Peter Windsor vs Darrell Waltrip on F1

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

We’ve approached the difficult question of passing in F1 from several angles on F1 Fanatic. Last night I found a fascinating video from the American TV channel Speed where F1 journalist Peter Windsor and ex-NASCAR driver Darrel Waltrip approach the question from opposite ends of the motor racing spectrum:

The video starts with a quote from Windsor I referred to in a previous article on F1 Fanatic. Asked how he would improve F1, Windsor replied:

I would change nothing. I think F1 is fantastic as it is. If you want to watch a million meaningless overtaking manoeuvres and lots of shunts go and watch NASCAR or bikes or IRL or something.

You can read my thoughts on that quote in full in this article: Boring races.

I think Windsor’s claim that too much overtaking would be as bad as too little is fair. But I find the idea that F1 is un-improvable a bit hard to take. Especially after last Sunday’s race.

I like this video for several reasons. It explores a complex and divisive problem using two people who know what they’re talking about.

Unlike the kind of F1 coverage we get from ITV in Britain it actually tackles a big issue like overtaking in F1 head-on. I hope the BBC will do more stuff like this next year.

And it’s also very interesting for a non-American like myself to get a perspective on the different attitudes to motor racing in the United States.

37 comments on “Peter Windsor vs Darrell Waltrip on F1”

  1. I really do respect the job that Windsor does on Speed TV, but I cannot really see his point.

    When I was watching the European GP last weekend, I wasn’t thinking about the technology or glamour of F1, as a racing fan I wanted to see close racing and overtaking.

    technology is all well and good, and is needed what F1 advertises itself upon. But the bottom line is, overtaking is what really ignites fans passion.

    I think Peter’s problem is, he’s so wrapped up in F1 – looking at his background – it’s the only thing he knows about. Therefore he fails to see the attraction of other motor sports.

    Darrel Waltrip was making a genuine point, that even the most passionate F1 fans agree with. Yet Peter just dismissed his opinion, he doesn’t even seem to acknowledge F1 fans opinions.

    I am interested in the engineering, strategy and technology of F1. But is it thrilling? Only more overtaking can provide that…

  2. I’ve just read last Windsor’s report of Silverstone race and I have a taste of what this guy is like…. the word is “cursi”. Don’t know if there is such word in english but this is what most defines Peter Windsor.

    But after saying that, I can’t do nothing but agree what Mr Windsor says in that video. If you want to see overtakings, you have plenty of races where you can fulfill your desires… Formula 3, GP2, A1GP, Formula Nippon, etc etc. What makes F1 sublime is technology, not overtakings. Of course, I would like to see an overtaking where the chasing driver is faster (something that today has become almost imposible), but that is not the point about the nature of F1. We never know how much of an overtaking is on the side of the pilot, the car, the tyres, or whatever. I’ve seen lots of funny races with no overtakings at all. On the other side, nobody would remember those last laps of a war between Arnoux and Villeneuve if F1 had as many overtakings as Nascar.

  3. I agree, it should be a driver that keeps his opposition behind him through skill and great driving. Not the effect all his aero has on the car behind.

  4. Jonesracing82
    27th August 2008, 12:25

    we would so remember the Dijon ’79 battle!
    may i ask Architrion: would he be happy if each race was as dull as the one we saw on the weekend?
    i for one and the majority of f1 fans would not.

  5. I agree with Sav722’s point completely. Part of F1s soul is the immense amount of technology that goes into these cars – but this is a motorsport championship after all.

    Formula One doesn’t need that much more overtaking, not to the level of NASCAR or MotoGP – around the level of GP2 is just fine.

    Valencia really showed how bad the overtaking situation is in F1 today, Valencia is a track that should have promoted overtaking – but there was nearly none at all – except for crash-happy Coulthard.

  6. Some people may argue that there is a big difference between sport and entertainment and Formula One may be the classic example. Despite how bland it may be for us watching it on TV, I don’t think we non-racers will ever fully appreciate the rigours that F1 drivers endure, despite the technology factor in F1 racing and the lack of overtaking…even during the most boring race for viewers.

