Before we begin our monthly wallow in glorious nostalgia… wasn’t the Australian Grand Prix absolutely fantastic? It was clear that the teams had been dragged from their comfort zones, that they weren’t sure what to expect and so were having to think on their feet. That Ferrari should make such a mess of it shows how tough it must have been. And would McLaren have risked those inspired early pitstops – one of them before the race had even started – if its men had been on the first or second rows? Probably not.
Of course, the excitement had a great deal to do with the wet-dry conditions – something that even not even Max can control – but it was clear that F1’s regulations have taken a step in the right direction. One can understand where Ron and Frank are coming from with their talk of the need for the stability of regulations, but I am afraid they will have to be ignored for the time being. Let’s face it, Ron’s team won (in fact both his drivers were in with a shout) and Frank’s team should have won (how refreshing that Monyota confessed to a race-costing mistake).
Matters will no doubt settle down as the teams learn how to play the new game, but the fact that Williams and McLaren were the first two to make a reasonable fist of it proves their worth, makes them all the more admirable. And hey, if Ferrari gets the jump on them in Malaysia, so be it. We won’t think any worse of them. For, in truth, Formula One’s pecking order probably hasn’t changed in the long term (Schumacher’s performance minus his bargeboards Down Under was still the drive of the race), but if it gets shuffled around in the short term, surely everyone is set to benefit.
But nothing is perfect. That would require the very best of different eras to be amalgamated. Impossible, we know – but we’ve had a go, listing (nearly) all the worthy Formula One items that have been sadly lost to racing’s past. Some of them are irrecoverable, but some of them are not And yes, we know that F1 has changed (almost) beyond recognition in the last 10 years, but while we are (nearly) all in the mood for change, the sport should not lose sight of some of the lessons that can be learned from history.
It’s still the future that is more important, however. And now that is looking rosy once more.
Finally, another call for your help. Mario Andretti can now be added to the list of racing greats who have agreed to sit in our Hot Seat. All we need now are your questions for Mario – and Sir Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney and Derek Bell. Either post them to us here at Somerset House, Somerset Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 8RT or e-mail [email protected] We are positive that you’re a knowledgeable bunch, so don’t be shy.