Readers' Comments

Readers' Comments

Last Friday I was very pleased because I heard that Mika Häkkinen is driving for McLaren again in 1997. Mika is one of the most talented drivers in Formula One, just think his superb comeback this year after the terrible accident in Adelaide last year. Mika Häkkinen is a Cinderella story in formula one. He is from a middle class family, from a soviet style suburb called Martinlaakso near Helsinki and his family spend all their money just for Mika's expensive hobby working seven days in a week. They took a risk but it was worth of it. Anyway, McLaren Mercedes is is going to be very strong next season and I hope that legendary team will be victorious again with Mika and David Coulthard.

Otto Palojärvi

If Frank Williams were an American, he'd be a Republican. We, too, tend to eat our young.

Willard B. Fishburne

I've been a Formula 1 fan for more than thirty years (time flies when...). In that span I've seen more than my share of idiotic and/or politically inspired moves by the FIA, race organizers, drivers and fans. However, the last minute "tire walls" added to the chicane on the Monza circuit tops all of the foolish, ill conceived and poorly executed moves of the past. We were very, very lucky. Someone could easily have been killed. It is a miracle that the most important repercussions were only (?) the facts that Driver's Championship leaders Hill and Villeneuve (effectively) were knocked out of the race. It could have easily been so much worse.

Can you tell me who made that decision? Will anyone stand up and take the blame? Will anyone identify the person? I don't want to sound too harsh, but I believe that he, she or they simply needs to be fired. They clearly don't understand modern racing. Alternatively, we could stake them within inches of the racing line in a tight corner at the Portugal race. I wonder how they would feel about last minute course changes after two hours up close to the action?

Jeff Fisher

Look, what is Jonathan Palmer's problem with Jacques Villeneuve ? I'm growing a little weary of his incessant slagging of Jacko race after race. In Italy it was JV overcooking his tires trying to catch-up after his off and not the fault of some technical problem. I detect a note of professional jealousy. By the way, what was JP's best GP ride ?

Dan McAstocker

I must say that Williams will be under enormous pressure next season. With Villeneuve and Frentzen, they are looking good for next year. Everybody says that it will be a queer season. But, that was being said late last year. I think that Schumacher has the best chance now than he did in 1994 and 1995. I hope that it won't be a repeat of this year, which was totally dominated by Williams.

What happened to Brundle? He is a very good driver, and I think that even when he retires from F1, I think that Mr. Ecclestone should offer Martin a position in the FIA. He would be a asset in the FIA, because of his broad experience and thorough technical know how.

So looking to next year. Schumacher, I think will have a good season, with hopefully a lot more wins. I hope that Frentzen will win a few races himself, because it's about time that F1 had some proper competition. Hill wasn't successful with giving good competition with Schumacher, he was either a fair way behind, or he was a mile ahead. Now that Frentzen will have a competitive car, not that Sauber isn't as we all know from Monza last year.

In conclusion I would like to say that 1997 will be a new and exciting season, with much more competition, which will result in competitive racing. Keep up the good work and thanks for all the info that you provide.

Peter Grochocki

Wasn't that a brilliant race? Yes, Schumacher and Ferrari "won" the race in the pits, but in my eyes, it seems that the car is finally catching up to the ability of the driver. Next year, Ferrari just maybe the "team to beat!"

Next, although I have been wondering just how good Damon Hill really is without benefit of the Williams, I also do feel that he has been good enough to earn much, much more respect than offered by Frank Williams.

Hill has worked extremely hard not only to develop himself as a No.1 driver, but to develop that car and the team in general to their No.1 status! For Williams to believe that Frentzen is as good or better than Schumacher is to admit that he is going on rumor and suggestion only.Frentzen has not proved anything in F1 to suggest that he maybe the answer Williams is looking for against Schumacher.

Williams is all but telling the F1 community that, "Hey, look out for Ferrari next year, 'cause they'll be the best, that's why I'm getting Schumacher-beating driver now!"

Gosh, I love F1, the best drivers, the fastest and most advanced cars, and now, some of the drama found in your best day-time soap operas!

Arvin Castro

I was pleased to see Ferrari manage a win of such great magnitude at their home track. I only hope this allows them the opportunity to continue their focus on improving the car without the constant howling and butchering by the world and Italian press.

I also would like to see Hill find himself in a McLaren next year. For many reasons unknown to me, I have not favored him, but still feel as though he got a raw deal for hard work over the years. I was also pleased to see someone such as Newey voice his opinion and make a change to show his support for what he felt was a unfair way of dealing with Hill.

I look forward to Villeneuve push Hill for the title!

