owned by Red Bull and run by Franz Tost and Gerhard Berger. Speed and Toro Rosso struggled with reliability and crashes, usually finishing in the bottom half of the table. As the season went on it became clearer that he was favorite son of the Red Bull duo of owner Dietrich Mateschitz and racing guru Dr. Helmut Marko and not team principles Tost and Berger.

In 2007 was beginning of the end, Speed was confirmed as a Toro Rosso driver late in the pre-season and was tipped by many to be on the hot seat. Speed suffered with poor reliability and crashes. Speed’s time as an F1 driver would end with European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

Tension were high in the Toro Rosso camp between the drivers (Speed and Tonio Liuzzi) and Team Principles Tost and Berger. Speed went public with the tension telling the media that weekend that the team was trying to get rid of him and Liuzzi. The principles blamed the drivers for team underperforming while the driver’s blamed the car and poor management.

As for the race, Speed started 18th on the grid. One highlight of Speed and the Toro Rosso was that they worked well in the wet. Earlier in the season, Speed had been the fastest in a wet session at the Monaco GP. The European GP became a rain soaked race, Speed worked his way up from is lowly starting position a up to 6th when everything began to unravel.

The Toro Rosso pit crew expected Liuzzi to come in first and fumbled Speed’s pit stop, over a minute was lost during Speed’s pit stop. During this long stop, the rain became worse. After his pit stop, racing into turn one. Speed followed five other cars into the gravel trap. After this, the race was red flagged and Speed was forced to retire.

When returning to his garage, an upset Speed was met by a just as upset Tost. Tost yelled at Speed for crashing and Speed in return yelled at Tost for the botched  pit stop. When Speed turned away, he was then punched in the back by Tost, Speed walked away and was then grabbed by Tost and shoved against a garage wall. Speed moved into the center of the garage and in front of the whole team told Tost that if he wanted to punch him to do it in front of the whole team. Tost declined, Speed then told Berger that if Tost ever touched him again he would knock him out.

On July 31st, Speed was released from his Toro Rosso contract and replaced by Sebastian Vettel (what ever happened to him). It would be the last time that an American would be part of the driver line up (not counting 3rd and test driver’s) for an F1 team.

So why did something that seemed so promising go so wrong? First, the shotgun marriage of the team and drivers was a failure with Tost and Berger being “forced” to take young Red Bull drivers. In association with that there were differences in why the team was not performing up to expectations. Team management blamed the drivers while driver’s said the car was not able to do what was expected.

Second, one of the criticisms of Speed in the wake of the everything that had gone wrong was his demeanor. Speed’s confident attitude was received by some as cock and arrogant. Acclaimed F1 Pundit Peter Windsor blamed Red Bull driver coaching and development in part for Speed’s failure in that Speed wasn’t self critical enough. Windsor noted that Red Bull driver’s have not been taught self assessment and blame others for the lack of result.

While Speed may have burnt the Red Bull F1 bridge, they were not ready to let go of their investment. After F1, Speed with Red Bull backing started a Nascar career. The Red Bull/Speed Nascar partnership was unsuccessful and Speed was released by the Red Bull team at the end of 2009. Speed currently drives for a backmarker team in the Sprint Cup series.

The F1 circus would return to US in 2012 with the Austin Grand Prix with no American F1 drivers on the grid which takes us to Part IV. Is there anyone on the horizon and what will it take to get an American into F1.

A Road with Many Turns – Why there are no Americans in F1 – Part II

May 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm
Al Jr. Tests the Williams

Al Jr. Tests the Williams

If you can’t beat them, get them and embarrass them

In the early 1990’s the world had two top open wheel series to pick from. In the old world, F1 was the grand stage and the new world had the ever growing CART; with full grids, star drivers, competitive racing and expansion into Australia, a place that was once the domain of F1.

One thing that Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t like, is something that could fight F1 in being the premier motor racing category. When the World Sportscar Championship threatened F1, Bernie got the rules changed so that the cars had F1 powerplants which increased costs and gave him a chance to say to manufacturers “Hey, you’re wasting your money in sportscars, come to F1, you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck. And what do you know, you already have an engine”. While the World Sportscar Championship was under the thumb of the FIA, CART wasn’t.

