Battle of the Driver Egos?

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia. Gran...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OK, I’m not proud of myself, but I needed to find some way of blocking out the seemingly constant coverage of the Euro 2012 football championships.  I have, instead, been watching the television programme Battle of the Brides.  This programme takes what should be the most special and spiritual day of a bride’s life and turns it into the emotional equivalent of a two car head on collision.  Just watching it makes you feel like a rubber-necker.  The premise of the show is that two brides are offered £25,000 to hold a joint wedding, but they must agree to choose the same style of dress, decor and entertainment.  Inevitably, the entertainment value relies on pairing brides with wholly incompatible wedding tastes.  So, for example, a black clad Goth will share her big day with a pink Barbie fan, or a bride who’s always dreamt of a Marie-Antoinette style historical wedding will find herself walking down the aisle dressed in a Star Trek uniform and with her ring being carried by a remote controlled K-9 robot dog.

All this is by way of preamble to a word or two about the current discussion of the unlikely coupling of two of Formula One’s current three leaders of the pack, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.   According to the speculation, Ferrari are reportedly playing a version of “Snog, Marry, Avoid” in deciding their future driver line up.  There has been surprise expressed at current incumbent Alonso’s suggestion that he would be entirely relaxed with sharing the Ferrari motor home with either of his main rivals.  However, this is hardly a shocking revelation.  Which Formula 1 driver would say publicly that he doesn’t want to compete against a particular driver in the same car, even if he is manoeuvring behind the scenes to keep his competitor locked out?  No, the unexpected element of this scenario is that the Ferrari Team would consider this approach.  All suggestions are that Alonso is carrying the Italian team this year, so why upset the famously touchy toreador.  Also, for at least the past 15 years, the Prancing Horse team have been the ultimate exponents of the one trick pony approach to driver couplings.  The first line of any Ferrari no.2 contract since Eddie Irvine’s in 1996 has been “Michael / Fernando is faster than you.”

Alonso and Vettel or Alonso and Hamilton at Ferrari or, possibly even Vettel and Hamilton at Red Bull, would be fascinating, mouth watering prospects, if the various pre-nuptials could be agreed.  However, the previous experience of star driver pairings (Jones & Reutemann, Prost & Senna, Mansell & anyone else) does not bode well for much in the way of loving, honouring or obeying.

Of course the other player in these silly season shenanigans is the poor cast-off current partner, Felipe Massa.  Will he end up in the Ferrari equivalent of the First Wives Club, along with Giancarlo Fisichella and Luca Badoer?



Close, but….

Sergio Perez’s run to second in the Malaysian GP has me thinking about other occasions when a great race has resulted in a finish off of the top step of the podium:Jim Clark, 3rd Monza 1967 – Following a puncture Clark made up an entire lost lap to retake the lead, only to fall back to 3rd with gearbox problems.

Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux, 2nd and 3rd  Dijon 1979 – Famous as the one occasion when two F1 cars actually raced against each other, with passes, re-passes, wheel banging and mutual respect.  Great stuff.

Ayrton Senna and Stefan Bellof, 2nd and 3rd Monaco 1984 – Senna’s Toleman was catching Prost’s McLaren when the red flag came out, but who remembers that Bellof’s Tyrell was catching them both?

Rene Arnoux, 2nd Dallas 1984 – On a day that Prost, Lauda and Piquet all crashed, with a track surface made of porridge, Rene raced his Ferrari from last to second and got to meet Sue Ellen on the podium.

Alain Prost, 2nd Mexico 1986 – Finished 2nd despite a car “as bent as a banana”.  The 6 points turned out to be handy come the Championship showdown race in Australia.

Michael Schumacher, 2nd Spain 1994 – In his first F1 incarnation with Benetton, the German finished 2nd despite being stuck in 5th gear for most of the race.

Damon Hill, 2nd Hungry 1997 – I was never a Hill fan, but you can’t deny the achievement of almost winning in an Arrows – something the team didn’t do on 367 other occasions.

Lewis Hamilton, 2nd Turkey GP2 race 2006 – Not an F1 race, but one of the best comeback drives you’ll ever see.  Look up the highlights on You Tube.

Michael Schumacher, 4th Brazil 2006 – What a great way to end an F1 career; after a puncture, ‘Schumi’ drove from 19th to 4th place, including putting his Ferrari replacement , Kimi Riakkonen, well and truly in his place.

Giancarlo Fisichella, 2nd Belgium 2009 – The last time, pre-Perez, when a middle-to-back ranking team almost won a race.