Op-Ed: Alonso hasn’t congratulated Vettel yet and I’m not too surprised

SJ logoI don’t think I’ve made it a secret that I am not a Fernando Alonso fan.

I understand that he’s a gifted driver, but something about him leaves me cold. Part of it is his coincidental presence around some of F1’s recent “controversies” — Spygate, Crashgate, TeamOrdersgate — that I just can’t reconcile, but, in the end, I just don’t get the warm feeling from him that I’d need to be a fan.

Or I don’t get a vibe for his personality that he’s someone all that likable.

(Keep in mind, I’m not much of a fan of any of the drivers, my current biggest problem with F1. I don’t root for anyone or even any team.)

So, it is up to me to point out the latest “anti-Alonso media bit,” although this one really is courtesy of Sebastian Vettel. From the AFP news agenecy, via BBC:

Sebastian Vettel revealed during a speech in front of his home fans that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who had led the championship going into the final race, has not yet shaken hands on Vettel’s success. The 23-year-old said: “He still has not congratulated me.”

Really? Even Mark Webber has had a nice sit-down with the kid who beat him, and probably will again.

Now, before I pile on Alonso — if I ever do — I can understand completely why, in the immediate aftermath of Abu Dhabi, he wouldn’t have gone out of his way to track Vettel down. I’m sure he was steaming mad that the Ferrari strategy went awry and that the circuit just would not give ground so he could try to claw his way into a position he needed to win.

I get the competitive spirit.

But the next day? The day after? A text message or phone call wouldn’t have been too much to ask?

Rather than piling on Alonso, I’ll just say that this fits my pre-determined image of him. But he surely doesn’t need my love or adoration. Big skin off his back my not liking him, right?

Instead, I think this demonstrates an overall lessening of the men who climb into Formula 1 cars these days. And I mean this for the vast majority of the grid. I’m pressing myself to come up with an exception. Maybe Nico Rosberg? Probably Rubens Barrichello. But I’m not sure of the rest.

In contrast, I think of Ayrton Senna hitching a ride with Nigel Mansell at the end of the 1991 race at Silverstone. Those racers weren’t any less competitive than the guys today, but it seems like they were able to turn it on when they needed to and turn it off when they left the track.

Now, I know I’m super generalizing. And I know the drivers play poker and engage each other off the track. I get it. And it probably is just a ridiculous amount of nostalgia that is coloring my impression about the “gentlemen” drivers from the early 1990s and before. But I can’t imagine that Alain Prost and Senna didn’t pick up the phone — or was this the day of the telegraph? — when the time came and set aside their competitive differences.

OK, so I just took a break, and I’ve gone back through and read this post. Absolutely, I sound like a cranky old man (by the way, get out of my yard!), which is terrible for a guy who’s younger than Michael Schumacher. I know the “good old days” were never that good and the evils of the present are never anything new.

But that isn’t making me feel any less like something is missing. Even if that something is just the little kid inside me who can’t look up to heroes anymore.

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