The threat became greater when Nigel Mansell, F1’s reigning world champion after a fallout with Williams over a new contract decided to retire from F1 and drive for Newman Hass in CART for the 1993 season. The international interest in the series exploded with the ever polarizing Mansell winning the CART championship in his red number 5 Lola-Ford.

In December of 1992, Ayrton Senna, one of greatest driver’s of all time was distraught over the state of F1. He was upset that a driver of his great talent could not beat a driver of much lesser talent in the gizmo laden Williams. His offer to drive for Williams for “free” in 1993 was rejected as Alan Prost had a clause in his contract not allowing for Senna to be his teammate for the 1993 season; leaving his only option to be back at McLaren which would be using a customer Ford engine for the ’93 season (note: Senna drove for McLaren on a race by race contract in 1993 with his rumored salary per race being over one million dollars).

Senna was then invited by his great friend, CART star and two time world championship Emerson Fittipaldi to test his Penske. Senna accepted the invitation which was made easier as he was in reality a free agent and two of his biggest sponsors (Marlboro and Hugo Boss) were also Penske sponsors. Senna drove the Penske at Firebird and enjoyed the experience. He refereed to the Penske as being a human car, a car that relied on the skill of the driver and not a computer.

It was then decided the best way to destroy CART was to steal it’s best drivers. In 1992, Al Unser Jr and Michael Andretti, two second  generation drivers and CART’s two biggest stars attempted to cross the Atlantic and try their hands at F1.

1992 was the year of Al Jr. He had won the Indy 500 and was arguably the best road racer in America. Unser had a seat fitting with Bennetton but rejected their offer because it was half of what he was making in CART. Little Al also tested the Williams in Portugal and was quicker then Riccardo Patrese and then test driver Damon Hill (who would get the seat for 1993). After the test Junior went to the Williams factory to make a deal to race the car in 1993 but was rudely turned down by team principle Frank Williams and Technical Director Patrick Head. Unser would stay in CART and go onto win the championship and the Indy 500 for Roger Penske in 1994.

Andretti signed for McLaren in late 1992 for the 1993 season. At this point, McLaren were no longer the dominant team in F1. Their engine supplier Honda, had pulled out of F1 leaving them customer Ford’s and they fell behind in the technology race to Williams. McLaren had also signed Mika Hakkinen in case Senna decided he didn’t want to race. A few other factors went against Andretti in that he decided not to live in Europe and instead flew to races and testing. Also, testing rules had changed for 1993 leaving Andretti not enough time to gain experience at the F1 tracks and the gizmo laden cars which were the opposite of his CART Lola’s.

The 1993 season started off as a disaster for Andretti as he completed only three laps in three races. His results improved but was then sacked after the Grand Prix of Italy in Monza. He went back to CART for 1994, driving for Chip Ganassi and winning the first race of the season beating Nigel Mansell.

Andretti later said that he was put in a position to fail at McLaren and in F1. Andretti claims the car was sabotaged by McLaren staff and that Bernie and McLaren Principle Ron Dennis conspired to the make the season a disaster. Andretti later commented that the F1 paddock viewed CART as a threat and the best way to make them look bad was to have a CART star fail in F1.

In 1994 there were no Americans in F1, in 1995 Elton Julian, an American who came though the European racing ladder and had tested several times for the Larrousse team in 1994 was a candidate for a race seat. Sadly the Larrousse closed its doors due to financial issues right before the start of the 1995 season.

As the decade reached it’s halfway point the last thing American road racers were thinking about was going to F1.

Part 3 – A return to America and mysterious lack of Speed


A Road with Many Turns – Why There Are No Americans in F1 – Part 1

May 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

mears brabham

A discussion that can be kicked around for ages by American F1 fans is Why are there no Americans’ in F1. Truly, there has to be drivers in the US who are talented enough to compete at what many consider the pinnacle of motor racing. Doesn’t F1 in it’s quest to be a global brand have to have an American driver? In this multi part post, we’ll take a look at where we’ve been, why we are where we are and what would it take to get an American into F1.

A la CART?

