I am 37 years old and have been a Formula one follower all of my life. I been to Grand Prix's in Italy, France, Monaco and when they use to have them in the United States. I love F1 but recently it has bored me to death.
Although I'm no lover of Indycar racing, maybe F1 should look at that series to see what is making it tick. I have alot of friends who know very little of auto racing so their opinion doesnt count. But one comment from a chap still rings in my ears: "the trouble with Grand Prix racing is that no one passes..." I think that sums it up....
As a long-time Ferrari fan, I am resigned to the fact that the Ferrari team should stop building a chassis and concentrate on one item, the engine. I am convinced that building both the chassis, and the engine is too much work on one team!
They would probably still get the same or better recognition, being known as an engine supplier (similar to Renault, or Honda), and thus being able to supply engines to more than one team, ensuring success.
After watching the French Grand Prix, I'm left with two questions. I'll be interested in seeing how they will sort themselves out.
The first being, can Jacques Villeneuve raise his game, and challenge Damon Hill for the title? Granted, Hill has a virtual lock on the title at this point, but Jacques has put in fastest lap in the last two races. If he only were to start qualifying more consistently, I feel that he could start beating his teammate and closing the gap in the driver's championship.
The second question in my mind is, will Michael Schumacher exercise his non-performance clause in order to leave Ferrari? If last season is any indication the Ferrari's reliability, the second half of the season is worse for them than the first half. When Schumacher first signed with Ferrari, I thought their atrocious reliability in the second half of 95 was due to the fact that the team had virtually given up on Berger and Alesi. But, as time passes, I'm starting to think that Ferrari's problems are more deeply rooted. If Ferrari's reliability problems continue to hinder Schumacher's performance, will he be on his way back to Benetton?
What do we have to do in order to get racing on decent Circuits? You know, decent straits followed by slow corners that promote the dreaded "P" word... Passing. Look at Magny Cours. We had to endure one and a half hours of follow the leader. As soon as circuits like Magny Cours, Hungary, etc, are gone, Formula One will offer better racing. Look at Spa. Always some of the best racing of the year. We don't need chicanes to be safe. They just ruin a good race.
Villeneuve has the capability to always "rip off" a fast lap. He is totally his own driver. If he wins one or two of the next few races, with Hill retiring or finishing out of the points, I think you see some of the old psychology start to wring the confidence out of Hill. That will be the open door for Villeneuve to take the championship. It's a long shot, but still a possibility.
James C. Hawkins
Having watched two boring races with total Williams dominance from Canada and France, I can't help but wonder what has happened to the challenge from Ferrari and Michael Schumacher. All right, he was awesome in Spain four weeks ago, but under conditions that were way out of the ordinary. As John Watson pointed out to us on Eurosport, in such wet conditions you have to be very gentle to the car, and raw engine power is not all that important.
In the dry, obviously from qualifying in Spain and the race in Canada, Ferrari is simply not up to it. We are used to seeing cars surviving on-track shunts with other cars and even barriers but, from Canada, we saw a Ferrari losing vital parts under acceleration out of the pits! Worse still, in France both cars were out of the race due to technical misfortunes by lap 5. The Italian team appears to be acting in panic when introducing changes to the car. Discovering by mid-season that the faster cars have a high front nose, something that has been the case for at least two years. Thus improvising a high nose to their car before they have adapted the rest of the chassis. Also, remember the 1995 rear end attached to the 96 car in South America because the new gearbox cracked up dangerously?
Before the season, we heard that Schumacher should bring determination and winning ability to Ferrari. Instead it seems that Ferrari has brought emotions and fragility to him. Waving to the crowd and forgetting all about other cars behind him after his pole position lap in Monaco, stumbling over the curb on the first lap in that race, and stalling before the parade lap in Canada are mistakes that would hardly ever happen during his Benetton years. Maybe he can win a freakish race or two more for Ferrari this season, but if he really wants to challenge for the Championship in 97 he, unfortunately, needs a change of team.
