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The 'Also Ran' Award by the Quali-flyer
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I have long believed that the competitiveness shown between drivers on opposing teams was just a mask to cover the rivalry within a team. In the past we have seen at times much greater stratification of driver skills with a less talented group of pay-for-drive pilots often sitting in the second seat. This was good for the egos and wallets of the lead drivers but not for the spectators or the sport, mobile chicanes not withstanding. This year we have a much smaller (but they’re still there) group of really-aren’t-good-enough-but-daddies-rich drivers and a generally much stronger driver line-up. This will put more pressure than ever on those big ego and bigger wallet drivers to deliver. My job, having decided to accept it, is to measure these drivers and tell the world that they are not that much better, if any, than their relatively underpaid team mate.
The Japanese GP 'Also Ran' and Qualifying Champion
The also ran award is there to reward underachievers and while it is tempting to simply pick a losing differential (Olivier Panis in this case) that is not its purpose. Panis was beaten by the teams number one driver and that's as it should be. It is far more tempting to award it to the Williams team for snatching defeat to McLaren from the jaws of victory. They started the season so dominantly in second place and lost the plot at the end.
No, for the final race of it's inaugural season there is no also ran award. David and Ralf have managed to capture enough through the season to satisfy even their egos and Eddie received his just rewards for his PR efforts.
All 3 though have once again failed to be world champion of anything and shown why they never will be. They have been convincingly beaten in the Most Best field by Michael and in the Least Best by Alex. Only huge amounts of money can support a talent as small as Alex's through most of a season (he didn't manage to make the whole season because Paul got sick of only having one Sunday driver.
It really doesn't require any justification, Mark Webber in his rookie year was our Qualifying Champion and Alex's woeful performance should not lessen the efforts of Mark in achieving that.
The United States GP 'Also Ran' Award.
I predicted Eddie Irvine would be a surprise, but I didn't expect him to surprise by being 13th. After his efforts in print and in front of the microphone I went back and reviewed my criteria (see The Real Race Explained page) for awarding also rans. Based on that reasoning today's award for the first time goes to a driver who did outperform his team mate. In my explanation I said, in part:
After Eddie's supreme effort at self-praise in his regular Sun article that said "It's comforting to know that old farts like myself can still blow the pants off Formula One's young guns," going on to say "I was fifth here last season and I'll be disappointed if I don't at least equal that result this time around. My objective is to add at least another couple of points to the scoresheet and again show the old 'uns have what it takes."
I look forward to the press conference where the old fart explains away today's performance where, incidentally, quite a few of Formula One's young guns blew the pants off him. Sorry Eddie, the only thing you have left is the ability to talk better than you can drive … oh, and the ability to win Also Ran's for your efforts.
The Italian GP 'Also Ran' Award.
David Coulthard must be starting to think that there's a conspiracy against him. An upstart kid from a place even colder than Scotland very convincingly outperforms him and a Jaguar of all things, driven by an Irish playboy of all people, slots in almost a ¼ of a second in front of him. Perhaps its time to consider retiring David? At least you will have a record number of Also Rans to mark your 2002 season if you continue driving like this. For today, your award only matches Ralf's haul of three. Don't panic though David, there's always Indy and Japan to come and the way you're driving you're looking safe for the inaugural Least Best award.
The Belgian GP 'Also Ran' Award.
Belgium 2002 provided an amazing display of driver superiority for some teams, particularly given the fine weather. Michael outqualified Barrichello by 0.609, Raikkonen outqualified Coulthard by 0.609 and Webber outqualified Davidson by 0.608.
Davidson doesn’t need an excuse, he’s the number two driver and he did well to only drop 0.6 to the more experienced Webber on his second outing in the car. Barrichello doesn’t need an excuse, he’s the number two driver and nobody can touch an on form MS. David Coulthard really doesn’t need an excuse either, he just needs someone to gently explain that he’s the number two driver as well.
However, as long as he keeps deluding himself that he is top gun in the McLaren team he’ll keep winning Also Rans when he fails to deliver top gun results – like today.
The Hungarian GP 'Also Ran' Award.
Not much to think about really, for the second time in a row our Almost Champion wins an Also Ran. Juan Pablo Montoya has dropped the ball and Ralf seems to have picked it up. I spent the first half of the season criticising Ralf. Guess I have to level the playing field. In the absence of a Malaysian contender the Columbian wins by a second.
For someone with so much promise Juan sure can be bad when he tries (or doesn't).
The German GP 'Also Ran' Award.
Alex Yoong failed to qualify (yet again) and must be a huge embarrassment to the team and the sponsors. I guess he can at least tell his grandchildren that he was once a F1 driver and spent most of a season doing it. He might just forget to mention just how bad he was. But he wasn’t quite bad enough to win another Also Ran at Hockenheim.