Thanks or blame (depending on who you are) Bernie Ecclestone for making F1 into the hybrid of the highly exclusive country club/grand corporate spectacle that it is today. Gone are the days when a team could buy a competitive chassis from March or McLaren, put a Cosworth DFV in the back and select a few races to run and with a good driver, have more than a puncher’s chance of being competitive.

In addition to buying a competitive car, driver’s raced multiple series at a time. There was a point when Mark Donohue in the early 70’s was running Can-Am one weekend, USAC the next, the Trans-Am and then the occasional F1 race thrown in. With the cost of racing going up, teams began to protect their investments and have their drivers sign exclusive contracts; everyone was now stuck to one series which didn’t allow opportunities like drivers such as Revson, Donohue, Lunger and Folmer had in F1 in the 70’s.

The emergence of CART and the F1 Concorde Agreement in the early 80’s can be seen as when the fate of American drivers and teams jumping in and out of F1 began to be sealed. F1 was now an exclusive club and CART gave American’s a well paid, organized and prestigious series on their home soil. The door for American racers to F1 was offically slammed in 1980 when Rick Mears tested for Brabham (whose owner was…Bernie Ecclestone). Mears tested for Brabham twice and was fast as their world champion driver Nelson Piquet. An offer was given to Mears but Mears declined it. According to the way the story has been told, a number was in the contract that Mears (who at this point was a CART star and probably the most talented driver in America) thought he would be paid, but instead it was the amount that Bernie wanted him to bring to the team for the seat.

While the 80’s rolled on, CART began to look a bit like what F1 looked liked before Bernie, there were top teams but a team could buy a competitive chassis and engine and with right preparation and driver could be competitive. F1 became a place of the have and have nots, with only a handful of teams at the sharp end of grid. Foreign drivers began coming to CART in late 80’s/early 90 as they could be in a competitive car and get paid instead of being at the tail end of the F1 grid paying for a ride.

By the early 90’s CART was the best racing series in the world with a full competitive grid and was beginning to make a global expansion that had started with the Surfer’s Paradise race in 1991. It had stolen F1’s thunder in the US starting in 1984 when the Long Beach Grand Prix became a CART fixture, while the F1 race in American finally died out with Phoenix in 1991. Any American star was now in CART with a competitive ride and a multi million dollar retainer. The last American in F1 during this time was Eddie Cheever. An American who had grown up in Rome, Cheever was talented driver who spent his F1 career driving for mid pack teams. At the end of 1989, Cheever left F1 and joined CART running for Chip Ganassi’s team.

As the 90’s began there we no Americans in F1 as CART had all the American stars and was starting compete as a global rival to F1,

Coming Soon – Part II – The Biggest is the Smallest.

Ruthless Champions

April 3, 2013 at 7:03 pm


Search for a definition of the word “ruthless” and you find it to mean “having no compassion for others or showing pity”. Perhaps when we try to define the greats of racing (especially those of the past thirty years) we can put ruthless next to car control, outright speed and the ability to adapt to conditions.

Go through the list of driver’s who have a won multiple world championships over the past thirty years and each can be defined as being ruthless in one way or another: Lauda, Prost, Senna, Piquet, Schumacher, Alonso and now add Sebastian Vettel to the list after the muti-21 incident. It’s possible that being ruthless is the key component that separates the very good from the great.

In a Motorsport Magazine podcast in 2012, Derrek Warwick told stories about the ruthless nature of two of the greats mentioned above. In 1986, Warwick had agreed in principle to drive for Lotus that season only to have Senna block him from being on the team. Senna viewed Warwick as a threat due to talent and being a British driver on a British team and instead approved of Johnny Dumfries (a decent driver in his own right but not on the level of Warwick). In 1991 Warwick nearly came to blows with Michael Schumacher after a week in which Warwick’s younger brother was killed in a British F3000 race and Schumacher chopped Derrek off while he was going for pole during a World Championship sportscar round. Warwick said Schumacher was only allowed to race the next day if he apologized to Warwick. which according to Warwick he did in a half hearted mumble.

The stories go on and on about the ruthlessness of these driver’s: Piquet saying Senna was a homosexual and the verbally abusing Nigel Mansell and his wife, Prost putting the pressure on to get Senna DQ’ed from the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix, etc.