Mark Sturges

It was surely not the Italian GP that many people thought it would be. If you are honest the Race after the pit-stops was as exciting as drinking warm beer.

It could have been the best race of the season, if the tires hadn´t destroyed everything. It would have been closer than anytime before, because there were 6 cars, all with excellent chances. Hill, Hakkinen, Villeneuve, Schumacher, Coulthard and Alesi were definitely in a very strong shape and it would have been just fun to watch those 6 cars battling hard for the victory. Especially the McLarens and Mika Hakkinen were certainly on the road to stop their bad times. But as you can see, formula 1 is not the sport for giving those guys credit.

But as it is now, I just can´t wait seeing Damon in car, that won´t win a race ? and I hope Alesi gets caught for his cheating starts and for throwing tyres on the road like he did in Monza on Hakkinen, who for that reason lost any chances of a victory.

Another driver thinking that he is the best man on the field is Pedro Diniz. He is a decent driver with a average car, so why does he think he should hold up guys driving 2 sec faster than him.

Berger had bad luck again, but it was interesting to see a Williams clearly out of the points. Even a Williams starts to get (cause) problems.

Now, let´s hope for an excellent Portugal GP in Estoril and watch Villeneuve chasing after Hill. Ferrari and Benetton will have their chances too, but can the McLarens perform as good as in Spa and Monza?

Bjoern Till

This is my first year watching F1 but I must say that I have found it absolutely fascinating. Up until now, the races (well, with the exception of the Monaco GP) have been quality events, well worth watching. However, the Italian GP was basically made a non-race with the addition of the tyre towers designed to stop the drivers from kerb-hopping. If the chicanes are that tight that the drivers are almost able to drive a straight line, then it seems to me that there are three options. (1) Make the chicanes more exaggerated so that the drivers are forced to follow the driving line and make definite turns, instead of short-cutting across the kerbs; (2) Put stationary barriers in place; or (3) Do away with the chicanes altogether. The site of tyres rolling across the track with the cars coming toward them or the young track worker running out to retrieve a tyre is one that should not be repeated.

Canada Tracy Roketta

I would like to comment on Mr. Montezemolo's comment in regards to Jacques Villeneuve being arrogant and being in Formula on only because of his name(!)

First I would like to state that I am a Ferrari fan, but I also am a objective F1 follower, giving credit when its due.

In his comments he was probably right to say that Villeneuve's comments where unpleasant. But remember, Villeneuve is a rookie in contention for the F1 championship. There is a lot of pressure and sometimes when things go wrong, bad things are said. I do not see Villeneuve as arrogant. What he said was in the heat of the moment. He is now sitting with Diniz and having a beer together.

His second comment that he is so close to the championship because he is driving a Williams car is completely bogus, because we have seen other rookie drivers in top cars doing bad mistakes and not even winning one race!

His final comment is probably the comment that really bothered me enough to right this letter.

He said that Jacques Villeneuve is in Formula one only because of his last name!!! The fact that he won many racing championships (Editors Note: Jacques Villeneuve has only won one Championship, the 1995 IndyCar Title), including the Indy 500 and Indy Car championship are not because he is the son of Gilles Villeneuve. Today in F1 he is the most successful rookie (surpassing his fathers record in his rookie season). He could have been the son of Jonathan Palmer as far as I'm concerned, he would still be hired by Frank Williams to drive for him.(Frank knows talent I guess!)

Any way, when there is a young talent that succeeds in F1 there are always people trying to put them down, and that is unfortunate.

Ferrari is a major disappointment this year (over 17 dnf's from both their cars) and over the past 5 or so years they have been a disaster. So I wonder who is in F1 racing because of a famous name from the past.

Finally , looking forward to next year where Ferrari and Schumacher will dominate (or at least challenge the Williams and the super talented Jacques Villeneuve)

John Dourekas

There is no doubt that the "tyre barriers" used on the chicanes at Monza were ridiculous and did a lot more harm to the race than good. The tyres were in place to stop the cars from straight-lining the chicanes by being able to ride over the kerbs. I would have thought the drivers wouldn't have wanted to do this too much anyway. Surely hitting the kerbs in order to straight-line, given the minimal amount of suspension movement in the chassis, would be enough to unsettle the car and slow it down, effectively removing any benefit obtained by kerb hopping? Not to mention the stress and possible damage to the car after doing this for 50-odd laps. And the risk of losing control completely and closely inspecting the kitty litter.

If kerb jumping is such an issue, then why not penalise the drivers in some other way? Perhaps add a time penalty if a driver is identified as infringing the kerb rules. Let's say add 0.1 seconds to a driver's time for each infringement. Then at the end of the race, the winner will be the driver with the lowest race time + penalties.

