Alonso Champion Again
The Brazilian Grand Prix was an exciting end to a season that became nerve-wracking towards the end. Strangely enough, Michael Schumacher’s puncture actually added to the tension, bringing back memories of other races where he has seemed to be out of contention only to win in the end. Had things gone to plan, Michael would have won, Massa come in second and Alonso third; in other words the net result would still have been Alonso’s second championship.
So the race delivered beyond expectation. Massa won, to the delight of all Brazil, Fernando collected his second championship in a row, Michael supplied us with yet another determined drive all the way from last to fourth and Jenson Button underlined his potential for greatness next year by grabbing a podium spot. What more could we ask for?
There were sad tales as well; Williams ended one of their worst ever years by their drivers colliding on the first lap and Toyota remained consistent, shooting themselves in the foot (well, okay, the rear suspension) and exiting stage left very early on. Kimi Raikkonen did his best but the McLaren was just not up to the task of beating the front runners on the day; fifth was a poor reward after a long, hard season for him.
So now the accolades and reviews of Michael Schumacher’s astounding career begin. Such has been his stature in the sport that his leaving has overshadowed Alonso’s achievement of the 2006 championship. But some remembered Fernando and Autosport magazine has an interesting interview with Damon Hill and Jackie Stewart in which they assess Alonso’s skills.
Damon Hill: “He’s a very determined competitor, and I like that. I’m sort of riding with him a little bit when I watch him drive.
“In Suzuka, he was just pounding away at Michael. I think he broke Michael. The car broke. It had to break some day.
“Michael has had six years without an engine failure, but put under serious pressure for lots of laps and something had to give.”
Jackie Stewart: “Of the 22 Grand Prix drivers there’s usually only about six that are really, really good. And out of those six there are usually only three extraordinary talents at one time. And out of those three there is generally only one genius at any one time.
“For a short window of time there might have been Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna together, but that was a rare occasion.
“There is generally only one genius at any one time and I think you’re going to see Alonso taking on that mantle.
“I think the time has come when it is clear that Alonso is tomorrow and Michael is yesterday.”
Food for thought. And one more thought from me: on Sunday we may have seen an instance of the FIA at last bowing a little to common sense. It is well known that the practise of the winner accepting his national flag from a fan and then waving it on his slowing down lap was banned several years ago. So, when Massa did exactly that, I think we must all have held our breath in anticipation of dire penalties being imposed by the officials. Yet so far there has been nothing; perhaps the FIA decided to be looking the other way at the moment of Felipe’s achievement of a lifelong ambition.