The fact Netflix has altered the way we peruse visual content would probably be fairly universally accepted. In my case, that has meant taking in the likes of The Staircase and The Last Dance. Being honest, there’s more sporting content thereon than this corner was expecting. Undoubtedly the best of which – so far – has been Formula One: Drive To Survive.
In the past on these pages, mention has been afforded to the difficulty there exists in this seat in taking what occurs in Formula One at face value. My reservations revolving around the fact that so much of the outcome seems to be decided by technology above anything else.
I would have to admit, having watched the Netflix show things can be seen through a much broader lens. Yes technology is indeed a major part of the action, but you’d be surprised how impactful the mundane can be on such space-like machines. A pit stop taking too long, too much or little air in the tyres. Ditto when it comes to fuel issues.
Which is where Christian Horner and his ilk – all of the teams have exhaustive backroom teams which would be right up there with Dublin’s in Jim Gavin’s time – come in. The most minuscule details can have such monstrous effects in the high octane pressure cooker that is the world of F1. Yes the technology is an intrinsic part of it but essentially it boils down to the humans being able to keep the gear in working order and being able to operate it.
Misfiring drivers have tendency to blame the cars. On the other hand, if the cars are not delivering the goods, the likes of Horner and Guenther Steiner and Claire Williams tend to lay the blame squarely at the door of those who build the machines. What’s most interesting, though, is how the different setups deal with similar situations. It’s fairly ruthlessly illustrated during the show too.
Horner and co defenestrated the services of Renault and pin all their hopes on Honda while, in contrast, the status of Williams within the sport had diminished to such a drastic state that she ended up departing the empire which her father, Sir Frank, had created. Even more damning, and to be honest quite sad, mind you, is the fact that since she departed the business, the fortunes thereof have improved. Albeit not astonishingly. Connected or coincidence? I’ll leave that to yourself.
One thing none of them – or anybody – can control is the weather. But what those in control of the sport can do is use a bit of common sense from time to time. Alas, that particular type of sense doesn’t really live up to its name at all.
Sadly you need look no further than Belgium last Sunday for affirmation of that unfortunate fact. So farcical was it that one decision borne out of what can only have been total lunacy almost undid months of gentle persuasion to convert yours truly to being a fan of the world of the chequered flag.
Allowing any sport to proceed in conditions where Noah could’ve had customers for a large scale development of Arks would be dodgy enough, but doing so in an arena where participants are putting their lives at risk in the first place by simply turning up to work is reckless and negligent. It smacks off putting money before everything else.
And that is exactly what the farce surrounding last Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix stank of. Look, we all love watching sport. The phrase ‘Each to their own’ is applicapable in a sporting context more than with any other facet of life.
However, if someone like me can get through being barred from attending sports fixtures for well pver a year on the head of Covid-19 – whether that in itself was necessary or not – F1 fans could have survived a postponement in the circumstances.
Instead, what those in charge of the sport did was give the two fingered salute to both those who make their sport possible and those who follow it. Including some newly recruited devotees hooked by Drive To Survive but more attuned to manliness than mechanics!
A sadly departed and desperately missed pal of mine had a dynamite one liner to encapsulate people with propensity to sit on the fence – “You can’t be half pregnant”! Yet that is precisely what the FIA came up with last weekend – a half-baked idea that was to nobody’s satisfaction.
Scrambling for a positive soundbite out of an unmitigated and completely avoidable disaster, the Brains Trust quickly blasting out about re-funding patrons. But abandoning the race altogether and announcing as such in time would’ve been far more prudent than running two laps behind a safety car and calling it an official race was as big an insult to drivers as well as fans.
For a sport that needs all the good vibes it can get, F1 often doesn’t do itself any favours.