Fernando Alonso: Champions power-nap during safety car periods.
There are two things that I hate: being wrong, and apologizing.
When it comes to my take on Fernando Alonso—I have been wrong, and I will reluctantly admit that I owe the man an apology.
Do not expect me to renege on my opinion that he acted like a diva in his one and only season at McLaren. That is one position that will never change.
This year, however, I have to concede that Alonso is driving more like a champion than ever before.
Alonso kicked off 2010 by winning the season opener in Bahrain. Being the cynic I am, I said that attrition gifted him the win, that he wasn’t capable of winning a race this season on speed alone, and that it would take hard luck on McLaren and Red Bull for him to take the top podium spot.
And I seemed to be right until the German Grand Prix.
Being the champions they are, both Ferrari and Alonso refused to throw in the towel. They re-developed the car, and the Spaniard went on a tear, winning Hockenheim, and then taking three of the last four Grand Prix.
Alonso has now won more races than any other driver in 2010.
I do have to extend my sympathies to both Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. Vettel in particular, you really have to feel for. He didn’t put a wheel wrong on the newly constructed/work-in-progress Korean International Circuit.
The track was a mess, the weather was poor, race control seemed to act as if this was Formula 1’s first crack at racing in the rain, but that didn’t seem to matter because the young German powered-on, until his Renault engine decided to power-off.
Vettel needs to get credit for being a good sport. Despite all his woes, he can always be seen expressing his gratitude towards the Red Bull crew. While taking the long walk down pit road after his Renault went poof, he flashed a glance at the TV camera that translated into ‘Shit happens, but we have two more cracks at this thing.’
Lewis Hamilton, take note. This is how a champion soldiers through adversity.
But returning to my original point, I now find myself saying it: Alonso, I apologize. You took a fast car, worked to make it faster, didn’t make any mistakes, and made sure to capitalize on your opponent’s misfortunes. You deserve this championship.
And now it’s time for Hermann Tilk, Bernie Eccelstone, and anyone else involved with the construction of the Korean International Circuit to apologize to us, the fans, for putting such a wretched track on the schedule.
What would do call that thing? To me, it looked like a ridiculous cross between a temporary street circuit, permanent road course, and a carnival parking lot.
The track was built in the boonies, which understandably caused some commuter issues.
But you would think the powers-that-be would look at a track in the middle of nowhere as an opportunity—an opportunity to build something special.
Instead of getting something unique and riveting, we the public have been cursed with another of these formulaic tracks I described in my previous article: take one long front-stretch, put a grandioso grandstand on one side, a state-of-the-art garage on the other, model the buildings after indigenous architecture, and then connect both ends of the front-stretch with a number of technical twists around the cheap seats.
It is important to note that they deviated from this pattern in Korea.
The front-stretch wasn’t very long, and the beginning of it led into a controversial pit lane entrance—which was as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.
The technical turns that connect the front stretch with the rest of the track did make their way through the cheap seats, but that meant little because said seats were still under construction!
But fear not, the Korean International Circuit will not be as boring this time next year, as the developers have grand future plans for it.
Like what you ask? Monza-style banking? A proper front-stretch? A back-stretch that’s actually near the back of the track?
Of course not. Gone are the days of pitching yourself at the top of a hill next to a turn. No longer will your weekend be about racing, good food, a cooler full of beer, and beautiful company matched only by a beautiful view of the track.
This is the modern-day Formula 1. There are plans for a convention center, a hotel, and apartments. The Yeongam circuit is sure to become Asia’s answer to Las Vegas.
I shouldn’t be such a stick in the mud. Mother Nature heard our prayers, and did her best to make the race exciting.
Webber found a way to almost hit two walls at once. Vettel made millions of people reconsider buying a Renault Clio, and for the first time this season, Michael Schumacher started to look like the man who owned Formula 1 for more than a decade.
But the fallacies of the inaugural Korean GP will loom over the circuit for years to come. At one point I had to ask myself: which side of the demilitarized zone is this race being held?
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