NICK JACKSON : Formula One snipers should not mock what they don't understand
11:00pm Friday 15th March 2013 in Sport
I’VE been the butt of a little bit of humour this week, as the only member of the sports desk who is interested in the start of the Formula One season in Melbourne tomorrow and Sunday.
All the usual piffle I’ve heard before from non-F1 believers came out. “It’s all about the car, not the driver”, “It’s worth watching until the first corner, then that’s it”, “It’s just a procession of cars.”
Nonsense. My answer, as always in these situations, was: “You’re mocking what you don’t understand”.
Any sport can be a boring if you don’t know why certain things take place.
I remember years ago, watching international rugby union matches, and being frustrated and confounded whenever someone kicked the ball out deliberately.
I had no inkling that it was a tactic to gain territory and cut down the risk of the man in possession of the ball being engulfed by the opposing forwards and being forced to release.
Similarly, as a boy watching cricket test matches on TV, I thought, “why are they all standing around rubbing their trousers with the ball?”
I don’t remember when it was I figured out why they kicked the ball out or rubbed it, but, after it had dawned on me, those sports became instantly more interesting.
To say that there is no overtaking in F1 is rubbish, because I’ve seen plenty – especially in the last couple of seasons when tyre degradation has played a huge part in the racing equation.
It takes supreme skill for the drivers to preserve the grip in their tyres at the same time as getting round the circuit at the maximum possible speed over a two-hour period.
And don’t underestimate how physically fit you have to be for your body to withstand the g-force it is subjected to during a race.
As usual, I’ll be rooting for the Brits, Jenson Button (McLaren), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedez) and Scottish dark horse Paul di Resta in his Force India car.
No-one – including the teams and their drivers – knows who has the best chance of victory this weekend, but the winner of the race and the eventual world champion will be the driver who can find consistency and give the right feedback to his technical team to get the optimum set-up for his car.
And that man will be a great driver. Fact.