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GP Week : Issue 108
GPWEEK OPINION >> A great champion – but don’t change Out with the old, in with the new go fastest on day two, though in fact Lorenzo’s time from the day before was a mite faster overall. Both of these are on bikes which they haven’t even started getting set. They will certainly get faster. Well, Rossi will have to get a lot faster. But if Stoner gets much quicker than he is now, the others won’t even see which way he went. Happily, season results seldom rest on the first test. Anyway, Lorenzo did take the honours. Which you would expect, since he’s the one on a familiar bike. What is interesting is what happens next. At Yamaha, the other guiding light of the company’s GP success since 2004, director Masao Furusawa, is retiring next March. Many think the financially beleaguered company will take the chance to slash their racing budget. And the bike that is currently the all-round best won’t hold that position for much longer if it doesn’t keep improving. At Honda, they are in the third year of a programme to reverse the pattern of failure since the switch to 800cc. The bike progressed a lot in 2010. And now there are three GP-winning riders on it, as Stoner joins Pedrosa and Dovizioso. And at Ducati, they will be pulling out every stop and the rest in the effort to justify this expensive and reputation- risking new partnership with the world’s greatest motorcycle racer. This year wasn’t a bad season. Given that the 800s by their one -line nature generally lean towards processional racing, there was a crop of feisty new riders who hadn’t yet picked up the ‘no overtaking’ habit: think especially Spies and Simoncelli. Next year has every chance of being even better. The 800s are actually getting quite interesting, just before they are to be killed off. Make sure you don’t miss it. race. At the end of the day, I think the sport won in Abu Dhabi. Had RBR favoured Webber – the points leader – in Brazil and asked Vettel to move over, they would have egg on their face. As it happened, they were right to let destiny take its course. But what was missing after such a sensational year for the Milton Keynes-based Austrian team was a proper party. For the first three years of their being, Red Bull were where the party was at. The time they rented Morumbi stadium in Sao Paulo has to go down in the pantheon of all time best F1 parties. And that was to celebrate a 12th place and a retirement. Seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship. I was working for them during this period. From a marketing point of view, it felt we were onto something special and I think we were. But then things got traditional ... unimaginative. In Abu Dhabi, Red Bull partied but it was off limits to anyone but the team. So no news value at all. And what is the point of that? They may have won both titles this year, but it’s sad to see they are losing their identity. My biggest concern is that Vettel, with all the attention that is sure to be thrust on him, will lose his. Word of advice mate, don’t change. You’re great as you are. 25