A: Favorite F1 driver and why?
Fernando Alonso. He was supremely talented even as a 19-year-old driving for Minardi - putting their hastily-built cars ahead of established midfield teams when they shouldn’t be anywhere but last place. Kinda like how he carried his Ferrari to almost winning the title despite it being absolute shit in the first part of the season in 2012. He went to Renault as a 21-year-old, youngest winner and youngest champion at the time, he drove the best-looking car on the grid for the best team, and he had tremendous title fights with Raikkonen, Schumacher, Vettel, Hamilton…..yeah, he’s now “lost” more titles than he’s won, I know. I also know about all the so-called whining and politicking, but he is undeniably in his prime right now, he is a complete driver - not really “known” as an aggressive passer like Hamilton, or a great qualifier like Vettel, but he can do it all, and I know he will get his third title one day.
Secondary favorites: I didn’t really start off as a fan of either Pastor Maldonado or Sergio Pérez until this season. But man, they’re both so good. With all the talk of Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen being the last “characters” on the F1 grid, why not give Maldonado his due? He’s as aggressive as Ayrton Senna was in his heyday, he’s also a great qualifier and a really combatant and outspoken figure much like Senna used to be. Maybe that’s far-fetched, but I saw a lot more of Ayrton in Bruno Senna’s teammate (Maldonado) than in Bruno Senna. He’s a star, like him or not, and if he can become consistent, he could win a World Championship.
And Pérez…wow, he’s got a lot of Alonso’s “magic” abilities - what he lacks in qualifying ability, he can make up for by managing his resources and striking at just the right time, clawing his way through the field to get on the podium. I believe he can shine and prove that McLaren didn’t fuck up by signing him over Hülkenberg or Di Resta - hey, remember when McLaren chose Raikkonen over Heidfeld? He’s already Mexico’s new driving hero regardless.
In the past, Juan Pablo Montoya, Robert Kubica, and Luca Badoer were my favorites. I admire Senna and Gilles Villeneuve and many of the greats of even further back, but that was way before my time.
B: Least Favorite F1 driver and why?
From 2012, Narain Karthikeyan - and it’s not a burning hatred. Karthikeyan has talent that was being wasted in HRT, and he’s a national sporting icon. He had his moments as a rookie at Jordan, and if things had gone differently he could have had a much better F1 career. Definitely not a disgrace to the sport. But at the same time, he’s done nothing to merit being at Force India this coming season as it was rumored, except having a lot of financial backing from Tata. He was just kinda…there, really.
Nobody on the 2013 grid strikes me as dislikeable. I see a lot of hostility towards Van der Garde/Chilton/Razia - hell even Gutierrez and Bianchi, they’re all prospective rookies, give them time to prove themselves before writing them off as “cancers of the sport” because of their money or GP2 inconsistencies or whatever!