Alonso: We’ll see how good Vettel is later in his career – and Raikkonen’s no faster than Massa

2013 Japanese Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Spa-Francorchamps, 2013Fernando Alonso explained his view on the abilities of his closest championship rivals in the run-up to the Japanese Grand Prix.

Alonso said Sebastian Vettel, who is on the cusp of winning the world title for the fourth consecutive season, has been “very good, close to perfection all these years”.

However Alonso says the jury is still out on how good Vettel ultimately is: “It’s true that he had an advantage in car performance all these years so we see how good he is later in the career.”

“At the moment he is better than anyone and winning all the championships. But we saw also [Lewis] Hamilton starting in the first year nearly win the championship, in the second year winning the championship, but then he didn’t win any more because sometimes you have the car to do it, sometimes not. And at the moment Red Bull [and] Vettel are a very good combination and too good for us.”

Next year Alonso will be partnered at Ferrari by Kimi Raikkonen, who will take Felipe Massa’s place in the team. Alonso doesn’t expect a difference in performance between the two.

“For next year with Kimi I think we can do a very good championship for Ferrari, try to do again score as many points as possible,” he said.

“But I think in terms of speed Felipe’s not any slower. I mean when they were racing together Felipe was as quick as Kimi in a way so if we have a competitive car we will enjoy the season and we will do very good things.

“If we are not competitive car it will be very similar to this season, I think.”

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170 comments on Alonso: We’ll see how good Vettel is later in his career – and Raikkonen’s no faster than Massa

  1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 10th October 2013, 17:55

    If Massa is only as fast as Raikonnen then its going to be another difficult year for Ferrari :-)

    • @full-throttle-f1 That’s also a quick conclusion. In 07 and 08 cars were like scaletrix, an aggressive driver is the way to go but from 98 to 2004 cars were a bit squittish perhaps as much as the 2012 cars but bottom line Massa is not a Pirelli fan, on the other hand Raikkonen has done well enough on his return.

    • rambler said on 10th October 2013, 19:20

      Massa is not nearly as good as he was prior to his accident. It’s that simple. He still has the speed shown by the occasional Q performance. But all in all, he’s not the same. So Kimi wil be a much tougher challenge for Alonso.

  2. We’ll see, We’ll see…

  3. I rarely find myself disagreeing with Alonso’s opinions.

    • @georgeod implying that this is one of those occasions? I find the proposition that Räikkönen will be only as fast as Massa laughable…

      • Nick (@nick-uk) said on 10th October 2013, 18:23

        To be fair, Kimi is an aweful qualifier.

        • Candice said on 10th October 2013, 18:42

          two races and he’s awful.

          Singapore – spine injury

          Korea – broken front wing at Q3. FIA had a list showing the team changed the front wing after qualifying.

        • What Kimi lacks during qualifying he makes up during the race. I do belive that Kimi has more wins, podiums & has been higher in the points in the past 2 years when compared to Massa in an inferior car.

        • It’s funny that people always praise his qualifying pace on McLaren including Kimi own driver coach. Facts are facts Kimi hasn’t qualified well lately.

          • Candice said on 10th October 2013, 19:02

            not funny, because he often got pole despite qualify with heavier fuel load.

            Even in 2007, he got chances for pole in France, Silverstone, China but opt for heavier fuel load.

            In Brazil he was on course for pole but impeded by Lewis.

            Fact is, things haven’t gone his way in the past two races with spine injury and broken front wing.

        • @nick-uk not afwul (neither is Alonso) but both aren’t stellar, either. There’s at least a few drivers that’d beat the pair of them on a Saturday IMO.

          @caci99 to be perfectly fair I prefer open honesty over “protecting people’s feelings” – I can’t see any reason other that that to suggest why one may conclude Massa would be a match for Räikkönen based on current form.

          @commendatore it’s an undeniable truth that Vettel has had a car capable of winning the world championship the last four seasons, absolutely. That however does not imply that he hasn’t been doing the best job with that car, as Alonso admits. I’d say personally that the best drivers the last four years have been as follows:

          2010 – Vettel
          2011 – Vettel (the least affirmative)
          2012 – Alonso
          2013 – Vettel

          Which, of course, averages as Vettel being the best driver over the last four years. In 2010 Vettel didn’t have a great mid-season, but he was affected throughout the season by many reliability problems. Yet he didn’t crack under the pressure: he was the only one to keep his head at the end of the season, and it paid off.

