On the brink of greatness

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Formula One Management boss Bernie Ecclestone has been throwing a hissy-fit of late. In a push to implement a medals system in F1 where the driver with the most wins (gold medals) at the end of the season wins the title, Ecclestone hinted that this year’s title race has not been that exciting.

Jenson Button laughed off that assertion on Thursday in Singapore and the racing prowess of Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Robert Kubica made it look downright ridiculous on Sunday. Fernando Alonso’s 25th career win has all but ensured that the race for the 2010 drivers’ world championship goes down as one of the all-time great title races in F1. The way things are going it could end up surpassing the 2008 and 1964 title battles for drama. It has also further vindicated the adoption of the new points system that Ecclestone wants to replace with his idea for awarding the title to the driver with the most wins at the end of the season.

Had such a system been implemented and there was only one race remaining this year, three drivers would be in contention for the title instead of four as there currently are. As it stands, with four races remaining, there are eight drivers with a mathematical chance of winning the title. Although only the first five drivers have a realistic chance of achieving success. So much for that great idea by F1’s coercer-in-chief.

As far as predictions for the title goes, I stand by my pre-season pick of Fernando Alonso. However, I must confess I didn’t think the Spaniard would be able to pull himself back into contention after scoring just 73 points (out of a maximum of 225) between his first and second victories of the season. Two perfect weekends after a second place in Hungary and a retirement in Belgium have secured Alonso’s reputation (in my mind at least) as the best driver in F1 today.

That is not to say he is the driver I would like to see win the title. That would be Mark Webber. The Aussie has proved himself in no uncertain terms against two much younger drivers tipped to be the greatest of their generation. Lewis Hamilton (nine years younger than Webber) and Sebastian Vettel (eleven years younger than Webber) have both committed errors unbecoming of title aspirants. Vettel’s latest was losing time during a crucial pit stop at Singapore when he tried to get the car moving while in second gear. The time spent shifting down to first could very well have cost him a chance to jump Alonso in the pit lane (the two drivers had pitted together). Hamilton tried to pass Webber on the outside of turn 8 and ended up getting punted off the road by the Aussie who held the inside line. Webber had managed to get ahead of Hamilton despite starting the race two places below the McLaren driver by pitting early for his mandatory tyre stop.The retirement was Hamilton’s second in as many races and his third in the last four races.

Webber finished the race in third place and has retaken the lead in the championship that he had lost to Hamilton after the latter won the Belgian Grand Prix four weeks ago. Webber has definitely come a long way from 1997 when his motor racing career was all but over because he couldn’t find anyone to sponsor him during his rookie season of British Formula 3. A 50,000 pounds-sterling loan from former rugby international David Campese allowed him to keep pushing on his quest to reach motor sport’s pinnacle. A title win for Webber come November 14 would be a win for anyone who has found the strength to dig deep, and with a helping hand, achieve the goal they set out for themselves.

About Vinayak Pande

Motorsport journalist.
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