Peter Windsor vs Darrell Waltrip on F1

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.

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37 comments on Peter Windsor vs Darrell Waltrip on F1

  1. verasaki said on 27th August 2008, 19:18

    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.

  2. William Wilgus said on 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.

  3. Sebastian said on 27th August 2008, 21:46

    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.

  4. Sebastian said on 27th August 2008, 21:48

    ^ Having the GP decided by saturday is hardly ideal.

  5. michael counsell said on 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.

  6. michael counsell said on 27th August 2008, 23:12

    I mean everyone not anyone.

  7. Macademianut said on 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.

  8. Polak said on 28th August 2008, 6:49

    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.

  9. MacademiaNut said on 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.

  10. Kester said on 28th August 2008, 8:42

    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.

  11. Antifia said on 28th August 2008, 13:37

    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…

  12. verasaki said on 28th August 2008, 16:00

    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.

  13. michael counsell said on 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#

  14. 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??????

  15. michael counsell said on 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….

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