Alan Jones on the modern F1 driver


We’ve seen the Grand Prix cars testing at Jerez, and in Barcelona, but we don’t really have a lot to go on ahead of the first race in Melbourne.

Elsewhere, we’ve had some good debates about Bahrain, and aired our views on the state of the nation as we see it ahead of another season.

So, let me tell you about a telephone call. Every now and then, first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, I decide to have a gossip with a racer who lives way outside my time zone. A favourite of mine is Alan Jones. The Aussie is not everyone’s cup of tea but I’ve always liked him. You know where you stand with Jonesy. Ask Carlos Reutemann.

This week we covered a few random topics as he took a break between functions at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide. No doubt the corporate guests were richly and colourfully entertained. Anyway, I wondered what he thought about the way Grand Prix racing has changed, in particular the type of characters we have at the front of the grid these days?

No doubt you will have your own views, and please express them later, but here’s a cleaned-up version of what the 1980 World Champion had to say two weeks before the guys arrive in Albert Park.

“They’re all a bit precious now, aren’t they?” he offers for openers. You can hear the grin. “I mean, if they get brought up in front of the stewards, they bring along their barristers and their technicians, crying and all that carry-on. When I was racing, if someone did the wrong thing by you, then you’d put his name in your little book and get even later on. Give him back something to think about. Now they moan about having their lap messed up or there’s blocking or something – well, we used to make our own arrangements, you know? Maybe we need a few more big characters, if you know what I mean.” Yes, I do, and one of the good things about Mr Jones is that he would say this if they were standing next to him.

I’m not sure I’d describe Signor Alonso as precious, but we know what he means. Trouble is, we all love motor racing and we don’t stop being enthralled because, for us, the sport is a passion, almost a drug if you like. I do not take kindly to those who say “F1 is boring”. No, it is not boring, it is just very different from how it used to be.

This year, with six World Champions on the grid, the racing will not be boring. Even if one of them runs away, like Vettel last year, it is still fascinating. There’s always something intriguing, or interesting, going on at this rarefied level of motor racing. But yes, life has changed, and political correctness, health and safety, bureaucracy and gigantic sums of money have done little to help. As in our daily lives.

As I said earlier, you will have your own views and this is an open forum for those who have a passion for the sport. Say what you think, keep it legal, and let’s have plenty of good debate as the season gets underway.

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