          In 2011, well, need I say any more?

          In 2012, Alonso’s opening half of the season was just excellent. He scored every point that was available to him, so purely on that basis I have to doff my cap to him. You could however make a case for both Hamilton and Vettel in the second half of 2012 I would say.

          As for this season, well what in essence Vettel has done is repeat Alonso’s 2012 consistency and combined it with 2011 dominance when he’s had the car performance to do it. I’d say it’s been his best season performance to date.

          • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 10th October 2013, 19:42

            @vettel1
            I strongly disagree with your claim that Vettel was better than Alonso in 2010, both drivers made a handful of mistakes, but Alonso had the inferior car, and still came within 4 points of winning the WDC. Even team bosses voted Alonso as the best driver of 2010:

            http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/88556/

          • caci99 (@caci99) said on 10th October 2013, 19:45

            @vettel1 You are just illuding yourself, there is no such thing like open honesty or whats so ever, even more in public. Alonso is not saying any thing controversial about his team mate and his future team mate, which is good. Results at the end will speak for themselves, it is not up to him to decide who is better or not, he is not in a position to do that.

          • The “least affirmative” tag was of course supposed to be attached to 2010, not 2011!

            @kingshark I’m not set on that, hence the correction above. However, it is also undeniable that Vettel suffered far greater reliability woes – Bahrain and Korea are the ones that spring immediately to mind. So on balance, and giving Vettel the youth benefit of the doubt, it wouldn’t be unfair to rate both Vettel and Alonso in the same category of achievement in 2010.

          • Broom (@brum55) said on 11th October 2013, 7:33

            Vettel also was responsible for collisions with two WDC contenders – Button and Webber and despite having a superior car to all his rivals rarely got the best out of it until the Asian leg, where the Red-Bull seems to get its wings.
            Alonso won the best driver award from the paddock and Hamilton was rated the best driver of the year on this site. Both were superior to Vettel in 2010. I’d argue the same in 2012 with Kimi.

            Regarding his ‘dig’. Well in 07-09, when together, Massa got the better of Kimi in terms of wins, poles and points, but Ferrrari wouldn’t be replacing Massa if they thought Kimi wasn’t better. In terms of outright pace they may be similar, but in mentality Kimi is much tougher.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 11th October 2013, 7:53

            @brum55 – Vettel got the best out of his car more often than the results show. He lost by far the most points of the title contenders with mechanical issues/misfortune (much like LH in 2012). Not to mention, that all of the other title contenders (except Button) were responsible for at least as many collisions. The paddock didn’t believe Hamilton was superior to Vettel in 2010 either, or in any year since. Same with Raikkonen last year.

          • JCost (@jcost) said on 11th October 2013, 8:38

            @vettel1

            For me, best drivers:

            2010 – Vettel
            2011 – Vettel/Alonso
            2012 – Hamilton
            2013 – Vettel

            Best car

            2010 – Red Bull
            2011 – Red Bull
            2012 – Red Bull
            2013 – Red Bull

            Statistics theory says correlation is not causation but…

            Nando has made a good point, sometimes we need to see these guys driving a not so good car to really know how good they are.

      • caci99 (@caci99) said on 10th October 2013, 18:25

        What do you want him to say? Massa is not worth? That’s what you want to hear? That’s very poor sportsmanship. Even between Webber and Vettel we don’t hear such words (gestures were seen though) although it is well known they are no friends, but still, they are team mates.

      • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 10th October 2013, 19:04

        @vettel1

        I find the proposition that Räikkönen will be only as fast as Massa laughable…

        I guess you didn’t pay attention to F1 from 2007 till 2009?

        • Candice said on 10th October 2013, 19:06

          i guess you didn’t pay attention to 2004, 2007. And 2011 when Button trashed hamilton which reflect badly on Fernando.

        • @kingshark I guess you haven’t been paying attention since 2010?

          • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 10th October 2013, 19:43

            @vettel1,
            Yes, I paid attention very closely to Alonso trashing Massa. ;-)

          • @kingshark exactly, which was at least partially due to a severe dip in form from Massa ;)

          • alexx_88 (@alexx_88) said on 10th October 2013, 23:43

            He gave the best response possible, given the question. I’m sure that, if he’d would’ve spoken our minds (we don’t know what he thinks) and say that Kimi will be faster and better than Massa, a lot of people would’ve said: “Alonso is a poor sportsman”.

            It seems to me that, for some people, Alono can do no right, while Vettel can do no wrong.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 11th October 2013, 7:58

            @alexx_88

            It seems to me that, for some people, Alono can do no right, while Vettel can do no wrong.

            I think you have that the wrong way around.

          • alexx_88 (@alexx_88) said on 11th October 2013, 8:09

            @david-a: I think there are people in both categories, that’s why I said “for some people”. You can’t deny that there are hard-core Vettel fans that can’t accept that their favorite driver can do anything wrong, same way there are for Alonso.

            In this situation, I think Alonso went the safe route, especially since he had nothing to gain by saying than one is faster than the other, especially since he didn’t race in the same team as Kimi. He gave a safe answer and luckily for him, had facts to back it up. Whether those facts are true or not now, we’ll see in 2014. Talking before they race head-to-head on the track is just that: talking.

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 10th October 2013, 18:24

      I disagree completely …

      Vettel is the only driver this year who made no errors in all races so far and Raikkonen has stayed on top the last two years while Massa hasn’t been close to a win during that period.

    • Commendatore (@commendatore) said on 10th October 2013, 18:26

      About Kimi – yes, he’s wrong. Imo, Kimi next year will give Alonso a run for his money.
      About Vettel – nope, he’s spot on, implying that Vettel’s dominance these years is due to his car mostly, which is an undeniable truth! :)

    • andae23 (@andae23) said on 10th October 2013, 18:40

      I actually think the other way: I often disagree with Alonso, but this time I completely agree. Vettel has been close to perfection the last five years. But it’s simply too early to judge how good he really is as he is still unbelievably young (still younger than Prost when he won his first GP as has been pointed by some).

      It will be very interesting to see how he deals with setbacks, for instance not having a car he feels comfortable with. I imagine it would not be any issue for him to deal with it, but… we simply don’t know! So it would be unfair to start rating him against the legends because, although he has achieved a lot already, he hasn’t gone through the same phases as them.

      Nonetheless, Vettel’s greatness is undeniable. Denying it feels like a combination of seeing your favourite X-factor candidate loose in the final and having a playground football argument regarding whether the ball went above the imaginary goal post or not.

      • OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 10th October 2013, 19:54

        @andae23 I find difficult to think he will have problems with a car (or for a long time). Not because I’m assuming he will always drive that well, but because, as good as he is, the best teams will offer him the best available seat. He will have the luxury to choose where to drive if Red Bull takes a debacle.
        Alonso lost a great chance in 2008. He was in a team which almost evidently didn’t love him (McLaren 2007) but that gave him great results. If Alonso had stayed in McLaren, instead of choosing that terrible car that was Renault in 2008 and 2009, we could be talking now o a 3-times champion Alonso and a no-champion Hamilton. He decided the easy escape, a little childish to be honest, and that stole him of 2 years where he could have done better things in a better car.

        • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 10th October 2013, 22:23

          @omarr-pepper Alonso couldn’t beat Hamilton in his rookie year in the same car, why do you assume that Alonso would have got the better of him when he had one years’ experience under his belt the following year had he stayed at McLaren?

          • OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 10th October 2013, 23:05

            @jerseyf1 yep, but you can’t compare Alonso and Kovalainen. I’m sure that with Alonso grabbing some victories, probably Massa would have taken the WDC, or Alonso, or Hamilton. A 3-way battle, but look that the “crashgate” played in favor to Hamilton in some way. And that wouldn’t have happened with Alonso in McLaren. So, even when i agree with you, the victory of Hamilton would have been much more difficult, if possible. (A lot of ifs for a single comment, let’s stop it there :P)

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th October 2013, 23:37

        @andae23 – I think you have really touched on an important point here. So important that it might give us an idea as to why people don’t respect Vettel.

