Vantage point

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Schumy's Back

Imola manages to produce some great races every year. Maybe it is the extra motivation Ferrari has to do well on its home track. Maybe it is the motivation other teams have to outshine the Ferraris on their hoimetrack. Whatever the reason, races like yesterday's are a treat to watch.

Alonso, the reigning champion, right on the tail of Schumacher the reigning god, for half the race. Constant pressure, frequent overtaking attempts, deteriorating brakes, a battle of nerves. It doesn't get any better than this. It wasn't Alonso's day yesterday, as a little slip-up with half a dozen or so laps to go could have potentially cost him the race. But the way he kept the pressure on relentlessly, even though he could have just coasted to 2nd and picked up 8 points shows that he is made of the same ultra-compewtitive material as his opponent, and will be a worthy successor to the throne.

Schumacher himself gave an exhibition of his talent and his intellect, slowing down the pace of the chase adroitly, and making the much faster Renault blink first. The pressure on Michael was tremendous, since he hadn't won a race since the embarrassing Indy GP last year. With an ultra-motivated and in-form champ like Alonso in a superior car, mere mortals would have buckled in, and lost the fight. But Schumy, literally and figuratively, stayed one step ahead. It was an excellent sequel for last year's race.

People often say they prefer easy-overtake circuits over those where there aren't many opportunities for it. While an overtake-intensive race is no doubt exciting, a race such as this is absorbing. I prefer savouring the absorbing contests to an infinite series of slip-stream-assisted manouevres in which the race lead changes faster than you can count.

Though practically, Ferrari just gained 2 points over Renault, a win energises the whole team, and suddenly a Ferrari-Renault , the battle we've all been waiting for for about half a decade, seems probable. As Jeff Murdoch would say, exceelent!