Coulthard and Villeneuve weren’t bad enough either, close, but no gongs for them this time. Only because there is a much worthier candidate this round.
If Michael came in over ½ a second behind Rubens he would be a shoe-in. Why should our ex-Qualipoints leader be treated any differently. He shouldn’t and he won’t be. After a string of successes on one podium Juan Pablo Montoya has moved to another, the middle step on the Also Ran stage. Perhaps he was just jealous of Ralf’s success in this forum
The French GP 'Also Ran' Award.
So many duds, so few trophies. Where does one start? Ralf, we knew that he would be found wanting when the pressure was on, and he proved that again. David must be getting used to being outshone by flying Finn's, or perhaps he just can't do anything about it. Jarno proved yet again that he can't decide whether he is on the way up or down. Pedro was a long way down on Eddie but having only completed 2 runs (versus Eddie's 4) I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Not so Alex, he was just bad.
No, David's performance earned him nothing more than an honourable mention, Ralf and Alex have to fight it out for top honours so, in the closest battle to date, our Also Ran for France goes to the man who least lives up to the high standards set by his brother, our first three times winner, Ralf Schumacher and Alex can rest easy knowing that he is guaranteed to win more also rans before fading away into obscurity as one of F1's least best driver ever when Daddy's cash runs out.
The British GP 'Also Ran' Award.
de la Rosa just managed to qualify but he spent almost the entire session having a water leak repaired. Yoong failed to qualify and doesn't deserve a seat in the stands tomorrow, let alone a pit pass. While Ralf would have been a worthy recipient, yet again, and Fisichella is running backwards very quickly, being 0.3 behind Sato, Alex showed that he is (fortunately) in a league of his own.
Alex Yoong, be thankful you now have another Also Ran, they are the only F1 accolades you will ever earn.
The European GP 'Also Ran' Award.
Jacques Villeneuve said yesterday "It's hard to say where we are at the moment but I guess we're expecting a similar qualifying performance to Montreal." Sorry Jacques, in Canada you had a go. In Europe, well, in Europe you didn't!
Perhaps it was the lack of a home crowd, perhaps it was a hard night last night, perhaps you are just getting past it. Panis is a reasonable middle of the road pilot Jacques, not an ex World Champion with an ego that exceeds his talent. It must be rather galling to have him come home a second in front of you.
At least you get the consolation of having won yet another Also Ran for your effort
The Canadian GP 'Also Ran' Award.
Decisions decisions. So many worthy candidates, so few Also Rans. Ralf almost made it, perhaps he deliberately slowed down just to get another gong but he’ll have to do better than today. He is however almost guaranteed future awards the way he’s driving.
Alex, well Alex is at least consistent and that has to count for something so we’ll pass on him as well. Plus, I'd hate to have him get upset and take his ATM card off Paul Stoddard, the team needs the cash.
For the second time this season we have a two times winner. Only one driver out there today managed to combine the arrogance required to say before the real race that “... I know I can drive quicker around here than anyone else” with the stupidity required to say it out loud before going out and getting convincingly out-driven by an inexperienced kid, who’s been to Montreal only once before. David Coulthard, you were a fairly quick driver but your days are numbered, a real talent sits in the other McLaren and your awards from here on out are more likely to be the huge collection of Also Rans you will undoubtedly gather than garlands achieved for winning Real Races.
The Monaco GP 'Also Ran' Award.
The Also Ran is awarded to the driver who gets his talent and aspirations most mixed up. Quiet achievers are unlikely to win one, even if they fail to deliver on the day. The award is set at a much more deserving level, and today we have to search for a worthy recipient.
Eddie failed (again). Nick was beaten by a very fast Felipe. Alex, well, Alex wasn’t lucky enough to have Mark stop on his outlap but at least he did manage to qualify eventually. All these drivers have won awards in the past. Eddie was distracted by the media attention he got while criticising Ferrari, Nick seems to be cursed with very quick team mates and is starting his slide back down the table of wins against Massa.
Few teams will be able to claim two wins by a driver in this season. Few teams also have two drivers who both claim to be supreme, results not withstanding. Williams has two such drivers, both are adept at putting the second best car where any decent driver should, in the second best spot, with the occasional lapse or effort. Today saw both a lapse and an effort.
Ralf sees himself as a potential world champion and has shown patches of talent. Just not this time. In the ongoing battle between the two Williams drivers Ralf struck the early blows, Juan Pablo came back with a vengeance, slipped back a bit and Ralf …… couldn’t follow through.
Ralf, world champions don’t lose real races by half a second, even drivers who are the brothers of world champions. Wannabe world champions however, as you know, do win Also Ran awards for doing so. Congratulations Ralf Schumacher, Monaco’s Also Ran and our first dual award winner.
