F1 Winter Break
Marko questions whether modern F1 drivers have the fighting spirit of legends like Senna
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 May 2014   |  9:32 am GMT  |  321 comments

“It would be unfair to compare today’s drivers (with Ayrton Senna), as they have a completely different socialization to back then.

“Today they grow up with their IT gadgets so they have never developed that down-to-earth race fanaticism – that fighting for every inch and sacrificing everything for it. It is a different generation.”

This was the quote from Red Bull Racing director Helmut Marko, when asked by Formula 1.com for its Senna tribute section.

It is an interesting concept, an observation from a man in his 60s who has been around racing for many years and who raced himself at a time when drivers were regularly killed. Marko himself lost an eye racing.

Do modern F1 drivers project passion? And as a consequence, does the crowd at the track and the TV audience have less passion to feed off?

As part of the ongoing discussion about F1 and what it stands for, this argument is worth noting, as the drivers are the ultimate showcase for F1, its most popular asset. Marko, who has overseen the progress of almost 100 young drivers through the Red Bull development programme, is suggesting that modern F1 drivers don’t project the passion for the sport that drivers like Senna did 20 years ago, “that down-to-earth race fanaticism – that fighting for every inch and sacrificing everything for it”.

I suspect that drivers like Fernando Alonso would agree with this.

Drivers arrive in F1 now having been on a conveyor belt since karting, funded by wealthy fathers or sponsors and thus highly professionalised from a young age, studying telemetry and data from the earliest days of karting. Are they motorsport fanatics or just drivers on a conveyor belt? That is Marko’s thesis.

Does seeing the world through a series of gadgets create a mood of disengagement in drivers, as many parents worry that it does in their children?

Marko contends that the young drivers of today are reared on Play Station games, iPads and gadgets and as a result they see F1 as a kind of technical exercise. No doubt the fact that the cars are safer -which can only be a good thing – plays a part in their mindset.

The flip side of this, of course, is that social media makes today’s drivers more accessible to the fans than drivers of Senna’s era. They can have a direct connection with the drivers.

And comments on sites like this one, show the level of interest and passion that fans have for their favourite drivers and ones they dislike.

He goes on, “If I were to pick three attributes for Senna it would be speed, charisma and ruthlessness. He was a driver with such a huge level of commitment – in all his races – and somebody who acquired an unbelievable charisma over the years.

“On the driving side you probably would find one or another driver who could match Ayrton, but charisma is something that you either have or you don’t have.”

It’s an interesting thesis, leave your comments below.

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Everyone glorifies the old days in all aspects of life as we only remember the best bits.

Lets take Vetter for example, the guy who wagered with raikonnen to see who could say a worse word on the Abu Dhabhi Podium.

Ten years from now, four (or more) events from vettel's career will be remembered, winning Monza 2008, crashing into webber the following year at Turkey, overtaking the same when ordered not to in Malaysia 2012 and maybe his "tough luck" comment. Will he be considered a badass, charming (he does have some funny jokes), balls to the wall driver?? Even though many consider him somewhat of a pampered golden boy now?


is he referring to SV when he said that? cos SV ended up in tears several times while driving in close quarters?


I 'll remember "Get him out of the way" of Vettel


Marko Who?

David in Sydney



I Will always remember Schumi for adelaide 94,Jerez 97,austria 02 and monaco 06

I will always remember Alonso for Hungary 07 and Singapore 08.

I don't think Alonso is woried about that I hate him and will never think of him of one of the all time greats.


Fascinating how we look back and glorify the old days.

Imagine the F1 personalities of today lining up on the grid in the 1980s, with everything else of that period. Be it the circuits; the cars; the media; or the devoted fans. Are the drivers really that different? Are we all not effected by our surroundings, time, and place?

Perhaps the only difference is the era you prefer.


I disagree. Factually today the drivers are mostly boys. Back then they were men. It is now physically much easier so even teenage boys can do it. I really would not be surprised if in 40 years even preteen boys would be in F1.

Like Rosberg who couldn't mentally cope with looking at a fuel readout for more than 3 laps. Back in 86 they did that AND the mental calculation of HOW to drive with the changing fuel while manually shifting a 1400car that weighed 25% less than todays cars.

Obviously people who excel over others in that kind of insane environment are real men with charisma.


More than anything, we shouldn't forget that in the old times drivers could go to neighbouring garages for a punch up, smoke cigarettes like Chinese factories and have a girl or two on each arm!

I can only imagine what would have happened to Massa after the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix when he rudely slapped Lewis on the shoulder if it had happened in the good old days "when men were men." He would have learnt in graphic visions of black and blue why Lewis is a black belt.

...As for MALDONADO, his obituary would have been long read, otherwise there might have been a whodunit with the countryside brimming with mystery and highly consternated police still peering under bushes through magnifying glasses.

Thank goodness for the new era and tamer driverss!


Exactly my thoughts. People don't change, the surroundings do...


You need to put everything in context. I think I have seen several comments in a previous articles and posted this myself - modern F1 reflects the existing reality.

Modern movies are about "special effect" rather than content. The food is plastic. People go to Starbucks together and yet never talk to each other, you see them only engaging with their iPhones. There are rarely any real values expressed.

Modern F1 fits perfectly the existing reality.


I disagree there are plenty of great mordern films with great content such as Lockstock, Snatch, The Dark Knight to name a few of many.

We all love good old days don't we?

Having said that I prefer the old F1 in general, not just the drivers.

I prefer the conflicts, intense rivals instead of people who work for big corporations who don't express much.


My iPhone gives me the F1 timing app so I say it gets a pass 🙂

Matthew Cheshire

I suspect that if Senna were as accessible as today's drivers and used/marketed as they are, it would erode his standing with fans.

It's pretty dull watching drivers handling the media in the manner that the teams expect. Press conferences have only been interesting when Webber was around. Now we can only hope for an amusing silence from Kimi.

Senna was driven to win at any cost. Unfortunately today, he would be as dull as the rest, speaking off the script to keep favour with the teams to earn the best seat.

On that thought, would F1 be more interesting with louder exhausts, or if they booted out all of the media mangers?


I'm sorry I must have missed something big when it came to Webber and the press when following his f1 career. I can't ever remember him being that 'interesting' with the media. A lot of people say that but personally I never saw it.


Sorry Peter but they are all drones and webber was the exception while he was in F1. Drivers like Hamilton are more interested in making sure their hair is in place or earrings are pointed towards a light source. The apitamy of self indulgence has certainly changed over the years and Hamilton leads the way. Kind of sickening to be honest in my opinion.


Drones? While I understand where you're coming from with regards to Hamilton, for me it's about how they express themselves in the car and to me Hamilton is the most fantastic driver to watch in action.

Besides they're not all 'drones' as you say. Jenson Button seems like a very affable and likeable individual. Certainly someone you'd have a drink with!


I'm certainly in the camp that the media managed drivers are hindering the image of the sport. I can understand the drivers at the back of the grid not coming across as too passionate.

But drivers and teams in the top 10 are definitely coming across as analytical and dry. Maybe it is because the sport has changed and rather than driving at the limit, drivers are managing tyres, fuel, etc to a much greater extent.

But c'mon they are so lucky to have their jobs! Only a handful of individuals on this planet get to do what they do. Compare that to other sports where 100s (football) get to compete at the top. Surely that is reason enough for them to come across as more passionate and talk about the thrills and excitement of what they do.

Nice topic James.


We follow this sport but come on it's not a religious quest for who's a True Believer versus a consort of the Infidels.


Different times and a different generation, James. I don't think Senna's "ruthlessness" would be tolerated now.


IJW. I think you are correct here, the way Senna terrified opponents to move aside and if they didn't he'd punt them out of the way would not be tolerated now. Senna was a great driver of his time but his great flaw was his belief that he almost had a right to be greatest and it was often his undoing.We get very emotional about him but is not at least some of that generated by the huge outpouring of grief that the world witnessed at his funeral? The same thing happened with Princess Diana.


Agree. I find the current 'canonization' of Senna to be jarring. Celebrate his genius by all means but let's not pretend he was perfect in the sporting sense.


I wish people would read the article before commenting. Marko mentioned speed, charisma and ruthlessness. All 3 traits easily identifiable in Senna.

Your comment is what is jarring here.


Not at all, and I did read the article. I disagree with Marko (and you, I suppose) that Senna's ruthlessness was something to be admired.

