We had a thrilling chase to the finish and ITV let us watch it all this time. Raikkonen’s heart breaking last-lap failure made big news in the British papers – or was it just because the football season’s finally over?
ITV commentators James Allen and Martin Brundle did not see eye-to-eye on McLaren’s decision to keep Kimi Raikkonen running in the later stages of the European Grand Prix – “I told you,” screamed Allen, even as Raikkonen’s three-wheeled car was bouncing through the gravel, “If he’d stayed out he could have still gotten a podium, now he’s got nothing.”
Allen-watchers (a significant breed among the F1 online community) were kept busier than usual during the race as a couple of notable blunders kept through. For example Vitantonio Liuzzi, he mused, didn’t like his new set of tyres after his pit stop (where, of course, he was not allowed to change tyres.)
We were also reminded that mechanics cannot remain on the grid for too long as the start approached lest they git hit by a car, an accident which, Allen noted, killed a marshall in the early 1980s. The only marshall to suffer such a fate was Dave Luckett at the 1981 Belgian Grand Prix and he survived – tragically fellow mechanic Giovani Amadeo was killed at the same meeting in a different incident during practice.
But Allen and Brundle were not the only people with differing views on the Raikkonen crash. The Times struck a cautionary note with their back-page spread: “Formula One came close to sacrificing safety for entertainment,” warned Kevin Eason, before noting that such incident are why “the paying public have been treated to seven cracking races this season.”
It’s a good piece, but unfortunately they did confuse Jenson Button for team mate Takuma Sato when citing how close Raikkonen came to collecting the BAR as he left the track at 340 kph…
No such sentiment in the Daily Star, who treat Raikkonen’s drama with a comical air. “Kimi’s wheely upset after last-lap KO” screams the banner headline across two pages, albeit still hidden behind seven pages of football coverage even as the English leagues head into the off-season.
As far as they’re concerned, the more incident the better, it seems. Formula One will take it in the neck if a driver ever gets seriously hurt again, but you can’t deny the media reward incident with coverage.
Despite the substantial amount of action going on up and down the track, the Daily Express are, as ever, only really interested in what went on for the British drivers. Unfortunately for them, Button had by far one of the least interesting races of any of the drivers at the Nurburgring (except for the last-lap drama in his mirrors). David Coulthard’s hard luck tale of what might have been occupies most of their report
The Mirror even go so far as to tell the main story from the point of view of a British driver – Raikkonen’s crash may have seriously hurt his championship chances, but to The Mirror the real story is how close he came to hitting Button.
A sidebar story on Coulthard plays him up as a “Monaco playboy” to rival Eddie Irvine. “Coulthard partied into the points thanks to 10 leggy lovelies and some close friends,” they claim. I wonder what Simone had to say about that?
Funnily enough, for all the dramatic shots of Raikkonen plunging off-track with his right-front tyre twirling about the cockpit, the tabloid page setters seemed to have preferred the one of Alonso perhcing the winner’s trophy on his head…
The Independent have far and away the best photography this week, shunning the grainy TV pictures of Raikkonen’s crash for a back-page photo of Alonso and a great image of the turn one pile-up shot from the inside of the corner.
Journalist David Tremayne was not over-awed with Alonso’s fourth victory of the season: “Fernando Alonso has won three Grands Prix this year, and finished first in a fourth.” Ouch. Nor was he particularly impressed with the European Grand Prix, “which was a dull affair until the final ten laps.”
Dull? Controversial, maybe. Disappointing, if you’re a Raikkonen fan. But dull? He must have missed the 2004 season…