The Austrian GP 'Also Ran' Award.
So many choices, so few accolades.
Michael? Tempting though it is, no! After his performance this morning he was just unlucky this afternoon. Which at least shows the MS luck is not totally infallible. David or Eddie? Both worthy recipients, but they can’t be too greedy. They both have one already, and they weren’t the worst performers on the day anyway. Alex? Way too easy.
Open your uniform and check the ‘Best Before’ label on your navel, Jacques. I think you might find that your Use By date has passed last century. Villeneuve was good, so was Alain Prost, Alan Jones and Nigel Mansell, none of these drive anymore. The BAR is, and always has been, a terrible car. With a Jordan comfortably in front of Jacques, it’s not getting any better. But why is Panis’ car better?
Jacques will not get a competitive drive again and his options are retirement or to continue to languish at the back of the field and get even richer while being able to blame a pig of a car for his performance, or lack of it. OK, perhaps the bank manager says it’s not yet time to retire after all, but just maybe you could actually pretend to be trying and give Panis a run in the real races?
Or is that you wanted to add an Also Ran to your trophy case before you go? If so, I suppose we shall hear about your retirement very soon. Jacques Villeneuve, you’ve got one now!
The Spanish GP 'Also Ran' Award.
The Also Ran Award for Barcelona goes to a consummate professional. Few drivers can equal Eddie Irvine’s polished performance in explaining why they didn’t do better. Only one can combine that talent with (the old) Rubens Barrichello’s abilities at self-delusion and convince himself that he is the best driver in the team. These combine to allow him to mix his aspirations and capabilities up and feel he is still World Championship material despite falling 0.15 seconds behind his opponent (again!)
No, dummy, I’m not awarding the award this race to JPM (who was once again battling with MS for an award 5 minutes before the end of the real race!).
Today’s Also Ran award goes to a man who has shown his worth over most of the season, convincing winning the weather lottery in Melbourne then at best just topping his opponent (by .03 seconds) once since then. The Spanish GP Also Ran Award is proudly presented to David Coulthard, a proud support driver to both of McLaren’s Flying Finn’s and in the best tradition of the current crop of Scottish drivers, a worthy recipient of all the accolades due the second best driver in the team.
The San Marino GP 'Also Ran' Award.
Paul Stoddard must be apoplectic – here’s this guy
sitting in your car, he can’t drive but he keeps throwing buckets of Ringgit’s
at the accountants. What to do? Well, in this case he can make good use of
Alex tomorrow. If it rains Mr Yoong can hold an umbrella over one of the
Michelins on Webber’s car, after today’s performance he certainly shouldn’t
and almost certainly won’t, be driving. San Marino’s Also Ran recipient
has to be the man who has come such a close second on 3 out of 3 occasions so
far this year, Alex Yoong.
The Brazilian GP 'Also Ran' Award.
In a close battle with Alex Yoong (the least-best partner in the field) our winner today is a much bigger name with much greater pretensions. Yesterday he said " I think anyway that tomorrow’s pole position is going to be decided between Michael, Juan and myself" Gee two out of three ain't bad. Ralf had a nine from ten lead in the first ten rounds of the Real Race last year.
The times they are a'changing, he's taken three from the last ten (including Melbourne where JPM got beaten by the rain, not Ralf) and the drought appears to be setting in.
Today's Also Ran - The man with all of his big brother's last name and a little less than all of his talent - Ralf Schumacher.
My Malaysian GP award for the “My grandmother died and the dog ate my homework” award (called the “Also Ran” for brevity) for worst qualifying performance and/or best excuse by a driver who’s ego is greater than his talent goes to Eddie Irvine, Ford’s highest paid employee and one who, in keeping with that company's new corporate policy of losing market share and profitability, managed to qualify in Malaysia three places and almost a second behind Pedro. Just as Rubens keeps insisting that he is really a better driver than Michael so Eddie keeps insisting that his car is the only problem. If he just shut up and drove he might find some of that problem goes away, or, then again, perhaps it wouldn’t.
Australian Grand Prix 'Also Ran' Award
Picture this, You are the teams top gun and your opponent is a rookie. You have a chip on your shoulder because McLaren chose that other rookie instead of you. How do you show the world what you are made of? Well, if you are Nick Heidfeld, you let the new rookie outqualify you by a quarter of a second.
Congratulations Nick, you are our Australian GP Real Race 'Also Ran' winner.
If our readers have suggestions for this award in future rounds, brilliant reasoning, or large amounts of negotiable currency, may sway me to accept their choice and publish their rationale, as long as they are received by the night of that other race that occurs on the afternoon following the Real Race.
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