Sunday, July 6, 2014

British GP: Superb!

Fernando Alonso: as good or better than any other driver in Formula 1 since he held Michael Schumacher at bay at
San Marino in 2005.  But he has only two World Championships to show for it.  Class of the field at Silverstone.

Silverstone is not a great venue, from a spectator viewpoint, in my opinion, but it produced a superb race.  As the NBCSN broadcast team put it, "It's on between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, and it's on between four other teams for 'best of the rest.'"  2014 has the potential to be a legendary season, the stuff of highlight reels for years to come.

As for the championship itself, can Mercedes prevent the team from imploding under the pressure of the Rosberg-Hamilton rivalry?  Will luck now swing Hamilton's way?  Will Hamilton shoot himself in the foot with his own head games (to mix metaphors)?  Equally talented drivers, equal cars, no Designated Number One.  I doubt that Mercedes will designate a Number One unless the other driver is mathematically eliminated.  Even if the team did, would the then Number Two driver accept it?

Valtteri Bottas, the Finnish Find Of The Season, drove his Williams to 2nd place at Silverstone, following a previous 3rd place.  Williams appears to be the only chassis that has anything for Mercedes, even if not consistently.  Daniel Ricciardo wrestled his Red Bull into third, and continues to outperform Sebastian Vettel.  It's something to see a 4-time World Champion turn into a whiner.  Jenson Button's McLaren continues to lurk (he finished a hanging-on-by-fingernails 4th).

But, as usual, the drive of the race was Fernando Alonso's.  The Ferrari is by now clearly inferior to Williams, McLaren, and Red Bull.  Alonso drove the hot mess he had at Silverstone from 16th to 6th, including a penalty that dropped him back through the field.  In the closing laps he had to cede 5th to Vettel, but only after fighting like hell for several laps.  (This was the occasion of Vettel's whining.)  For years now, Alonso has gotten more out of his car than anyone else can once the flag drops.  It's not just his "racecraft" and optimal strategies from the team.  It's his pace on race day.  He's a joy to watch.

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