Vote for the Villain of Valencia!


For all that it has traditionally been a race that has had even the most ardent of F1 fans reaching for their pillow, the 2010 European Grand Prix in Valencia last weekend stirred up enough drama to send the hornets fleeing from their nest altogether – and the repercussions from what took place have continued well into this week.

First, erstwhile world championship leader Mark Webber ran into the back of the Lotus of a startled Heikki Kovalainen, sending the Australian's Red Bull Racing into a spectacular high-speed somersault in mid-air that would not have looked entirely out-of-place as a stunt in the Red Bull Air Race, and from which the Australian happily and miraculously emerged unscathed.

Mutual recriminations have since, if you'll pardon the pun, flown around, with Webber arguing that with a car substantially slower than his own, Kovalainen should not have forced the issue so much when he would only have been able to stay ahead for maybe 'another 15 seconds' in any case given that 'it's a different category that the new teams are in', and Lotus Racing chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne hitting back that 'at the end of the day it's up to the guy overtaking to do so safely – and Mark didn't'.

The safety car brought out to enable the sorry mess to be cleared up, however, only went and led to another controversy – or, to borrow the term used by a 'bitter' Ferrari, a 'scandal'. McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, running second at the time, illegally overtook the safety car on his way to the pit-lane for new tyres, inciting the fury of closely-following former team-mate Fernando Alonso, who was quick to censure the Briton's naughtiness.

The irate Spaniard similarly wasted little time post-race in throwing his toys out of the pram, blaming just about everyone from Hamilton for breaking the rules to the FIA stewards for having taken so long to deliberate over the 2008 F1 World Champion's punishment as to render it pretty futile anyway, given that by the time he had to serve his penalty for his indiscretion, the 25-year-old had been able to build up enough of a buffer so as not to risk losing second place.

That El Nano wound up eighth after being inadvertently penalised for 'respecting the rules' – what the Oviedo native perceived to be a clear 'injustice' bad enough to cause thoughtless fans to dangerously throw a glass bottle onto the track in protest – merely served to make him an even unhappier bunny, but if Alonso was indignant about the situation, Hamilton remained unrepentant, conceding only that the rules are the rules and everybody has to abide by them the same.

Oh, that and happening to mention that Alonso 'must have been completely in another world' as 'it's very unlike him to be overtaken by a Sauber' in the way that he was on the penultimate lap. Tactfully put, Lewis.

So there you have it – several stories, all manner of topics for debate, but ultimately, only one Villain of Valencia.


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