    F1 as a sport: well I’m not qualified to give an opinion on that as I’ll never truly fathom what goes on F1.

    As entertainment however…yes I think F1 fans have seen more exciting days.

  7. Jonesracing82
    27th August 2008, 12:41

    i’ll put this another way, pure and simple!
    name the better gp = A, valencia ’08 or B, suzuka ’05?
    which one will still b spoken of with a smile in 5yrs time?
    i rest my case……………

  8. I definitely preferred Suzuka 2005 but if every race was like that the it would start to feel less special – which is part of Windsor’s point. That said, I still think overtaking has become too hard in normal racing conditions.

  9. Paul Sainsbury
    27th August 2008, 13:10

    Keith-I don’t think I agree with you that if every race was like Suzuka 2005 it would make it less special. I just think it would be amazing, brilliant entertainment every race. I mean, we don’t complain if we have several wet races, do we? That’s becuase they are simply hugely entertaining and that never gets dull.

  10. I think we need more drivers like Fernando Alonso on track and there will be more passing (and putt these drivers into strong cars :) ) .

  11. I tend to agree partly with Peter Windsors comment , as I said on the blog , thought the Valencia race was rubbish ? “While some truth exists in the fact that F1 cars are difficult to overtake another , it’s certainly not impossible , and we don’t want to get to a point where they overtake too much like in other series” , which I firmly stand by. Of course , there can always be improvements in anything , but as it stands , an overtake in F1 has to be a special thing , and if there are dozens in every race , it loses that meaning.

  12. The problem with Perer’s point is that a race winning overtake that takes a race to setup would be fine, but we don’t get those. That would mean lap after lap of ‘can he’, ‘will he’ ..etc

    We get two periods of ‘do two faster laps than the next guy’, if we are lucky.

  13. Darrell Waltrip doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s a brainless hick who is incapable for forming an intelligent thought. As a native of the American Southeast, Waltrip is a thorough embarrassment to me.

    NASCAR has become a steroidal mess that is focused more on “show” than racing and does nothing more than satisfy the masturbatory instincts of American consumers. The technology is crude and barbaric, and while there are three or four world-class talents in the series (Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin), the rest are unimpressive at best.

    Peter Windsor is absolutely right. There doesn’t need to be some grand overhaul of the series and the cars just to increase overtaking. There’s plenty of drama and interesting things to keep thinking people occupied, and that’s who Formula One fans are: thinking people. If you want to do something, eliminate the race-fuel qualifying in Q3 that arbitrarily spread the field.

  14. michael counsell
    27th August 2008, 18:41

    Is Jimmie Johnson not world class?

  15. I’m a thinking person, but I enjoy overtaking and passing. Too me, a race of technology sophisticated cars in the hands of highly skilled and well compensated drivers following each other with little or no passing isn’t a true ‘race’; that’s a high speed parade. I began following F1 because of the exciting races of the late sixties, when a driver could seriously compensate for a car’s shortcomings through intelligence, skill, and courage.

    I am also a NASCAR fan. While there are races where ‘too much passing’ takes place, such as the restrictor plate races, where it becomes a matter of who is able to manage the slingshot at the end, there’s a lot of races where the passing is tremendously exciting. The end of a race with exciting passes doesn’t diminish the anticipation of the next race and more exciting passes. To me that remains more exciting than hearing, ‘Oh, there’s six laps left. Hamilton has whittled the gap down to eight seconds. Can he catch him?’ Well, what if he can? He probably can’t pass.

    All that said, I’ll continue to watch F1 because the cars and drivers are amazing, and with the continued hope there will be ‘quality passing’.

    Cheers.

