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Motor racing goes round the bend

Formula One motor racing has suffered from becoming increasingly dull as a spectacle in recent years. There seems to be less overtaking. The cars often look silly with their gaudy advertising and don’t have the aesthetic grace of old. Partly, I think, this perception of dullness is down to the increasingly safe nature of the sport. It is a terrible thing for folk to admit, but it is now much more difficult for a motor racer to get killed than during the heyday of Fangio and Jim Clark (arguably the two greatest drivers ever). I have actually driven around the old Nurburgring circuit in the Rhineland area of Germany – the track that nearly killed Nikki Lauda back in the mid-1970s. I was driving in a regular saloon car with my Dad and got out, shaking and trembling after negotiating the twists and turns of the track. How a driver could have thrown one of those massive old Auto-Unions or Mercedes around such a track and emerge unscathed is a miracle. No wonder the Germans rebuilt this fearsome track into something much safer

So maybe the loon who chose to walk on to the circuit at Britain’s Silverstone track on Sunday was trying to inject an element of raw danger back into the sport. It was very lucky – and also a tribute to the bravery of the one of the track marshalls, that no-one got killed.

What was this twit thinking? No doubt the usual wailers from the nanny state brigade will start demanding all kinds of fresh controls and restrictions. And I have no doubt that our flat-earth chums from the anti-globalista movement will have motor racing in their cross-hairs eventually. All those gas-guzzling fast cars with their C02 emissions, ugh!

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13 comments to Motor racing goes round the bend

  • –The concept of environmentalists going after road-racing machines seems strange, but look at two-stroke motocross bikes.

    –I’d bet the ultra-advanced engines of F1, CART, and LM900, with their pneumatic valves, stratospheric rev limits and state of the art fuel injection, are dozens of times cleaner than the giant, pushrod, carbureted V8s of NASCAR.

    –Some think that F1 took its turn for the worse around the time launch/traction control systems were okayed. I’m not sure, but they might even have active handling systems now. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t take tremendous talent to do what they do, but it does make it safer and a bit more sterile.

    –I have a few 120+ MB vids taken from a bike on the Nurburgring. I’m still in awe.

    –Reuters reports that it’s down for the moment, but I’m sure it was just some drunk kook trying to catch the camera’s eye. But perhaps the wailers might have a point, when you consider the carnage that could have ensued (for the driver) if an F1 car had struck this jackass. Maybe a fence?

  • Cydonia

    I lost interest when Ayrton Senna died.

    Schumacher may be a brilliant driver but for sheer fun to watch, he can’t hold a candle to Senna. Who can forget those wonderful duels between him and Mansell?


  • Rob

    Part of the problem with F1 not having much overtaking these days is that most of the tracks have been made safer by, say, inserting a chicane into the middle of a long straight. Tracks like Monza and Silverstone which still have long straights can still produce exciting races.

    Incidentally, I fully expected that twit to be some kind of environmental campaigner, but rumour has it he’s just a religious loony making some kind of “peace stance“.

  • The last time an F1 car hit a man on the track was the 1977 SA GP at Kyalami. The man, an errant fire marshall, was killed instantly and the driver, up and coming Briton, Tom Pryce, was struck on the head by his fire extinguisher.

    You can engineer safety into the cars and the track all you like but human beings will defy all expectation, alas.

    Tom Pryce’s death came during a particularly bloody period which pushed the drivers to demand change. Since then the balance between safety and excitement has shifted a very long way in favour of the former, too far for some perhaps. But I doubt if even a drop in the popularity of F1 and an even deeper trough than at present in team funding will cause a re-think now.

  • I thought that a lot of the rules they have introduced over the years were there to reduce cornering speeds – the problem being that the g forces modern F1 cars generate exceed drivers’ ability to handle them. In which case they should limit cornering speeds or g forces.

    If you ban things all that happens is that teams have to go and find more expensive ways of doing the same thing – hence the advantage goes to the richer teams.

  • Cinders

    F1 bites – NASCAR RULES. Get into a real sport where there is actual RACING, not just a lot of “follow the leader” going on.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    NASCAR isn’t real auto racing — they’re traveling around perfect ovals most of the time. I can’t see how that would take anywhere near the skill of turning all the corners that F1 drivers have to do.

    And unlike American motorsports, F1 can go in the rain.

  • derf

    Obviously they will have to pass laws setting a speed limit of 15mph/25kph to keep anyone from being injured while on the track. After all anyone injured would be taken to a state hospital and how can you unfairly burden the good taxpayers with injuries that could have been prevented by a little nanny-ism. It is after all, for the good of the people.

    or some such nonesense!

  • Eamon Brennan

    Didn’t the Winston series pass a law limiting the speeds of cars on ovals after Bill Eliiot pulled an average of 217 mph on a qualifying lap in ’87?

    That made sense.


  • Winston Cup has “restrictor-plate” racing on the bigger tracks, which is almost universally hated by the fans, teams, drivers, sponsors, etc.

    For me it’s all about the series formerly known as Motorola Cup–Porsches, Vipers, Vettes, BMWs, NSXs, Ferraris, etc. Real tracks, real drivers, real cars. No pit stops, no yellows, no stopping for moisture.

  • JSAllison

    Two words: Air Racing

  • Tom Kince

    Interestingly enough this was probably the most exciting and competitive race in several years. Great passing and real fun. And Michael finally seems to be losing his edge. JPM is reaching his potential.

  • This year’s circus is the best one in a long time. We have three top teams with probably (hopefully) two more (or more) stepping the next season. There have been several really exciting races this season aswell (IMHO).

    Your summary of F1 sounds more like F1 was a year ago – dull and boring.

    And though beauty is in the eye of the beholder I have to say I like how the F1 cars look, as opposed to say Indycar (those cars look like they’ve come straight from the 70’s).

    With any luck we’ll get Spa back too, then I’ll be very content.

    Sorry for rambling.