In praise of real racers

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren-Mercedes, Barcelona, 2006Peter Windsor argues in this month’s F1 Racing that Kimi Raikkonen should have signed a long term contract with McLaren last year, stipulating that he gets to choose his team mate in the future.

When, of course, we should all be grateful that that’s not what Kimi has done. Do we really need another top-line driver being mollycoddled by his team and offered no competition from his team mate? Was that not the greatest part of the reasons why 2001, 2002 and 2004 were such dull seasons?

Windsor’s point may make perfect sense for a driver, but not for anyone who wants to see the greatest drivers in the world in direct competition. We’ve already seen Felipe Massa playing ‘the team role’ for Ferrari this year – slowing down Fernando Alonso during the San Marino Grand Prix to help Michael Schumacher – and it only serves to spoil the racing.

Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, McLaren-Honda, 1988We should be thankful for real racers. Men like Ron Dennis who during his tenure at McLaren has given us some of the greatest and most exciting no-holds-barred driver partnerships: Alain Prost and Niki Lauda, Prost and Ayrton Senna, Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Next, how about Raikkonen and Alonso? Fingers crossed…

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