You’ve got to love the soap-opera drama associated with F1, where drivers settle their differences with press conferences instead of pit lane throw downs. Two such conversations are in the news, starting with a verbal beat-down of Michael Schumacher by none other than Sir Sterling Moss. Moss, called the “greatest driver to never win the World Championship”, believes Schumacher’s return to racing was a mistake. In fact, Moss believes that Schumi’s inability to win races thus far will ultimately, “damage his achievement”, of winning seven world championships. In a recent column for ESPN, Moss addressed Schumi’s lackluster performance in his return to F1:
“People say it’s because he’s been away for three years and that sort of stuff, but I’m going to stick to what I said at the start of the season: Until now, he’s never had a truly competitive team-mate… His seven world titles are, in my mind, misleading and I think we are seeing proof of that now he is up against Rosberg. Rosberg has proved himself as the team’s No.1 and he’s been faster than Schumacher in all circumstances,”
I’ve been saying for years that Schumacher’s primary talent was being in the right place at the right time (hence his exclusion from my 10 Best Drivers of the Modern Era list). It’s good to know that I’m not the only F1 fan who believes that Schumacher was never as good as his hype.
In other F1 trash-talking, Fernando Alonso let slip at a recent press conference that he doesn’t view current F1 points leader Jenson Button as a contender for this year’s championship. Instead, Alonso is focused on beating Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and his teammate, Felipe Massa. In Alonso’s own words:
“I always respect all my rivals. Even so, I believe there are rivals you have to have more under control and others you can give a certain margin to. I’ve always said that Hamilton, Vettel or Michael, Felipe are very good drivers who can fight for the title.”
When pressed further on Button’s performance this season, Alonso backpedaled a bit with:
“Button didn’t win the title by chance last year, it was because he deserved it. And now he’s leading the championship on his own merit because he has done better than us, so we have to improve. All rivals are respectable, but to me there are two or three I’ll keep a closer look on.”
In other words, Button isn’t one of the rivals he needs to keep an eye on.
I disagree, and any driver that would write off Jenson Button in this year’s championship does so at his own risk. While Button doesn’t have the balls-to-the-wall style of teammate Hamilton, he does have more patience and maturity. His performance YTD has been more consistent than Hamilton, and consistency is what wins championships. Unless Ferrari has an ace up their sleeve, I’m about ready to put down money on Button for the repeat in 2010.