David in Sydney

Is Maldonado the modern Senna?


but without brains


Agree 200%

I dont think the desire to win of drivers is any different, lets not forget the path to F1 is so difficult, you need the speed and the backing to get through numerous series. Mentally with all the media and marketing commitments I think F1 "off the track" is a much harder job today

I think its all too easy to look at times of old with rose tinted glasses eg prost vs senna or hunt vs lauda but modern F1 is so different its not possible to compare

In times of old the teams did not rely so heavily on marketing, teams existed with a fraction of the personel, there was no computer strategy modelling, CFD, etc etc

Now when a driver is in front of the media they represent masses of people and there every word is scrutinised

GP drivers of today are conditioned physically so they dont carry an unevessary gram of fat

I have a friend who attended the british GP way back and was drinking in a camp site the night before a gp with james hunt...

I dont think comparing drivers of today eith the past is possible, they had an easier job.


I agreed with everything you said... right about the time you said it was easier. remember that some of them (Eg. James Hunt) didn´t know whether they would came out alive of the car by the end of the GP...


Dangerous is not the same as difficult. Being a front jackman is more dangerous than being an aerodynamicist, but trying to find another half second a lap on the car mid season is more difficult...


Indeed, coupled with the fact that his tragic end has meant a lot of his less savoury moments have been glossed over or forgiven, in a way that Schumacher's weren't for example.


Fascinating piece James. Whilst I can't speak for Senna's time as I've only been watching F1 since 1999, my perception as an armchair viewer who follows the sport closely is that drivers seem reluctant to give their opinion or else dont have many opinons..

I hear far too much "for sures" and sometimes find the corporate plugging a bit patronizing (what a certain German did on the podium at Sepang springs to mind)

In recent times, Mark Webber is one of the few who comes across as intelligent, articulate , and not afraid to give his opinion. Jenson also comes across well, as does Alonso.

Whilst I don't doubt todays drivers are passionate, it quite often doesnt show on the tv. As somebody who works with the drivers, I'd be fascinated to know if they are better company off camera??


Is he having a laugh? If he is indeed questioning whether anyone on the grid has the same passion and fighting spirit for racing, he only has to watch thr duel between hamilton and rosnerg in Bahrain this year. Hamilton showed why he is considered one of the best and fastest by holding off rosberg who was on faster tyres and had DRS. It was a total masterclass and hamilton's fighting spirit and will to win was demonstrated.

James Clayton

How are drivers supposed to project passion for a sport they can only practice within FIA prescribed hours, anyway?

The testing limitations mean we will never see another legend like Schumacher, testing day after day after day. And we will never get to witness another serious Rookie challenge like Hamilton, who had thousands of miles under his belt before he started his first Grand Prix.

Drivers these days CANT dedicate their entire life to their sport like they could in the past; so they aren't given the opportunity to show their dedication.


Hmmm, my opinion is that Senna was magic every single time he got in a race car. Hamilton has great, great moments.... Bahrain was a truly stunning piece of racing between he and Rosberg.

However, he has equally had many boring and disappointing moments. His head drops and he tends to simply give up and have a moan about it. Senna never ever gave up. And let's be honest, Senna wouldn't have bottled the 2007 championship like Hamilton did. And given the amount of competitive cars Lewis has had since his debut in 2007, I firmly believe Senna would have amassed far more than one solitary championship in the equivalent machinery.

Mclaren 2007 and 2008 had at least the joint most competitive car alongside Ferrari. Slightly quicker if anything. 2009 was a transition year for teams but 2010 they had a race winning car several times. 2011 and 2012 he was nowhere with a good car. Senna would never have had such poor results with the same cars Lewis has had.

Just my two cents of course, but I'm sure most would agree that although Hamilton may be similar to Senna in terms of sheer one lap speed, there is a gulf in class wider than the gulf of Mexico between the two.

In the end it is going to take a far superior 2014 Mercedes car to get Hamilton the second world championship he should have won years ago.


Wayne Gretzky? Who is that? Some lame ice hockey player? We are talking about a global sport here in F1, so lets have analogies from other global sports like football (soccer) or tennis, not some fourth rate sport that is only really of any relevance to a few Canadians and people who live near the North Pole.


So who did Senna win his titles with? Did he not have the best car in each of his title-winning seasons? The McLaren in 1988 was most dominant, winning 15 of 16 races (only missing out on the 16th b/c of a double DNF).

