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The return of real characters on the F1 grid?


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#1 F1 Mike

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 23:52

After Eddie Irvine left the sport, it felt like there really weren't many lively drivers you could rely on for a bit of fun & games.
Whether that was mostly the teams with their corporate shackles or not I guess we don't know 100% but it feels like the new wave of drivers are more up for a lark around than drivers from mid 90s to now.

Do you think this is really the case or are they merely being perceived more favourably through the media? Is the sport as a whole showcasing their personality more today than before?

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#2 Anuity

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 00:11

I guess everybody has his own opinion. But I don’t agree with this, even though I was only ever a real fan of Michael.
But since then come on, Villeneuve, Hakkinen, Alonso, Verstappen , Räikkönen, Vettel, Hamilton, Leclerc , Romberg. I find them all to be quite some characters. I’m sure I forget if a lot of other drivers as well. It’s just F1 is different from what it was, but i don’t think there’s lack of strong personalities.

#3 PlayboyRacer

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 02:04

There are great personalities today, such as Ricciardo. You can throw Raikkonen (older school), Norris, Sainz, Lewis (not everyones cup of tea), Vettel etc into there too imo.

Where it differs from before is all these guys are PC. The last of the strong characters that didn't give a **** about being PC were Villeneuve and Irvine. And they're still like that today.

Miss them both in F1. I look forward to when Tom Clarkson manages to get Eddie on the 'beyond the grid' podcast.

#4 Marklar

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 02:46

That's just the honeymoon period of being new to the sport. As soon as the initial buzz is gone and/or things get more serious (like for Leclerc now) they'll be less for fun & games too.

Not sure in what way that's the definition of a "real character" though. They are even more PR than the last generation, which was already bad.

Edited by Marklar, 11 October 2019 - 02:46.


#5 Baddoer

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 05:24

Vettel tossing signs in Canada park was display of "character".

Verstappen punching Ocon in shoulder was dramatic.

Oh, and battle between Hamilton and Bottas in Silverstone lies here too.

 

I guess we get what we deserve.



#6 Lights

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 05:43

I don't think you can blame it on the drivers. We now have a teamboss penalized for criticizing a steward on team radio. That's not imaginable in the 90's. Villeneuve and Irvine wouldn't last long in the F1 of today.



#7 jstrains

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 07:34

Bring Alonso back!



#8 jacdaniel

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 07:43

A lot of fans don’t want drivers to have character. Max said he could be 2 tenths faster than Lewis if I’m the same car and the Max thread is full of people moaning that he said that. Maybe they just want a grid full of drivers happy to just participate

#9 screamingV16

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 08:38

The pressures of sponsors, big money, heavy race schedules, contractual obligations, controlling commercial and sporting regs all conspire to muffle displays of personality these days. Besides as jacdaniel says, more 'characters' in the sport would just end up with more winge threads about how 'unprofessional' or 'up their own backside' so and so driver is (as witnessed by even the mildest of idiosyncratic behaviour from those such as Alonso, Hamilton or Verstappen), so probably for the best there aren't that many 'characters'. I always thought the idea of Irvine being a big character was a bit overblown, maybe because although solid he was never anything special as a driver. Big characters for me (all for different reasons) were the Berger, Mansell, Senna, Piquet, K Rosberg, Jones, Hunt, Lauda, G Hill types.



#10 balage06

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 08:41

I think McLaren's current approach about how they presenting their drivers is quite refreshing (and maybe even strange after the Dennis-era). 



#11 NixxxoN

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 09:08

Just because (most) drivers haven't been such obvious and outspoken smugs like Eddie doesnt mean they aren't "real" or "interesting"

Edited by NixxxoN, 11 October 2019 - 09:09.


#12 sopa

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 09:48

Depends, what anybody means by character. I guess we could get as many views about it here as we get opinions on anything.



#13 Risil

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:21

I was watching a Youtube video of the 1995 Hungarian GP the other day, which was coincidentally also the first F1 race I watched from lights to flag. Not a lot happened on track (OK, Taki Inoue was hit by the course car) but it was pretty enthralling. Probably the nostalgia rush, but perhaps the simplicity of the race strategies and TV presentation, or maybe the expressiveness of those powerful, twitchy cars that often looked on the edge of the driver's control.
 
