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. michael counsell
    27th August 2008, 23:12

    I mean everyone not anyone.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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…

  7. 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.

  8. 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:

  9. 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??????

  10. 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….

  11. 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…)

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

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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
    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.

  16. 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…

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

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