Sunday, September 30, 2007


As a sexagenarian (please, for my sake, look it up if you only think you know what the word means), my regular reader could be forgiven for suspecting that I believe everything ten years old is better than its equivalent today. And that everything twenty years old is even better than the ten year old version. And that the fifty year old version – well that’s perfection on a stick.

Not so.

I rabbit on, in these pages, about this and that, and quite often “this” is about Motor Racing, one of my lifelong passions. Usually, I look back through the selective lenses of hindsight, and pick out the good bits, leaving my convenient filter of Early Onset Whatever-its-called to forget the less than good bits. Like the fact that people died doing it with terrifying regularity. In 1968, one top class driver was killed on the 7th day of four successive months. Another blogster worked out that, in the 60s, if you raced for five years, you had a two out of three chance of dying at the wheel. Thank God modern technology has made dramatic improvements there.

I watched the Japanese Grand Prix today, and marvelled at it all. A race which we’ll look back on for a long time, I suspect. It absolutely poured down for the whole race, and if you ever want a scenario which sorts the men from the boys, that was today. The great effect rain brings to such an occasion is that it removes the boring Computer game environment in which most Grand Prix racing today takes place, and it puts the control very firmly back in the hands of those men who know how to drive. And that’s not always those who are paid the most or who have been in the game longest.

You could moan about Michael Schumacher for an awful lot, but when he got in a racing car on a wet track, he was simply in a different league from the rest. Look up Senna’s record in the wet if you ever start to doubt how good he was. Read how Jackie Stewart won the 1968 German Grand Prix by over 4 minutes (yes, Minutes!) in the wet. The cream very definitely comes to the top in Motor Racing when it rains.

Today Lewis Hamilton won almost faultlessly, and if you had any doubts about how good he is (and I admit I did), today sorted them out. But look at who else put in brilliant performances today – Raikkenen, Alonso, Button, Coulthard and Webber all showed their class, and newer boys Vettel (at least until he drove into his team-mate Webber when they were 2nd and 3rd, putting them both out of the race – not terribly advisable!) and Kovalainen, who showed his Renault team-mate Fisichella how to do it all.

And if you see a re-run of the last few corners with Massa and Kubica fighting like spitting cats for (I think) 6th place, you can start to believe that the spirit of Arnoux and Villeneuve at Dijon in 1979 is still alive.

If you don’t recall that race, take a look at this clip.


Anyway, my faith in top class Motor Racing took a leap upwards today. And it’s suddenly quite clear and logical as I write, following my evening meal with a couple of not ungenerous glasses of decent Riesling, how Formula 1 racing should be organised in the future.

Get away from races being won by superior Pit-Stop strategising, and putting one lap more fuel in your car than the other bloke. Stop the grip of aerodynamics overwhelming the whole issue of car design, and putting the mockers on the idea of an overtaking manouevre.

Get all the circuit owners to put a large hosepipe around the track, turn it on at the start of Practice on a Friday and run every race with the track streaming with water, as it was today. The spectators can be comfortable watching it all in the dry, and the drivers can show us all just how good they all really are.

Simple really.



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