  16. lol!i remember seeing this on wind tunnel the night it aired. i think that’s when i started realizing how lucky we are to have speed in the u.s. i have never seen european coverage of a f1 race (the few times i’ve been over there was in the dead of winter-ie: the cheap season)and always envied you guys because there’s so much more of it-and touring cars,wrc etc-than we get but from following some of the live blogs i can tell you i don’t think i’d trade speed. i remember when james allen did the f1 coverage for espn- better suited for “good morning britain” maybe.

    i thought waltrip came off really well-but i do think that drafting and sling-shotting around the guy in front of you is a bit different than actually passing. maybe since i’m not a nascar fan i’m missing the subtlety of the manouver. and it really was just good fun listening to two guys from different disciplines actually debating the issue.

    but i have to disagree, keith. more passing in f1 wouldn’t make the good races less special. it just makes the really good races that much more special. just recall some of the old cart/champ car races. i have a really bad memory and while i can recall a handful of scattered f1 moments over the years i recall alot more cart moments.

    what more passing-or even the anticipation of passing (a moselyism there,please forgive me)-and i define that as wheel to wheel battling(tradin’ paint is the nascar term i think) even if the pass doesn’t come off-would do is engage the casual or newbie fan and keep them coming back.

  17. William Wilgus
    27th August 2008, 20:49

    I think everyone should keep in mind that the purpose of a race is to determine which car / driver combination is the fastest on any particular track and day. Baring accidents and break-downs, the fastest car / driver combination should win the race, the second fastest car / driver combination place second, etc. Therefore, a faster car / driver combination should be able to pass a slower car / driver combination. It stands to reason that a much faster combination should be able to pass a much slower combination with ease; the more closely matched two combinations are in speed, the more difficult it would be for the faster to pass the slower.

    Aerodynamics aside, the reason that there’s so much passing in NASCAR is that the oval tracks they run on permit more than one racing line through the corners: low, mid, and high lines on the banking. Watch a NASCAR road-race and you’ll see very little passing. Part of the answer to F-1’s passing problem, then, is to start the race with a clean track to enable more variation in the racing line. Yes, the racing line possibilities will narrow as the track gets dirty; I don’t see a cure for that. However, by that time, the true `pecking order’ may have been sorted out.

    Do I want to see multitudinous passing in F-1 a la NASCAR? No, I want to see racing, not an auto show like NASCAR is.

  18. I don’t think anyone wants passing/overtaking ala NASCAR. Still, a race without any overtakings or “wheel to wheel” racing is dull, plain and simple.

  19. ^ Having the GP decided by saturday is hardly ideal.

  20. michael counsell
    27th August 2008, 23:11

    F1 is part of me, like football supporters who support their team no matter what. They’ll watch 90 minutes of their team getting thrashed and I’ll watch 90 minutes of a (relatively) dull race and appreciate the the more exciting races all the more when they happen.

    People complaining about how they aren’t entertained enough are kind of missing the point. By all means suggest ways of improving things, thats part of being a fan of something. The minute anyone becomes a fan of something is the minute it becomes impossible to be called a fan.

    It would be like being a fan of oxygen.

  21. michael counsell
    27th August 2008, 23:12

    I mean everyone not anyone.

  22. Macademianut
    28th August 2008, 0:17

    There is a clear problem with F1 (particularly on tracks like Valencia) where there’s absolutely no passing.

    1. In F1, you can watch the first 10 laps of the race and pretty much say who is going to win (unless something drastic happens).

    2. In Nascar, where they run 500 laps, it is pretty much useless to see anything but the last 20 laps. There’s too much drafting etc. that it is pretty easy for someone to go from first to 10th in a matter of seconds.

    So, pretty much both of them have an interesting viewing time of 20 minutes.

  23. Verasaki: You wouldn’t trade Speed TV for another network? Speed TV and other US sports channels are shameful to sports coverage. Approx. every 5 laps of the race they show a commercial!! Fortunately there isn’t enough passing to really miss anything during the breaks but how can you show commercials during a live sporting event!?!

    Good point Sebastian. Saturdays are much more exciting.

