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GP Week : Issue 137
GPWEEK OPINION >> marks him out as a major motorcycle racer in the making. The next Rossi, if you like. But nobody can think it happens only because he has over-developed gifts. Marquez, of course, has not only been professionally groomed every step of the way in that respect (by ex-125 champ Emilio Alzamora. The taciturn Alzamora has also laid on a highly professional and well-financed team; Repsol took Marquez into its stable from the start. The Marquez squad is as like the average impecunious Moto2 team at the other end of the time sheets as a fine Spanish buffet to a half-eaten can of baked beans. His advantages are considerable. Although to be fair not unique. There’s the question of testing. He’s reckoned to have done 20 days this season, compared with five or six at the other end of the scale. It would be interesting to compare this with the other top teams: like Gresini’s and the Aspar squad. There’s the question of chassis development. Marquez’s team has bought him the top option from Suter’s menu, which includes factory-level development throughout the season. A new swing-arm is the latest; Marquez is several small but significant steps ahead of the other Suter users. Steps are being taken to iron out this inequality. Moto2 testing will next year fall closer in line with the strict limits to MotoGP. It probably won’t make much difference. There’s a way around this as well, as shown by the major factories. There’s no restriction on running a test team. And in the case of Moto2, even a friendly high- level Spanish series in which to do it. Levelling out is the goal also in Moto3; and ultimately also in the top class with the CRT sanction. But whatever the class, one wrinkle cannot be flattened. Money will always, one way or another, buy more speed. “Yeah, halfway” said Vettel, steelily. “ That’s how we’re racing then,” responded Button with a wry smile. Wonderful stuff. Lewis Hamilton was on the defensive following yet another accident with Felipe Massa, who since Monaco, it wouldn’t surprise me, might have invested in a Hamilton voodoo doll such is his clear dislike for the man and his racecraft. That’s three scrapes in four races for Hamilton, and this one was reminiscent of the Kobayashi crash in Belgium – though not as devastating. Once again, Lewis turned across on a car on the outside without looking in his mirror properly. Lewis says they’re too small and vibrate too much. Perhaps he’d like to take up truck racing instead. Though I have come to Lewis’s defense on every occasion this year I do concede that he’s as accident prone as Ted Kennedy on date night. Hamilton is not “in a good place”, he’s stated himself, and one wonders whether this psychological fug is self-inflicted or as a result of his personal life. His father, Anthony, made derogatory comments about his management last week. Team-mate Button, in contrast, seems more content and is driving better than we’ve ever seen him. A win in Japan is especially poignant, given his affinity for his “second home”. With Jenson’s popularity so great at McLaren, Hamilton is feeling like the outsider and that won’t sit well with his complicated ego. Vettel’s ego has always been in check, and another title will have nothing but positive effect. He can now thoroughly enjoy the remaining four rounds with the pressure off, and I don’t expect him to slow down. On the cool down lap, having taken the flag, Michael Schumacher – Seb’s countryman and hero – came alongside the Red Bull and gave him the thumbs up from his cockpit. “ Those small things make it really really special,” beamed Seb. I tell you what’s special: five consecutive titles. And I wouldn’t bet against Vettel beating that record to boot. Some are more equal than others ... Vettel sprouts a second finger! 23