        In 2007 and 2008, I felt largely the same way about Lewis Hamilton as I currently do about Vettel. His speed wasn’t in question, but I just couldn’t bring myself to like him or support him. But then 2009 came around, and things changed. McLaren built a terrible car, and suddenly Hamilton found himself in a position where he had to rally the team around him. It was the same for Fernando Alonso at Ferrari last year – the car was terrible, but he brought them back from the brink of disaster.

        Sebastian Vettel hasn’t had to do that. Sure, he’s driven uncompetitive cars, but he’s never been in a position like Hamilton and Alonso where his championship campaign is over almost before it even starts ans he has had to make the best of a bad situation. Just about every single driver who has been champion in the past twenty-five years (or more) has had to do that at some point in his career, so I think it’s an important quality for Vettel to have, and one he needs to be accepted as one of the sport’s greats. It may even be more important for him than for anyone else, because he also missed out in the introductory stuff. Champions in the past have arrived in the sport in smaller teams and have done amazing things with the cars – like when Paul Stoddard described Alonso as doing fifty-three qualifying laps in the Japanese Grand Prix. It’s only after they turn heads on the bottom rung of the ladder that they start to move up. But when Vettel arrived on the scene, it was clear that he was going straight to Red Bull. His performance at Monza in 2008 was excellent, but it was really a case of being in the right place at the right time.

        So I think the reason why people don’t respect Vettel is because there is the perception that his success has come to him too easily, and that he is missing some if the key qualities of a champion, like rallying a team behind him in a difficult season.

    • Jelle van der Meer said on 10th October 2013, 21:38

      I always disagree with whatever Alonso says as it is always fake, political motivated, excuses or whatever he can make up to make himself look better. Recently 1 exception, which were his comments on Hulkenberg, very true but even that I believe was Alonso PR

    • dot_com (@dot_com) said on 10th October 2013, 23:58

      I agree. Like him or not, Alonso knows his stuff. I do think that Massa is not the same after his accident, but to be fair he was never exactly legendary. I believe that Kimi is a more complete driver than he was in his first stint in F1, and he’s certainly surprised some people, but to be fair we’ve only had Grosjean to compare him to since his return. I don’t think Alonso will dominate Kimi the way he has Massa, but I still expect him to come out on top. I’m really looking forward to watching Ferrari next year!!

    • Strontium (@strontium) said on 11th October 2013, 9:51

      Me too.

      I can’t understand what is happening within that brain this time. Maybe on a specific 1 lap pace Massa was occasionally faster, but his race pace is terrible, and he is extremely inconsistent.

  4. Bigasshammm said on 10th October 2013, 18:08

    Lolonso’s ego strikes again. If he thinks Massa is as fast as Kimi he’s delusional. Under perfect conditions maybe but Kimi has the ability to get te most out of the car wherein Massa has never shown that. I so hope Kimi puts a stomping to Alonso next season. Then we’ll hear more bitching than Hamilton does.

  5. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 10th October 2013, 18:15

    Alonso’s comments shows just how his “samurai mind” works

  6. subbf1 (@subbu) said on 10th October 2013, 18:19

    2014 Alonso meltdown already starting it seems.

  7. Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 10th October 2013, 18:31

    Is he underestimating Raikkonen or just being nice to Massa?

    He underestimated Hamilton. Expecting to blow away the rookie and “asploded” when he instead found himself beaten. Hope he doesn’t make that mistake again.

    • he was nt beaten as you seem to imply they were fairly evenly matched in 2007… yes Lewis finished ahead of him in the standings but that was on count back , not in terms points or race wins…

      • Imre (@f1mre) said on 10th October 2013, 18:45

        Finishing ahead of someone means beating him, doesn’t it?

      • Candice said on 10th October 2013, 18:52

        he was beaten. and alonso also got Kimi’s setup,strategy data etc on his disposal.

        I don’t get it why people keep saying Kimi didn’t deserve that title…he won it despite handicapped by cheat.

