Nice people, great cars


Finns ain’t what they used to be. At least there is one who ain’t what he used to be.

Down the pub on Sunday night, bereft of a race to argue about since Hungary, we started on why Kimi Räikkönen appears to have lost the plot so soon after winning the World Championship.

We had hoped to be celebrating a win for Audi at the Nürburgring but news of a one-two for Peugeot put the mockers on that. None of us actually owns a Peugeot or an Audi but we’d all like to get our hands on an R8 and many years ago I had a lot of fun in a Peugeot 306 with a turbocharged diesel engine. But I’m supporting Audi in the battle of the racing diesels because a) I very much like Allan McNish and b) you could not hope to meet a nicer bunch of people than those who run the sports car team. Great cars, great people. I will be there at Silverstone in September to support them – make a date in your diary – it will be a great race now that the Peugeot is truly on terms with the R10.

Anyway, back to Räikkönen. Last week I was talking to Jo Ramirez about the season so far and he reckons that this will be the year that Hamilton takes his first title. Why? Because he thinks McLaren must have learnt lessons from letting things slip from their grasp last year and because Räikkönen seems to have lost his motivation. Jo expressed his disappointment at how quickly the Finn appears to have gone off the boil, making the point that it is very, very tough at the top of Formula One and the greatest drivers are the ones with the grit and commitment to soak up the pressure year after year. He should know, having managed McLaren through the glorious seasons of both Prost and Senna, both these men being the hardest of the hard.

Ramirez says that Räikkönen, having won the Championship and having made a great deal of money, seems not to want it any more and surmises that the business has lost its appeal for one of the most exciting drivers of this decade. This, he thinks, will hand the title to Hamilton as long as McLaren keeps all its ducks in a row between now and the end of the year.

Let’s face it, Räikkönen should be making Massa look silly. But he’s not and Ferrari must be frustrated by this, to say the very least. My colleague Nigel Roebuck, an acknowledged expert in these matters, confirms that this is the case.

Now that I have written all this down, expect to see Kimi Räikkönen win the European Grand Prix by a lap.

Meanwhile, this week there is A1GP tyre testing at Silverstone. Do not be surprised if Mr Tony Texeira takes this opportunity to reveal some extremely exciting news about the calendar for the forthcoming season that kicks off at Mugello next month.

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