Brought to you by TJ13 contributor – The Grumpy Jackal
If you live in the UK, there are currently two avenues to viewing F1 on British TV. Option 1 is to pay the Rupert Murdoch organisation a princely sum to watch, what I deem to be, a questionable motor-racing product that has lost sight of what it is – essentially the fastest, brashest cars on earth, piloted by supermen. Option 2, unfortunately, is to watch the Free-to-air coverage presented by Channel 4.
Many of the presenters I find tedious, and the understandable bias towards British drivers is overwhelmed by the clear favouritism towards Red Bull who coincidentally still have contracts with the principle experts on the show. During one of the post-race conversations last year, Steve Jones was flanked by both Mark Webber and David Coulthard. When asked, Webber suggested that Ferrari had imploded because ‘the Italians didn’t know how to win’ or words to that effect.
I was outraged by the cursed Aussie and his unprofessional and jingoistic comments. If he had brought a person’s skin colour into his argument, he would of course have been suspended from duties. But it seems that nationalistic rhetoric is perfectly acceptable as long as it’s not against the Brits, Hey Mark??
Were his comments a reflection of his links with Red Bull? Or maybe because the German giant, Porsche, employed him in the WEC? I’m not sure the reasons and nor do I care. To my mind, he is a middling journeyman who has a close friendship with Fernando Alonso… Ahhh, lightbulb moment – maybe he had heard from the famed Spanish Samurai that Italians cannot win…
Either way, these ignorant men have revealed more about themselves than any insidious comments would. I would imagine, to listen to Alonso now, the Japanese don’t know how to win either.
Yet I say hang on a moment. Alonso has a history of demotivating teams. He used the media, back in 2005, to suggest that he ‘ felt lonely’ in the team. I would add, he probably would have said unloved too but hadn’t mastered the puppy-dog look. By Christmas 2005, the Renault team knew he had already signed to join Mclaren for 2007.
Now at Mclaren, he was quite happy breaking countless international laws to use stolen data from Ferrari but when a young upstart called Lewis threatened his position, ably assisted by the evil Ron Dennis, he cried foul!! His return to Renault wasn’t the success it had been previously and at the first opportunity had ensconced himself at Maranello.
I’ll be honest here. I sincerely believe he is the best driver since Ayrton Senna and I truly wanted the Alonso/Ferrari partnership to bear World Titles. Circumstances proved otherwise and maybe the end of the reign of Luca di Montezemolo coincided with Ferrari taking their eyes off the ball.
Either way, Fred wasn’t shy about using any means to portray Ferrari as at fault. The Old Man wouldn’t have allowed the situation to fester and thankfully nor did Sergio Marchionne and the Spaniard was forced into a Mclaren seat he never wanted.
So, do Italians know how to win? Well, other than the fact that a Ferrari driver has won a F1 title more recently than either Webber or Alonso, thereby making their comments of success somewhat irrelevant – you only have to look at the lower rung championships associated with F1 to see Italians thrive in motor-sport. Prema Racing won the GP2 title with Pierre Gasly in 2016 and the Formula 2 title with Charles Leclerc last year.
I’ll punch a little more under the belt and point to the astonishing success of Dallara. Of course it’s simple winning a one make championship but, not many years ago, manufacturers with the names of Lola, Reynard, and Ralt, amongst others, dominated the ladder to F1. If Dallara haven’t fitted a plaque above their factory door stating “Veni, Vidi, Vici” by now, they have missed a beat because they have truly conquered…
Of course, my belief system is such that I look at a set of circumstances. If the pattern is repeated then the only conclusion is the common denominator. Irrespective of his talent, Alonso brings a toxic environment wherever he has saddled up.