Letters - June 2024

Not all are convinced by Senna’s genius

Not all are convinced by Senna’s genius

Grand Prix Photo

I can’t be the only one who is fed up with hero-worshipping movies, documentaries and articles on Ayrton Senna [Senna, May]. Was he a good driver? No doubt. Did he deserve the championships he won? Not all of them. In my book, Senna was a cheat. There’s no kinder way to say it. His determination to win at all costs meant deliberately taking out any driver he thought would beat him and those drivers were Prost, Mansell and others. That’s cheating no matter how you look at it.

The sad thing about it is the F1 authorities didn’t come down hard on him. That allowed a young Schumacher to watch how it was done and to continue using the same technique to achieve some of his championships.

David Collins, London

In your May issue Doug Nye and Joe Dunn both express a widely held concern about the lack of meaningful competition we are seeing in F1 [The Archives; The Editor]. It has become so predictable that Formula E’s Jeff Dodds was prepared to bet a quarter of a million dollars on Max Verstappen not winning the title this year. By contrast, watching the classic Mini racing at Donington on YouTube last month reminded me just how exciting the sport can be. With the vast resources at F1’s disposal, why is it being outperformed in terms of the delivery of competitive racing live to our living rooms by groups of enthusiasts?

Doug puts his finger squarely on the button when he talks about the need for “glorious instability” in the racing spectacle and that this comes as a natural result of stability in the technical regulations. While it’s understandable that engineers want to prove themselves in the development of new technologies to meet the challenges of annual rule changes, this favours the wealthy teams and costs money which ultimately has to be paid for by people who enjoy motor racing. As Bernie Ecclestone has said in the past, the fans really don’t care about what goes on under the bodywork – they just want to see exciting racing. Let’s have fewer rule changes and more epic duels on the track.

Nigel Fraser Ker, Epsom, Surrey

Reading your May editorial regarding competitive, exciting racing I was surprised that IndyCar was not also mentioned. The 2023 season saw a champion with a total of five wins out of 17 races. Four teams won with seven different drivers. And the engines make a noise!

Oliver Wells, London

If you want excitement, the Americans can cater for your racing needs

If you want excitement, the Americans can cater for your racing needs

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I was recently given a bundle of Autocar magazines circa 1968. At the time there were rumours circulating that Mario Andretti would join Lotus in Formula 1.

Commenting on this was Innes Ireland whose opinion of the rumours was that, because of the money he was a earning in the US, “Chickens were more likely to grow teeth before Andretti would move to F1.”

Regarding the current Andretti joining F1 issue, it is an absolute travesty that it has been denied an entry, in a large part because under the agreement the other ‘poverty-stricken’ teams might have to share some of the spoils.

I appreciate that times have changed, but had this thinking been around in the golden age of F1, where you bought a Cosworth V8 and a Hewland gearbox and built a chassis for them, F1 would have died. Williams, Hesketh, McLaren, Tyrrell building a championship-winning car in a woodshed in Surrey, Amon, Minardi and many others gave it a shot. It’s not as though Andretti is under-financed – it has GM backing.

Of course the real danger is that it may be successful and knock the also-ran teams like Haas, Stake, Visa Cash and yes, even Williams, and might actually win a grand prix. Who would want to see that?

Lindsay Taylor, Sorrento, Australia

Daytona 200 motorcycle race, 1974... the US GP that year was better

Daytona 200 motorcycle race, 1974… the US GP that year was better

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Mat Oxley’s column in April [Motorcycles] discusses the impact of the 1974 Daytona 200. I was a reluctant spectator at that event, more interested in the venue than the race. The superdome was indeed impressive but the spindly, tiny machines flailing around the vast arena didn’t make for a spectacle.

Far more exciting was my visit to the final GP of the year at Watkins Glen where Jody Scheckter, our hometown man, had an outside chance of winning the championship.

Of course I boasted to my American pals how well I knew our star. Fortunately Jody did recognise me in the Tech Center and we had a brief chat. Phew!

The absolute highlight of the year was attending the Indy 500. Four-hundred thousand spectators, the entire track visible and 33 loud and very fast cars performing.

I was also chuffed with the result when Johnny Rutherford crossed the row of bricks to win in a car that bore the name of a man we had witnessed finishing second in the 1962 South African GP, Bruce McLaren, in our hometown East London.

Ian Dove, Cape Town, South Africa

Your Letters page in May needs some balance. A good racing driver can handle any conditions. Ayrton Senna could handle wet weather and excelled. Alain Prost couldn’t, and didn’t; Donington Park ’93 just one example. As for being “robbed” of championships, Prost lucked his way to the ’86 title due to Nigel Mansell’s blown tyre. And Williams handed him the ’93 car, with the seat still warm from Mansell’s ’92 title. So it could so easily have been Mansell three titles, Prost two.

Martin Casswell, Gainsboroug

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