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GP Week : Issue 169
MICHAEL’S MESS As I said after Malaysia in 2011, when Fernando Alonso clipped the back of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren, there is no excuse for running into the back of another car when travelling in a straight line (other than if you have obviously been brake-tested). It’s just about the biggest mistake a driver can make – as Jacques Villeneuve demonstrated so tragically in Melbourne in 2001. Michael hit the back of Bruno Senna’s Williams in Spain this year and now comes the Vergne shunt (literally). Lap 39. Turn 14. Square into the back of the STR, brakes locked. Michael told Louise Goodman (GPTV) that he didn’t know what had happened: “I braked a little earlier than normal,” he said, “but the brakes seemed to lock sooner than normal. We need to investigate the cause.” Make of that what you will. Personally, I’m confused. I thought Michael was better than that; I wanted him to be better than that. And I don’t really understand what he’s talking about these days. He said on Friday in Singapore that he had been troubled by a “brake issue” on the car. When I spoke to Brembo, though, they flatly denied that there had been any problems at all. If Michael was having a ‘brake issue’ in the race, why didn’t the team know about it? Maybe that’s just Mercedes ‘protocol’ coming into play; maybe it’s not. Who knows? For me, the whole MGP/Michael thing is a complete mystery. Then again, maybe that’s just Michael. He left F1 for the wrong reasons (edged out of Ferrari before he was ready); he never seemed content in retirement (in the way that Jody Scheckter, for example, instantly focused on something new) and thus he returned to F1 for the wrong reasons. And now the Singapore shunt will direct him back to quieter times. I hope on this occasion he enjoys himself more. SPEAKING OF LOUISE... It was a pleasure to work with someone who always seemed to ask the right question at the right time. OK. I know she ‘schooled’ Jean-Eric Vergne about Media Matters a year or two back, but there was nothing wrong with her asking JEV after the Michael shunt about why he was being so gracious. “It’s happened,” he said. “Everybody saw what happened. There’s no point in going on about it. Already I’m thinking of the next race.” Very professional. Very well-schooled. AND, FINALLY, FERNANDO All weekend he seemed disarmingly serious, abnormally focussed. At the autograph session on Thursday evening he arrived late and departed early, leaving behind him a scattering of hastily-signed cards over which his many fans were obliged to fight. He was concerned about the competitiveness of his Ferrari F2012. He was concerned about qualifying at the front. He was right to be. The car’s grip level was disappointingly low. In the end, though, Singapore represented another step for wards for Fernando’s 2012 Championship chase. On the night that Lewis Hamilton failed to score 25, Fernando finished third – an inherited third. Fernando nonetheless played his part: he made no mistakes. He contained the beast to the point of it displaying no oversteer or understeer. His driving, as ever, was sublime. He protected the rears. He defended well against di Resta. He attacked Maldonado at exactly the right moment. And, on the pit wall, Pat Fry and the boys perfectly- managed the pit stops and the tyre changes. Of such work on the difficult days world championships are made. 27 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> SPA 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: