Race Blog
Brazil 2016

Getting greedy

If it was easy, everyone would do it…

We live in a world where we’re told to take great care; Health & Safety jobsworths justify their unnecessary careers by fussing over untold and very often completely unnecessary workplace safety edicts.

How on earth did we ever manage in a world where these fluoro-jacket-wearing wallies didn’t exist?

As is so often the case when life in general is affected by such annoyances, the mollycoddling mindset will eventually filter into just about every area of our lives.

Litigious lawyers love all this. Circling overhead, ready to pounce on any potentially multi-million-pound liability incident, with the inevitable result that those in positions of power get nervous. F1 is no different.

Now I know, as it always should be, that safety of the drivers is paramount in the minds of those guys charged with running grands prix, but things do seem to be getting slightly farcical.

Rain before the start of a modern-day grand prix and we know what’s coming. A Safety Car parade. In the circuit grandstands and on sofas around the world, millions of viewers’ enthusiastic emotions sink in disappointment as their Nomex-clad heroes creep off the grid in their carbon-fibre race cars behind a slow and sluggish wanna-be sports car.

Think back to this year’s British Grand Prix. Lap after lap of laborious lappery as the sun bathed Silverstone in an English midsummer glow. Sure the track was wet, but if a modicum of trust was invested in the guys charged with driving the cars, maybe, just maybe, they might step up.

Fast forward to Sao Paulo. It’s raining, hard. Heaven knows I’m aware of that!

Confirmation comes: it’s a Safety Car start. The crowd boos and the distant click of TV remote controls can be heard clicking off.

Eventually, of course, with the rain falling as hard as ever – I know, having been standing in it for three hours! – we have a race. A cracking race in which the reigning world champion drives so peerlessly that he makes controlling a narrow, 900bhp hybrid road rocket look like child’s play. So easy, in fact, that ‘child-like’ superstar Max Verstappen, driving as if sired by the rain master himself, Ayrton Senna, can’t get close.

I’m not someone who looks back with misty-eyed fondness to the past, but I do wonder why on sodden race tracks not that long ago it was OK to race from the green light to the chequered flag.

Fact was that last weekend most shunts were the result of drivers getting greedy with their racing routes, running over slick and shiny white-painted lines, spinning up their rear tyres, losing control and hitting the wall. The lesson, surely, is to stay on the black stuff…

Really my point is that shouldn’t the self-proclaimed best drivers in the world be emboldened with a little faith in their abilities by those charged to do so?

‘Drive to the conditions’ is a mantra oft repeated to us mere mortals every time a minor bout of inclement weather arrives. Surely, therefore, it’s not unreasonable to expect that those men able to compete in the world’s premier racing series should be capable of doing just the same.

If you disagree then please forgive me. I, foolishly perhaps, choose to have faith in those I photograph.

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