He wasn’t the favourite…
Damien Smith, Editor The night before the big season finale, I was at Beaulieu for a Formula 1-themed charity dinner. I’d been asked to say a few words, so I took the opportunity to ask the guests who’d they be cheering for when they tuned in to the BBC’s excellent coverage from Abu Dhabi the next day. Rank outsider Lewis Hamilton got the biggest cheer — no surprise being ‘our man’ and all that — and predictably they booed the German in the Red Bull, and jeered even louder for the dastardly Spaniard in the Ferrari. Fernando Alonso’s role on these shores as F1’s arch villain continues to bemuse us here at Motor Sport, but it looks like he’ll be stuck with that one for years to come.
I was more intrigued to see how they’d feel about Mark Webber. My perception was that many fans were rooting for the Aussie — yes, even in an Ashes year! — and my audience that evening appeared to confirm it. While patriotism has its place in motor sport, intelligent racing fans have often looked beyond driver nationality when it comes to choosing their favourites, and so it is with Webber. Being F1’s all-round ‘good bloke’, most of us can forgive his gold and green origins!
In my trade there is no place for bias, but as a racing enthusiast I had my fingers crossed for him because I couldn’t help feeling that he deserved the title after so many years of graft. But as Clint Eastwood once said, “deservin’s got nothin’ to do with it”! The bald facts are that Sebastian Vettel was the man on form in the final quarter of the season, and earned his historic first title fair and square. We congratulate him and everyone at Red Bull Racing.
So removing all emotion, as one must to make a true judgement, who were the best drivers of the 2010 Fl season? We couldn’t resist coming up with our own ranking.
Such lists are popular at this time of year, but they do focus the mind — especially when there is no mention of one Michael Schumacher. You’ll let us know what you think, won’t you…
The news that General Motors is returning to Indycar racing in 2012 in the face of its painful government bail-out is a great signal for motor racing’s future. Recession or not, there’s clearly still a place for ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’, a point well made by Bobby Rahal on p33. Bobby bows out as our star columnist in this issue and we thank him for his entertaining insight over the past year. Make sure you tune in next month to meet our new columnist for 2011.