Write Better English - Day 10

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The French Grand Prix weekend also marked the solstice, the longest day in the Northern hemisphere summer.

Associated with superstitions and annual rituals since pagan times, the solstice also has relevance to modern Formula One. As the days grow shorter, so too do the opportunities for the main championship challengers to recover from mishaps [bad luck] and disappointing race results.

In France, that had special significance for both Mclaren's Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Going into the season, both stressed repeatedly that clockwork consistency would be the key factor in winning the championship.

Although both drivers have looked like champions at times, the season so far has paradoxically been marked by the very quality that all the front runners vowed to avoid - a lack of consistency. With three different race winners and championship leaders emerging from the past three race weekends, the 2008 campaign has effectively become a lottery.

Both Hamilton and Raikkonen will be wondering not how to catch new championship leader Felipe Massa, but rather how they came to trail the mercurial Brazilian in the first place.

Hamilton's woes stemmed from a momentary lack of concentration in Canada, leading to the race-ending collision with Raikkonen and the ensuing ten-place grid penalty in France.

That demotion was always going to be ruinous to Hamilton's point-scoring aspirations. It would have taken a significant performance advantage and tactical genius worthy of Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher to bring Hamilton back into the race reckoning.

Former Mclaren teammate Fernando Alonso suffered a similar demotion in 2007, and spend most of the afternoon focusing on the BMW gearbox of Nick Heidfeld in front of him. With few overtaking opportunities at Magny-Cours, on a short lap where the top 15 cars were within one second of each other during the first and second qualifying runs, a ten-place grid penalty is truly draconian.

Excerpt from The Turning of the Season