KIMI Raikkonen did it the maverick’s way. He’d fallen out with Lotus and he was damned if he was going to oblige them by turning up for his media commitments.
As dusk fell over Abu Dhabi on Thursday night, his whereabouts were still unknown. The suggestion from Lotus’s wrong-footed staff placed Raikkonen in the air, en route from Switzerland for practice on Friday.
His management cancelled his original flight and even pondered whether he would race. They finally decided he would, rather than be guilty of breach of contract.
Lewis Hamilton made his own statement, more conventionally delivered at a Mercedes briefing, yet none the less extraordinary.
Whereas Raikkonen is fed up with waiting for the £10 million (R161 million) he is owed by his impecunious employers, how could Hamilton not speak effusively of Ross Brawn, his possibly outgoing team principal?
Brawn is one of the greatest engineering figures Formula One has known. He was involved in a junior capacity in world championship success at Williams before masterminding eight drivers’ and eight constructors’ titles over the past 20 years at three different teams.
Now his future at Mercedes is in the balance, either because he simply wants to retire or as the result of political machinations.
So how did Hamilton respond when it was put to him that there are two outstanding boffins in Formula One: Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s designing deity, and Brawn?
“I disagree with your comment that there are two of them. “
Hamilton’s seemingly perverse response: “Those two individuals are totally different. Adrian designs the car, which inevitably is the thing that wins the races. Ross gets the team together - it’s a different job. You’ve got others: Martin Whitmarsh at McLaren, who does an incredible job, Christian Horner at Red Bull, who has clearly done a fantastic job and Stefano Domenicali, who has done a great job at Ferrari.”
Horner is the outstanding team principal of a younger generation, no doubt, but Whitmarsh has won neither a Drivers’ nor Constructors’ title in his five seasons. Domenicali, with one of each in his first year, has not demonstrably built on the Brawn legacy. So, isn’t Brawn the natural choice?
“I don’t think there will ever be anyone like Adrian.”
“It depends,” said Hamilton. “There is going to be somebody who can do the same or better but hasn’t had the chance.”
“But there are not many Brawns either, Lewis?”
“Maybe, maybe not. People said there would never be another Michael Schumacher but there is Sebastian Vettel now.”
But what about the prospect of losing a legend?
“The team’s success does not depend on one individual, so I’m not stressing.”
It is baffling to hear Hamilton laud Newey and denigrate his own master.
He was either feigning indifference (possibly, to an extent), has fallen out with Brawn (no sign of it) or has little appreciation of how rare a talent Brawn is (probable). But more than anything, Hamilton is otherwise.
Back to Raikkonen. The tensions bubbled up in India last week when senior engineer Alan Permane told Raikkonen, who is leaving for Ferrari next season: “Kimi, get out of the f***ing way,” to let team mate Romain Grosjean through.
The Finn responded: “Don’t f***ing shout at me.”
At least his actions this week are consistent, whereas Hamilton appears to be saying whatever is in his mind at any given moment. - Daily Mail