Or just forget about the whole idea and let all the drivers jump the kerbs if that is how they wish to do it. If some can do it and get away with it and win, good luck to them.

Just to change the subject, while a fan, I have been very critical of Damon Hill this year but I thought the few laps he drove at Monza were brilliant. It's the best I've seen him drive in I don't know how long. Where has that sort of aggressiveness and brilliance been? Why haven't we seen more of it in the past? Will we see more of it in the future? I sure hope so. Unfortunately, too little, too late.

Mark Gebbie

I wonder whether or not the signing of Frentzen has anything to do with a possible deal to have Williams powered by Mercedes in 1998? It will be interesting to see Jacques as team leader at Williams still with Renault power in 1997.!

Richard Dear

Let me just say that I feel bad about Damon's treatment from Williams. He has helped to develop one of the greatest F1 cars of the day, leads the championship and then gets dumped. Poor Damon, now he will be off the help another team develop a great car.

Also to note is Newey's departure from Williams. He is as much to credit as Damon for the success of the Williams cars. His departure is a great blow to Williams and a great asset to McLaren, who has been crawling out of their grave. I will make a very educated guess that where Newey has gone, Hill will soon follow. Do not be too surprised if Hill and Newey are part of West McLaren Mercedes.

Arthur Gianoukos

The recent "surprise" announcement (which caught no one unawares!) that Heinz-Harald Frentzen will be joining Williams next year seems to affirm the wide-spread belief that he is a tough, fast racer who has what it takes to beat Michael Schumacher. Only time will tell if Frank Williams and other believers are justified in adhering to this creed. But if we accept this on faith, for the sake of argument, there is an interesting implication that arises for Frentzen's team-mate, Johnny Herbert.

Herbert's move from Benetton to Sauber was thought to be a bit unlucky. At least Herbert stayed in Formula 1, but at the cost of moving out of one German's shadow and into another's. The early season performances lived down to expectations.

If qualifying positions are used as a gauge of speed (rather than simply race positions where more is left to chance), we see Herbert generally four to six places below Frentzen in the first half of the season. Only in Brazil and at the Nurburgring did Herbert get closer, climbing to within two spots of his team leader.

But at the Spanish Grand Prix, the tables turned for the first time in 1996. Herbert managed to out-qualify Frentzen by two places, although by a time margin of only .168 sec (a gap into which the McLaren of Hakkinen slotted neatly). A new pattern began to emerge from that point on. Herbert now was within one or two places of Frentzen on the grid. And the pattern of the Spanish GP was repeated at the Hungaroring, and again at Monza for this weekend's Italian GP.

Add to this some other factors. Herbert, it was acknowledged, had less time in testing than did Frentzen. Further, Frentzen had the advantage of knowing the team and being known by the team, and he knew the car as well. Over the season, Frentzen has accumulated six points, good for 11th position, but Herbert is not far behind with four points (13th position). Against Herbert's two crashes and one spin, one puts in the balance Frentzen's two spins and one crash.

All this is very suggestive. If Frentzen is as good as people believe he is, then Herbert must be ... well, as good as Frentzen! Or at least, as fast as Frentzen.

I am not going to mount a case for Herbert getting a 1998 Williams seat -- there is more to filling cockpits than speed alone. But I think this season's Sauber performance affirms Herbert's qualities as a racer, and certainly confirms his raw speed.

If discerning team principals notice these facts, what might it mean for Herbert's future? I believe that Herbert would make a good choice as the "veteran" that the fledgling Stewart Ford team is seeking. Herbert has a season's experience of the Ford engine, and a ready following in the UK market. Or Peter Sauber, the one best placed to be impressed by Herbert's exploits, might just want to keep Herbert around for another season.

It could just be that Frentzen-euphoria will serve to boost Herbert's reputation as well.

David Reimer

This is written before the qualifying session for the Italian GP so I may get to eat my words. If Damon can channel his ire away from Frank Williams and into the race this weekend I am betting we may see over this and the last race some of the best driving we ever will see out of him. He surely wants to show Frank that Patrick Head needs to examine Frank's Brain and find the loose screw. Or is it just that Frank can save a zillion dollars/pounds and spend it on engineering. Even if that is true how can Heinz-Harald really be the number one driver when he is having trouble seeing Johnny Herbert off? And what about poor old Hakkinen. He is without a doubt the most reliable driver and best race driver out their - better at picking up the points than Coulthard but where is his drive for next year. I don't see it in the forecasts unless Hill goes to Jordan instead of McLaren.

John Dawson-Edwards

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