Friday, June 12, 2009

Independence Day Writing Exercise

I'm running out of things to write about but I want to write and I don't mean I want to write as in work-write but write as in therapeutic writing. So for lack of good music, a good movie, good event or good anything to write about, I'm just gonna talk about Formula 1. Hahaha.

My three all-time favorite drivers:

Kimi Raikkonen

I think I've written enough about him to demonstrate why I've always rooted for him since 2003. He did not come from a well-to-do family and he is where he is now because of sheer talent. He didn't even have to go through the usual ranks in racing before driving for F1. He went straight to F1 from Formula Renault, the lowest world racing class. He just has the natural driving ability. His anti-poster boy approach to his celebrity also adds to his charm. He simply doesn't give a damn about what people say. Kimi and Ferrari aren't having a good season this year, with a slew of technical problems and all that. Much has been written about his lack of motivation and enthusiasm for the sport but I don't think he's underperforming by himself. In Barcelona and Monaco, he showed that he can make something out of a bad car and the fact that he's not on top now should give him more reason to be motivated. He would be able to do more if he had a better car.

Felipe Massa

This guy has become better over the years. I think in some instances, it shows that he's able to get more out of the Ferrari cars than his teammate. Perhaps what contributes to this is the fact that Massa has always been with Ferrari. He's deeply rooted in the company culture, starting out as a test driver, eventually playing second fiddle to Michael Schumacher before being paired with Kimi Raikkonen. In many ways, he's more comfortable with the team in terms of familiarity. In contrast to Kimi Raikkonen's sheer talent, Felipe Massa had to work really hard to get to this level and last year, his efforts paid off when he ranked second in the World Driver's Championship after a heartbreakingly exciting last race of the season where he had to fight Lewis Hamilton.

This season saw the failure of the bigger guns in favor of the smaller, private teams but I don't think it would end without a single Ferrari win whether it still matters or not in terms of championship points. Ferrari needs to work on coming up with ideas on how to make their car more competitive and be able to challenge Brawn. They have the best driver pairing on the grid now and if they have a better car, it should make for a more exciting season.

Fernando Alonso

It's love-hate for him. I always thought that he's a really good driver who can make the most out of a lemon car, overtakes well, and shows the dedication for the sport. I just didn't like how he reacted to the Lewis Hamilton issue when they were teammates at McLaren in 2007. Unexpectedly, Hamilton, then McLaren's #2, proved to be competitive and became a title contender in his first year. This didn't sit well with Alonso, also a title contender, who always enjoyed a one-driver team in Renault where his former team focused all the attention, development and strategy on their #1, making it clear that #2 is #2 and he's just there to support and not challenge #1.

There were so many negative things written about him but only one thing was evident – he didn't enjoy sharing the limelight with his teammate. But as that became water under the bridge, Alonso went back to Renault where he's the clear priority at the expense of second driver Nelson Piquet Jr… and he's performing really well. There's a lot of talk of him making the move to Ferrari in 2011 to replace Raikkonen if he retires or gets fired, whichever comes first. If it happens, we'll have to see how Alonso would handle that one because after Schumacher, Ferrari has successfully maintained a two-driver team, managing both driver championship title contentions within the team with one win for Kimi in 2007 and an almost-there for Felipe in 2008.

*Okay, as I'm writing this, the Lakers just won. 3 – 1. Yey.

My two new favorite drivers (or should we say, next two favorites):

Sebastian Vettel

Aside from showing promise, I find him really funny! He was the pole-sitter in Turkey but finished third due to a mistake where he ran wide and some team strategy towards the end (his team ordered him not to chase teammate Mark Webber who was in second). He was clearly disappointed but he was laughing while talking to the media at the post-race presscon. He seems like a good guy to hang out and have a good laugh with.

