Time Heals All Wounds (Or So They Say)Posted: February 2, 2013
Well not really, but whatever. It has been some time since I have put my hands on the keyboard to blog. I think it was in September when things started to go south and no one wants to listen to a cranky blogger. The problem is that this blogger is so invested in his team and driver, not only the highs but also the lows are incredibly intense. Winning feels f–ng great, losing just plan sucks, and it doesn’t get much more intense than starting the season with a slow car, overcoming that with skill and luck to take and hold the lead through most of the season, but still ending up three points down from the same team and driver that beat you the last two years. Ugh.
I have to say this one hurt even more than 2010. In that year Fernando made some serious mistakes, and as he very graciously said after the season was over, our season was not lost in the last race (I’m paraphrasing here). It was generous of him to excuse the strategist that made the wrong decision in calling Fernando into the pits to cover Mark Weber instead of staying out and following the leaders. Fernando got stuck behind Vitelli Petrov and his race and championship ended right there.
In 2012 Alonso was mistake-free, capitalized on every opportunity that was given to him, and produced three wins in a car his teammate Felipe Massa could barely get around the track. Some would call the coming together with Kimi Raikkonen in Japan an error, but I disagree. Kimi was behind and he didn’t leave enough room. A simple coming together. When cars are that close, there is bound to be contact. No big surprise there. What was also not surprising, Alonso drove at the highest level all year long, and once again managed to drive his car far beyond its true mechanical ability.
But you don’t have to take my opinion. Let’s ask the F1 team principals. Oh wait, somebody already did: “A poll of all the team heads carried out by Britain’s Autosport magazine, with each asked to list their top 10 and award points according to grand prix scoring, placed Alonso first with 269 and Vettel second on 198.” It goes on to say “The Spaniard, who won his two titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, was also voted best driver in 2010 when Vettel took his first championship.” (Here is the link to the full article from YallaF1: http://www.yallaf1.com/2012/12/14/f1-team-bosses-vote-alonso-their-driver-of-the-year/ )
One last point of interest on this poll. Of the 12 teams, eight voted for Alonso and four did not. Question to the universe: Red Bull’s manufacturer partner Renault supplies engines to how many teams? Answer from the universe: four. Enough said on that point.
And then there’s the people’s poll taken in the London Daily Telegraph. Alonso was voted driver of the year as well, 61.91% to Sebastian Vettel’s 21.56%. That’s coming from a country that has little love for Alonso stemming from the acrimonious year that he was teammates with beloved English driver Lewis Hamilton. Although Alonso and Lewis have buried the carbon fiber hatchet, from what I can tell in the F1 blogosphere most English fans have not followed Hamilton’s lead on this one.
Now it is 2013. Everyone is rested, batteries recharged. I feel slightly better, well not really, but whatever. It still smarts. But hopefully Ferrari has a better car to start its 2013 campaign. Nowhere to go but up, right? They started last year 1.5 seconds off the pace so surely they can’t do worse than that.
Last year I thought Alonso was having good luck despite having the bad luck of driving a crappy car. That luck lasted all year, right up until it didn’t. Until it ran out. Until Red Bull’s luck changed (along with the rear end of the car, curtisy of Adrian Newey’s brilliance) and they finished in front. So Vettel is champion three times, a record for his age and it’s been a long time since that has been done. You can never take away what that means. Winning in Formula One is a difficult task just in a single race, let alone consistently enough in a season to win top honors. Two years, unbelievably difficult. Three years in a row, better odds that you win the Mega Millions Lottery. Just kidding on that one but you get the idea, it’s f–ing, f–ing hard. So I’ll congratulate Red Bull and Vettel on a deserving win. But make no mistake: Alonso on balance drove better. And that is what I have to say about that. At the time of this post we have 46 days, 6 hours, and 20 seconds to go baby, and it is ON. Look out! –jp