Michael Schumacher’s performance in the aftermath of his brother horror crash underscores how the nature of the sport – and its drivers - has changed over the years, writes John Bentley.
Michael Schumacher's single-minded drive to victory at Indianapolis, seemingly shutting his brother's terrifying crash right out of his mind, illustrated how the character of Formula One, or at least the attributes needed to win the world championship, have "developed" over the years.
Juan Manual Fangio was characterised by his personal courage, his consummate skill, and his tactical ability. Jimmy Clark was able to drive at the limit for the whole length of a grand prix. Jackie Stewart and Alain Prost perfected the art, also practised by Fangio, of taking no more out of the machinery than was necessary to win. Ayrton Senna brought an aggression to the sport never seen before, a style that would have been disastrous in earlier days when cars and tracks were far less safe.
Schumacher shows the same levels of aggression - as his tactics against Barrichello at the Brickyard showed - but he has added an unequalled ability to focus on the job at hand, leaving other concerns till later. Niki Lauda once said he would eventually get the better of Senna because he lacked the Brazilian's Latin emotions.
Some people don't like Michael's wooden, almost stilted, style in the interview room. By contrast, Fangio, Stewart and Prost -- and I've been lucky enough to interview all three -- were far more relaxed and approachable in such situations. But surely Formula One world champions should be judged on their ability to win races and championships. And, in 46 years of following grand prix racing, I've seen no-one better-equipped to do that.
That said, the past few seasons seen the emergence of a number of possible successors to the six-time champion. The performances of the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya and Fernando Alonso speak for themselves. But what about Takuma Sato? The Japanese controlled his aggression at Indy, putting in the drive of the day. Pity about his team's lack of tactical nous.
And, while I'm handing out brickbats, I think the stewards should be severely reprimanded for not red-flagging the race after Ralf Schumacher's accident. With all that carbon fibre around, we were lucky not to have another similar accident. Another appalling piece of mismanagement was the fact that they took so long to black flag Juan Pablo Montoya, apparently for missing the 15-second grid cut-off by a second. If it was an infringement, well and good. But leaving a man to risk his life for three-quarters of the race was beyond the pale.
Original article from Car