What An Injured Brazilian Can Do To A Finnish Champion

This year’s Hungarian Grand Prix was home to a first of many things, some more obvious than others.  Beginning with the fact that Hamilton scored his first win of the season, this win is the first time he has won twice at the same circuit – having won the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2007. In addition, this was also the first car equipped with KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) to win a Grand Prix.

Mark Webber set the fastest lap of the race for the first time in his career. Jaime Alguersuari, aged 19 years and 125 days old, became the youngest driver ever to start a Grand Prix. Due to Massa’s Saturday injury, only 19 cars took to the start, which was the lowest number of cars since the 2005 Indianapolis Grand Prix in the United States.

All these firsts happen to make the Formula 1 spectacle a lot more interesting. Here is another first I would like all of you to bother your minds with:

The season opened in Australia this season, like it has done for many years now. After that followed Malaysia, China, Bahrain, Spain, Monaco, Turkey, Great Britain, and Germany. Let’s stop there for a moment. During the nine races, Kimi Raikkonen was busy fighting to bring his Ferrari to the podium. He failed and scored a mere 10 points in 9 races.

Kimi & Massa

Driver Signing at Grand Prix

And then it was Saturday July 25th, 2009. Felipe Massa drove as quick and as concentrated as he could lapping around during Q2. He and fellow Brazilian, Rubens Barrichello, met on track and as the session moved on, it did in quite frightening fashion. The spring from the third damper of Barrichello’s car came loose and lifted up towards Massa’s F60. It first hit the front of the cockpit before striking its side protection, finally bashing into Massa’s helmet.

Raikkonen, reportedly, did not call nor visit his teammate during the recovery period.

“He sent me a card to the hospital. Raikkonen’s silence is no problem because he is a unique person,” Massa told reporters.

The very day after Massa had been dubbed unconscious, Raikkonen made it to the podium, scoring 8 points (80% of his yearly achievement). After Hungary came Europe and Belgium and Italy. And in those three races he brought 6, 10, and 6 points respectively – making that four podiums, including a win, in four races – totaling at 30 points.

10 points in 9 races and 30 points in 4 races. Would somebody like to explain that to me? Here is mine:

Massa has had a long and flourishing relationship at Ferrari, one much deeper than that of Raikkonen’s. Such a deep relationship can create favoritism and I feel Massa has been enjoying a fair amount of favoritism over Raikkonen, regardless of the Finn’s 2007 World Driver’s Championship title. Various other reasons come to mind: Hungary has been the turning point in the red car’s development, Hungary has been the race where Raikkonen finally came to terms with the F60’s weakness.

Is Raikkonen feeling more comfortable, more at ease with Massa out of the picture? Despite his approach to racing, his unique communication techniques, is he finally getting the Champion treatment that he deserves? Because of that treatment, is he able to perform better? Are all the rumors going around about Raikkonen’s future in the sport – news that he will be replaced – forcing him to push harder? Is it a combination of things?

Nevertheless, an injured Brazilian can do much to a Finnish Champion – a first for Formula 1 indeed.

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One comment

  1. MarcS

    It’s quite a huge development in Raikkonen’s attitude and driving. I never thought of it your way. You approached it in a distinguished way, now you got me to think of the different relationships between the drivers and the team.
    There are always firsts 😉

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