When last year’s Lotus vs. Lotus battle erupted, the general consensus was that Dany Bahar and Group Lotus were just pale imitators of Colin Chapman’s legacy, and undeserving of the Lotus name. By the end, I think a fair few people felt the same way about Tony Fernandes, too. But now that the bickering over the name has subsided, and the team has started to demonstrate some real potential (sooner that I thought they would, too), there is a question that I’ve been itching to ask since November:
Let’s say that Colin Chapman was alive today. What would he think of Kimi Raikkonen? What would he think of Romain Grosjean?
Allow me to explain: one of the reasons why I don’t particularly like Pastor Maldonado or Bruno Senna is because I don’t think they fit the mold of a Williams driver. Sure, they drive for Williams, but they cannot hold a candle to the likes of Prost and Mansell and Ayrton Senna. Their names are never going to be etched into the pantheon of greats – if, fifty years from now, you were asked to name as many Williams drivers as you could, you probably won’t answer “Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna”, and if you do, you probably won’t mention them first.
So, if Colin Chapman was with us today and running his team, how wouldd he react to Raikkonen and Grosjean? Are they the kinds of driver he would do anything to get into his cars? And if they were racing in the 1980s, who would he partner them with? Or would he avoid them as much as possible?
Personally, I think Romain Grosjean would have fit into the team quite well. I think he would have been a good choice to partner Senna and/or Piquet in the place of Satoru Nakajima back in the 1980s (even though the team was being run by Peter Warr at the time).
As for Raikkonen I just can’t see him there. He’d have the speed that Chapman would certainly want, but when it comes to personality and attitude, I think there would be conflict between them. If that conflict could be managed, then by all means, the partnership would be a success. But if not, I think it would fall apart and end with Raikkonen leaving the team.