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Going to the next level
Posted By:   |  03 Nov 2008   |  1:10 pm GMT  |  0 comments

This year’s world championship has featured some extraordinary races and great drama. The endings of the races at Spa and Interlagos were among the most dramatic ever and the standard of the driving from Massa and Hamilton has been very high. But both have had error strewn campaigns.

If you imagine what would have happened this year had Michael Schumacher been driving the Ferrari or Fernando Alonso the McLaren, you realise that the title would have been wrapped up comfortably by either man against the two title contenders we actually had. Of course Schumacher would not have been able to do anything about the engine failure Massa suffered in Hungary, or the refuelling disaster in Singapore (probably), which really robbed Massa of the title, but he’d have closed out other opportunities, where Massa came up short, like Hockenheim or Shanghai or Montreal.

The reason is that Schumacher and, to a lesser extent Alonso, are both drivers who give almost nothing away to their opposition. They are relentless and they never give a sniff of an opportunity if they can help it. Raikkonen does not fall into this category in my book, despite winning the title last year, he gave a lot of gifts to his opposition along the way.

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  1. Adrian says:

    James, do you not think there is another way Ferrari might try to negate their putative “Hamilton problem”, apart from signing Alonso – i.e. by signing Hamilton himself?

  2. Duncan says:

    I agree with you comments that Schumacher or Alonso in a competitive car would have capitalised on Hamilton’s unforced errors but it’s easy to forget how young and inexperienced Lewis is.

    Given he has only just completed his second season in F1 it’s an incredible achievement and as his experience grows he is likely to cut out the mistakes. With a championship under his belt he is likely to relax a bit more and not overdrive the car as much as his first two seasons.

    This coupled with the extra self-belief he will have and the knowledge of how to win a title, he is in a very strong position and must be a big concern for Ferrari.

    They’ll go into next year wondering what frame of mind Kimi will be in and whether Massa really has the class, while Hamilton is likely to move on to another level and could dominate for years.

    And what about this for an idea for Ron and McLaren to think about; they sign up Kubica and make sure one of the leading challengers is on their side and prevent him from going to Ferrari? It would be a bit of a throw back to good old days at McLaren with two high class drivers battling it out.

  3. Mark says:

    “It would be a bit of a throw back to good old days at McLaren with two high class drivers battling it out.”

    As apposed to Alonso and Lewis being on the same team????

    Speed TV put it best when they said that this season was a comedy of errors. Over 70 points was wasted by both Ferrari and McL combined.

    Do you realize that we now have a World Champion that will forever be remembered as someone who hit a parked car? And if the conditions change even the slightest, Massa is your WC? Mind you he made just as many mistakes (maybe even more depending on how you count them) so his title would have been a rough one to take as well.

  4. benno says:

    I was watching some historical footage on youtube of Schumacher in the pits. I noticed the lollypop had a mirror on it. The pit-stop debacleS would not have happened to him.

    Ferrari had a really tough season. They are a champion team as they picked themselves up and won despite a huge amount of self inflicted pain.

  5. Duncan says:

    The Hamilton Alonso “partnership” was not intended to be a battle between the pair when Dennis signed Fernando, more of an opportunity for Lewis to learn from the two-time world champion and develop his talents.

    As things turned out, Lewis’ talent meant he suddenly became a true challenger and Alonso didn’t like it much.

    Two established drivers (Hamilton Kubica) from the outset of a season would raise the stakes and the in-team competition would probably take him on to another level.

    “…the good old days” meaning the ‘great old days’ of Senna and Prost with that amazing Honda engine and a true battle between the pair.

  6. Lady Snowcat says:

    Interestingly I believe Lewis was nowhere and all at sea in the trials he did on Michelin tyres in 2006…. which is why he didn’t get the drive when JPM took a hike for pastures over the pond….

    The Bridgestone characteristics have been somewhat of a gift for him….

    So perhaps slicks and the new rules will help Heikki and the Kimster…. and Lewis and Alonso will go to the next level by throwing their toys out of the pram….

    Rubens recent comments would indicate that Michael was not prepared for any real competition in “his” and I think Lewis and Fernando are the same…..

    But perhaps not….

    Roll on 2009….

  7. Sam says:

    Your article is strange. You say Massa came short in Shanghai and Montreal. The Ferrari was no were near a match for the mclaren in china, and a refuelling problem left massa at the back of the field in Canada. He cut through superbly, to keep his championship hopes burning.

    This idea you say that Massa and Smedley believe that 08 was there best chance of glory and they believe it might not come around again is crazy. Every F1 driver believes they can beat there team-mate regardless of who they are, situation won’t change in 09.

    Your other point that Massa won’t get another crack at the title is also a bit weird. How can that be when he took on the champion in the same car this year and destroyed him, especially since it was raikkonens second year at Ferrari and Bridgestone.

    I believe you should look at facts instead of guesses. you claimed Massa was only strong on certain tracks and he was too inconsistent to mount a title challenge, he proved you wrong so accept him as a Title Contender.

    Your biased views towards a Hamilton dominated F1 is very noticiable.

  8. James Allen says:

    JA writes: Sam, thanks for your feedback. I can assure you that I am not in any way biased towards Hamilton. There is this perception that we talked a lot about him on ITV because we favoured him, as the UK broadcaster, but you’ll find that the Germans, French, Dutch and the Japanese and many others spoke about him just as much because most of the time he was the story. You may not like it, but he is the driver to beat in F1 now.

    As for the comments on Massa, let’s wait and see. Massa improved hugely in 2008 and may continue to improve in 2009. Drivers who find themselves fighting for a championship often raise their game, think of Damon Hill or Jacques Villeneuve. At the time many people thought that Jacques was just as good as Schuey, but I can assure you that the professionals working in F1 who monitor drivers’ performances closely (I’m talking here about engineers from other teams and so on) did not think that and events proved them right. The same is true today of Massa.

  9. F1 Boston Fan says:

    - If Alonso comes to Ferrari, who will leave/where will they go? I know Kimi said he doesn’t want to drive for anyone besides Ferrari; retirement? Already?

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