Nico Rosberg

I really think he's a good driver in a less than competitive car. I believe he can do better and if one day, he gets the opportunity that Jenson Button has now, he will shine. Brightly. It does help that he's also good – looking, lives in Monaco, has a plane, a boat… haha for love or money. Most of the drivers have those, too, but not the looks. *grins*

Nico Rosberg sometimes looks like he can play a Vampire in True Blood.

Admittedly, there are far better drivers out there than those I've outlined above but I've never been one who kinda just goes with the flow. I don't have to root for anyone just because everybody else does, and not because they're reigning F1 "it" boys.

Michael Schumacher

He's clearly one of the best racing drivers out there (7-time world champion to be exact) but he sometimes made really bad decisions that made people wonder if he's really a legend or a cheat. In 2006, he deliberately stalled his car on the Monte Carlo circuit in qualifying to hinder other drivers from posting better lap times. A number of times, he started in pole position and his teammate would always finish behind him after weaving across the track to stop anyone from overtaking. There were a lot of instances like this and you couldn't help but doubt not his domination but the way he got there.

Lewis Hamilton

Another undeniably good driver. His rookie performance was one for the books! And when he finally nailed the championship in 2008, everybody was really happy for him. But you know, the novelty of him being the first black F1 champion is wearing off. He went into F1 and stepped into a straight out competitive car that allowed him to challenge and win the championship in his first year. Unfortunately, this year, the scenario is very much different. McLaren is suffering and Hamilton is miserable as ever. Now, people say he's having a difficult time accepting and coping with the situation.

Perhaps it was just his youth but he was too eager. When he emerged as a worldwide phenomenon in 2007 – 08, I don't think he was able to handle it that well. He fought with his former teammate in a media frenzy and eventually he also fought with the media. This was evident in one famous exchange with the media when he lost his cool at the Brazil GP 2007 post-q press con. This was followed, of course, by a media backlash (I mean if you're innocent, why were you so touchy?!).


Q: (Anne Giuntini – L'Equipe) For Lewis. For everybody it is evident that twice you disturbed Kimi. Is everything good to become a world champion?

LH: To be honest there is no reason for me to do anything to Kimi because if anything he can win… (inaudible from the audience)

LH: Well, I came out of the pits and the guys said that, obviously, because Fernando was behind me and I could not hold him up in the pits… So I came out of the pit lane and they said you will come out close to Kimi and I came out and when you are at that sort of speed your mirrors are vibrating and so you cannot see too much and then I realised that he was very, very close and so I slowed down and I noticed I can't attack the corner like he was, so I backed out and he went past me.

Q: (Anne Giuntini – L'Equipe) ...You never showed him clearly that you would give him the track free?

LH: What do you want me to do? Put the indicator on?

Q: (Anne Giuntini – L'Equipe) You know exactly...

LH: I did the best job I could to get out of the way. And I did apologise to him if I did get in his way.

Q: (Anne Giuntini – L'Equipe) Is that what you call the best job?

LH: Yes.

Q: (Anne Giuntini – L'Equipe) As a sportsman?

LH: Yes, how are you at your job? Are you the best at your job? You have never made mistakes… No?

Q: (Anne Giuntini – L'Equipe) Sometimes…

LH: Oh really.

The funny thing was Kimi was at that press conference as well. Wonder why the reporter grilled just Hamilton and didn't pay much attention to Kimi's reaction. I guess if she focused on Raikkonen, it would have killed her story because Raikkonen never complains about anything and doesn't like talking trash about other people or wasting energy to dissect events of the past which can't be changed. Oh wait… some other reporter did ask Kimi:

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, could you count the time that you lost with Lewis and did you feel in that moment that he did something wrong to you?

KR: I don't know. I haven't seen any data to see what happened. I don't know for sure, I don't know. I think other people can judge what has been done and make decisions. For sure, there could have been a slightly easier way to let me pass, but it is the way it is now and it doesn't interest me anymore.

Hahaha. It happened already and there's no use in talking about it.

BTW, how's this for a writing exercise? :-)