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Thoughts on the Chinese Grand Prix

Luck is perhaps the most important ingredient to a champion’s success. It doesn’t matter how talented you are as a driver; without luck, you will never be champion. I have seen any number of drivers with everything they needed to be champion except luck – and none of them ever made it. Without luck, something will go wrong every time, you can guarantee it.


Michael Schumacher in China

Michael Schumacher is the luckiest driver the world has ever seen. If he is going to spin, you can bet it will be where there are no walls to hit. I have seen him spin in Monaco where it is said that any mistake will cost a driver the race; but he did it in the only place where you can get away with it and continue. Even the weather gods favor him, as we saw in China this weekend.

Had it decided to rain again, Michael would have been nowhere. But no, it chooses to hold off until the last few laps when it made no difference. Instead, it provides him with a dry line so that his Bridgestone tires can work. Watching Prost win race after race on his luck was bad enough; having to see fortune favor Michael every time has been unbearable.

I am not saying that the man is without talent – he has that in profusion. But other drivers pay the price when they make a mistake (as did Alonso when choosing to change the front tires on Sunday). Lady Luck forgives Michael such things and he’s been champion seven times as a result.

Continuing the theme of luck, it begins to look as if Jenson Button has better luck than Barrichello. On that last lap it looked as though Rubens would hold off Jenson to the end but then fate intervened in the shape of Sato’s Super Aguri. Who would have guessed that it would be the Briton to emerge from the confusion ahead of the rest? One can understand Heidfeld’s anger at being robbed in such a manner – in an instant his certain fourth spot turned into seventh.

The man with the worst luck at the moment seems to be Raikkonen, however. Yet another engine failure put an end to his very good chances of winning. In any of Michael’s teams, it was always the German’s teammate whose car let him down (just ask Barrichello) but Kimi seems to be getting it wrong. Someone should tell McLaren that the quick driver is supposed to have the reliable car.

In the end, what happens, happens. Michael won and we go to Suzuka with the two contenders tied on points and the constructor’s title still very much up for grabs. It all makes for tense and exciting racing – two races to go and two drivers locked in battle. The FIA must be rubbing their hands together in glee.

6 Responses to “Thoughts on the Chinese Grand Prix”

  1. I like what you wrote about luck needed to win, but you are forgeting to mention how lucky Alonso was last season when Kimi being in front lucking strong, almost winning, and, pow, something happend to his rear wing, front suspension, tires, etc. Alonso seemed to be the lucky one then, that’s how he got his championship, wich, I think will be his last one, due to the ridiculos change of team that he choose, a team that does not have it togeter, a team that forced a great driver (Juan Pablo Montoya ), to retire and go to the bumper cars race (NASCAR). We’ll see next year, with kimi driving one of the best cars, from one of the best teams, who wil be the dominating one from then on. Personaly I don’t like Alonso, he’s a very good driver, but he needs to control his temper and his tong, and stop blaming everybody else for what’s happening to him on this season, he acused shumacher of unsportlike behavior?, he should look on a mirror and then blame.

  2. I was not forgetting that Alonso has had his lucky moments, Kay – most drivers have a mix of good and bad luck, just like us ordinary mortals. My point was really that Michael Schumacher seems to have incredibly good luck (and that has to be a big factor in his championships). I can remember only one occasion when he suffered the consequences of his mistake (and yes, he does make them) – that was at Silverstone when he broke his legs. Otherwise he always seems to get away with it.

    As for Alonso, I’m still watching him. I think there can be no doubt of his talent but, if reports of his latest statements about the Renault team are correct (as yet, I don’t believe them – they seem totally against Alonso’s own interests), then he goes down a few notches in my book. But you are quite right when you say he needs to control his temper. Things like arm-waving at another driver who has impeded you, intentionally or otherwise, are completely unproductive and reflect poorly on character. He is young yet – for the moment he gets the benefit of the doubt, as far as I’m concerned.

