PETER COSTER says F1 needs to clean up its act. The Grand Prix circus has too many clowns on the grid.
The Miami Grand Prix was “a race” and “a show” was one description, but “a show race” would have been more accurate.
The modern Grand Prix has become the most manipulated of races since the F1 world championship started at Silverstone in 1950.
The most significant change was the DRS, or drag reduction system, which allows a driver within a second of a leading car to open a rear wing.
Suddenly, the car has increased speed and passes the car in front, avoiding a train of cars following each other.
Not satisfied with this interference amid a confusion of rules and restrictions, the commercial owners of F1 are constantly looking for ways to increase profits. Corporate greed its an interchangeable term.
This has led to the show race where in Miami, drivers were introduced individually by a rapper, like rock stars on a runway, as showbiz guests crowded the grid.
Martin Brundle could not get past a security cordon around tennis great Roger Federer, one of the celebrities who rarely have anything to say when approached on Brundle’s grid walks.Embed from Getty Images
Former triple world champion Jackie Stewart, a diminutive figure in tartan trews and cap, slipped past them and was immediately surrounded, with Brundle calling out, “Don’t beat up Jackie Stewart.” British driver George Russell had to step in to protect the little Scot who was just trying to help.
Eventually, Brundle got the interview as the security guards glowered like bouncers outside a bar.
For the record, the Miami Grand Prix was won by Max Verstappen, who started ninth on the grid after a qualifying incident prevented him putting in a flying lap.
Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, who started on pole, was second after Verstappen was able to catch up and pass on fresh tyres.
Perez started the race on soft tyres while Verstappen started on hards, which meant Perez went to the hards late in the race while Verstappen changed to the faster softs.
The next race, the Italian at Imola was washed out by heavy rains and flooding in the north of Italy and the circus moved on to Monaco, where once again the security guards made their presence felt.
This time Brundle was manhandled by a grid bouncer mouthing a string of obscenities while he former Grand Prix driver was trying to interview Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
To be fair to this thug, he might have had a hard night tossing out the uninvited at the hundreds of parties on the superyachts jamming the harbour.
The grid thugs need to be better briefed along with the crowds who have invaded the tracks at Miami and Monaco before and after the race.
Prince Albert and Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene (who looked anything but, reigniting rumours of a royal rift at the principality) handed out the trophies.
This time, Verstappen led from start to finish after starting on pole, with Fernando Alonso second after qualifying in the same position.
Heavy rain made the last laps an exercise in avoiding sliding into the barriers lining the city streets, with Verstappen admitting he “clipped a few barriers.”
Perez finished 16th after starting last following a crash in qualifying .
Horner said Verstappen’s late qualifying lap was “the best of his career” although Fernando Alonso’s second place was generally agreed to be one of the former double world champion’s greatest races in a lesser car.
Alonso’s string of podium finishes has shown Aston Martin to be a contender at the front of the grid with the team owned by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll signing a contract with Honda to supply its engines in 2026.
Red Bull Power Trains will manufacture its own engines after moving on from Honda.Embed from Getty Images
What happens to Daniel Ricciardo remains an unknown. Now Red Bull’s reserve driver, Ricciardo can only hope something a seat opens after a reshuffle at the end of the season.
The Australian driver decided a reserve spot at Red Bull (where he won eight GPs) was preferable to taking a drive with one of the midfield teams.
But his prospects of replacing, say, Perez at Red Bull, have slipped following a remark from Helmut Marko that his performances in the “sim” don’t match up to those of either Verstappen or Perez.
At McLaren, which sacked Ricciardo after a run of poor performances against teammate Lando Norris, Melbourne rookie Oscar Piastri scored a point at Monaco to add to his four points from Melbourne.
He finished only two-hundredth of a second behind Norris in qualifying and has brought a smile to faces around McLaren after the disappointments of Ricciardo’s races.
The last time he raced at Monaco was in F2 and he is learning the difference between this and the premier formula.
“I’m tired, it was a pretty eventful first Monaco Grand Prix,” said Piastri after the race.
The washed out Grand Prix in Italy was to be the first of a triple-header, with the third after Monaco in Spain on July 4.
There are 23 races on this year’s F1 calendar and even more likely next season.
Max Verstappen has made his feelings known about the heavy schedule and the demands of racing on an average of every two weeks while flying in an out of countries around the globe.
But the money is motivating.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton denies he is thinking of signing for Ferrari for a rumoured $75 million when his contract with Mercedes runs out at the end of this season.
That converts to $115 million Australian and while Hamilton doesn’t need the money (being paid close to that at Mercedes) he has said he wonders “what it would be like to be in red.”