I turn to Alan Henry’s column in Autocar first, because it is about motor racing. But the last time I read it, I had a terrible shock. Its theme was that F1 might dispense with safety cars, replacing them by slowing down all the cars racing by electronic means.
The reintroduction of traction control prompts this forecast, and it reminds me how, many years ago, Jenks, disliking any electronic control of racing drivers, said, “One day, Bod, cars will race without drivers, controlled by the boffins in the respective pits or control posts.”
The idea now is that as F1 is sponsored by the industry and if our road cars are to be speed-limited by blackbox technology, motor racing should follow, to please its financial masters. But how on earth is every private car and commercial vehicle to be fitted with such elaborate equipment, even if deemed legally compulsory? What of a driver whose controller fails to function, so that he or she drives too fast for the limit Big Brother has imposed through the ether? Pulled up, as a frantic law-breaker, presumably. In racing, how many protests will be based on claims that incorrect operation or faulty transmitters slowed drivers, momentarily or otherwise, during a race when no speed restriction beams had been transmitted?
When Jenks made his comment, it was a problem so far in the future that we could afford just to smile. But now Mr Henry, you’ve wrecked my sleep, as I dream of our close proximity to Big Brothers, on the road and in motor racing.