    I watch F1 on Speed in the US. Most races happen in the early morning after an off night. With the commercials on TV and lack of excitement during many races its very hard to even stay awake. Sometimes I catch myself dosing off and when I wake up its like nothing happened. Then the race is over and I can resume my rest hehe

    I’m actually glad i dozed off for most of Valencia since the podium didn’t change from Saturday.

  24. MacademiaNut
    28th August 2008, 6:54

    And oh yeah, I would love to hear his opinion on Baseball. Ever wondered about those single-digit scores in baseball — don’t go to the number of home runs per game, that would be even more depressing. I know, for most folks cricket is boring. At least, these days in a 20-over matches finish in a reasonable time, and the score is in three digits. Baseball is like sitting in a chair, twitching your thumb, and waiting for a random event to happen.

  25. The way I see it is my favourite memory of Formula 1 took place at Spa. Schumi in the lead, Mika about 2 seconds behind coming through Eau Rouge. Coming to the end of the next straight, Schumi and Mika speed past either side of an unsuspecting back marker, and Mika took the lead.

    With the state overtaking is in F1 now, that would never have happened.

  26. Memory is a funny thing. We tend to forget the facts that don’t support our preconceived opinions. People say that the current F1 does not have nearly as many overtaking manouvers as it used to have. Is that so or is it that our minds tend to keep the memory of those great overtaking manouvers of the past while erasing the record of the boring, procession type, past races (and there many, many of the those)? I have seem great moves in the last two years – not only in the middle/back of the field but in the very front.

    Nothing of what I said, however, makes me able to side with Peter Windsor in any matter. He is definetly the worse F1 jornalist/pundit in activity. Apart from his intolerable English bias (everybody supports somebody but, as a pundit, you should at least keep some semblance of honesty), he tends to chose before hand the drivers he likes and showers them with all sort of over-the-top praises (the rubish he likes to repeat about Kimi’s minimization of lateral Gs is just sikening). Of couse, the opposite also happens. In his opinion Massa cannot do anything right and no amount of wins, poles, overtakes will affect his opinion (the classical don’t-botter-me-with-fatcs atitude). He uses to deride Senna too…

  27. polak, fair point on the commercials. they are the reason (well other than the sheer stupidity of american broadcasting and programming) i don’t watch much network tv. when the commercials come around i just go for more coffee which is much needed at o-dark-thirty am or take out the trash, whatever to kill time and stay awake.

    what i meant about speed is that just from what i hear and read from the viewers on the other side of the pond is that the actual race coverage is balanced. i’m not sure what the point of sam posey’s poetic waxings are, i’ve never been a big fan of hobbs but he’s sticking to the job more now instead of going off on those wierd tangents and bad accents he used to do and windsor does have a brit bias but even that is toned down compared to what i hear people saying about itv-or any of the other euro broadcasters have for their particular driver. speed doesn’t actually dwell much on what anyone has had for breakfast or what colour underwear they’re wearing or every minute of any particular driver’s day since the minute he awoke. it’s pretty much all racing and they do it well even though they’re at the mercy of whatever local broadcast feed they’re given.

  28. michael counsell
    28th August 2008, 17:38

    I agree with Antifia’s comment. In 2008 there has been an average of 14 overtaking manouveres per race in 2000 there were 18. Not a huge difference but it is noticeable. In the last 10 years only 2004 had less overtaking manouveres with 12. However there are typically a higher than average number of overtaking manouveres at the Chinese and Brazilian GPs which will liklely bring the average up, while rain is probably likely in Singapore and Fuji.

    Lapped cars have less and less of an impact on races recently as so few are lapped. In Valencia only 6 cars were lapped. Indeed if it doesn’t rain in Spa with so few laps and such a long track it is entirely possible that no one will end up lapped.

