Formula 1: I Choose Pistols at Dawn
Recently Jeremy Clarkson has written an article with some suggestions for the FIA and Formula 1 with hopes of making the sport more exciting. His idea of splitting team mates with the top qualifier in first place, and his team mate in last place is in theory a great idea. I can’t imagine the drivers would ever go for that though. The real point, and he says this very clearly, is that there needs to be a reason and a means for drivers to overtake one another. It is a car race after all.
The defensive and conservative nature of F1 racing was quite evident at the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton’s log jam in the last few laps came close to disrupting Nico Rosberg’s ascent to the Driver’s Championship. While I cannot fault Hamilton for wanting to win, his endgame strategy was nothing short of passive. Clearly he slowed down so others can attack his opponent from behind. Forget for a second that he disobeyed a team order to speed up with the typical arrogance that he exudes. My gripe is not necessarily with Hamilton. It’s the principle of it all.
After the radio transmission where Hamilton refused to speed up, I was hoping that the Mercedes Team was going to give Nico Rosberg the green light to actually go racing. Obviously Vettel pulled up in the final stretch of the race and Rosberg only needed third to take the driver’s championship…. but why not let Rosberg get after Hamilton for a few laps? We know about their rivalry. We saw them battle continuously this season. They are – arguably – the top drivers in the world. The fans want to see them fight, not dance around then concede victory. Where is the sport in that?
Formula 1 should consider giving more control to the driver. Had Mercedes given Rosberg the green light, they would been allowing him to decide whether pressing the issue was the best move. Let him drive and not “manage a computer” as Clarkson said. This is where the moonshiners of NASCAR got it right. Their drivers relay info about the car to the team, and they push the loud pedal at their discretion. Obviously the two sports are vastly different, and I am not suggesting that F1 adopt the “rubbing is racing” mentality or allow drivers to slug it out in the pits. But ultimately F1 drivers – like all other world class athletes – are incredibly competitive people. You cannot teach the dog to hunt then never take him into the field.
In the world of motorsport, F1 is the gentleman’s outlet for racing. But gentlemen and disagree. Rosberg and Hamilton do for sure. Let them duel.
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