Call it sportsmanship. Call it “fair play.” Call it what you want. Fernando Alonso says there is little respect between today’s Formula 1 drivers.
The two-time world champion is quoted in BBC Sport as saying current F1 drivers lack “mutual respect” for each other on the track when compared to racing of decades gone by.
“I believe there is not that mutual respect there was back then,” Alonso says when comparing the current driving styles and habits of drivers on the Formula 1 circuit to those of shown 30 years ago by drivers such as the late Gilles Villeneuve, who died 30 years ago this week in a horrific crash during qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.
The Spaniard recalled the tense moments at the 1979 French Grand Prix when Ferrari legend Villeneuve and Renault’s Rene Arnoux waged all-out war, passing and re-passing each other and even banging wheels during the final three laps of the race. He says that kind of racing is all but impossible in today’s Formula 1.
“There was definitely more respect then than there is now between us drivers,” Alonso says bluntly. “Partly because they knew that, in those cars, they were risking their lives.”
He is quick to add that it is not all because of driver mentality. Today’s F1 cars are remarkable machines and marvels of technology. Unfortunately, the cars don’t lend themselves to being driven the way race cars were three decades ago.
“The cars are now dominated by aerodynamics and those sorts of passing moves are no longer possible” Commenting on the racing excitement of yesteryear, Alonso concludes, “Unfortunately, these days, we no longer see this sort of fight because there are more difficulties to deal with.”
The Ferrari pilot is looking ahead to this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, where he hopes his car will put him back into contention in the Formula 1 world championship drivers’ standings. Alonso, who currently sits fifth behind points leader Sebastian Vettel, says Ferrari drivers have been struggling with a package that is “not competitive to fight for the top places” and that results must improve quickly before the season slips away.
“We must turn things around,” he says. “If we are not on pole in Barcelona then it’s not the end of the world. The important thing is to make progress, first this weekend, then again in Monaco and after that, in Montreal, Valencia and Silverstone.”