    Overtaking Stats:

    http://groups.google.com/group/rec.autos.sport.f1/browse_thread/thread/9b7f8a61aca0d076#

  29. If passing in the race is no longer important or relevant just call each race after the first two laps and send everybody home. With engine freezes reliability will become bullet proof and who cares about driver’s skills in the wet?

    I readily admit to being stunned by the “boogity man’s” eloquence in defining the driver’s role and his part in passing. If there’s no passing it’s just a glorified parade and no one wants that. Do we??????

  30. michael counsell
    28th August 2008, 23:29

    If no one wants a glorified parade why were there 600,000 people (including me) in Notting Hill on Monday….

  31. Because everyone goes to Notting Hill expecting a glorified parade, whereas F1 is supposed to be a race. Bu races are supposed to have the possibility of passing (which has reduced over the years), no biased/incompetent interference from the authorities and a feeling that races are more down to skill than luck (in getting the right team at season’s beginning, in having no traffic on Saturday, on being able to bend the rules without the FIA noticing…)

  32. notting hill? anyone? i thought it was a place (or a bad movie) but an event? is it “racing parody”?

  33. Like Windsors fishing analogy, I think of basketball vs. soccer. Every basket is not memorable. Sadly, too many races end nil-nil.

  34. Last point on passing: Over the years people tend to remember and glorify the great drivers, not necessarily the great cars. And the great drivers are the ones who created memorable duels that usually involved passing.

    We have a current crop of drivers that are potentially great but rarely get to duel for the lead because of the evolution of the technology. Next year’s aero-tire changes may bring more of that passing possibility back.

  35. Alot of the so called blandness of modern F1 is down as much to track design as the enhancement of aerodynamics. The catch twenty two situation is that formally classic, fast circuits have been altered in order to slow the cars down. Why?
    Safety is now just as relevant as ever, but this is the main problem F1 faces. Excitement in racing means risk, risk to the driver or drivers. The best, most memorable moments in modern F1 have occured during dangerous overtaking moves.
    The sight of Mansell and Senna going wheel to wheel, Hakkinen’s pass at Spa, and Alonso’s 130R overtake are just some examples, and these must all be encouraged.
    However, in modern F1 track design, it is more important that safety is held in more higher regard than entertainment. You can’t blame them on that I guess, but for motor racing to be entertaining, danger has to be part of the whole spectacle.
    No one, no F1 fan, loves Eau Rouge because it is easy.
    They love it, as do the drivers, because it is dangerous, because it is a challenge.
    As for Peter Windsor, I agree that F1 would not be a better show for having numerous overtaking during the races, but certain aspects of foreign series you cannot
    falter.
    NASCAR for example, for all its failings in terms of its good ole’ boy image and basic technology, is still an open sport for its fans. The fans atleast get to see a more ‘human’ element to their heroes, as opposed to the five minute interview session and some champagne spraying on a podium. After all, its still showbusiness, still a spectacle.
    Don’t get me wrong, I would hate to see Kimi Raikkonen gulping down a Diet Pepsi during an interview al la NASCAR, but a burnout for the fans would not go a miss.
    Could you imagine how the fans would react, to see a winning F1 driver barbecue his tyres in a post race celebration? They would love it!
    Less rules, less cloak and dagger, less politics, more entertainment! If for nothing else, to keep Kimi from falling asleep along with the rest of us.

  36. I feel bad for Peter in this video, because he seems set up. He elaborates on a statement I think he made in frustration very well (because I remember that statement.)

    I think his quote of Enzo “60% car / 40% driver” has become “90% car / 10% driver” in the current age, and dare I say, in Nascar it is “10% car / 90% driver” now. Those familiar with both motorsports will understand, the problem with both is that they have become too polarized towards certain concepts.

    I completely see Waltrip’s point in asking, who in F1 can push hard enough to cause the person in front of them to make mistakes (without breaking his own car in the process)? (The correct answer to this question: Kubica and Hamilton.)

    There is a lot of work to be done, I suppose…

  37. i have a design of a formula 1 car which will be an unbelievable winning machine .. for all time

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