When I read Kimi Raikkonen’s response at the 2008 Ferrari launch on Sunday to a question about whether banning traction control will make F1 less safe I was delighted to see he’d offered an opinion about it.
And when I realised what he said went completely against team mate Felipe Massa’s feelings I was even more intrigued. Here’s what Raikkonen had to say:
The sport is dangerous anyway. It doesn’t matter if you have traction control or not. If you think it is too dangerous you probably shouldn’t be in the sport. It is more tricky for sure, you need to be awake more of the time.
That’s a pretty direct response from someone who rarely says much at all at press conferences. Read those words again, “If you think it is too dangerous you probably shouldn’t be in the sport,” and then look what Massa had to say about the traction control ban in November:
From a safety point of view, these limitations in the use of electronics look like a step backwards to me: in the event of wet races we’ll have a lot more accidents.
This is quite curious. F1 drivers can be reluctant to offer opinions, preferring not to rock the boat and hide behind bland public relations-approved quotes.
But I think the traction control debate has touched a nerve and just as some of them feel passionately that the traction control ban is a threat to safety, so others feel that the ban is good for the sport and that F1 has to be dangerous up to a point.
My heart agrees with Raikkonen, but I know in my head that I have no frame of reference for what it is like to drive an F1 car at 200mph down the main straight at Fuji in pouring rain and blinding spray. I think it is up to the drivers to make the call on this one.
And I can’t help but wonder if Raikkonen’s choice of words hint at a certain disrespect for his team mate’s abilities. After all, Massa has not been the most impressive of drivers in the wet.
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