Is there any sport more fickle than Formula One?
Following the first two races of the season, Nico Rosberg was variously accused of being a F1 choker, unable to string a decent qualifying run together when it mattered; failing to win after 110 attempts, shaming his World Champion father’s name and being shown the way by his elderly retainer team mate at Mercedes. After his excellent China win, apparently, everyone always knew that Nico was a huge talent, with the potential to be a multiple race winner and future World Champion, who was previously held back only by the poor quality of equipment at his disposal.
After his run to second in Malaysia, ‘Checo’ Perez enjoyed a similar transformation, from obscure mid-field runner and tyre preservation specialist, to virtually being fitted out for a Ferrari race suit. Sebastian Vettel experienced the reverse trajectory from semi-deity to under pressure “cry baby”. Lewis Hamilton’s reputation seems to swing around like a weather vane, largely dependent on whether he cracks a smile or not.
Admittedly, there are other sports with reputations for inconsistency. Football is notoriously impatient, particularly of managers. However, most managers get at least 5-6 matches (3-4 if they manage Chelsea) before their reputations are trashed. Even the England manager usually gets the chance to fail spectacularly in one major tournament before his head is replaced by a root vegetable.
American sport is also famously capricious, with whole teams shifting identities and locations overnight. The Wichita Wombats can become the Baltimore Beavers in the time it takes the ink to dry on a franchise contract. However, America sport tends to be sentimental – almost anyone with a pulse who played professional sport in America ultimately makes it into one ‘Hall of Fame’ or another.
Only in Formula One is it literally true that you’re only as good as your last race.
There is, of course, always one exception to prove the rule. In this case, one driver whose reputation never seems to vary. It appears that Fernando Alonso could spin off the track, crash through the barriers, ram raid an orphanage and run off with their teddy bears and the commentators would still say: “And their goes Alonso, the most complete driver in Formula One.” Annoyingly, they’d probably be right.
FORMULA ONE MUM