editorial, December 1999




ndrew Frankel EDITOR

So, IN THE END, JUSTICE WAS done. Hakkinen won the World Championship, Ferrari claimed the Constructors tide. Hakkinen was the best driver to contest every race while Ferrari was the best team even if it rarely had the quickest car.

Why, then, does this leave a sour taste? The spat between Schumacher and Coulthard, that’s why. Michael should never have spoken out in public even if, as I believe, he had a sizeable point. David then lowered himself by threatening to sue, a stance he later felt unable to support.

The truth is that, of the four top drivers, just one has completed the season without resorting to inappropriate and undignified public digs at other drivers. Some, like Irvine, doubtless feel being outspoken amounts simply to refreshing honesty while others, such as Coulthard, would speak out only in self defence.

This may amount to something of an explanation but it does not address the real point. It comes down to one person’s respect for another, as driver and individual; the proof of this particular pudding is the one person fbr whom all drivers appear to have unyielding respect on both counts is Hakkinen. It is no coincidence that he has suffered hardly a harsh word from his colleagues while conducting himself with the greatest decorum both on and off the track. And now he is champion which, from where I am sitting, is no more or less than poetic justice. • • •

I AM AFRAID I AM GOING ‘R) CALL. 11ME ON CORRESPONDENCE surrounding the Top 100 Drivers series. A selection of your more publishable views appears on the letters pages in this issue. From it all two significant thread emerge I was not surprised at the volume of criticism concerning Gilles Villeneuve’s second place in the list. What was amazing was hardly anyone felt uncomfortable with Nuvolari being named greatest of all.

The support for Nuvolari coupled with such scant opposition suggests to me that his position at the top goes beyond the views the individual and gives an altogether wider authority to his claim. And the fact that this judgment retains such approval half a century after his last race only reinforces how. • • • DAMON HILL IS NOW AN EX-FORMULA ONE DRIVER AND no-one, least of all Damon, will wish to dwell unduly on his final race. In the coming weeks people will say he arrived too late and outstayed his welcome, just as they said the same about his father. It won’t last. In time

he will be remembered more as a world champion and the man who helped pick up his team after the tragic death of its inspirational number one driver; just like his father. In short, history will be

kinder to him than we have been. Cover: Damon Hill