This is a different post to the one I thought I might write. I was going to comment that, for all the excitement of this season, the variability of tyres, team performance and occasional mishaps were making it difficult to assess the contribution being made by the drivers. Which drivers are really performing and which are being either flattered or frustrated by circumstances beyond their control?
However, I then took a look at the top of the Championship leader board: Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton. That looked about right. You might debate the order, but few would disagree that the three champions have been the most impressive performers of the year. Raikkonen is just a step further behind, as he has been in the last couple of races, with Webber and Button bubbling under. It is reassuring that, even in a season of total unpredictability, the cream, ultimately rises to the top. This was well illustrated at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. Alonso took his previously wayward Ferrari to third, then second, on the grid and within a sniff of victory. Vettel recovered well from a drive through penalty and Red Bull rhinoplasty. Hamilton responded with maturity to the loss of pole and demotion to the back of the grid, for which he was blameless, and drove a race of beautifully balanced aggression with tyre and pit stop austerity.
The same was true back in 1983. Prost, Tamby and Arnoux all made a pitch for the title, with Alboreto, Watson, Patrese and Rosberg also in the winners’ circle, but, in the end, Piquet and Brabham were worthy winners of the driver’s crown.
None of the above is to deny Maldonado and Williams their moment of Spanish triumph, which was about as unexpected as Bernie Ecclestone announcing that he is renouncing all his worldly goods and joining the Poor Sisters order.
With Monaco next, Hamilton is the favourite to join the 5 winners so far, but there are at least 2-3 other drivers – Webber, Raikkonen and, possibly, Grosjean – who it would be surprising if they don’t also win a race sometime soon. Whoever ultimately wins this year’s F1 title (and I’m still betting on one of the experienced champions) will certainly have earned it against a fiercely competitive field.
FORMULA ONE MUM