The rise of ruthlessness has much to do with decrease of ethics, standards and romanticism of Grand Prix racing. No longer is it pedestal which all is measured against but just another show.


Multi 2112

March 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm
These two men will not be sharing a Red Bull together anytime soon

These two men will not be sharing a Red Bull together anytime soon


“Multi 21”. The order that Sebastian Vettel chose not to obey by his Red Bull team when he was instructed to hold his position behind his teammate Mark Webber at the GP of Malaysia. Red Bull gave the order for their driver’s to hold their positions, instead Vetel passed Webber and took a very hollow win that brings back memories of when Didier Pironi went against orders to pass his teammate Gilles Villeneuve and take the win at Imola in 1982 (a move which many feel led to Gilles’ death at Zolder).

I don’t think Webber will be killed at the next Grand Prix, but Vettel,the once innocent smiling schoolboy has become the ruthless villain; this all sounds very like another multi time world champion from Germany, one M. Schumacher. This incident was so terrible that even Red Bull racing guru Helmut Marko, a man who sees the world through Vettel glasses hasn’t been as defensive as Vettel as he normally is.

The question, how does Red Bull handle this? They have created a monster in Vettel, allowing him get whatever he wants and not facing responsibility or consequences for his actions. What action do they take? It’s inconceivable that they would suspend their star driver and best chance at a title. Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz was not at all pleased with what happened and it’s supposedly been made clear to Sebastian that something like this won’t happen again.

But is it too little too late? Vettel has been groomed  by Red Bull since age 11, is 25, a three time world champion  and is rumored to have contract with Red Bull through 2016 while his teammate is 36 and on a one year deal.The team has been built around Vettel and he is their best chance of title so it’s possible that they may have to reap what they sow. How will the team react going forward? Will equal focus be placed on both cars now that they have much compassion for Webber? In regards to Red Bull team orders, are there any? Is it open warfare? Will one driver help the other late in the season if it came down to winning a title? If I were Webber I may think long and hard if Vettel needs help later in the season.

As for Webber, I’m saddened for him, there were rumors going around after what happened in Malaysia that was going to quit the team immediately but those have been denied by Webber’s father who has been vocal about the support his son has received from the team and from the entire F1 paddock. Let it be noted that Webber is one of the more beloved driver’s in the current crop while Vettel isn’t. Webber came up the hard way to F1 with stops at F3000, Sportscars and Minardi and has the image of being tough customer but also a team player. Perhaps Mark now regrets not signing with Ferrari and having Alonso as his teammate.

This brings up the question of team orders, which is a messy gray area. It’s something I’ve gone back and forth about. To me the one team order that should always apply is “Don’t crash your teammate” (something Vettel has done to Webber). I understand team orders late in the season when one driver is in contention for the championship while the other isn’t. The difference is that what happened took place at the second race of the season and isn’t the point of racing to win and beat the guy ahead of you?

Give ’em the bird

March 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm
Less twitter, more this

Less twitter, more this

Nascar was the first form of racing I fell in love with when I was four years old. As young child watching races on ESPN the colors and speed of the cars was my first step into loving motorsport. However, over the past few years I’ve become a bit discouraged with the sport I grew up loving. A majority of the races are 50-100 laps too long, the tracks are cookie cutter and many of the driver’s have become whinny babies.

My major annoyance with Nascar has been the passive aggressive nature of drivers and the use of twitter in their feuds. The latest example has been the Denny Hamlin/Joey Logano feud where the two have decided to feud less in person and on the track but more on twitter. Hamlin recently tweeted a remark about if Logano had an issue with him he has his “DM” and other social media/texting info.

I’m terribly sorry, but I can’t picture Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace or Cale Yarborough and the Allison brother’s stooping to such passive aggressive levels in their feuds back in the day. Driver’s tweeting feuds doesn’t excite fans; two driver’s running into each other during a race and having words after the race with a little pushing and shoving does. Then to really get the blood flowing, after the words and pushing, blasting each other on the track PA, to the TV cameras and to the media so it’s in the Monday morning sports section.

Remember this is a sport that many would say made it to the mainstream when Cale Yarborough fought the Allison brothers on live national TV during the 1979 Daytona 500. Hardly anyone remembers who won the race  but everyone remembers the fight.

