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And it’s…

Fernando Alonso!

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.

Q: Mercedes?
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.

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  • Looks like one enterprising young journalist found the “L” section in his/her Rolodex and decided they needed a Lauda quote. :)

  • JTW

    Oh, great. Now we’ll get a Jackie Stewart quote, probably followed by a Jacques Villeneuve quote. Must be a slow week.

  • Philippe

    That’s hilarious! Basically, nothing is going to change.
    The guy who is leading the championship will win. Everybody is goig to stay at their team next year.
    Those are wild predictions!!

    I think it’s funny how people pick the guy who is leading in the standings to take the title.
    Remember how everyone though Alonso was going to win the championship in 2010?
    And everyone was so sure Hamilton would be champion in 2007?
    Let’s just wait and see.

    • Fumbles

      …Except this year Alonso has got to this position by pure driving skill, whereas Alonso ’10 and Hamilton ’07 were very much the best cars on the grid. Of course there were multiple factors and the drivers themselves should never be discounted, but I’m seriously supporting Alonso this year after his amazing form from a mediocre car whereas i wasn’t supporting the two examples you mentioned.

      After watching Purito Rodriguez lose the Vuelta a Espana this year after being clearly the best rider in the whole cycling tour, I’m seriously afraid that Alonso (also Spanish) is in serious danger of having his title stolen.

      • uan

        The Ferrari the best car in 2010? I seriously don’t think so. Most reliable for sure. Without mechanical issues Vettel would have had 3 more wins than he did (Bahrain, Australia and Korea) and over 60 more points.

      • Philippe

        Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that people are supporting Alonso. It would definitely be amazing for him to win the title with what is the 3rd best car on the grid.
        I’m just saying that it’s not a wild guess to pick the leader as a prediction for the title.

        And no, the 2010 Ferrari was not the best that year.

      • Fumbles

        well yeah 2010 ferrari best car is definitely debatable. Red Bull had the best qualifier whereas I always had the opinion that Ferrari had the best all-round package. Dunno in hindsight.

        My opinion of Alonso in two years has changed so dramatically i find it hard to believe how he’s matured since that final race in Abu Dhabi 2010.

  • Raymond

    Considering Niki’s track record with predictions, I think that settles it as fact now that Alonso will NOT win the WDC…

    • Philippe

      Vettel 2012! :-)