Fans are attracted to drivers in Formula One for a myriad of reasons. Some people like the affable type drivers who do interviews and are easy to listen to while being articulate and interesting. Others may be fans of certain teams and therefore follow the driver that represents that team and then still others may be fascinated by a driver’s skills on the track.
F1 drivers are typically prima donnas because in fact, they arguably could be considered the best racers in the world. So when one successful F1 driver gives kudos to another current opponent, it’s interesting to examine why.
Better than the rest
That’s what happened recently when one champion, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, made comments to the Daily Mail regarding the late great Ayrton Senna. However, Hamilton also spoke highly of a current adversary, Fernando Alonso saying,
“It’s funny, but the driver I admire most is Fernando – for his sheer speed, his simply incredible speed.”
I like a little bit of everything regarding motorsports and drivers. When it came to F1, because it was essentially a ‘foreign sport’, as an American, I was a casual fan but had incredible respect for the sheer ferocity that the sport entailed with an almost no holds barred type of racing. I knew of seven-time champion Michael Schumacher and although the German may go down in history as the best, I saw him more as a mechanical type of racer. I respected that but it never endeared me to him. There has to be some flare and dash to go with driving a racecar.
Being involved in the marketing business, I was intrigued by Benetton and Flavio Briatore. Whatever you think of Flavio, when he took over at floundering Benetton with no experience in racing and rebuilt them into a world champion (as Renault), well, you just have to be impressed. Yet, it was the young almost brash Spaniard coming up at Renault that caught my eye. Wow, was I ever impressed.
The car control I saw was second to none. Alonso could make passes and hold off others with angles that were and are astonishing to watch. Forget the rest, this guy had it. That obviously is what Hamilton sees in his F1 rival. Not that Hamilton doesn’t have skills too; in fact, in my humble opinion, Hamilton is maybe second only to Alonso in shear talent. By the way, Alonso is an incredible athlete as well, using an Olympic style training program to keep him at his optimum.
What about Seb?
Some will say: What about Sebastian Vettel? Vettel is an excellent driver and three championships in-a-row is proof. But Vettel, like Schumacher, doesn’t wow as much as he doesn’t make mistakes – again, like a mechanical machine. Impressive, but it doesn’t jump out at you. Alonso does jump out at you and that apparently is what Hamilton sees too. And remember this: after back-to-back championships at Renault, Alonso left to join McLaren and Hamilton (Lewis’ first season in F1). They had one rocky year together (do you recall the espionage storm with Spygate) as teammates, finishing tied for second one point behind Kimi Raikkonen.
However, evidently those strained relations are gone and Lewis Hamilton now has a tremendous amount of respect for Fernando Alonso (now with Ferrari), as does this fan. Will that respect translate to success on the track? After four events in 2013, Alonso sits fourth 30 points back of Vettel, while Hamilton is third, 27 points in arrears. Can these two former champions chase down Vettel who is pursuing his fourth world championship in-a-row? That remains to be seen but as far as talent and speed to get up front, Hamilton says of Alonso,
“I don’t think anyone can match him in the sport.”
Additional source: Formula One