(The commentators were also complaining about shifting FIA rules about how drivers were allowed to close off space, plus ca change).
 
But I dunno, I don't think that grid had many "characters" in it, in the sense that I felt I knew what they stood for and they stood in for some idea or ethos. Damon Hill and Jean Alesi certainly, and maybe the abovementioned Inoue in the sense that he was such an archetypal pay driver. I'm not sure it dented my enjoyment.
 
I don't think we do too badly today. Modern drivers are very PR trained but competitive sport has a way of putting pressure on people until you see their natural responses to adversity and triumph.
 
But on the other hand I'm wary of the joking around at media events and social media larks because in many ways they're just the new frontier for public relations professionals to transform life into commodities and brand synergies. It's nice that Lando Norris enjoys gaming and Twitch but I didn't ever feel I was missing anything by not being able to witness Michael Schumacher playing backgammon.


#14 Sndr

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:25

don't get character and character you can empathize with mixed up. i really am no fan of hamilton for example but that does not mean he lacks character. i just find him a certified douche but that is my problem more than it is the sport's as a whole. if you look at the grid there are not that many actual heidfelds around.



#15 Calorus

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:37

don't get character and character you can empathize with mixed up. i really am no fan of hamilton for example but that does not mean he lacks character. i just find him a certified douche but that is my problem more than it is the sport's as a whole. if you look at the grid there are not that many actual heidfelds around.

 

This.

If you look at Sideburned, medallion wearing, sunglasses indoors-ers like Sir Jackie, you'll notice that all of the want to be Stewarts think he was great.

If you look at the chain smoking womanising, party toffs like James Hunt, you'll notice that all of the want to be Hunts think he was great.

If you look at the baggy clothes wearing, loud mouthed, wannabe skateboarders like Jacques, you'll notice that all of the want to be Villeneuves think they were great.*

If you look at the womanising, tatted urban fashionistos like Lewis, you'll notice all the want to be Lewises think he is great.

The characters are there, you're just old.



#16 F1 Mike

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:40

I'm thinking of Norris & Ricciardo especially. And Vettel is very outspoken, Verstappen isn't afraid to say what he thinks either

#17 noikeee

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:42

a) What's a "real character"? b) Are they stand-up comedians or racing drivers, what matters is that they're among the 20 quickest guys in the world, not the most amusing personalities off the car.
 
I don't like PR fluff but don't see this as a problem.


#18 Dutchrudder

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:49

I think our kids grow up 'media-savvy' in an age of social media and understand how to present themselves in a good light that lets their personality shine.

This isn't like 10 years ago when camera-phones were pretty rubbish and phones had quite basic internet functions.

These guys are more comfortable in front of a camera and present themselves more naturally because of that.

#19 Marklar

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:53

I'm thinking of Norris & Ricciardo especially. And Vettel is very outspoken, Verstappen isn't afraid to say what he thinks either

Norris & Ricciardo just crack jokes, otherwise they are very PR and in Ricciardo's case he is very lucky that his statements are not taken as seriously as for other drivers, who get slated for the same things.

I wouldnt say they are no characters, but they are very one dimensional.

Which is not a bad thing btw. A grid full of Ricciardo's would be terrible. Just like a grid full of Hamilton's would be terrible. Or of Kimi's. Or of Vettel's.

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#20 CornishFellow

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:53

I'd love a "character" if it was real and not a carefully presented PR brand. But with genuine characters comes a lot of disaproval, finger pointing and media-whipped judgmentalism. Imagine Hunt being Hunt in today's climate.



#21 SonGoku

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:55

It depends on yourself I guess. Making jokes all the time and streaming every fart on twitch doesn't do anything for me, other people find it amazing.

Edited by SonGoku, 11 October 2019 - 10:56.


#22 Risil

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:56

Norris & Ricciardo just crack jokes, otherwise they are very PR and in Ricciardo's case he is very lucky that his statements are not taken as seriously as for other drivers, who get slated for the same things.

