Congratulations, Fernando. Flavio Briatore has your trophy and a special surprise just off stage…
I’m not kidding. Niki Lauda, in a Q&A at the official Formula 1 site, makes no bones about his pick:
Q: Niki, we’re enjoying one of the most exciting championships ever. Which of the contenders most epitomises your ideal of a champion?
Niki Lauda: Fernando Alonso – because he is making all the right moves. He is fast and he is getting the car over the finish line. He is aggressive when needed. He is Mr Right, right now.
I still just need Mr. Right Now.
Lauda, though, he just needs a driver. And he doesn’t need someone who’s commercial viable (Vitaly Petrov, your trophy is off stage with Vladimir Putin.)
Q: When you were racing, what attributes did you need as a driver? And what ones do you need nowadays?
NL: They are the same. The requirements you need to become world champion never change. The package that you represent has to work now, just as it had to work back then. The commercial aspects have probably changed, but that in itself has nothing to do with the on-track performance.
Q: But there are drivers who have a huge economic value even though they may not be the fastest on the track. Is that a recent development?
NL: If you want to be champion you have to do it on the track. It’s true there are years when the commercial aspects can prevail, but it has nothing to do with the title fight. The parameters in terms of that have never changed.
Lauda also lists the rest of his picks of drivers — Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen — but then adds some extra love for Kimi.
Q: Raikkonen is third in the standings, even though he hasn’t yet won a race this year. Is it possible to have a win-less champion?
NL: Why not? The fascinating thing with Kimi is that he came back and didn’t need any warm-up time. It’s as if he had never been away. Fantastic.
Q: You were also a comeback kid and you won your third race after your return. In those circumstances, is there a worry you might have lost ‘it’?
NL: It depends. Kimi came back as if he hadn’t been away for two years. He was fighting immediately at the top. You cannot ask for more.
Q: Does that speak volumes about Raikkonen or about his peers?
NL: About Kimi. He’s the one who makes it happen.
Kimi, your trophy is… hey! Kimi?! Where are you going?! It comes with vodka… Kimi? Yeah, I thought that would get your attention.
Here’s the best moment of this Q&A, though (and the one that really supports my headline):
Q: Who would be your ideal world champion this season?
NL: Fernando Alonso. He will score the most points. He will be champion if he carries on like he has done up until now. Why should he change?
Q: And who will finish just behind him?
NL: No idea. I am no soothsayer.
LOL. Am I right?
Finally, Lauda drops his silly season predictions (keep in mind, he’s not a soothsayer):
Q: So let’s look at the ‘silly season’ and guess who is going where? Let’s start with Ferrari…
NL: No change. That is what I say today. Without knowing what I am talking about! (laughs)
Q: Will Raikkonen stay with Lotus?
NL: Yes. Why should he change teams?
Q: What about Hamilton?
NL: Hamilton will stay with McLaren.
NL: I have no idea what they are up to.
Q: What about Sergio Perez and Ferrari?
NL: I don’t see it. Perez would be a risk. Massa is predictable and Alonso likes him, so I say that such a switch is not going to happen.
There you have it. Sounds like we’re going to get the most boring silly season in recent memory. But I’m not soothsayer.