Alex Zanardi is a truly inspirational figure in the world of Motorsport and beyond. The ex-F1 driver, Paralympic gold medal winner and one-man inspiration creator has given a pretty stark criticism of the current problem with Formula 1.
Zanardi, who has two prosthetic legs but still achieved success in the World Touring Car Championship with race wins, has given a damning verdict of Formula 1’s state. He said,
“Formula one today? A bit too boring. Now it is stewards who have delusions of being the stars.
Everyone remembers me for the (Indycar) pass I made on the limit at the corkscrew at Laguna Seca in 1996,” said Zanardi. “But today, such a move would be impossible (in F1). It would be immediately punished by the race director.
The rules have changed and so have the cars. In the 90s, the tyres and the power really put on display the ability of the drivers.
But today they are punished so severely for overtaking or driving even vaguely riskily, making the drivers afraid of penalties and having the will to risk something. The show suffers as a result.”
– Alex Zanardi
Zanardi echoes many others in his concerns over over-policing and the driving culture that this brings onto the circuit. Drivers should, if anything, be encouraged to take risks and pull off overtakes. It’s also why Max Verstappen’s resistance to change his aggressive ways has made him a popular driver.
Credit is due to the FIA for reacting to this though, the organising body confirming last month that there will be more leniency on penalties and collisions analysis as power in the decision-making process falls from the Race Director to the Stewards. A revised article for 2017 will offer more transparency to who is flagging racing incidents, therefore a greater reluctance to be trigger-happy with penalties is expected.
The revised article 38.2 a) states:
“It shall be at the discretion of the stewards to decide if any driver involved in an Incident should be penalised.
Unless it is clear to the stewards that a driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for an incident no penalty will be imposed.”
Given that one of the Race Stewards for the upcoming season, Derek Warwick, has shown signs of echoing Zanardi’s comments, it looks like 2017 will be much more lenient and encouraging to driver’s willing to take risky moves. It’s what fans want to see and it’s what racing is all about.