I wouldnt say they are no characters, but they are very one dimensional.

Which is not a bad thing btw. A grid full of Ricciardo's would be terrible. Just like a grid full of Hamilton's would be terrible. Or of Kimi's. Or of Vettel's.

 

What I like about Ricciardo is that you can see the shark just below the surface. Maybe it's the teeth. He seems like no pushover, anyway.



#23 Sterzo

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 11:00

I think there's always been a mix of characters on the one hand, and restraint when speaking on the mike on the other. There have also always been people claiming the current drivers aren't characters like in the old days. Once spent some time reading nineteen twenties Autocars in the British Museum library, and there were comments about the pre WW1 drivers being heroic characters whereas...

 

The OP isn't saying there are none now, of course. Quite the reverse.

 

One change we'd probably all welcome is if the PR person with miniature recorder (made to fit driver's nostrils) would go the same way as the grid girls.*

 

 

* (Derails thread and leaves rapidly).



#24 Drummingcat

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 11:10

What defines a "real character"?

 

I think harking back to the good old days of chain smoking your way through the post race interview and shagging hookers on the garage floor need to be taken in the context of which the world has changed.

 

Does Dani Ric constitute a character? I would say Yes, does Verstappen, Yes, Does Hamilton, Yes, does Magnussen Yes.

 

The problem with being a character nowadays is that as soon as you show any of it, a million people immediately take to twitter to call you an a$$hat.

 

We want characters??? Dont slag them off when they display it. That would be step 1.



#25 PlatenGlass

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 11:13

Fans have always complained that the current crop of drivers are boring and have no character. But in ten years, this lot will have been the characters.

#26 goldenboy

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 11:20

Yeah I don't get it. I think they are all a great mix of characters and it's really the number one reason I watch now that I think about it.

#27 Charlieman

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 11:37

I'm sure that all of the drivers have "real characters" and that some of this is displayed in their staged media appearances as well as their less controlled displays. In the 1970s through to the 1990s, I could identify with drivers. They weren't like me necessarily, but I knew people like them. I worked with people who blew off steam in the same way, blokes with loads of money and appalling taste, pretentious twonks and people who pleasantly took you by surprise with words of wisdom or kindness. 

 

Now I am old enough to be father or grandfather to F1 drivers, I can't relate to them in the same way all of the time. Then I recall driver interviews from when they were at a smaller team and more relaxed, and it isn't much different from the old days.



#28 SophieB

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 11:40

What I like about Ricciardo is that you can see the shark just below the surface. Maybe it's the teeth. He seems like no pushover, anyway.

 

The shark beneath the badger.



#29 Brackets

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 13:12

This.

If you look at Sideburned, medallion wearing, sunglasses indoors-ers like Sir Jackie, you'll notice that all of the want to be Stewarts think he was great.

If you look at the chain smoking womanising, party toffs like James Hunt, you'll notice that all of the want to be Hunts think he was great.

If you look at the baggy clothes wearing, loud mouthed, wannabe skateboarders like Jacques, you'll notice that all of the want to be Villeneuves think they were great.*

If you look at the womanising, tatted urban fashionistos like Lewis, you'll notice all the want to be Lewises think he is great.

The characters are there, you're just old.

 

Now I really want to know what you planned on putting in the asterisk'd footnote.



#30 beute

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 13:19

It's more that the western world entered the internet age. after the early onset we were given the 'gift' of social media.

people oh so much loooooove to hate on corporations and ultimately capitalism, blaming them for everything that's bad.
in this case overriding character/personality and turning celebrities into soul-less brands.

what people don't like to do however is flipping the coin in order to see what's on the other side of it.

and on the other side you'll see that much of what they do, they do in order to please people/the masses/the mob.

