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Reader's Comments

Happy circumstance has made an exciting championship and the weather has made some exciting races. All in all it was one of the better years, despite Max's best efforts to stuff it up. Schumacher seems set for a 6th gong and there's no guessing where the Constructors will live next year. Short of a DNF for Michael, coupled with a win for Kimi (could happen but unlikely), we will see Michael Schumacher create history again in Suzuka. Michael likes Suzuka and Suzuka likes Michael, unless his luck really goes away he'll be in the points. In a 2 horse race I'd put my money on Williams to take the Constructors but given the possibility of Messrs Raikkonen et al providing some spoiling action plus the possibility of Rubens having a good day it's too close to call.

Indy really showed where things stand with tyres. If the rain gods come out to play then Ferrari and Michael Schumacher is an unbeatable combination, if they stay home and sulk its like a French National Holiday. I can't really see this changing. Bibendum (the pneumatic Michelin mascot) doesn't like playing in the rain but has really got his act together when the sun comes out. After all the testing they have done and all the data they collect from the Michelin teams they are still no closer to making a decent wet tyre. Drivers like Raikkonen can still perform respectably in the wet but a good Bridgestone driver will beat a good Michelin driver every time. Bridgestone don't have the data stream to match Michelin with dry's but they have a huge edge in the wet.

Points notwithstanding, 2003 was the year that saw some reputations made and lost. Webber made some mistakes but signalled clearly that he's there for the long run and that he will be a force to be reckoned with. Barrichello drove arguably the best individual race of the season (GB) but showed that he will never replace Michael as the No 1 at Ferrari. Kimi and Fernando also made mistakes but again showed that they are made of the stuff that champions come from. Jenson Button will be a David Coulthard or a Rubens Barrichello of the future I think ? always there but not quite good enough. Michael showed that he's not a perfect machine with a few very poor performances but delivered enough brilliance to be there when he had to. David Coulthard ?, well David didn't.

A win and a few point's positions wasn't enough to hide that he's past it. Technically he's still very good but he's lost the God complex that the young one's have to protect them from being hurt and just isn't hungry enough to give that last poofteenth that is required. Ralf managed to yet again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by being good enough when it didn't count and falling flat when it did. Like David, he should get a very large truck to take his excessive earnings off to an appropriate retirement venue. Mika Hakkinen didn't wait for the equivalent of senility to set in, these two are following Eddie Irvine down the road of sucking the last drop out of the teat before they get pushed off it.

Of the rookies, I don't see another Alonso, Webber or Raikkonen appearing from this group although most are pretty competent steerers and have generally acquitted themselves better than some of their predecessors.

Bernie and Max were the two big losers this year. Max lost his credibility and Bernie lost more money than most of us can comprehend. Don't lose too much sleep worrying about them though, Max's ego will sustain him in place of his credibility and Bernie still has a few bucks left to fund his retirement. What does worry me though is the fairly rapid erosion of interest in F1. Gate takings were down at most venues, despite (or perhaps because of) record high ticket pricing. Sponsorship deals were fewer and for smaller bucks and the cigarette cash cow is set to dry up soon. When that happens the largest single group of sponsors will depart and the likes of Ferrari will be left with budget deficits bigger than some nations. That's the real reason the FIA and Bernie have been desperately trying to do something (invariably the wrong thing) to contain costs and promote interest. That's also the reason the big teams are pushing so hard to take away even more of Bernie's fortune, through a greater share of TV revenues.

And so, this is my last posting for 2003. It's been a classic case of the old Chinese curse. I have indeed lived in interesting times. I miss Real Racing and despair of it's returning. Maybe I'm a dinosaur but I also miss pre-aerodynamic grip and slick tyres and overtaking and cheap tickets. Ah well, perhaps it will rain for 17 days and 17 nights in 2004? Might be a bit hard to swing in Bahrain though.

At least I leave the season comfortable that I convincingly beat our esteemed Editor in 8 'n' Pole (that means the beer's are on him), even if The Heretic has yet again topped that small group ? there's always next year and I'm getting closer, statistically if not in reality I could still pip him at the post. Unfortunately, like Kimi taking the championship the smart money says it ain't gonna happen.

Au Revoir,

The Quali-flyer
The Real Race Archive

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