Paddock magazine December 2014 / January 2015 Issue 70 - Page 32

COLUMNS Money, Egos and Speed The tide is turning I recently watched a most enjoyable programme on the Sky F1 channel. It was Brunswick Film’s “Review of the 1971 F1 World Championship” and what amazing memories it brought back, watching so many famous names battling it out in cars that looked exactly what many of them were at that time, a real handful to drive. Interestingly the first race of that season was at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa, which I would “manage” some 9 year later. On the grid for that first Grand Prix of 1971, 25 cars lined up. 17 of them were powered by the legendary Cosworth V8 engine, including the Tyrell of Jackie Stewart, who would go on to become that year’s World Champion. Just out of interest, after watching the race I dived into the excellent and invaluable Grand Prix Data Book so that I could calculate the average age of those 25 drivers. It was 30.48 years, compared to the 2014 average of 26.4. I must admit that I was more surprised by the 2014 figure than I was by that of 1971. If anyone had asked me, I would have estimated the current average to have been 32 around 24. For some reason, today’s F1 drivers seem so much younger than their counterparts from 31 years ago. In fairness though, I must say that the Class of ’71 seemed to me far more individual and were enjoying themselves so much more than those in the modern era, despite the fact that the sport was so much more dangerous then. So why did I do this research? It was my intention to check out how much things have changed in F1 over the years and to look closely at one aspect in particular; the opportunities that exist for young drivers to progress through the ranks up to a career in F1. That’s why I put in the effort