We have sweatshops in the 3rd world because no matter how much moral posturing the masses engage in, at the end of the day they grab the cheap sweater made by 14 year olds in china and leave the expensive domestic product on the shelf. generalizing a bit here.

what social media did with the masses was giving them a voice/outlet, a voice that reaches across the globe, instantly.
Naturally echo chambers formed and ultimately a social collective consciousness formed.
this social "consciousness" is not an intelligent, truth loving thing.
it basically represents the lowest common denominator on what is okay based on offending people, regardless of facts, it doesn't matter if the offense was moral/fair/benign or not.

so whereever there is desire to sell something to the masses, you tend to find sterile personalities, PR robots, blanks without a character or just unauthentic ones.
it's not just companies forcing this on their employees , individuals do it independently as well.
politicians are the biggest offenders here obviously, after all a successful career in politics consists of winning as manoly popularity contests as possible...
but celebrities are not far off

when drivers don't use social media and therefore are unaware of what the social consciousness deems "okay" they tend to have pretty distinct personalities.
kimi being the prime example here.

the irony here is that Kimis popularity clearly indicates that appeasing the social consciousness most likely has the opposite effect for "elite fans".

#31 F1 Mike

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 13:29

It's more that the western world entered the internet age. after the early onset we were given the 'gift' of social media.

people oh so much loooooove to hate on corporations and ultimately capitalism, blaming them for everything that's bad.
in this case overriding character/personality and turning celebrities into soul-less brands.

what people don't like to do however is flipping the coin in order to see what's on the other side of it.

and on the other side you'll see that much of what they do, they do in order to please people/the masses/the mob.

We have sweatshops in the 3rd world because no matter how much moral posturing the masses engage in, at the end of the day they grab the cheap sweater made by 14 year olds in china and leave the expensive domestic product on the shelf. generalizing a bit here.

what social media did with the masses was giving them a voice/outlet, a voice that reaches across the globe, instantly.
Naturally echo chambers formed and ultimately a social collective consciousness formed.
this social "consciousness" is not an intelligent, truth loving thing.
it basically represents the lowest common denominator on what is okay based on offending people, regardless of facts, it doesn't matter if the offense was moral/fair/benign or not.

so whereever there is desire to sell something to the masses, you tend to find sterile personalities, PR robots, blanks without a character or just unauthentic ones.
it's not just companies forcing this on their employees , individuals do it independently as well.
politicians are the biggest offenders here obviously, after all a successful career in politics consists of winning as manoly popularity contests as possible...
but celebrities are not far off

when drivers don't use social media and therefore are unaware of what the social consciousness deems "okay" they tend to have pretty distinct personalities.
kimi being the prime example here.

the irony here is that Kimis popularity clearly indicates that appeasing the social consciousness most likely has the opposite effect for "elite fans".


The biggest effect of the modern world of media and the Internet is that something small or in the grand scheme of things something fairly trivial can be blown into a shitstorm because a few people throw a tantrum which is partly what you're saying

Edited by F1 Mike, 11 October 2019 - 13:29.


#32 jjcale

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 14:04

There are lots of "characters" ... what exactly do people want?



#33 Paco

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 14:13

They are. We are Max pretty old school like, we have carlos Lando Albon easy going, we have Kimi is still kimi, have the professionals like Lewis Seb and we have whiners like Kubica Kmag and some quiet guys like Perez... pretty balanced if you ask me. Good grid character wise.

Edited by Paco, 11 October 2019 - 15:04.


#34 Calorus

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 14:53

Now I really want to know what you planned on putting in the asterisk'd footnote.

*My affiliation.

 

(Genuinely wish it was something worth waiting for, Sorry)


Edited by Calorus, 11 October 2019 - 14:54.


#35 ceesvdelst

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 16:07

I simply think the proliferation of PR, marketing and advertising has somewhat tainted every drivers personality, they are very media savvy, but compared to footballers they can at least be humorous and fun, get a player away from the tunnel and his team and they are often fun too.

 

I think the media are to blame too, these stupid pens where drivers are herded round re an awful idea, let a journalist do his job, book time, find a driver, lean on the pitwall and talk, can a driver not plan his life to know he has to be somewhere, does he really need to be thinking about driving every second of his life, no wonder a lot of them are nerdy sort of geek types now. let them be men, not petulant little boys. 

 

The greats were still able to do amazing things and talk when they wanted without being herded from one place to the next like a prisoner.

