The Spanish Grand Prix – with Martin Grumble

 Before Martin Brundle reached the Circuit de Catalunya yesterday morning, I assume something happened to him. His wife elbowed him in the face in her sleep, his tea was cold, he stubbed his toe getting into the shower, the vet’s bill for his cat arrived, etc.

What’s for sure is that something got up his nose good and proper because yesterday was the most bad-tempered commentary we’ve heard from the great man in a long time.

Amongst his gripes were Nico Hulkenburg driving into Jean-Eric Vergne in the pitlane (‘the throttle works both ways you know….would he have seen Vergne? If he had his eyes open, yes!)

I particularly liked his withering put-down of Lewis Hamilton’s notion that he wishes he was racing in the 1980s – the usual harking back to the days of Senna and co : ‘I’ll show him the piece of metal that used to be in my leg and see what he says.’

But the thing that most grated with him was the much-maligned Pirelli tyres and their perceived impact upon the quality of the racing.

He’s not alone. Red Bull are being particularly annoying on this front – with Dietrich Mateschitz saying the liquorice allsort tyres mean that F1 is no longer racing, and Christian Horner cancelling a media appearance last night because he was presumably so annoyed that darling Sebastian could only finish fourth.

The team wants Pirelli to change their tyres so that they last longer – essentially saying ‘hey, guys – f**k everyone else and let us exploit our car’s appetite for rubber so we can lap the entire field.’ I’ve got news for them – if you know that the tyres are going to be aggressively-constructed, then build a car that uses them properly!

The thing that galls me the most about this hand-wringing over tyres is that it just seems like more knee-jerk whinging – and after only one such race! No matter what Grand Prix racing tries to do to appease its fans, there’s always something that the forum users opine is ‘killing F1.’

Perhaps we should all sit down and watch the 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix, or in fact pretty much any of the races that year bar Monaco, and remind ourselves how lucky we are. F1 was, for so long, like a giant Scalextric race with only one slot in the track. I’m starting to think that if your average Grand Prix fan was found after being lost in the desert for ten days, he’d still be asking his rescuer if they had a nice cold beer instead of a glass of water.

Most people’s gripes seem to revolve around the fact that the drivers can’t push to the absolute limit, and this is allegedly horribly detrimental. But here’s a poser for you – without constant access to team radios and muttering team bosses, how the hell would anyone even know that the drivers were driving more carefully? It’s not like they’re going past at 42mph. Maybe I’m not as clued-in as some people, but an F1 car doing a 1m18sec lap looks pretty damned similar to me as one doing a 1m20sec lap. They still bomb past you at 180 mph plus, V8 screaming.

Have Pirelli tyres ruined F1? Of course they bloody haven’t. They have made the sport so exciting that in twenty years time we’ll look back at this era and realise how wonderful it truly was. We still have the best drivers in the best cars winning, but with just enough variation to provide us with a genuinely interesting championship narrative. What more do we want?

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