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GP Week : Issue 177a
The gentleman’s award – Jean-Eric Vergne When Michael Schumacher slammed into the back of Verge having barely touched his brakes into a tight corner in Singapore, most people expected JEV to lamp the 43-year-old. Instead, he graciously put an arm around Schumi and asked if he was alright. Aww. I’d have booked him into Specsavers. Biggest shock – Lewis Hamilton leaves McLaren Hamilton, who was groomed by McLaren since he was a 12-year-old karter, has finally flown the nest. Despite McLaren’s success, I understand his decision. On top of the greater commercial freedom that Mercedes offers, he’ll be treated like a grown up. McLaren were suffocating him. Just like a 27-year-old still shacked up with his folks, it was getting unhealthy. Plus he’ll be able to keep his trophies now. Question is, will he win any? Controversy of the year – Red Bull’s ride height It was like 1994 all over again (when the Benetton B194 was found packing illegal traction control). Red Bull had a button, but they said they never pushed the button, and no one was able to prove otherwise. At the Canadian GP the scrutineers found an onboard device that enabled the driver to alter the RB8’s ride height without outside assistance. This was illegal, but because they were unable to disprove Red Bull’s insistence that it hadn’t been used the FIA’s hands were tied. Why have it if you don’t use it, though, eh? Dodgy. Most unlikely winner – Pastor Maldonado, Spain Maldonado’s win in Spain, though helped by Lewis Hamilton’s grid demotion, was peerless. He withstood pressure from Fernando Alonso to take his first grand prix win, and Williams’ first since Brazil 2004. Hopes that the result would mature the wild Venezuelan were disproved, however, with a series of mindless clashes in the following rounds. It took another ten races for him to finish in the points again. Best party – Austin The messiest celebrations came courtesy of Williams following their win in Barcelona when the pits caught fire. It wasn’t much fun, though. Austin wins the award for the best après race scene, with half a dozen VIP parties raging well into the night. I hit the Code 20 party with Nico Hulkenberg, Paul Di Resta, Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi, followed by an exclusive Red Bull bash to celebrate their championship hat-trick. Then I crawled home. Hardest goodbye – Michael Schumacher Having seen Michael retire once before in Brazil, it seemed odd to do so again this year. Like when you shake someone’s hand farewell, and then bump into them in the corridor. Bit awkward. Face it, the Mercedes years have not been as any of us wanted. But let’s remember the good times – the Ferrari renaissance, the red podium wigs, the time he stole a forklift truck at Suzuka after vomiting on his brother’s shirt – and those monster stats: 308 races, 91 wins, 77 fastest laps, 68 pole positions and seven world championships. These are records that may never be broken. Nuff respect. 27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> FEATURE