The Ben Evans Column: Rant

Posted on | Author Ben Evans

Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, Barcelona, 2007Maybe its because of my bad run of results in Formula Vee, or maybe its because, Canada and Europe excepted, Formula One is rather boring this year, but I have spent the past couple of weeks feeling unusually indifferent towards motor racing.

I think partly its because once I start feeling a bit down towards racing, then I start thinking about everything that’s wrong about motor racing today.

So to get them off my chest here are my six big gripes with motor racing today. Which do you agree with?

Overtaking – I have three problems with overtaking.

In Formula One in the dry there is none, because the design of the cars won’t allow it. And if that is overcome then you can guarantee the pit stop strategy will prevent it.

Then you have the junior single seater formulae where the rule is ‘thou shalt not be overtaken’ – the consequence being a huge number of unnecessary, enormous accidents.

Finally you have the contrived overtaking series like Nascar and WTCC where the action is as authentic as Jordan’s breasts. Whatever happened to wheel-to-wheel dicing in evenly matched, but different, cars?

Personalities – There aren’t any.

Amnesty International is considering banning interviews with Kimi Raikkonen because people die of boredom listening to him. Lewis Hamilton seems like a nice guy – but he doesn’t come across as the life and soul of the party.

Let’s face it – the vast majority of modern racing drivers are painfully dull. At least in the US they have the occasional punch up but then its only Paul Tracy and Danica Patrick, and they both fight like girls.

Refuelling – Why? Why?

No, really, why? Yeah so strategy adds another dimension to the racing – but at the expense of overtaking, balls out wheel to wheel racing and dicing.

If I wanted to see cars being filled with petrol I’d spend every Sunday sat outside my local BP station. Refuelling is only exciting when somebody catches fire or gets run over, but living in Tower Hamlets I get to see that most weekends anyway.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Anthony Davidson, Magny-Cours, 2007Crashes – As a connoisseur of crashes the move towards acres of tarmac to contain an accident is most concerning.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but come on, I want to see some impacts, some damage, wheels flying. In short, when a driver goes off a track at 100mph it should probably be the end of his race – not something that costs him a couple seconds, or nothing at all if the panicky stewards rush the safety car out.

Again in series that are contrived to cause crashes – hello again WTCC – it just doesn’t feel the same, there isn’t that spontaneity. Some people called Kubica and Hamilton’s crashes horrific. I see them more as a dying art.

Circuits – Which modern GP circuits are guaranteed to produce interesting races? That would be Monte-Carlo, Montreal, Silverstone and Spa – 4 out of 18.

That only gives me 4 weekends of cast iron excuses for not going on walks with my girlfriend – ok add in the Mugello Moto GP and Knockhill Touring Cars and you have 6, but that’s still a lot of nature time.

‘Hermann the Hairpin’ Tilke’s circuits may have run off spaces bigger than most continents, but do they produce exciting racing? Not a chance.

TV Coverage – Most coverage of motor racing on the TV is a bit crap. Badly informed commentators – take a bow James Allen. Horrible ‘matey’ banter – hello to the BBC Moto GP team. The guest pundit you’ve never heard of – that would be Champ Cars on Eurosport.

Combine that with camera positions that remove any sense of speed and advert breaks that cut out entire laps and motor racing on TV can be a rather disappointing experience.

Having written all that before the European Grand Prix, isn’t it amazing what a difference a few drops of rain can make?

Photo credits: Nico Rosberg, Williams FW29 Toyota. Action. Photo: Glenn Dunbar /LAT Photographic. ref: Digital Image IMG_9226

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Ben Evans

Contributing writer.