Welcome back Signor Alonso


Good morning/Good afternoon/Good evening.

Sorry, just returning to normal life.

Well, how was it for you? How did we judge the first ever Grand Prix race to be run at night?
To have been there must surely have been a thrilling experience, especially in such an intoxicating city, a place that combines the best of British (as it used to be) and the charm and romance of the East.

Writing in The Times of London, Matthew Syed noted that a few old coves had surfaced on the message boards to gripe about such a radical move for the sport. Some of these ‘old coves’ are simply people who love motor racing and don’t feel they have to follow every trend in the pursuit of television ratings.

To borrow a line from the great blues singer Eric Burdon, please don’t let me be misunderstood. I am not averse to watching sport under floodlights and I have enjoyed many a football match in the hours of darkness. I simply believe that motor racing is not doing itself any favours with this development.

The problem for me was the wire fences and the vertical shafts of light – the cars looked as if they were racing round the perimeter of a huge prison camp. And, like Valencia, there was virtually nowhere to overtake. Had it not been for Piquet’s accident, and its effect on the race, there would have been little in the way of excitement. We know there was a huge crowd but we never saw them in the blackout behind the lights which, for obvious reasons, had been set up to negate any kind of shadow. Bright light without shadow is strange.

The secret, I sense, is to be there, be a part of the occasion, and I have no doubts this race will become a very popular fixture on the calendar in years to come. Shame it’s so far away then, but many of us will be making strenuous efforts to be there for the next one.

While Ferrari shot themselves in both feet, snatching defeat from victory, so Renault triumphed in adversity. Funny old world is Formula One. Then Hull City beat Arsenal. Funny old game, football. There, that’s about as many clichés as I care to have in just one paragraph – but the point is that it was, once more, a great weekend for sport. What we missed, while watching the majestic progress of M Schumacher, was this unpredictability that sport so desperately needs.

Martin Brundle, as ever, got it absolutely right. I too have always felt that Fernando Alonso is still the best there is if only he could get back into a competitive car. After a horribly silly and irritating failure in qualifying, he got his head back together and drove a really superb race. This is the mark of a true champion.

Meanwhile Massa appeared to drop into the doldrums following an equally frustrating mistake in the pits. The energy must surely now be with Hamilton and McLaren. But we said that this time last year.
Perhaps the happiest men in Singapore were Messrs Williams and Head. At last a decent bag of points and Rosberg on the podium. They really needed this result and, for me, it’s vital that the last remaining independent teams stay in the game. The sigh of relief must have been heard all over Oxfordshire.

Finally then, we can celebrate the success of the first race to be held in darkness. For those that were there, it must have been a most dramatic happening. For us at home it would have been just as exciting in daylight, perhaps even more so, as we would have seen this fine city and the huge crowds.

Did Tiger (the cat with a new fan club since Friday) stir himself to watch? No, but his mate Buster did, glued to the action for 15 laps on my own lap. But then he’s always been a night owl of a pussycat.

Good night, and let’s hope the last person to leave the paddock remembered to switch off the lights.

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