Putting the brake on power and personality

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The Independent Online
The era of the great Formula One characters has sadly gone, and has been succeeded by a generation of drivers kept firmly in check.

There is not merely a danger of this trend - it is definitely happening. You become a product of the system, and the system requires that you are super-fit, super-presentable to the corporate people and the media, and you are almost not allowed to express yourself.

We had an era of Piquet, Rosberg, Prost, and Senna - real megastars commanding mega-money and getting all the kudos. They were very powerful men in every respect, and I believe the opportunity has been seized, since that era went, to put drivers more in their place.

A lot of the young men now coming along are a product of that, and the pressures that exist in Formula One these days. You have a television camera pointing at you from every orifice and angle, and a computer reading your every tweak of every control in the car, and every resultant movement of the car. You cannot run and hide.

You are almost not allowed to be a character. Take Eddie Irvine, for example. He is a character, and look how quickly he was thumped into place.

Another aspect of Formula One which seems to be concerning some people is the effect of fuel stops in a race. They do take away an element from setting up a car that is going to start with 200 litres and end up with zero, but then everybody is in the same situation. I think it generates an intriguing strategy, although whether the spectators can follow it or are the slightest bit interested, I do not know. I think what excited them was the five-second pit-stop or a sparking, raging thing coming down the track when it was on full tanks.

The purists would say that to have the fuel strategies applied with all the other strategies is very interesting, and I have to say that I do not have a problem with refuelling.