Tony Brooks on how racing in the 1950s differed from today
“It’s a question we get asked very frequently. I think people expect you to talk about the cars because all they have in common are five wheels – four road wheels and a steering wheel. I’m not sure whether it’s a wheel or an instrument today…
“The real difference, though, is the psychological challenge. We were driving on what were in effect ordinary roads and therefore any mistake could be your last. Whether you finished in a ditch, against a telegraph pole or a house was in the lap of the gods. Any one mistake could be serious and possibly fatal. Today, because of the strength of the cars and the design of the circuits, the chances of hurting yourself are minimal. You can go quite a way off the circuit and when you do hit something it has absorption. And with the cars of today, because of the carbon capsule, you can have a 175mph accident and walk away. You saw it with Webber who got out and briskly walked off to have a shower! It’s a case of ‘where’s my second car’ not ‘when’s the funeral…’
“It had to get safer, but when you’re trying to go faster than your competitors and any one mistake could be your last, it’s a totally different psychological challenge compared to knowing you’re safe. It’s one of many reasons why, in my opinion, you can’t compare different eras.
“It had to get safer, but in doing so it became a different sport. The analogy I give is this: would mountaineering be the same sport if you wore a harness attached to the top of the climb? I suggest it wouldn’t be mountaineering.”