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GP Week : Issue 115
GPWEEK OPINION >> Schumi2ontheriseasthe original contemplates mortality CATFIGHT ON THE MOTOGP GRID The lines are drawn between him and a raft of younger challengers. Each requires handling in his own way. Stoner was singled out for a withering blast before the race at Estoril. Lorenzo would be the next target. But by then Jorge and most of the rest had aligned themselves on the side of the safer- riding brigade against Simoncelli. He could take a swipe at all of them at once. Well, he’s always been keen on the mind games. The exception here is Simoncelli. He’s a relative new boy, but enjoys Rossi’s patronage. Or so it seems. The two are, officially, ‘pals’. This gives Simoncelli a swagger at the swings that he might otherwise find hard to sustain ... though it has to be said that he carries it off well. But it is the nature of Rossi’s alliances that they last only as long as is convenient. Sete Gibernau once thought they had a friendship: he was sadly disabused. Marco Melandri used to speak of how, when younger, “we would hang our socks together over the radiator” after a wet afternoon of motocross practice. As soon as he became faster, the closeness of shared experience melted away. As a result of these precedents, the fact that Rossi is still matey with Simoncelli, by a twist of dramatic irony, becomes undermining in itself. It means he doesn’t take him seriously as a rider. As far as the fans are concerned, Rossi is also on the right side. That is always so. The younger guys, having been called pussies, haven’t really got a lot left to say beyond denying it. They may have right on their side, but whatever else they say will sound self- righteous and probably insincere. And, until or unless Simoncelli does cause a multiple pile-up, that’s how it will stay. 93 points and shaking their heads. I think the difference between Michael’s heyday and today is that there’s a higher level of talent across the board. And that goes to show that the car is still king. We were lucky in the last five years that things in the technical department had been more closely matched. In the RB7, though, we haven’t seen a car look this dominant since Ferrari’s F2004. Ironically it is Michael who has, this week, drawn our attention to the problem. Red Bull Racing, he says, have ignored the pact the teams agreed, under pressure from Max Mosley, in 2009: The Resource Restrictions Agreement. If Red Bull are forced to reign in their spending, we might see the others catch up. We must also remind ourselves that things in F1 will always be unpredictable. Mika Hakkinen was the last man, before Vettel, to score four poles from the first four races back in 1999. And yes, he did win the title that year, but only by two points and only because Michael broke his legs. And how long before we see Michael with his feet up again? 23