The fiasco that took place at the F1 race held in France this year reminded of a number of thoughts from the past.
Senna and Schumacher are considered to be great drivers, but to be perfectly frank, while they may have some skill and been able to pair themselves with a car provider that maximised their skills, after the French race I was left wondering if they would have been such great and successful drivers if they were on the track today, and subject to the application of the governing body’s rules and regulations in the same way as, for example, Lewis Hamilton.
In their day, and by their own admission at later interviews, both Schumacher and Senna forced their way to the podium at the expense of other, by little more than bullying, and moves that one would imagine would see them penalised by stop/go penalties, or black-flagging nowadays. Today, we have driver’s accusing one another of dangerous driving, and putting lives at risk, yet in the days of Senna and Schumacher it seems that driving another car of road, or even simply crashing into them to ensure they couldn’t score any points in a race was acceptable, and even admitted after the event.
While I can see the idea behind the regulations that shove drivers back down the grid if engines and gearboxes are changed ahead of schedule, does this nonsense really save all that much cash given the size of an F1 budget, and the amount drivers can extort from the teams for deigning to drive for them? The BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) is now pointless, as “success ballast” as added to shove any winners to the back of the grid, and the any hope of watching any trends develop is wiped out by grid reversals and handicapping dependent on the type of engine/fuel/drive used by the car. In the “good old days”, the various categories developed their own groups on the track and had to weave through one another. Now the pack is just an amorphous mass circulating the track, and it’s too much hard work trying to work out which is which.
You can’t help but feel that we’re no longer watching the team/driver racing and competing fro the trophy/title, but watching to see who has the best mind working away in a back room with a spreadsheet, and deciding the whole outcome in advance by fiddling with the numbers and deciding everything in advance.