Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

A Tolkien fan guide to the F1 2012 grid // A different kind of F1 who's who

Published by Bridget Schuil

In the far South, near the ocean, twenty-four warriors are preparing for war. The fighting men have been dedicatedly preparing for this day all winter, or at least since the aftermath of Christmas. They have beaten their bodies into submission to reach the peak of physical fitness. Having glimpsed their equipment’s capacity - both strengths and flaws - they will enter the fray come daybreak.

Each warrior and his support crew share a common goal: to win. However, only one can be champion. The smallest error or mechanical failure could leave them broken on the battlefield; if they haven’t rectified all the faults in their equipment, Fate will reward their enemies.

To introduce the warriors, allow me to explain it in Lord of the Rings, since Tolkien wrote in a universal language (and those who haven’t read the complete works of El Maestro have watched at least one of the movies). However, there aren’t enough characters in the movies - despite the entire population of New Zealand participating in the production - to explain this season’s line-up, so the only ones I think most likely to change their fortunes this year were described. There is also a cameo by a Trigun character, because the similarity was too strong to ignore.

Listed in order of championship ranking in 2011.

Merry / Vettel

Superpower: doing the job when it counts

Kryptonite: overtaking

Now defending his second drivers title, he seemed an unlikely star when he first appeared. However, he showed he could, as he puts it, prove he’s a man when it comes time to pull down his pants and show what he’s got. He’s also surprisingly eloquent when called upon to give interviews. Love him or hate him, he’s one of the ones I’m watching this season... I just hope he’s not given the opportunity to run and hide from the front of the pack.

Legolas / Button

Superpower: elegant technique

Kryptonite: being overshadowed

A champion of old (okay, he won the title in 2009, so it hasn’t been too long), he’s been rather thoroughly dominated of late. This is probably because of the sheer dominance of the Red Bull, rather than a lack of form on his part. He’s probably hoping his car will be up for the fight in this year’s championship, so he can prove he can out-do his team-mate and conclusively crush Vettel.

Denethor / Alonso

Superpower: brutal talent

Kryptonite: a strong team-mate

He’s won two championships - he was the youngest championship winner and double championship winner until Vettel broke his record - but has been struggling since he first left Renault after the 2006 season. He moved to McLaren, back to Renault, and then to Ferrari, but still hasn’t found the pace that won him the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

Boromir / Hamilton

Superpower: ruthlessness

Kryptonite: his temper

Lewis is one of those drivers that fans either adore or vehemently hate. He’s talented, quick, and knows how to play the game. Unfortunately, he can be a bit hot-headed and is somewhat lacking in overtaking panache; this has earned him a reputation in the paddock, and has resulted in more than a few arguments. Given to quoting Ali G at inappropriate moments.

Samwise / Massa

Superpower: the ability to bounce back from (seemingly) anything

Kryptonite: always getting the leftovers

Selected for this role partly for the closeness of the Brazilian Mafia - although only Massa and Senna are left - and partly because he’s

suffering a mean case of ‘always the sidekick, never the ringbearer’. He’s been in his team-mate’s shadow - regardless of whom that team-mate was - since he arrived at Ferrari.

Eowyn / Rosberg

Superpower: technical skill

Kryptonite: not being taken seriously

Dubbed ‘Britney’ by Button a few years ago, he’s been working on a new, butch image. Some say he takes the car as far as it’s designed to go but no further; they cite this as his weakness. still, he’s been winning the team-mate challenge against Schumi for the last two years, so he can’t be all bad. He just needs to step it up a notch and get himself some glory this season.

Gandalf / Schumacher

Superpower: speed

Kryptonite: comebacks

The first phase of his F1 career stretched from 1991 to 2006, during which time he won seven world championships. However, he’s been losing the struggle to Rosberg since his comeback and the switch to Pirelli rubber. He was starting to get his game back last season; we wait to see if he can take it up a notch and at least beat his team-mate.

Denethor / Kobayashi

Superpower: overtaking (as our Spanish friends would say, que huevos!)

Kryptonite: moments of extreme craziness

When he arrived in F1, it was assumed that he was just another driver who got a debut drive with a Japanese team on the strength of his nationality. As it turns out, not only is he quick, he’s pretty good at charging through the pack. Certainly enough to justify his less

experienced team-mate’s obvious admiration!

Pippin / Kovalainen

Superpower: an upbeat, can-do attitude

Kryptonite: unreliable equipment

Whether it’s putting out an engine fire or being awesome to the fans, Heikki has it goin’ on. At first glance, he’s light-hearted and

easy-going, but don’t underestimate him. He’s found a second wind since moving from McLaren to Lotus-now-Caterham, and is looking to score the team’s first point(s).

Frodo / Senna

Superpower: multitasking

Kryptonite:an unwieldy car

The heir-apparent of a legend, he had a rocky entry to the story. Bruno served his rookie season with the woefully under-funded, undeveloped Hispania and failed to get a drive for the first half of 2011, despite Kubica’s accident clearing a seat for him at Lotus/Renault. He now finds himself with a team hungry for a return to race-winning form, so time will tell if he lives up to his surname.

Aragorn / De la Rosa

Superpower: longevity (and, seemingly, being impervious to the passage of time)

Kryptonite: disappearing halfway through the story

The one who never seems to age. His comeback count is now in the double digits, having spent most of his career in and out of the test-driver seat. It remains to be seen if he can use his ample experience to steer the Fellowship of Hispania to a points-scoring position... or at least to beat Caterham and Marussia on a regular basis.

Faramir / Hülkenberg

Superpower: the element of surprise

Kryptonite: (thus far in his career) a slow car

Hülki - otherwise known as Nico - surprised everyone in his rookie season by putting his under-powered car on pole in Brazil - Williams’ first pole in five years; unfortunately, this was just before the team sacked him in favour of the better funded Pastor Maldonado. After sacking his manager, he’s hoping to bounce back to points-scoring positions with Sahara Force India.

Vash the Stampede / Räikkönen

Superpower: ice-cold efficiency

Kryptonite: apathy

The surprise cameo, after leaving the sport in 2009. Kimi was rumoured to be making a comeback this season, but nobody took the story seriously until the Lotus-Renault announcement. He notoriously does the opposite of what’s expected of him, loves a drop of an evening, and - when he deigns to speak - uses as few words as possible.

Eomer / Webber

Superpower: impervious to harm

Kryptonite: clipped wings

The man who moved from Australia to the UK at the tender age of 21 with the aim of racing in F1. Despite being given Red Bull wings, he hasn’t yet been able to win a championship. There are nay-sayers who think he’s past his prime, but he insists he’s got a few seasons in him yet; ABV (Anyone But Vettel) fans live in hope that he’ll be able to out-do his team-mate and take his maiden F1 title this year if the RB8 is as dominant as the RB7 was.