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GP Week : 13-Oct-2009
AS we approach this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, Jenson Button stands on the brink of wrapping up the Formula 1 world drivers' championship. It is a title he has dreamt of his entire life. It's an accolade that every driver aspires towards and that few ever get the chance to fight for, let alone to take. There has, however, been a general feeling in the paddock of late that Jenson is 'backing' into this title, that he is inching towards it little by little and that it is only thanks to a combination of incredible luck and circumstance that he still holds a championship lead afforded to him by having at his disposal one of the most expensively developed F1 cars in history and the speed advantage that car held over its opposition in the early races of the year. There are some in the F1 paddock who are of the opinion that, even if Jenson does win the title, he'll never be considered one of 'The Greats.' There were some in Suzuka who pointed out that, in their view, there was something of an irony in arriving at a track which had played host to the epic championship battles of Senna and Prost, only to today be witnessing a championship scrap between Button and Barrichello. It was nothing to do with their talent or merits as drivers, but more to do with the fact that the 2009 season has been something of a 'cuddly' world championship fight. More hugs and kisses than fire and brimstone. It's why there's some joy in watching Sebastian Vettel emerge as a championship hopeful at this late stage. But if he wins this battle at the very last moment will he have deserved it more? Will his performance merit as one of the great comebacks? Should Barrichello win the title in what many people thought would be his final year EVERY Hailwood needed his Redman; every Ago needed his Read, every Read needed his Ivy. Racing historians will understand what this means. Mike Hailwood and Jim Redman, Giacomo Agostini and Phil Read, Read and Bill Ivy -- these were not just great rivals whose contests illuminated racing. They were simultaneously team-mates. Rivals riding exactly the same motorcycles. What happened between them has become legend. The relevance now is as obvious -- Rossi and Lorenzo. Then and now, it purified the racing contest. Breakdowns and slight technical variances apart, it meant the contest hinged on riding ability, at that race track for each particular race. Riding ability ... and the rest. Tales of skulduggery mainly concern defiance of team orders (and more often than not concern Phil Read, who got seven GP World Championships for his pains). And the games of psyching out were endless. These battles were always more bitter and especially more personal than those betweens rivals on different bikes -- even in the case of the legendary confrontation of Rainey versus Schwantz. So it is this year, a genuine championship vintage. We have the classic rivalry: old master versus gifted apprentice; as well as a national contest, Italy versus Spain. But the real piquancy comes because they are operating out the same pit. Even if Stoner or Pedrosa were still in with Digging for gold in MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor opinion Letters email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Jorge, NASA and dourness What a stunning image of Jorge Lorenzo leading into your coverage of the Portugese MotoGP in the last issue. The whole thing looked truly NASA,, and Jorge's slow-down lap Moonwalk antics were brilliant. MotoGP has a true successor to Valentino in the extrovert stakes as and when the great man calls it a day. I'm probably not the rst reader to contrast this light-hearted post- race showmanship with the dour up-itself post-race antics, or lack of them, of Formula 1 -- the best it has managed this year was Webber's gutteral screams after he won in Germany! F1 has so many areas in which it could appeal far more to the common man -- when will someone take the shackles o ? Roger Cornthwaite Chester, UK Too soon to judge? It seems as though the sport may have been a bit harsh on Luca Badoer. Two races in and the higly- regarded Fisichella hasn't come to grips with the Ferrari either, having come so close to beating it at Spa. What can we conclude? Is the Ferrari such a one-o , di cult, quirky dog that it takes THAT long to get to grips with it? Clearly, the Force India was a dream by comparison.. The big, BIG, test must come when Alonso straps himself in for the rst time. The look on his face may well turn out to be priceless. Max Chesterton Napier, NZ Conscience vote The biggest day in 2009 for world motorsport is coming fast. No, not the Brazilian Grand Prix, the FIA vote on its new President. There is a lot at stake and I hope countries vote with their conscience . Mary J Verghini Rotterdam, Netherlands Standing up for h opinion WILL BUXTON GPWeek Editor 20