  3. I defintely agree with what you said about luck and requiring it to win in any sort of race. While I do believe that Michael has been insanely lucky over the course of his career, I do think he makes his luck as well. The man is VERY talented as we can also compare to him the performance of Felipe Massa who was in a car VERY similar to Michael’s, Ferrari’s F2006. I’m defintely no fan of Michael’s, but you must give the devil his due and recognize that the man defintely has skill, great talent and ability.

    These upcoming two races will be EXTREMELY exciting and interesting to see what happens between Michael and Mr. Alonso. Judging from what I read, it seems Alonso threw a bit of a tantrum and ostensibly concoted a conspiracy theory of how the team is against him. Frankly, these stories seem are even more ludicrous than Alonso making such a statement smply because, “Why would Renault want to intentionally lose the contructor’s championship?” To teach Alonso a lesson? Give me a BREAK!

    Finally, it is unfortunate to see how Kimi is clearly a talented driver, but is not given the opportunity to win races due to the reliability of the Mclaren. I’m no fan of Ferrari, but I hope for Kimi’s sake he can win some races with them next year. Once Schumacher is gone I think the driver’s championship will essentially be a competition between Raikonnen, Alonso, and perhaps Fisichella. Nobody from the field (except for MAYBE Mark Webber) has the skill, talent, or technology package that those three drivers have at their disposal. People have always been talking about Jenson Button, but this guy has only podiumed ONCE. Granted, Honda’s package may not be the best, I think the British media (doing what they do best) has sensationalized and unnecessarily given Button undue praise. On the flipside, Kubica has been OUTSTANDING even though he has only participated in four grand prixs. He has raised the performance level of Nick Heidfeld and has shown his innate racing ability to challenge guys like David Coulthard (who is a veteran to say the least) despite his limited experience.

    All in all, I’m positive the next two races will be drama filled.

  4. I think that’s a very sensible assessment of Michael, the other drivers, the rest of the season and next year, Ali. There’s little there I would disagree with (except perhaps your rating of Jenson Button – he’s done well against Barrichello this year and it will be interesting to see him in a car that is as competitive as I think the Honda will be next season).

    Kubica does seem to be the find of the season and the BMW Sauber looks to be getting better all the time – perhaps he will be another reason why Kimi does not win as often as he hopes in a Ferrari. Certainly, it is shaping up to be a great season and we will see more race winners, I think.

  5. Does anybody know why Bridgestone’s will be the only tire choice for next year? Did Michelin make a bid for being the default tire choice or did they decide as a company to stop development of tires for F1? Bottom line, for next year it seems as though Ferrari and other teams using the Bridgestone compound will have a slight advantage at the start of the 2007 season given their familiarity and use of Bridgestone tires. Frankly I’m quite dissapointed that Michelin will no longer be in F1. I honestly enjoyed the battle between tire companies/choices as it would lead to interesting finishes given changing weather conditions.

    On the flipside, however, as the evolution in formula one reverts back to standardizing various aspects (i.e. same tire choice etc.) we will truly begin to see what cars are competitive (from a technological standpoint) and witness a driver’s true racing skills.

  6. As I understand it, Ali, Michelin did not agree with the limiting of F1 to just one tire manufacturer and showed their disapproval by not bidding. Bridgestone appear to have been the only company to put their name forward and were accepted without debate. The Bridgestone teams from this year will probably have a small advantage in the first few races, thanks to their experience with the manufacturer, but the tire is going to be a harder compound apparently and all the teams will have to get used to that. So I don’t see any advantage lasting for long.

    I tend to favor the idea of one make of tire since it cuts out one more variable and allows us to see the true potential of the cars. Think of this season and how the tire advantage has swung from one make to another and the effect that has on the championship. There have been championships in the past that were really won by the tires – if I remember correctly, Jody Scheckter’s championship was largely due to Ferrari being the only team on Michelins.

    Not that I expect any great change in the competitiveness of the teams as a result of having to run just one make of tire. No doubt it will be business as usual, with Ferrari, Renault and McLaren dominating – although I have hopes that Honda and BMW will improve to the point of winning races too. But that will be the result of better car technology, not tires.

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