In Senna's rookie year, age 24, he was in 3 accidents. So I'm not sure if he would've walked it in 2007, seeing as he was beaten on points by Prost in both '88 and '89 (back then they had the best 11/16 rule, but since 1991 all results have counted in the DWC), in his 5th and 6th seasons.

There is a big difference between a car capable of wins, and a car capable of challenging for the title.

I think Senna was an amazing driver, possibly the best ever. But I don't think he was untouchable, not at all. I believe the current level of driver talent is probably the highest it's ever been in the history of F1. It's the way it is with every pro sport, the general level of ability has gone way up. Would Wayne Gretzky be as dominant in today's NHL as he was in the run-and-gun 80's?? No chance. He'd still be a great player, but he wouldn't be scoring 200+ points per season, like he did on four occasions. He wouldn't be anywhere close. I believe it would be the same with Senna in F1 ... he'd still be great, but maybe not as dominant as he was in the 80's/90's.


I agree with 2010. Hamilton threw it away with silly crashes in Monza and Singapore, not to forget mistakes in Korea and Brazil that let Alonso through.


Even Senna botched up on several occasions. One to remember is when he led in Monaco by almost a minute, had a lapse in concentration and parked his car in the railing...

Neither was he in a position as Hamilton was in his first season in F1, where he could contend for the championship.

But Senna was an outstanding driver. To be remembered for the passion with which he drove.

That same passion made him do great things (which will never be repeated) and stupid things, like driving into Prost.


Your guess is as good as anyone. Senna drove quite a few competitive machine including the most dominant car in F1 history. Also Hamilton was a rookie, so talking bottling it is rather misguided. Lets not forget that previous drivers entered the sport much later and older. All these arguments are moot and create in interesting discussion non the less. Head down moments happen to anyone. If Alonso's head is down and is not competitive, then its the car, if its Hamilton by your assessment, then its him. What is the basis for these assessments? Just guesses I say, like how well would Senna have performed in this era. Lets celebrate each era because they are all special in their own way.


hear hear formula! if passion hit him in the face he wouldn't know what hit him.


This has to be the best observation for a long time. Greats Senna, Fangio, Moss and some others. Whatver the car they seems to be able to just 'pick it up' and do great things with it.

Yes. The drivers are good today 'but' one gets tired of hearing 'what is wrong with this and that' as a reason not to be fast.

I don't include Alonso in this, he is a racer, gets more from a bad car, tells things as they are with no excuse.


dont kid yourself Neil there are 22 racers on the grid of varying talents and whilst Alonso drives a poor car better than most- his political mind games & his comments of driving above 100% all the time are self serving and beating on that very small chest.. Hes not a believable guy which often detracts from his obvious ability & therefore he's not one of those old school racers that dont get caught up in the BS- in fact he thrives in it

Andrew Carter

And those greats wouldn't be able to pick up a bad car and get exceptional results from it on a weekly basis today any more than the current drivers could.

People keep making this silly comparison to yesteryear without ever thinking about just how much more technical and heavily analysed it is now, reducing the performance margins considerably.


i don't quite agree with that: in Fangio's times, the difference between 1st and 2nd in the grid, were usually around 1 second, and today drivers fight for 0,2seconds. What i mean is that those cars were... "broader" (for lack of a better word) in their specs. Newest drivers has to tune up the cars in really really small details. i guess 1psi of pressure in the tyres can make a big difference in a lap nowadays, but not that much in past times. I guess is safe to assume that giving Fangio in his prime the W05 from hamilton, he'll still be a front runner, as if Hamilton drove the W196, still be a serious contender. It's a better player Maradona than Messi? well, they played in different times, the defense wasn't so tight back then, but the ball was heavier, so everyone has their handicapps and advantages...


Dont open that can of worms. .. lol

Joseph Karani

Alonso does complain too. So I don't agree with your assessment. Maybe being a fan stops you being objective. Senna was ruthless but would his driving be tolerated today? I doubt it. Would we be talking as much about him today if he wasn't killed? Most probably but in a different context.


Joseph. As it happens I am not a great Alonso fan ... but I like his way of getting the max out of any situation and no excuses .... he gets on with the job.


Alonso complains sometimes when the car is not competitive, as Senna did, to put pressure on the team.