      • @puneethvb Hamilton was a rookie, Alonso was the current double world champion – that is very noteworthy.

        • @vettel1

          I am not taking anything away from Hamilton though… He surpassed everybody’s expectation in 2007… I agree that Hamilton’s performance was more impressive considering that he was a rookie… But that does not mean he beat Alonso quite convincingly as some people try to suggest from time to time… The truth is they were fairly evenly matched throughout 2007 … scored the same amount of points and won 4 races each… and @candice I never said KiMi did not deserve his title…

      • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 10th October 2013, 23:46

        Hamilton beat him in the standings and was clearly the better driver, considering it was also his first year and Alonso had just won his second title, as Max said.
        Alonso shouldn’t underestimate Raikkonen either because that is clearly what he is doing if he thinks Raikkonen is currently at the same level as Massa, who he is comfortably beating. Although ultimately I do expect Alonso to beat him.

        • Hamilton finished ahead of him in the standings on count back… They finished even on points and had same number of race wins… so it’s not as clear as you say.. I do admit Hamilton’s performance was very impressive considering he was the rookie against a double WDC…

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th October 2013, 8:14

      Or taking a bit of a dig at his team for not heeding Alonso’s advice and keeping with Massa @patrickl

  8. Big fan of Fernando but he’s sounding a bit like a grumpy old man. Vettel is only going to get better while Alonso naturally loses a few tenths as he gets older.

    The driver with the most points at the end of the season wins the championship, simple as that.

  9. Tim M (@tim-m) said on 10th October 2013, 18:45

    I think Alonso is right by saying “Felipe was as quick as Kimi in a way”, in the sense that Felipe can be very fast over a single lap, but Kimi is better over the span of a race. I think it will be interesting to see Alonso and Kimi in the same machinery, since they both are pretty tactical in their race craft, and aren’t fantastic qualifiers. I expect it to be very close. Not so much a ‘Prost-Senna’ pairing, more like a ‘Prost-Prost’ pairing, and hopefully not like the ‘Prost-Mansell’ pairing!

  10. PeterG said on 10th October 2013, 18:46

    Going by 2007-2009 then Alonso is right, In those years Massa was very closely matched to Raikkonen & let us not forget that in 2008/2009 Massa was actually the faster of the 2 more often than not.

    Alonso will have no problems with Raikkonen next year & if the cars competitive Alonso will get Championship #3.

  11. Shreyas Mohanty (@) said on 10th October 2013, 18:51

    Alonso is both wrong and right. He is obviously right about Vettel – Vettel may be a legend, the best ever, or he maybe another “good” driver! The proof of this uncertainty is how the fans are divided about Vettel! 5 years later only one of these “schools of thought” will be proven right. We will see.

    And about Raikkonen – he either has had too much to drink or he is just trying to not insult his team-mate. Or maybe he means it and he’s right – Massa has as much raw talent as Kimi ( their years together at Ferrari ) but Raikkonen “converts” the talent better!

    • Candice said on 10th October 2013, 19:04

      disagree on talent part.

      Kimi was claimed to be the laziest driver on the grid. Without enough natural talent to support him, he won’t be competitive despite being lazier.

    • Diego (@ironcito) said on 10th October 2013, 21:08

      I don’t know how you could classify a driver who wins four consecutive WDCs as merely “another good driver”, regardless of what he accomplishes after this year.

      You’ll probably say that it’s all about his car and so on, but there have been dominant cars throughout the history of F1, some more dominant than the Red Bulls. Many of those were driven by F1 legends, yet only two drivers managed to win four titles in a row, and only three managed to win four titles overall.

      And Vettel did it with some of the best drivers on the grid. Last year, with a car that was good but not dominant, he won the title against a record number of former champions.

      • Breno (@austus) said on 10th October 2013, 23:56

        Alonso classified Vettel as “better than anyone and winning all the championships”.

        Anyway, we basehd Hamilton yesterday, Alonso today. Who is next on the list? Raikkonen, Grosjean, Maldonado or Button?

