Will this be the picture on Sunday?
ANTON PAGES is my first cousin. Among all the people I know who adores Formula One racing, he’s first. Years back, when the F1 organizers held their inaugural race in Malaysia, guess who was first in line to purchase tickets, book an airline, and sprint to the Sepang International Circuit?
Anton Pages. He used to write a weekly sports column (“Flat Out”) for The Freeman. Now, he writes for the ABS-CBN website (www.abs-cbnnews.com) alongside Quinito Henson. And so, with the season about to conclude this October 21 (Sunday), I asked Anton to share his thoughts on F1. Here’s Anton…
“Where do we start! At this point in time, mention Formula One racing in Cebu and you’ll likely get some glances at the ceiling or blank shrugs—clear signs that there aren’t as many watching this season as much as the Schumacher-Hakkinen era.
“The funniest thing is this: the whole 2007 season that started way back in March could be erased from history right now – all that matters for the 2007 championship is going to explode this Sunday for the final race of the season at Interlagos, Brazil.
“It is now a legitimate three-way fight between McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton, defending champion Fernando Alonso and the new darling at Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen. A one race, one champion scenario, the likes of which many of us have never experienced in our fleeting brushes with Formula One folklore.
“Many may lament the absence of Michael this or Mika that but it only takes one review of what had transpired this year to know that it has been nothing but fireworks for the relative “unknowns” vying for the top spot.
“At the top is rookie Lewis Hamilton (photo below) who has, in a span of a few months, garnered more BBC TV time than probably Michael Schumacher in the whole of his career at Ferrari! The Formula One fever in the west is actually hotter than it has ever been, surprising given the lukewarm reception in this side of the globe.
“In second is the beleaguered double-champ Fernando Alonso (below photo), four points behind. He most likely will not stay at McLaren this year, a conclusion he arrived at after both he and his team knew they were incompatible bed partners with genuine irreconcilable differences.
“‘Unhappy at McLaren’ is a gross understatement, proven by the fact that the number one holder is not even in speaking terms with team boss Ron Dennis (the same guy who had to play referee between the mercurial Ayrton Senna and the magnificent Alain “the professor” Prost during the all conquering McLaren-Honda era when their team won all but one race of the entire 1988 season).
“The two drivers have been fiercely vocal about their relative hate for each other – a fact only proven by the reality that either one stands in the way of championship victory this season.
“The significance of this years championship cannot be ignored: this is the first chapter in the post-M.Schumacher era and the victor will hold the pen that will write history with Schumacher gone.
“If Hamilton beats Alonso this Sunday, he will have defeated the man who beat the greatest ever, forever raising the question, ‘Could Lewis Hamilton have beaten Michael Schumacher?” It is similar to that philosophical argument that goes, ‘If Nothing is better than God, and Siopao is better than Nothing, then (ergo) Siopao is better than God!’
“Then there’s Kimi Raikkonen (below), the wild card in the picture who, seven points behind Hamilton, might have the chance to surprise everyone and actually fit into the shoes that Michael Schumacher left behind at Ferrari and, more significantly, the Formula One world itself.
“It is a testing time, and it will only take the final race of 2007 to decide who will carry the Formula One torch well into the 21st century. It will be a battle like none we’ve ever witnessed in recent history. If you had to watch one race in your life, this would be it.”