Over the past few years there has been a decline in attendance and sponsorship dollars in Nascar. My solution is simple: ban the driver’s from twitter except for news related items, fan interaction and sponsor promotion. Have driver’s feud the way the legends of the sport did who allow the current breed of drivers to have multi-million dollar salaries and private jets.

Fuel for your thoughts

March 18, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Originally I was planning on talking about what occurred between Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano this weekend at the Sprint Cup race at Bristol and their lame twitter war. I was going to write a post explaining how lame it is for these guys to basically give each other the modern day glove slap with no real venom and substance. When thinking about it, I realized my post would come off sounding like the transcript of a Ward Burton interview while on a Red Bull binge, so I saved it for later this week.

Instead I decided to post some of my favorite bench racing “what if” questions.

– What if Senna isn’t killed at Imola, how do the next few seasons shape up? Does Schumacher go to Ferrari in 1996? It was always believed that Senna would drive for Ferrari at some point.

-What if Henri Toivonen isn’t killed at the 1986 Tour de Course? Does he go on to be one of the all time greats? A multi time World Championship or the pre-McRae McRae? Does Group B continue and what happens to the proposed Group S?

-What if Al Holbert isn’t killed? Does his proposed open top Porsche GTP car get built and do Nissan and Toyota enjoy their dominance? Do we see the 959 in the US as a legal production car? How does the Porsche Indy Car program turn out?

-What if Tim Richmond doesn’t die of AIDS? How many championships does he win? Does he become Nascar’s first real mainstream star?

-What if Dale Earnhardt isn’t killed at the 2001 Daytona 500? How many more years does he continue to race? Does the “3” remain in Cup today? Does Dale Jr. ever leave DEI and would he be a champion by now?

– What if Indy Car owners didn’t stop caring about the talent in Sprint Cars? Would Jeff Gordon be a multi time Indy 500 champion? Would Nascar be as big as it is if the 24 was still racing open wheel cars?

-Speaking of Open Wheel cars, what if greedy owners and Tony George didn’t destroy what was the best racing series in the world in the 1990’s? Would CART be bigger than Nascar?

Who to Support

March 17, 2013 at 1:12 am
Leave him alone, he knows what he's doing

Leave him alone, he knows what he’s doing

With the start of the 2013 Formula 1 season, a question has come to mind that I haven’t put as much thought into as I should have over the previous seasons: Who am I rooting for? Ever since the likes of Prost, Hakkinen and Montoya left the F1 paddock I haven’t had a driver I really root for. There are drivers I like more than others but I decided now was the time to figure who I would really start rooting for.

I first though about Jensen Button; as time has gone on my thoughts on Button have changed. A first I viewed him as too much talent too soon and he wasted it at BAR only to be saved by Ross Brawn. When he jumped to Mclaren I expected him to get swallowed up in what was Lewis Hamilton’s team. I was dead wrong as it was Jensen who developed into the poor man’s Alan Prost and it was Lewis who took the money and ran to Mercedes.

I grew up a huge Prost fan and Jensen on his day is the modern day Prost; driving the perfectly calculated race with minimal wear to the car or tires. Those days however don’t occur enough for me to really root for Jensen, as there are times he’s completely lost out there in a top-flight car (see the second half of the Brawn year and points of his Mclaren career).

My next thought was Jensen’s former teammate Lewis Hamilton. Make no mistake, Lewis is possibly the most naturally gifted driver in F1 right now however I’ve never really warmed up to Lewis as a person. To me he gives off the vibe of being entitled; here is a driver that was taken under the wing of Mclaren at a young age and given the best equipment at whatever level of racing he was at. Whenever things went wrong at Mclaren it was never Lewis doing some soul searching but instead blaming others. Perhaps this shows with Jensen entering what was Lewis’ team at Mclaren and now Jensen remains while Lewis took the money and moved over to Mercedes.

Speaking of money, I feel Lewis is set to become the next David Beckham (he shares the same XIX Entertainment management as Becks) in that it’s all about building the brand “Lewis” and making as much money as possible. Here are two athletes first known for their success in their sport but are later known for being a brand.

