So we’re now in the countdown to one of the most important and emotionally charged sporting weekends of the year. Will Lewis Hamilton see off the Spaniard and the Finn at Interlagos? And will England see off the Springboks at the Stade de France?
On the face of it you’d have to say that Lewis has the better chance of getting the upper hand in his particular discipline. He’d best look out not only for Felipe Massa though, who will be out to help Kimi Raikkonen if he finds he can’t end up winning the Brazilian grand prix for the second successive year, and also his team-mate Fernando Alonso who might just – given the state of intra-team McLaren relations – feel he would prefer the Kimster to take the title rather than the young Brit.
Forgetting the fact that it is amazing that Alonso is still driving for McLaren, given his apparent disloyalty, it is even more amazing that the FIA seems willing to pander to the world champion’s paranoia. I am of course referring to the bizarre decision that an official from the sport’s governing body will reportedly oversee the McLaren F1 team’s treatment of their two drivers Hamilton and Alonso throughout the coming Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, where the outcome of the world championship will be decided in favour of either one of them or their Ferrari rival Raikkonen.
Following in the wake of a recent statement from McLaren pledging that both Alonso and Hamilton will have equal chances of winning the title, the FIA will try to guarantee such a state of affairs by using a separate scrutineer for the British team throughout the three days of practice and racing at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit.
This may well be a move prompted by the best intentions imaginable, or be seen as pandering to Fernando Alonso’s paranoia, depending on your viewpoint. Certainly, if it eventually happens, it will be supremely ironic. Even the most cursory trawl through the F1 history books reveals that McLaren’s record of even-handed treatment for its drivers is unmatched over the past 25 years. So for it to be put under such microscopic scrutiny seems wholly unreasonable by any standards.
There are historical ironies attaching to this story, as well. It will not have escaped the attention of eagle-eyed Autocar readers that the FIA never appointed a ‘special scrutineer’ to look after the interests of Eddie Irvine or Rubens Barrichello when they were serving their respective stints as Michael Schumacher’s lackey at the wheel of the number two Ferrari.