Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Good, The Bad and.. . .

F1 drivers are indeed a colourful lot. They come in all shades, don't they? I only started taking F1 seriously in around 1996. Before then, there was no way to watch it 'live' on TV. Or if there was, I didn't know of it. Sure there were small articles of it in the local papers but I think that was about it. Through the years I learned a lot about F1. The technicalities, the ever changing rules, the politics etc. Then, of course there were the drivers. There were those whose faces and names were everywhere. You couldn't just not know them. When you think F1, it's their faces that will come to mind. When you talk F1 at work with friends, it's their names that will be mentioned.
Then there are those who are like ghosts. You hear the commentators say their names during a race but you just can't put a face to that name. After a season or two, they are replaced and they never register in our brains anymore. Then a few years down the road and you read their names in an article somewhere and you go ' Hey this name sounds familiar'.
Like I said on an earlier post, I don't consider myself as a fan of any particular driver. That is not how I enjoy this sport. But I did mention that I prefer certain drivers to others based purely on their attitudes and style of driving.
My favourite driver of all time is Mika Hakkinen. Remember , when I say 'of all time', I mean as far as I'm concerned and based on races I've actually watched. I've not had the privilege of watching the late great Ayrton Senna or Alain Prost race.
By Olvo's F1 Wallpapers For me, it was Mika Hakkinen who got me hooked on F1. He is what I'd call a drivers' driver. He has a gentlemans' style of driving. There is no air about him, no arrogance. When he was in Singapore before last years race and he was demonstrating his F1 car in front of the Padang, he waved at the spectators and even engaged in casual chit chat with the crowd. I was fortunate to have been one of them.
Michael Schumacher, probably the greatest driver ever, even once said that of all the drivers he has raced, he respected Hakkinen the most.
Speaking of Michael, he is another of my favourites. Yes he has had his run-ins with the law and he has even been accused of cheating more than once, but you just can't help but admire the guy. He is, if I dare say, a god behind an F1 wheel! This man can do no wrong. And even when he does, he's still right! His position on the throne of being the best F1 driver ever will take a long time to replace. Then we have Rubens Barrichello, David Couldhart, Jenson Button. All nice people in my book. Rubens made me laugh last year during the Singapore race. His car came to a halt on the Esplanade bridge near the Merlion. He got out and started waving to the fans in the area despite his misfortune. Very sportsmanlike, no? Then as he walked along the barricade, he took his gloves off and promptly threw them to his fans. Only problem was, he ended up miss-aiming and threw them into the river. Just imagine, an F1 driver with precision in his blood to make sharp corners in super high speed, and he couldn't even throw straight. He looked down into the river, shrugged his shoulders and waved apologetically to his fans who all cheered him on still. Now lets not forget the bad and the not very nice, well for me at least. Please don't feel offended if they're among your favorites. These are just from my personal observations. Among the drivers that I find not to my liking are Juan Pablo Montoya. I remember him as being a rather reckless driver. Though in a way, his recklessness did contribute to him being probably the best in overtaking among his peers, but still there were moments when I thought it was just too much. I also remember him as having a few hissy fits during his races. Think 2003 and the vulgarities he exchanged with his pit crew. Then we have Lewis Hamilton. When he came to the scene in 2007, I thought he was a little over enthusiastic and that contributed to him making some reckless moves. But what got the cake was when he wrote an autobiography somewhere in the middle of the year. I thought what cheek this guy has of writing a book about his life when he has barely just entered manhood! What arrogance!

Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton. By Nancarrow But as you all know, I have since eaten my words. I met him last year and we spoke. I was so wrong. He is extremely humble and very polite. (read other post). He has been caught in a very dirty political world that only wants to milk money out of him. In a recent interview he has said so himself. He only wanted to race but he is now instead thinking about leaving F1 altogether because of the politics. He is, for me, my favourite driver right now. Fernando Alonso is a driver who has it all. Except another thing he also has is greed. After 2 years with back to back championships with team Renault, he turns his back on them and joined McLaren for a better deal. Thinking he was Gods gift to F1 , he demanded he be given the status of 'main team driver' for McLaren. One year and Lewis Hamilton later, he had to have his ass saved by the very team that he left, Renault. Now he's contemplating joining Ferrari in the not too distant future. Greedy and ungrateful. But I think he's still alright. I'll write about the driver I like least in my posting below.

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