  12. subbf1 (@subbu) said on 10th October 2013, 19:01

    Why is it that Vettel having a dominant car is considered a negative for him. I very much doubt that any world championship in any era was or will be won by a slower car unless the faster car has reliability issues.

    Alonso/Hamilton behave as if they won their respective World Championships in A MINARDI.
    BY Alonso standard, he should give up his 2005 WC. Only Reason he won because the Mclaren kept exploding.

  13. clas1 (@class1) said on 10th October 2013, 19:11

    Alonso is already scared of Kimi , lollll :D Next year will be legendary ….

  14. lordhesketh (@lordhesketh) said on 10th October 2013, 19:40

    I’m sorry, but I think the title of this article is very unfair to Fernando.
    “We’ll see how good Vettel is later in his career”
    The context of the conversation was regarding whether or not Vettel is “one of the greats”. Fernando answered the question honestly. He was extremely complimetary of Sebastian’s ability and the job he’s done over the last 4 years. All he’s stating is that one’s legacy can’t be judged until they are more or less finished with the sport. Other than that, he’s said that Seb has done almost a perfect job.
    Raikkonen’s no faster than Massa”
    What he actually said was “Massa is no slower than Raikkonen”. Huge difference. It sounds to me as though he’s defending Massa against aggressive comments questioning Felipe’s ability vs. Kimi.
    My two cents, anyway.

    • caci99 (@caci99) said on 10th October 2013, 19:49

      @lordhesketh absolutely right.

    • @lordhesketh agreed on the first, disagreed on the second. What he is implying is that Massa’s apparent lack of speed is only that – apparent. Which is grossly untrue, unless he knows something we don’t (Massa has inferior equipment etc.). The points standings say enough by themselves.

      • lordhesketh (@lordhesketh) said on 10th October 2013, 20:21

        Yeah, fair point.
        It just sounds to me like he’s politely answering a question that I’m sure everyone keeps asking him. “So, Massa is ****, but you’ll have Kimi breathing down your neck now. Thoughts?”
        He’s certainly not going to throw Felipe under the bus with a direct response to that. My point was that he’s not saying that “I’ll wipe the floor with Kimi as I did with Felipe”, which would be as extremely arrogant as I feel the title of the story implies.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 11th October 2013, 4:17

      @lordhesketh @caci99 @vettel1 The headline is a completely fair paraphrasing of Alonso’s comments.

      Headline: “We’ll see how good Vettel is later in his career…”
      Original Alonso quote: “we see how good he is later in the career”

      These two are virtually the same.

      Headline: “…and Raikkonen’s no faster than Massa”
      Original Alonso quote: “in terms of speed Felipe’s not any slower”

      Not identical text but clearly exactly the same meaning.

      • 3239 (@vfbi60) said on 11th October 2013, 5:55

        As a Raikkonen fan, when I saw the headline, I almost lost my respect for Alonso for saying such arrogant things. But after reading what he actually said I think they are really different.

        “Raikkonen’s no faster than Massa” and “Massa is no slower than Raikkonen” may have the same meaning but they really make different feelings. The first one sounds like Alonso is underestimating Raikkonen but the other one sounds like he is just praising Massa.

        I think the headline is pretty unfair to Alonso. It can make people think badly of him although he haven’t done anything wrong, just my opinion anyway.

      • UTBowler0407 (@utbowler0407) said on 11th October 2013, 7:15

        I have to disagree on the 2nd one. Of course they mean the same thing semantically, but the former statement sounds like a dig at Raikkonen, while the latter statement seems like praise for Felipe. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. I agree entirely with @vfbi60

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd October 2013, 11:39

        @vfbi60

        The first one sounds like Alonso is underestimating Raikkonen but the other one sounds like he is just praising Massa.

        Clearly he is saying both. There is no difference between the two statements as @utbowler0407 admits. Pretending otherwise is just an attempt to do Alonso’s PR for him. The headline is completely fair and accurate.

  15. Kisii (@kisii) said on 10th October 2013, 19:50

    Fernando is realizing that as time passes, people will focus more on the numbers and not the extenuating circumstances and Vettel will stand higher than he does in the ranking. It is a sobering thought for someone of his ambition and it has to be rankling him to no end.

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