Published September 13, 2008

F1 watch

Merc vs Ferrari: Will limo taxi or supercar win?


LAST weekend, a relatively humble German luxury make got the better of an exotic Italian marque. On a wet surface. Not once, but twice - although both incidents took place at the opposite ends of the world.

Incident No. 1: Kimi Raikkonen was blazing away in his Ferrari F1 car at Belgium's high-speed Spa-Francorchamps circuit when rain suddenly fell with just two more laps to go. Although the race leader owns a yacht, he wasn't used to piloting a Ferrari on water and slid off the slippery track while battling Lewis Hamilton in a McLaren-Mercedes.

Never mind that the latter had committed a controversial chicane-cutting move that may or may not have rattled the former and caused him to crash eventually. The fact is, Merc power came out on top in that clash.

Incident No. 2: A Ferrari F430 Spyder was waylaid in Malaysia by a debadged Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The pretty Italian convertible was heading happily for a Genting getaway with her Ferrari club friends when she was forced off the wet road by a thuggish E-Class with highway robbery and other evil deeds on his mind.

The F430 supercar has a 4.3-litre V8 with 490 hp and can do zero to 100 kmh in four seconds. That dodgy E-Class has goodness-knows-what under the bonnet and can carry many durians in its boot.

You must be thinking how dare that German brute accost a sweet young Italian thing like that? Or perhaps you're wondering how come a sleek, nearly million-dollar prancing horse cannot outrun a limo taxi ah? Life, as they say, is full of mysteries. Either that or there's some truth to the adage 'It's the driver, not the car'. Whatever it is, the Ferrari team hopes to prove otherwise at its home Grand Prix at the Monza circuit tomorrow.

The fastest and oldest track on the F1 calendar, Monza has been hailed the Temple of Speed. Or if you were Ferrari last year, the Temple of Doom. McLaren recorded a one-two win at Monza in 2007, leaving only one scarlet car with the consolation prize of third place.

With Ferrari just two points behind McLaren in the drivers' championship, it will have to rev things up in the remaining five races. It looks like it will be a close fight to the finish in Brazil.

Maybe the race stewards did rig the Belgium race results to make the competition more exciting, which critics claim was the real reason for stripping Hamilton of his win last weekend. And maybe the controversy and the subsequent outrage will leave Fomula One viewed as less of a sport and more of a circus.

But one thing is for sure - you can't say F1 is boring.