The Top Gear Festival in Durban is absolutely remarkable. And to make...
We think you’ll like it here: Alonso joins Scuderia Familia
Ron Dennis is a weirdo. Not since Howard Hughes locked himself in a hotel room with jars of urine and wore tissue boxes as shoes have we seen anyone display such an aversion to germ-carrying scruffiness. His level of Second-World-War-matron-at-a-Catholic-hospital idea of cleanliness even extended to not allowing employees at McLaren to have any personal effects on their desks. Not even pictures of their families.
By Gavin Williams
This is probably why McLaren’s most successful drivers in the past have also been fairly oddballish. Senna’s over-zealous religious fervour and psychopathic tendencies to win at all costs must have had Ron Dennis gleefully whispering “excellent” while tapping the tips of his fingers together a’la Mr Burns from The Simpsons.
Alain Prost’s absolutely metronomic pace (when he needed it) and Napoleonic French wilyness made “The Professor” one of his favourite cyborgs. Mika Hakkinen smiled once, because he had to, in a commercial for a Finnish children’s home.
Hamilton was literally poured into his uniform by Dennis, although he must shudder at the very thought of his beloved Pinocchio becoming a ‘real boy’ and swapping fluids with a pop singer on his weekends off. It must have been a strange relationship between Dennis and Raikkonen. For all his supposed dullness in interviews, Kimi is an absolute loon in real life and the life of the party.
Now with Ron gone from the paddock, if McLaren do re-sign Kimi Raikkonen, maybe he can get away with more vodka-fuelled hi-jinx and just be left to do what he loves to do: drive fast. And in a more relaxed environment let’s hope he can deliver Whitmarsh the title that eluded him under the stern stewardship of Ron Dennis.
Now Alonso to Ferrari is interesting. If McLaren employees aren’t even allowed snaps of their wedding day at their “work stations”, Ferrari is all about family. I don’t think you could get more differing team environments.
Alonso was in trouble for refusing to shave at McLaren, but might find the more “latin” approach to things at Ferrari suits him. That’s not to say Ferrari aren’t a professional outfit. Gone are the days of managerial nepotism, finger pointing, blown flat 12s and gearboxes that didn’t like changing gears.
The more continental approach of Ferrari may well be just what Alonso needs. He’s left one family environment -whose recently ousted matriarch left him without a mentor and a manager – for another, more competitive one. How he deals with the pace of a still-recovering Massa though, remains a mystery.
As always we’ll flock in our droves to watch the gasoline drenched soap opera that is Formula 1 and hopefully have one of our closest championship fights in years.