Don't crown Ferrari's Alonso just yet

08:15, September 16, 2010      

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Even if it was his first win this year not assisted by attrition ahead (as at Bahrain when Sebastian Vettel's engine went sour) or the courteous actions of teammate Felipe Massa (in Germany), Fernando Alonso's victory in the Italian Grand Prix was a good one.

The 2005 and '06 champion was beaten off the line by Jenson Button but stayed calm. Taking his mandatory pit stop for tires one lap later than the McLaren driver, Alonso completed his 'in lap' more than half a second faster than Button did his.

Together with quicker teamwork from the Ferrari mechanics, it was enough to leap frog the Spaniard into the lead - and puts him third in the points, just 21 from the top. These days, 25 points are scored for a race victory and the top five contenders (Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Alonso, Button and Sebastian Vettel) are covered by just 24.

Despite Alonso's strong form on Ferrari's home soil last weekend, your columnist remains dismissive of suggestions he is somehow the most complete driver in F1.

For a start, the 29-year old double world champion has made way too many errors this season.

Alonso spun on the first lap in Australia, jumped the start in China, crashed in practice at Monaco (and so started from the back of the grid) and had a messy qualifying in Turkey (only 12th), leading to a poor race to eighth place. In Valencia, he spent much of the race moaning on the radio (about Hamilton) and in Britain was (correctly) penalized for cutting a chicane.

Then came the team orders scandal at the German Grand Prix and finally, a fortnight ago at Spa, Alonso crashed after making the novice's error of driving on the slippery-when-wet kerbs as rain fell late in the race.

How such a mistake-prone competitor can be labeled the most complete driver in F1 is a mystery. For that title, look no further than Alonso's nemesis. Hamilton. In 2007, the pair was teammates at McLaren so we could judge their speed independently of equipment. Hamilton matched Alonso for points and wins in the Briton's debut season.

It's true that Hamilton's 2010 Italian Grand Prix was unproductive - after an injudicious move during the first lap - but his mistake there was about the first serious, points-sapping one he's made all season. Otherwise. he has managed to stay in contention for a second world title despite not having the fastest car and being robbed of strong scoring finishes in Spain (wheel failure) and Hungary (gearbox).

Unlike Alonso, Hamilton's teammate (Button) is racing against him, not playing a supporting role.

After a successful career on the track, Matthew Marsh now works at JMI - the world's leading motor sport marketing company. He can be reached at: [email protected]

Source: China Daily


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