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Japan 2009

6th October 2009

The youth of today

Perhaps it’s a symptom of modern society; perhaps it’s indicative of the desire for instant gratification that is all pervading these days.

What is certain, though, is that in all walks of life – and Formula 1 is no different – respect is something one has to earn.

Step forward Jaime Alguersuari.

You’d have thought, wouldn’t you, that any driver who’d spent a large proportion of his Japanese grand prix weekend extricating himself from an extensively (and expensively) damaged racing car would keep his head down, get an early night and pack himself off to the airport as quickly – and safely – as his legs would carry him?

Well so would I.

But no, that’s not the style of the modern young, dumb and full of you-know-what F1 star.

Just a few hours after his calamitous shunt at 130R on Sunday afternoon, Jaime could be seen strutting his stuff at Suzuka’s infamous Log Cabin karaoke bar, looking for all the world as though he’d won the race rather than spectacularly DNF-ing.

Now, a guy enjoying a drink in the wake of a bad day at the office is nothing unusual, but the Toro Rosso driver’s behaviour is symptomatic of a certain mindset within F1 this year.

There seems to be no appreciation – by the young and perhaps less talented drivers at least – of just what’s gone before, or of respect for what it means to be a grand prix racer.

The wretched Alguersuari, you see, has money – and lots of it. Repsol have offered a reputed €10million to secure his drive for 2010, and it’s understandable – especially in these chastened times – that teams employ cash-rich racers. But a little humility on the drivers’ part wouldn’t go a miss.

Mind you, the young are always told to look to their elders for advice, inspiration and example. So when Jaime gets home and reviews the tape, seeing himself sitting in his heavily crashed Toro Rosso, surrounded by shattered carbon fibre, tyre barrier detritus, clearly concerned marshals and the FIA’s crack medical crew, he may wonder at the unconcerned look on his team principal’s face.

Far from appearing worried, Franz Tost took the TV crew’s almost lecherous interest in his reaction to the potentially injurious shunt as his cue to slurp a mouthful of handily placed Red Bull. It was perhaps the most shameless display of product placement ever.

Quite why this balding Austrian thinks that potential energy drink consumers would follow his lead is beyond me, but then I don’t drink the stuff.

You’d have to ask someone younger… Maybe Jaime!

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