Thursday, 4 July 2013

Further thoughts on the British Grand Prix

Not like the rest of us
'The danger? Well, of course. But you are missing a very important point. I think if any of us imagined - really imagined - what it would be like to go into a tree at 150 miles per hour we would probably never get into the cars at all, none of us. So it has always seemed to me that to do something very dangerous requires a certain absence of imagination.'

The words of a Grand Prix driver? Yes. Well, sort of. It's actually from Jean-Pierre Sarti, one of the protagonists in the 1966 John Frankenheimer film Grand Prix.

But clearly his words apply to F1 reality, and indeed still apply today. The latest evidence of this was on Sunday.

Fernando Alonso - reminding us not
just anyone can be an F1 driver
Credit: formulasantander.com / CC
After the first three tyre failures early in the Silverstone race several drivers received radio messages advising them to keep clear of the kerbs in order to minimise the chances of a further tyre failure for themselves. Nevertheless much kerb-riding could be seen throughout the field for the race's remainder.

Fernando Alonso for one made no bones about the fact that he didn't heed the call for caution from his pit wall: 'They kept telling me to go off the kerbs, but obviously if you’re position 12 you need to attack, you need to change the racing line, you need the use the DRS...I didn’t change, I didn’t change lines.' And, judging from the lines most of his rivals continued to take after the first round of tyre failures, Alonso was far from the only one.

As Martin Brundle noted during Sky's commentary, one is left half impressed and half disgusted by this. But yet, on some level it's a timely reminder that driving in F1 is something that the vast majority of the rest of us couldn't do - which in itself is no bad thing. Such an 'absence of imagination', being able to somehow park the thought that their tyre could the be next to go - and if it did they could within a blink be a passenger in hitting something hard - at some level might elicit a sense of grudging admiration. F1 drivers really are a peculiar breed.

And last word goes to Sarti:

Jean-Pierre Sarti: 'Before you leave I want to tell you something. Not about the others, but about myself. I used to go to pieces. I'd see an accident like that and be so weak inside that I wanted to quit - stop the car and walk away. I could hardly make myself go past it. But I'm older now. When I see something really horrible, I put my foot down. Hard! Because I know that everyone else is lifting his.'

Louise Frederickson: 'What a terrible way to win.'

Jean-Pierre Sarti: 'No, there is no terrible way to win. There is only winning.'

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