Philosophies for Racing
Julie Gates checks them out…
by Julie GatesArticle is written by and copyright © 1999-2001 Julie Gates and The F1 Rumors Site
I have to say that Ron Dennis' approach to racing is mighty refreshing. In the red corner we have Ferrari, who many would say are as good as cheating for the sake of the illustrious title. In the silver corner we have McLaren who are willing to see their drivers race each other, maintaining the integrity of both the sport and themselves. So why is Mika Hakkinen trying his damnedest to change the one refreshing thing about Formula One today?
Fair enough, Mika Hakkinen has been robbed of three victories this year: Silverstone, Austria and then Hockenheim, through no fault of his own. In fact, had all gone to plan, he would be leading the title chase by thirty-odd points and would most likely have secured another title for Woking. However, he made a driver error this year, which also cost him ten points, so without those forty points, he isn't really in a position to demand number one status from his team, with three men locked in a battle for the Championship. He may have performed best of the three, in terms of speed there is little comparison, but he has not been the most consistent driver, and his car has not been the most reliable. This is motor racing, and as I'm sure you're all aware, anything can happen and there are no guarantees.
Formula One is meant to be a sport. We all know it often isn't seen as one anymore - it has grown to be more of a simple marketing tool for cancer-sticks, but it's still a global money-orientated world with one aim: to make even more money. But if we take a few steps back, and concentrate on what's left of the sporting side of it, what sort of a sport would it be if all eleven teams ran their outfit as Ferrari do? We would have eleven number ones and eleven number twos all moving over for each other to keep their team happy. That my dear friend is not a sport, it is a comedy show doomed for disaster. [unless you run another "Championship" where only the first car home for each team scores - Ed]
David Coulthard's drive at Belgium was stunning. He was on the pace all weekend and went it came to the crunch, was the better driver. He won the first corner; he defended his line and went on to win the race comfortably. Why on earth should Ron Dennis radio Coulthard with the move over call when Hakkinen wasn't even close to him in the first place? Why should the team take it into their hands to change the destiny of each driver's race? Why should they decide who wins just because the points leader is having a bad day? The simple fact is, they shouldn't. Sure, McLaren's tactics are a gamble and it is quite possible the two will take points off each other, but at least they will be fighting fairly, genuinely racing, both for the good of their team and the sport.
How Ferrari choose to run their modern-day team is totally down to them. If they want to run as a one-car outfit with drivers blocking one driver, moving over for another and the rest of it, that is their business. The thing is, it becomes our business when it begins to disrupt the sport, and it is becoming more and more evident that Ferrari will do anything in order to win their first title in twenty years. They say Barrichello will be more-or-less on equal status next year with Schumacher - do you really believe that? Just picture the scene… Barrichello wins; Schumacher comes second… that's about as far as I can go because the story is barely conceivable. Ferrari want to win the title and after the hard work Schumacher has put in to the team, it will be the hobble-legged one who delivers the goods.
Mika Hakkinen has no given-right to emerge as the 1999 World Champion. Being the fastest doesn't always grant victory - mistakes, luck and reliability all play a part. There are still forty points up for grabs and with Coulthard is only fourteen points adrift and showing a new lease of life, there is everything to play for. The team asked Coulthard to play second fiddle for the second half of last year, and the gentlemen's agreement at Melbourne also saw Hakkinen as an unexpected winner. The fact is, Coulthard has helped his team a lot more than people give him credit for. The team asked a lot of him last year to help another man win the title, when he is there to do that job for himself. Of course, it is unlikely that Coulthard will win the crown this year, but while he is still in with a shout, there is no reason at all for the team to issue orders just to feed Hakkinen's ego. The team is odds-on favourites to claim the titles now and allowing Hakkinen and Coulthard to battle it out will make them worthy champions.
Formula One isn't an easy game and many tactics will come into play to ensure teams can perform to the best of their ability. None of the tactics are exactly wrong; it's just that some are less cynical and more sporting than others… I suggest you decide which philosophy of racing you prefer.
Julie Gates is happiest watching F1 and writing. Also interested in singing, cars, cinema, reading and going to concerts, she has little spare time to relax, but this is the way she likes it - rather being busy than idle as she can't stand still for five minutes! Totally committed to her career as a Formula One journalist, she is determined to succeed.