Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The thing about age

So here’s the thing. I was watching a review at the weekend of the 1993 Indycar World Series. You know the one with Mansell winning it straight after his F1 championship. It was quite well known.

For me it was the finest season of motorsport, ever, anywhere. I watched a full replay of the Indy 500 that year on YouTube the other day and I was glued throughout. With all due respect, I can’t do that these days with Formula One.

Then it struck me. The leading contenders that year were ‘old’ when you compare that to the present day. Think back to ’93 – Mansell, Fittipaldi, (Mario) Andretti. All over 40. Some over 50. Yet they were still at the sharp end, fighting tooth and nail. I think the battle between Mansell and Fittipaldi at Cleveland’s airport circuit was one of the finest battles ever in motorsport history. Gripping, edgy, lively, gutsy… it was all there.

So this got me wondering about age in motorsport, hence my blog today.

In other sports, physically you are limited when it comes to age. Your body performs better at a younger age – fact. But what about motorsport? Surely if that were true then younger drivers at the time – Paul Tracey for example – would have performed better in Indycar 1993. Or was it just inexperience?

Is motorsport - particularly F1 – now almost obsessed with young drivers? Are ‘junior programmes’ REALLY necessary or is it just based on commercial interests? It’s an interesting debate.

I’d love to put a series of drivers from teenage to 50 in the same car and see who would come out on top. Would younger age beat experience? Intriguing…

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