So what about the man Lewis considers his main rival: Fernando Alonso. If Lewis is the most naturally gifted driver in F1, Fernando is the most complete driver in the paddock. A man who never puts a wheel wrong and can take a sub par car and make it a winner. It’s a bit shocking to realize that his last world championship occurred in 2006.

Despite his talent, controversy tends to follow Fernando where he goes especially during his Mclaren year and the Renault crashgate scandal; the former being the biggest turnoff in thoughts of supporting Alonso, however the talent is to be respected.

This takes me to the three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. I find Vettel to be a bit like another multi-time German world champion, one Michael Schumacher. Like Schumy during the Ferrari years, he’s a great (but maybe not the most complete driver in the field) in what is the superior car in the field. I’m not knocking Vettel as he was identified as future star long before he joined the F1 paddock. He also shares with Schumy that smiling face with a demon inside that says: “I’m going to have the best of everything and I don’t care about  my teammate” feeling. Perhaps it’s what makes the greats.

For me, Vettel’s turnoff is Red Bull. As much as the team publically denies it, he is their number one driver and they will gladly screw Mark Webber for him (see Silverstone 2010).

That brings me to the man who offered the quote of the 2012 F1 season when he told his team to leave him alone as he knew what he was doing: Kimi Raikkonen, the driver I will be rooting for.

What I love about Kimi is that he’s human, he’s flawed. The great Nigel Roebuck one said that the Ferrari team felt they only got a handful of great drives out of Kimi when he was with them. He doesn’t have the desire to give his heart and soul 24/7/365 to F1 and would like to go out on the town and maybe wakeup once in a while with a hangover.

He’s a maverick who was born in wrong era, a man who should be been a contemporary of Hunt instead of running a tribute Hunt helmet. Kimi is not interested on stealing the show at the Autosport awards like Vettel or building the brand like Lewis. Kimi just wants to show up, drive the car, win the race and go home. For a man who has made a lot of money in racing, I don’t think Kimi is motivated by money alone, I do think he wants to be fairly compensated, have competitive equipment and left alone.

Lotus, is the ideal place for Kimi. He’s not under the thumb of Ron Dennis and required to be the perfect driver on and off the track like his Mclaren days nor does he have to be the driver that motivates the workforce and all of Italy like what is required of a Ferrari star driver. At Lotus, Kimi is left to being Kimi, driving the car and that is all.

I’ll be a realistic, I don’t expect Kimi to win every race, there will be weekends when he’s off but the weekends he’s on. I will cheer him on and enjoy the last human star in F1.


2013 F1 Predictions

March 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Alonso 2012


With the 2013 F1 season kicking off this weekend down under, it’s time to make some predictions.

– Either Sebastien Vettel or Fernando Alonso will win the world championship. If Ferrari can give Alonso a car 85% as good as the Red Bull, Alonso will the world champion. We saw how close Alonso was last year in a car many viewed as being fourth best on the grid. If the car isn’t there, expect Alonso to come close but not beat the combination of Vettel and Red Bull

– The surprise of the season will be Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber. I think there’s a good chance we’ll Nico on the box this year in the Sauber which has shown to be competitive in the right occasion and we’ve all see what Nico can do in cars like the Williams and Force India especially in Brasil.

-Hulkenberg will then take his success to Ferrari in 2014.

-The disappointment of the season will be Mclaren. With Hamilton gone, Paddy Lowe out the door and Sergio Perez in the team I see them being maybe the 4th or 5th best team on the grid behind Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and maybe Lotus. As much as I like Jensen Button, there are Grand Prix weekends where is non existent and I feel the Perez signing was more to do with sponsorship money than talent (I would have like to have seen a DiResta or one of the Nico’s in the car).

-Mercedes will win the bipolar award in 2013. With so much talent between Niki Lauda, Ross Brawn and the rest of the technical staff, Mercedes,Nico Rosberg and now Lewis Hamilton it’s either going to be the next superteam or a grand disaster. I do predict they will win races but at the same time there will problems and between Niki and Lewis someone will say something that will kick off a media soap opera.

– The constructors championship will come down to Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa, Roman Grosjean and Mark Webber. Out of all of them, I will take Webber as he’s the most consistent, so for me Red Bull wins the constructors crown.


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