Having finally got round to setting up a blog, and agonised over what to write “About” myself, I now feel like I actually have to make a post, just to say its underway.
Problem is, I’m rather preoccuiped this morning. The Match of the Day recording is playing in the corner, I’m trying to keep an eye on the mainstream media’s latest harrassing of individuals (especially women, it seems) who dare to have opinions, but it’s all timed to be ready for the event of the weekend, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
If anybody reading this doesn’t know, at the time of writing there are four drivers in with a theoretical chance of winning the World Drivers’ Championship. Two of them, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, are previous world champions, twice in Alonso’s case. The other two, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, both drive for the Red Bull team, which secured the Constructors’ World Championship at the previous race, last week in Brazil.
Red Bull are my local team, which is something that really only people living in the western Home Counties or Maranello can say. I remember them when they were called Paul Stewart Racing and ran Formula 3000 cars out of an estate some five miles or so from their present base. But I can’t say I’ve ever warmed to them, despite their proximity. In the last few years, since the advent of Hamilton, and especially since the signing of 2009 champion Jenson Button (who finally saw his championship chances extinguished last week), I’ve leaned towards Woking-based McLaren, even with their famous hyper-corporate style. They, more than any other team at present, combine the British racing spirit with genuine winning ability.
In Webber, though, Red Bull have a driver who it is really easy to support. I’m sure that there are many layers of complexity to the man, but his public face is of an uncomplicated Aussie who says what he thinks and just wants to win. As far as I know, his back story is not that of the Vettel/Hamilton style protege, but of the racer who has worked his way up. There is a very good chance that this season will be his last shot at the ultimate prize in motor racing, and the perception is that he has had to do it in the face of not much help from his team. While Red Bull Racing is a proper motorsport team with genuine racers up to and including designer Adrian Newey and principal Christian Horner, the drinks company marketing side of the operation, led by company owner Dietrich Mateschitz and his representative in the pit lane Helmut Marko, appear to clearly favour Vettel as a result of their long investment in his career.
Despite this, or maybe because of it, Webber came into the final weekend with a marginally better chance of winning the championship. A below-par performance in qualifying means he starts the race two places behind Alonso, who he needs to beat by the same margin (assuming they both finish towards the front). From a financial point of view, I’m keeping half an eye on Hamilton, whose odds of 100-1 earlier in the week were probably realistic but still worth a tenner. From a sporting perspective, I’ve got everything crossed for Webber.