In typical fashion, our Spy's take on the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is not for the faint hearted...
Spy’s trying to figure out ways in which that could have been worse. Perhaps the runoff area could have featured a fruit stand, or two workmen walking a plate glass window across the road, or something involving a singing nun with a guitar. Or they could have been fighting for the lead instead of P4. Those would all be worse. Can’t really think of anything else.
Contrary to popular opinion, we’ve never had the two cars take each other out before – we’ve had them take chunks out of each other but never to the extent that both cars have retired on the spot. It isn’t nice! In fact, in the garage it’s pretty sickening: the TV picture is a few seconds behind – having been transmitted from Baku to London and then up into space and back to the paddock – so the information arrives through your ears first: you know where the cars are on track from the GPS, you hear them flash past the start-finish line, then the squeal of brakes, a sound like a dumpy bag of gravel being thrown into an empty bin lorry, then the roar of the crowd.
There’s a second or two you think ‘maybe it’s bin day in Baku and everyone really looks forward to it’ before the TV pictures catch up and you see your two cars slithering down the runoff (bad) and then both drivers jumping out (good). The Sweary Marys in the team have a little bit of a vent. The more phlegmatic individuals begin packdown, and that’s really all there is.
Official displeasure with the decision-making skills of the drivers has been expressed, and quite rightly: a lot of people put a lot of effort into preparing those cars and, on the whole, we’d rather they came back in one piece with the maximum amount of points on offer. But, having said that, watching Max and Daniel go at each other like that lap after lap is what F1 is all about: it’s why we love it. It’s why you watch it. It’s why you’re here right now reading this inane gibber.
F1 wonders what it has to do to attract a younger audience. It’s an awfully long time ago but Spy remembers the posters* on the bedroom wall when Spy was a kid: they weren’t of people who played it safe or backed away from a confrontation. They were people like Max and Daniel. The level of commitment they both display in the cockpit gains more points than it loses over the course of a season, so you have to live with the days when it goes apocalyptically wrong.
The team policy is to let them race, and though the prospect might be unappealing, that means accepting they might occasionally crash. Don’t want it to happen; hope it doesn’t happen again but equally don’t want them pootling around, playing it safe either.
*Evel Knievel, Barry Sheene, Keke Rosberg and Darth Vader, if you’re wondering.