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Fortec Motorsports made a strong debut karting appearance in the first round of Formula Kart Stars at Buckmore Park last weekend, with its drivers winning both the Super FKS and FKS Junior finals. Dean Macdonald won the Super FKS final from Bradley Liebenberg, while Jack Mccarthy made it two Fortec drivers on the podium. Oliver Clarke was dominant in FKS Junior, beating Jonny Edgar in the final.
OK, so I will lay it on the line: I am a fan of Jacques Villeneuve. It is impossible for me not to be. My first proper motorsport hero was his dad, Gilles, and therefore it was natural that I would support his offspring as he made his way up the motorsport ladder.
But this week, he is massively off the mark with his comment about modern Formula 1 drivers.
The drivers, under the unified banner of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, recently issued a statement saying that they were concerned about the future of the sport. They have asked for a restructuring of the governance of F1, fearing for its long-term future under the current system. The statement was signed by Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and chairman Alex Wurz on behalf of all of the drivers.
Villeneuve, the 1997 Formula 1 world champion, has effectively, told the drivers to shut up and just get on with driving the cars and leave the rulers to determine the direction of the sport. He is wrong. Everyone who has an influence on the future of the sport (I refuse to use the dreaded word ‘stakeholders’) has an input, it seems, apart from the drivers – and they are the ones who probably have the most effective input.
The endless technical working groups try to define a set of rules that will make the sport more competitive. But, as was the case with Brawn back in 2008, as soon as they spot a double diffusersized loophole, they will keep that information to themselves and then use it to completely undo all the good work they were supposed to be doing.
You can’t blame them for that. F1 is a competitive sport, and these are competitive people.
The drivers are competitive too, but such is the transient nature of their employment that they aren’t restricted to such parochial intentions as the team bosses and technical directors are.
Bernie Ecclestone’s response to the drivers’ statement was typical Bernie. Effectively, he said ‘I agree, but what are the solutions...?’ That’s not really a response at all.
The drivers should have a voice, and they should be taken seriously. It is not merely a rabble clamouring to be heard. The GPDA provides them with a serious platform where they unify their thoughts before going on the attack, and that is a very sensible way of doing things. Very sensible, unlike Jacques Villeneuve’s ramblings.