1996: The Last Good Year Of F1
It's gone downhill since Hill Won, But Why?
Before I set out on this I want to make one thing clear - I love F1, always have, always will but something has to be done or it won't be around for much longer.
Its fair to say that Formula One has gone downhill in the last twenty five years, but why is this?, what has caused such a steep decline in what was the worlds most exciting sport. Well a few things, firstly we need to talk about the FIA, the governing body, which, with its all seeing eye, watches over F1 and, and well ruins it by making it childish and silly. Your probably wondering what I'm on about, well take for instance what's been going on at Racing Point this season, they were given a huge fine of £360,000 and a 15 points reduction - well obviously the money isn't an issue but 15 points, that's enough to decide a championship and for what!, because there brakes happen to look like the ones Mercedes use. If they do decide the brakes have to go all that will happen is that at the end of the year racing Point, or Aston Martin as it is soon to become will go to the FIA and with a childish voice ask 'can we have out brakes back mister?'. what's the point in that. But yes I know this isn't a new thing with the sport they've always been a bit funny like when Jean-Marie Balestre was in charge in the 90's and kept being mean and picking on poor old Aryton Senna but its 2020 and they should be fair to everyone, not just to who wins, brings in the most money or is French. Just to add to the FIA's silliness this weekend is the Ferrari 1000th GP at Mugello and what has the FIA done to celebrate it?, they've painted the Mercedes safety car red. I think that tells us all we need to know about them.
The new red Mercedes to celebrate Ferrari - I don't get it either
Next is the Racing, if you can call it that, what I call it is Hamilton P1, Bottas P2, Verstappen P3, but to sum up the last twenty-five years its Schumacher, Schumacher, Schumacher, Schumacher, Alsonso, Kimi, Hamilton, Vettel, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton........... you see where I'm going with this? it becomes stale and boring and why people stop watching this, yes I realise you could say that Jim Clark always won or Senna always won but they didn't. Back in the day anything could happen - look at the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix, one of the most exciting races and finishes ever - In heavy rain on the last four laps of the race Prost leading span out and crashed destroying the car, Patrese took the lead then spun, Pironi took the lead then ran out of fuel, De Cesaris would have taken the lead and won but his Alfa Romeo broke down , Daly (who no ones ever heard of) took the lead but ran out of fuel, then patrese won but no one knew and Jackie Stewart was just walking around infant of the of the TV cameras not knowing what to do. Do you see what I mean though, if not why not - go and watch it on Youtube.
The past was exciting because anything could happen, Break downs, running out of fuel and accidents where you couldn't just go to the pits to have it replaced. Drivers didn't just drive they Raced - Prost Vs Senna - Hunt Vs Lauda. It was close racing and it was very, very exciting.
As I sit here writing I do remember the first race of 2020 the Austrian GP where I was sitting on the end of my seat waiting to see if lando Norris had finished under four seconds behind Hamilton to get his first ever podium in F1.
Ricardo Patrese going on to win the 1982 Monaco GP - Pironi Behind before running out of fuel
Many things go into making an F1 race, Teams, Cars, Commentators, but there's one thing- well twenty actually that make F1, The Drivers. Throughout all of history men have always loved speed and have always wanted to go as fast as possible and these twenty two men are no different, well a little bit different, until the 2000's drivers didn't care about danger or whether or not the car was about to explode into a fireball the size of Kent, they just got on and drove.
Nowadays F1 drivers have taken note from footballers and so if they hurt themselves they pretend like they are on the brink of death and can't race for a month until they have spent the time recuperating in Monaco (obviously this doesn't happen anymore because no on hurts themselves) but not in the past, Niki Lauda wa horrifically burnt but did he give up?, no, as the film Rush tells us he got right up and back to racing, Graham Hill was the same breaking both of his legs at the 1969 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen but got back to it as soon as possible, and look at them, I'm not saying that earrings, exercise and veganism is bad but I really do believe a racing driver should be standing in the pit lane smoking a cigarette next to a petrol can and drinking beer before driving a 180mph car, I mean that's just brilliant isn't it, they didn't care. modern drivers are constantly thinking about what strategy they are going to use whereas James Hunt was looking at the female spectators wondering which one he was going to chat up that night. Drivers were cool Heroes not schoolboys complaining on the radio about how a car has just overtaken them.
James Hunt being his usual self in the pit lane
The last thing to discuss is actually two things: Cars and Safety, this is probably the biggest thing that changed and its both good and bad. In 1968 the year Jim Clark died, he was one of just 127 people, don't get me wrong this is a terrible thing and its good that its gone down, but it does mean motorsport is getting a bit dull. Last week at the Monza Grand Prix Charles Leclerc had a very fast crash and had it been forty years ago he may not have made it out alive, which Is bad, but then again is it? had Charles Leclerc been sent to hospital for a while this would have given the opportunity to another young driver to try and show themselves. many drivers including Nigel Mansell, Jochen Rindt and David Coulthard, even if the other driver didn't die and just had an accident this gave these people the opportunity. I would Evan go as far as saying that people lost interest in the sport because of the loss of excitement, these old drivers were going past death while sticking two fingers at him. In the past drivers just drove there was no complaining about strategy because they only one they new was drive faster then anybody else, there was no DRS or KERS which I would say are cheat codes for real life, so I think cars should be less high tech and just let the drivers drive.