Ambitions and Driving Styles

Ambitions and Driving Styles
Defending World Champion Kimi Raikkonen has recently said that he’s enjoying F1 more than ever before right now, but that he wouldn’t think twice about quitting if it stopped being fun anymore.

Raikkonen has always given the impression that the sport itself doesn’t matter that much to him, he just wants to be in the car, racing and winning. I’m not saying he doesn’t care about Formula 1, just that he could be in an old banger race and he would still attack it with the same ferocity.

Winning the championship last year was a stroke of luck, if we are honest, and although Raikkonen drove a brilliant season, he was the rank outsider going into the last race. But that didn’t seem to matter to him. He raced as he did on any other weekend. He doesn’t play the numbers game, he doesn’t want to sacrifice an inch to championship strategies.

Fernando Alonso, on the other hand, seems to be completely different. Each individual race is an important experience for him, but only because it adds up to the grand scheme of championship success. He’s quite happy to sit back in fourth place, if it is better for his title chances to wait rather than risk an overtaking manoeuvre going wrong.

This style can be perceived as bad for racing – it’s not fair on fans if everyone just holds station and waits for the points to fall in their lap. But it’s worked twice for him, beating the Ferrari and Schumacher dominance when the sport needed it most.

And now we have Lewis Hamilton in the mix as well. He seems to be the best of both worlds. A driver who has the desire to win each and every race he is in, and to maximise his championship chances at every opportunity. His main (and perhaps only) mistake last year, was to attempt to overtake Alonso at the start of the very last race. He didn’t need to make that place up, and it hindered his next few laps, before his gear problems put him out of contention. For his championship, he only needed to place near the podium, but his desire to beat everyone, especially Alonso, meant his race was ruined.

It must be difficult to strike a contented balance between these two ambitions. As a fan, I want to see more action on the track, but I also understand the need for championship strategy. A driver, presumably, has to try and consolidated these two conflicting practices in his head as well.

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