Sir, A most interesting review of the truly extraordinary Gilles Villeneuve; coming from a race school background myself what he had to say about the influence of aerodynamics on the sport was precisely my own belief at that time. It unquestionably dumbed it down. A price worth paying? It certainly allowed more drivers to take corners faster than their natural ability could cope with; it also obliged circuit owners to create increased run off areas that led to improved driver-safety margins. In turn, though, spectators had to be pushed back from the action, so beginning the erosion of the spectacle Gilles was so keen to provide. Land, of course, unlike the sky, is a finite resource… Aerodynamics is perhaps a mixed blessing to a ground-based sport.
I was equally intrigued by the differing drivers’ opinions of the 1979 French GP at Dijon. I was there that day. A few of our former pupils were too, amongst them Rene Arnoux, battling away as everyone knows! At the time I wondered what the reaction would have been had a Renault cartwheeled into the spectators on one side and a Ferrari on the other. The reason it did not happen was either luck or that these two guys were that good they simply avoided interlocking wheels… But it looked crazy to me! However, I remember Andretti’s take after the race when he was asked about it.
“Just a couple of young bucks testing each other!” But I still believe John Watson’s comments were spot on.
Mike Knight, Ascot, Berks
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