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”

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  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’.


  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.

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