Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Six Million Dollar Driver

In response to Ron Dennis' comments in the press this week about having to "rebuild" Heikki Kovalainen after his Renault experience had left him broken and disillusioned, I have decided to crack out my MS Paint skillz for the world to see. Yes, you guessed it folks, Heikki Kovalainen IS the Six Million Dollar Man! But in all seriousness, it has been a rough couple of days for Renault in the media for a number of reasons...

Whilst public boosting the confidence of his new driver Heikki Kovalainen, Ron Dennis was undoubtedly having a sly dig at the Finn's former employers. He was quoted as saying of Heikki's time at Renault, "It is a story about how this guy lost his motivation and was misguided in how he should go about his physical preparation." In other words, Renault treats its drivers like crap.

That's something that I'm certain Renault will be rather annoyed to have brought out into the public domain. F1 teams pride themselves on being at the cutting edge of every facet of performance, from the cars right down to the sack of bones and organs that pilot them. McLaren in particular like to make a song and dance about how they lead the way. The revelation that Kovalainen came to them demoralised and unfit suggests that Renault are falling someway behind their competitors in driver preparation, and their results on the track make it clear for us all to see that they have fallen behind in terms of car performance.

One man who was all too keen to swap the ultra high-tech surroundings of McLaren for the more parochial surroundings of Renault was of course Fernando Alonso. The fact that their prodigal son had returned to the fold was a massive coup for the French team. However, their star driver has also been having something of a backhanded dig at the Renault team.

He has been openly talking up the prospect of a move to Ferrari after seeing the superb pace of the Scuderia in Malaysia, and the abject performance of Felipe Massa. There could be a seat available in Maranello in the not too distant future, and Alonso is throwing his hat into the ring nice and early. This does not shine too favourably on his current employers as it seems he is giving up on their chances after just two races and wants out, publicly revealing the fact that he has an escape clause in his contract should he want to move somewhere more appealing.

Bad news for Renault, but I'm not sure what Alonso will actually be achieving through this action. We all know he's a fantastic driver, one of the best around. The only question mark currently hangs over his ability to work effectively within a team, or his complete lack of that ability I should say! Publicly stating that you think your new team is incapable of challenging, and that he wants to bail on his contract will only fuel the tabloid characterisation of Alonso as a spoilt brat, who throws his toys out of the pram when he doesn't get his own way.

I'm not convinced Ferrari will be knocking on his door begging him for his services any time soon, especially with such exceptional young talent out their like Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica...

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