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GP Week : Issue 118
GPWEEK OPINION >> Lacking any further defence, he is now reported as threatening to quit racing unless the Highway Code is more strictly applied. He may be right. He has the support of his loyal Spanish fans. But most of the fans are behind swaggering anti- hero Simoncelli. To them, he embodies racing more than any safety lobbyist. Riders like Simoncelli are what racing is all about. Rossi will of course exploit this to the max. Already has done: invoking the spirit of Schwantz and Rainey, of Gardner and Doohan, and dubbing the new generation “pussies”. (Significantly Schwantz, almost alone among riders, suggests the mistake in the Le Mans Simoncelli/Pedrosa crash had been made by an over-ambitious Pedrosa rather than Simoncelli.) At the same time, however, Simoncelli is getting faster all the time, and also needs putting in his place. Rossi had backed him all the way. Until the Le Mans crash. There he suddenly changed his tune. Rossi has also been exchanging verbals and gesticulations with Stoner, although not yet face to face. Or not since Valentino’s helmet-on apology at Jerez. It will be fascinating to see how it pans out when they all get together again at Catalunya next week. But it seems obvious that Rossi is currently well ahead in the psyching-out stakes. All he needs now is a bike fast enough to catch the Hondas. and clear air. It worked for him, lapping two seconds quicker than Vettel and Alonso, who was shadowing the German and definitely had a shot at the win too. Those 10 laps were building into a truly classic crescendo until the red flags prompted the reset button. And for this reason I would like to see Article 5.3 of the rule book re-written because, by allowing teams to work on their cars before a restart – and not stipulating that tyres may not be changed – it leveled the playing field between Vettel, Alonso and Button and put the kibosh on what could have been the most unpredictable and tense Monaco GP finish since 1982. Christian Horner told Seb over the radio that it was the drive of a champion, and in fairness he didn’t put a foot wrong. He kept his head down and brought it home. But, whilst I’m the first to say you make your own luck in motor racing, I would also chalk this one down as the luckiest Monaco win since Olivier Panis in 1996. Another seven laps on those Pirelli’s and I reckon Seb would have been down to the canvas and swamped by his rivals! Rossi’s Master-class in racing’s Psycho-war Cars should restart on the same rubber 21