Fernando Alonso has been talking about Michael Schumacher’s achievements in Formula One. Understandably, his view is colored somewhat by recent events and he went so far as to say that Michael, whilst being a great driver, was also the most unsporting in the history of F1.
He has a point. I cannot recall any driver of the past being involved in so many incidents where foul play was suspected. Michael has even admitted that the one that did not work, his attempt to push Jacques Villeneuve off the road in his (Villeneuve’s) championship year, was deliberate. Ayrton Senna, too, confessed to one incident with Prost that was fully intended, but that was in retaliation for a similar stunt pulled by the Frenchman the year before. Neither of these drivers made a habit of winning by devious means, however.
The controversies surrounding Michael are just too frequent and numerous to be without some foundation. We all have an opinion on each incident, having witnessed them on television, and it is possible to judge many as racing accidents. But all of them? I doubt it. If Michael is as skilled as his reputation and record suggests, it seems a bit strange that he should make so many mistakes at the precise moments when it counted most for a race win or the championship. Where is the skill in clobbering your nearest rival when he attempts to pass?
But, enough of Michael; next year he will no longer be a factor and we will be able to experience F1 with a new crop of stars and hopefuls. And one of the rising stars will undoubtedly be Robert Kubica. His race at Monza was one of the few bright spots and we can be certain that there will be many more from him.
Yes, Robert was lucky in being able to get past a few cars in the confusion of the start and first chicane. But he seized that opportunity like an old hand and then defended his position with skill and maturity. Rare is the driver who manages that in only his third Grand Prix.
His lap times also demonstrate his ability – he posted the fourth fastest in the race, behind Raikkonen, Michael and Massa. And it was not a matter of running light on fuel as we suspected at first. Kubica pitted at the same times as the leaders.
All of which bodes very well for BMW Sauber’s chances next year. I just wish they would drop the “Sauber” from their name – we all know it’s really just a BMW now.