Alonso: Leading while F1 is losing?

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While Paul and I have been in the minority opinion over the efficacy of a ‘random’ Formula One season, we still have our reservations although our recent post about it did go a long way to helping me understand:

  • Why this year is not unlike past years with its 6th different winner in as many races
  • Why F1 fans feel this is finally the kind of racing that is exciting, non-processional and unpredictable leading to great fun

It’s always good to read others opinions about how they view this 2012 season and while I do understand, I’m still anchored in the thought that the series is like a pendulum and it may have swung a little too far the other way. We mentioned Mark Webber’s nonplussed attitude toward this season on our latest podcast and it was further questioned by current drivers.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is leading the 2012 championship and has every reason to like the random nature of the season but while he’s happy about being consistent, he’s equally concerned about the impact the random nature of this F1 season could have on the fans.

“It’s a fantastic season, it’s so unpredictable. I think people stand in front of the TV with some surprises every race. It’s good for the audience, it’s good for the sport to bring attention to the races,” Alonso toldCNN.

“On the other hand we can lose credibility. We cannot lose that the best teams, the best drivers, the best strategies win the races, because at the moment from the outside it seems that in every race anyone can win.

“It doesn’t matter the talent, it doesn’t matter the team, the performance – it’s like a lottery. What you achieve in Formula One is not by chance. We need to make clear that if you win a race, it’s because you did something better. And I don’t think at the moment that this is clear for everybody.”

Perhaps you could argue that this view would be sour grapes from a guy like Sebastian Vettel, coming off two titles and struggling to stay in the top 5 each race, or maybe Lewis Hamilton who has struggled with his McLaren chassis although he’s driving as well as he ever has. This isn’t the case, it’s coming from the man leading the championship.

Equally, the talk of touchy tires fused with the reduced downforce from a missing blown-diffuser or off-throttle exhaust aerodynamic effect from 2011 has played into this randomness of results so far this year. To that notion, the man who is credited with being the best driver on teh grid for tire managment and stunning pace without risking tire wear is McLaren’s Jenson Button. He won the first Grand PRix of the season but has sunk like  stone since and he weighed in on the situation saying:

“Fernando is leading because he has been more consistent than other people,” the McLaren driver said.

“Whether he is in the best car or not no-one is ever going to know, but the consistency is there.

“He is obviously doing a great job – the car is working well – whereas there aren’t many other drivers that have had that consistency.

“Clearly everyone is excited about so many different winners, which initially was great for the fans and great for the sport.

“But there will come a time when the fans will say, ‘So anyone can win a grand prix, everyone can lose a grand prix like that?’ [snaps his fingers].

“I think they’re finding it a little bit strange now. I don’t know, but hopefully a pattern will emerge after the next couple of races and we’ll understand the teams and drivers we need to beat to win the championship.”

Our own Mark Hallam did some math and showed that this isn’t the first time we’ve had multiple winners and while it has been random, it is more like the old days than ever before.Whether fans like myself will see that concept as the general competitiveness of the current cars as being more balanced due to lack of downforce rather than the new tire compounds is still yet to be seen.

Either way, it is unpredictable and most fans like that in their F1 these days. Perhaps I’ve become jaded over the years in clearly knowing who the team to beat is and watching how the others are going about beating them instead of enjoying the notion that any team can win on any given day and that is clearly my problem, I suppose, and not F1’s.

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