Jon M. Folleso
Race, what race?
In a very exciting year, the French GP was one of the most boring races in all times. Nothing special happened: 2 Williams, 2 Benettons and 2 Mclarens. Then Panis with a Ligier who, as always, makes a good presentation at home.
I think that the Formula One columnists around the world are having a hard time, trying to find out something to write about. So I decided to launch an initiative. I would like to join as many Formula One fans as possible to send messages to FOCA and the FIA concerning those ugly TV cameras over the air boxes. To me, a Formula One car, as any sporting car, should look as beautiful as possible. But those cameras make them really terrible.
Would you like to join me in this effort?
Marko: Not at all!!!
The air-box mounted camera gives fantastic views of track and the steering effort. How else can we look into Alesi's cockpit and watch his superb control as he negotiates a fast left-right sequence of corners.
If you don't like the cameras, look away from your TV, just as an air-box camera shows Hakkinen fully committed though Eau Rouge. I bet you can't.
I find myself in total agreement with Marko Petek letter in the most recent French Grand Prix issue. Yes, modern cars are indeed ugly with their new found contraption, the so-called TV cameras which work perfunctorily at best. Whatever happened to the old cameras mounted on the side of the air boxes? And what was wrong with them anyway? One other point: the newfangled "FIA approved" tracks, i.e. France, Hungary have taken the one crucial element out of racing. Namely, excitement. I think any driver worth his mettle would surely agree that racing on a true driver's circuit is more challenging and ultimately a better measure of a car's worth. Bernie E., are you listening?
Olivier F. Raoust
Well, once again the prancing horse of Ferrari has come up lame. I think Ferrari needs to swallow a bunch of pride and hope that they can get one of the new Honda engines before it's too late. Paying Michael 25M to drive does nothing for your company's image if his ride continually blows up.
Erich L. Markert
I get up at 5:00AM with hopes to watch some exciting motorsport. All I see is some cars cruising around. That's it, from now on I will stay in my bed and dream about some racing and watch Indy in the afternoon.
It looks like this is going to be the most boring F1 season ever.
Well, that's it! After the French Grand Prix, I am now resigned to the fact that Damon Hill will be the 1996 Formula 1 World Champion. Why you may ask? Two reasons...
1) The Williams / Hill combination has proved to be far and away the best currently in Formula 1. While I believe Schumacher is a better driver, he is still being let down by the Ferrari's reliability (how long will Michael remain philosophical about this?).
2) Lady luck has seemed to be riding in the number 5 Williams for much of the season, cursing cars that threaten to defeat it.
*Example 1: In the Australian G.P., although I know it was Villeneuve's fault for bouncing his car off the curbs, Jacques was told to slow down due to an oil leak -- allowing Hill to take the lead with the end almost in sight. Was Hill a bit lucky? Not convinced?
*Example 2: More recently in Canada, Johnny Herbert appeared to hold up Villeneuve for a couple of seconds, denying Jacques the chance to make a real contest of his home G.P., allowing Hill to take the win. A bit lucky? Not convinced?
*Example 3: In France, Michael Schumacher (perhaps Damon's only real competition outside of his own team) qualified on pole. With the Ferrari clutch problem supposedly fixed, we looked set to see Damon having to fight for victory in the wheel-to-wheel racing we were treated to last season between these two. However, we were to witness, with jaws agape, the Ferrari engine letting go on the warm up lap, leaving Damon on "pole". A bit lucky?
Well by now you may or may not be convinced. However, lucky or not, I am by no means saying Damon will not be a deserved winner of the 1996 F1 World Championship as I believe he has shown a new level of ability and maturity this year. I think that (to his credit) Damon learned many lessons last year from the reigning World Champion as have the Williams team with respect to race strategy.
So congratulations Damon Hill! If only you'd remembered to pack your rabbits foot for Monaco.
I've read and listened to many comments and opinions regarding Jaques Villeneuve and whether he might be able to take the championship this year. I would like to see him do it, but I think he would be better served by continuing as he is. F1 is obviously a great deal different from Indycar (CART), but I was very impressed by Jaques' performance there.
The impressive part, to me, is that he chose to take a full season to absorb the strategies, performance capabilities, and the experience that comes with careful observation of all aspects over the course of a full season and it was the following season that saw him take the championship. This is a strategy that is directly transferable from CART to F1. And, Jacques does seem to be doing the same thing in F1 while, at the same time, honning his performance to a peak and doing the very best that he can. This seems to be a brilliant and well thought out strategy and I applaud him for it and eagerly await his next seasons performance.
The strategy, innate skill, and desire are there. He surely seems to be a young man destined to share the fame and acclaim of the likes of Nuvolari, Fangio, Prost, Senna, Schummacher and the other great and shinning stars of Grand Prix motor racing.
I would like to preface this by saying that I am not a Damon Hill fan but I can appreciate his talent. Well done so far this year Damon!
My comments are regarding testing times that I have recently seen from the Williams team and they certainly shocked me. It seems that Jean-Christoph Boullion laps at about or better than the pace of Villeneuve and even Hill. Last year when he was driving for Sauber, Boullion was totally outclassed by Heinz-Harald Frentzen, which begs the questions: Has Boullion become a top line driver over the off season or is the Williams so good that "a monkey" could drive it to the championship? (Thank you Nigel). Would Frentzen, given the Williams ride, become the next God-send to racing? How good are the Forti drivers and Minardi pilots? Could the best of the backmarkers (Fisichella) drive the Williams to a championship? If Michael Schumacher was given a Williams seat, would he lap everybody -- every single race? Who knows? Perhaps we'll never find out.
P.S. There is nothing wrong with the cars. The races lack passing due to the circuits! San Marino, Hungary, Magny Cours and Argentina to name a few are terrible for racing. The drivers hate the circuits, the fans hate these tracks......Thanks for listening (or reading).
Keith A. Peterson
I am always surprised when people express discontent over what they must know to be true.
1. On the subject of "boring" Formula One racing: If you want to watch wheel-to-wheel racing, I suggest that you tune into the touring/saloon/sedan/stock car racing in your country. Enclosed wheels mean that cars don't get launched into the air when they touch, so drivers will lean on each other in the corners.
Speeds are usually much lower than Formula One. Formula One is about being simply the best (as the lady sang).
There used to be more overtaking, but it was about 30 years ago before Formula One car designers understood aerodynamics and when brakes didn't work so well. I recently read an analysis which explained that late braking in 1966 could win you half a car length. In 1996 it wins you half a metre. Overtaking is now a matter of belligerence. The fact of the matter is, if a driver doesn't want to be overtaken, he can always provoke an "accident" instead. This is the real reason why some drivers always seem to have accidents whenever someone tries to overtake them.
2. People seem surprised or disappointed when the best driver (Schumacher) doesn't win (because of car problems). The question mark over the car is a lot of the fascination behind motor racing. If you want to watch racing which depends entirely on the human being, then athletics is the sport for you.
There is also pleasure in watching the success of someone with less natural talent but a lot of dedication (Hill).
You can always hear them. The same commentators who said, "Hill is a mere test driver," a few years ago are now saying, "Williams got their advantage at the beginning of the year because of good testing in the winter."
It's almost as if they think a "real" racing driver should never be involved in improving the car, because that would make winning too easy. I'm reminded of the squabbles between Prost and Mansell when they were both at Ferrari. Mansell hinted that Prost was in some way unsporting because he always wanted the car to be modified to make it drive more smoothly/easily. "He wants the car to do all the work." Prost replied that he thought the whole purpose of driving a car was that it did the work. Perhaps Mansell should have been an athlete instead!
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