 

I do find the F1 world hilariously false and often frankly ridiculous!!



#36 jjcale

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 20:18

 

And I am sure the others are equally interesting ...



#37 pdac

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 20:45

Nobody has mentioned Maldonado yet.


Edited by pdac, 11 October 2019 - 20:45.


#38 boomn

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 21:11

Max and Daniel are certainly characters, especially when they're together

https://streamable.com/1ytmp



#39 R Soul

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 21:23

Imagine Hunt being Hunt in today's climate.

 

After the race he'd ask his interveiwer for his vape.



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#40 Anuity

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 21:28

I think Max and Seb are very outspoken, especially in the context of new F1, they are almost on Jacques level as I see it. And it’s not like there were many Jacques’s in 90s-00s.

#41 NixxxoN

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 22:44

Ricciardo and Norris, to give two examples, are two real genuine characters, each one different and unique.
Also Alonso was a real character, even Kimi in his own particular way.

#42 BMWTeamBigazzi

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 23:36

Health and safety has ruined everyone's character since the the early 90's Senna VS Irvine tho, game changer!! :clap:  :clap: 



#43 goldenboy

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 04:45

I think the only major player in the last few years that seems devoid of character is Bottas. So boring it's annoying.

#44 FirstnameLastname

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 04:58

I think the only major player in the last few years that seems devoid of character is Bottas. So boring it's annoying.


Maybe that’s his character though ‘Boring Bottas’

#45 PlayboyRacer

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 05:11

Just because (most) drivers haven't been such obvious and outspoken smugs like Eddie doesnt mean they aren't "real" or "interesting"

What was wrong with how Eddie rolled? He was proper outspoken. When you don't care what or who you upset with your comments and don't pander to people so you can 'fit in'... that's when you're a unique and strong/abrasive character. You are loved and hated in equal amounts, perhaps much more of the latter actually. Smug? Nup, just didn't give a **** about people pleasing.

Who on the grid today is remotely like that exactly? Back then it was Eddie & Jacques and I wouldn't say anyone has fit that mould since. Additionally I actually think it was detrimental, at times, to their F1 careers and still - they never wavered and are the same to this day.

Edited by PlayboyRacer, 12 October 2019 - 05:28.


#46 Fatgadget

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 05:28

I don't think you can blame it on the drivers. We now have a teamboss penalized for criticizing a steward on team radio. That's not imaginable in the 90's. Villeneuve and Irvine wouldn't last long in the F1 of today.

Criticising is one thing, verbally abusing is quite another. Who during the 90s was ever that crass and classless?



#47 Fatgadget

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 06:56

A lot of fans don’t want drivers to have character. Max said he could be 2 tenths faster than Lewis if I’m the same car and the Max thread is full of people moaning that he said that. Maybe they just want a grid full of drivers happy to just participate

If Hamilton had said that the Internet would have exploded that's for sure!



#48 Celloman

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 08:47

I don't think you can blame it on the drivers. We now have a teamboss penalized for criticizing a steward on team radio. That's not imaginable in the 90's. Villeneuve and Irvine wouldn't last long in the F1 of today.

On the other hand, stewards seem afraid as well to apply proper penalties these days. I mean Vettel swore openly at the race director in the team radio few years ago and got away with it. Back in the 90's race bans were handed out sometimes several a year, nowadays it seems impossible to get a race ban unless your name is Grosjean and they would never dare to ban a Hamilton or Verstappen even for one race.



#49 sopa

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:06

In 90's we didn't hear team radios though, so we don't know, what was said.



#50 PayasYouRace

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:34

On the other hand, stewards seem afraid as well to apply proper penalties these days. I mean Vettel swore openly at the race director in the team radio few years ago and got away with it. Back in the 90's race bans were handed out sometimes several a year, nowadays it seems impossible to get a race ban unless your name is Grosjean and they would never dare to ban a Hamilton or Verstappen even for one race.

 

Only 3 race bans were ever applied in the 90s, and all 3 were for on track incidents in 1994. Irvine for the crash in Brazil, Schumacher for his various antics at Silverstone and Hakkinen for causing too many accidents.