Neil refers to another kind of complaining. You will never hear Alonso complaining on set up or the tyres not suiting his style, or on a lack of balance, etc etc. He doesn't care how the car feels, as long as it is quick, because he can drive anything to the maximum. You will never listen these tipical technical comments you hear from other drivers, because he doesn't want to give clues to the competition, it is a psichological thing. Is like saying: "throw whatever at me, I will extract the maximum in whatever situation".

In my view, there are only two other drivers from modern F1 with this kind of ruthless and unmoved approach: Senna and Schumacher.


I agree neil 🙂


I find the over-glorification of past drivers a bit annoying. Sure, they were great but putting down present day drivers in order to make the old guys seem mythical is stupid.

Senna was great but so are the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel.

The less Marko talks, the better it is for everybody.


doesn't he sound like he has never lived?


In twenty years time, all the fans who grew up with drivers such as Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel will be telling the future generation that their drivers don't have the same qualities as those three aforementioned.

The drivers of this era learnt from Senna but at the same time lack some characteristics and vice versa.

It's much the same with players such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Each player is/has dominating/dominated a different era and the argument is never ending.

Each era has/had what it takes/took to win world championships and if that's the case then it doesn't matter what they lack as long as they get the job done.


That's so true. Just a few months ago I was reading some older NBA player praising James on the one hand, but at the same time saying that he wouldn't be so good only 10-15 years earlier when things were more physical.

And so it goes.


I don't see how how you can get to F1 without talent and an intense desire to win. Perhaps the difference now is that, with the demands that modern PR and training schedules place on drivers, they really have very little opportunity to let the personalities shine through? In the good old days, did the average driver have more charisma, or simply more leeway to say/do what he wanted? I'm not sure I get the 'gadgets' thing. How does that dampen the desire to win?


Alonso is by far the closest current driver to Senna in the qualities you mention here. In particular, he is strong on charisma and ruthlessness but perhaps has a more Prost-like speed where he excels in the race more than over a single lap. He also has the emotions of Senna, a keen intellect and a strong sense of spirituality through his samurai learnings.

Hamilton has the speed and ruthless side but definitely not the charisma, intellect or spirituality. Vettel has many of these qualities too but Alonso puts more of them together than any other current driver I can think of.


Sorry, but I wouldn't define Alonso as ruthless, he didn't passed Petrov in 2010 for a bunch of laps, Senna would've ran into him if were not possible to pass him (I don't admire Senna's ruthlessness by the way), Alonso earned his WDC by taking care of his car and been conservative, always trying to catch as many points as possible without getting into problems, that is his style (I don't like it either) too much different to Senna's style.


Unfortunately, unlike Senna, Alonso couldn't win the championship simply by crashing into his opponent. He had to get past cleanly without damage and that was not possible.

Have you ever raced karts indoors? If so, then you will know how difficult it can be to get past an opponent cleanly. This is especially the case when you don't have confidence that the person in front will yield when you are far enough alongside to have position. Even with superior skill or equipment this can be difficult. Abu Dhabi is like an indoor kart track in that respect. I have also raced outdoors and can pass other karts much more easily and with virtually no risk of collision. The track layout makes all the difference.

You describe Alonso as conservative but I disagree. He's right on the limit but has great awareness and reactions so can avoid incidents. Remember Spa where Webber overtook him going into eau rouge? 130R at Suzuka where Alonso took MSC at 200MPH? Not exactly conservative. 🙂


I wasn't saying that Senna's behavior was the right one and also I wasn't blaming Alonso for not passing Petrov, I was talking about the definition of ruthless. You say that Alonso is not conservative because he is on the limit but with great awareness to avoid incidents, ruthless refers to lack of compassion (I just looked a dictionary) Senna showed even some lack of respect for his opponent which it can be compared with the definition of ruthlessness, Alonso as you say calculates and respects his opponent, I think we are discussing about semantics, however I still think Alonso tends to be conservative, but that is another discussion.


Alonso at least didn't crash into his rivals on purpose.


Craig-Fernando is a great Sunday driver but he is not special on Saturday. He is a person that has resorted to blackmail to try to get preferential treatment at mclaren & pretended he did not know about crashgate. Senna was ruthless but he was honest and courageous, his actions on the track did the talking not the BS spin off track !- When Senna spoke about things that were wrong in F1 - he did so elequently taking the position of all drivers and all drivers supported him.. Fernando only beats on his little chest talking hes Mr 110% - which does nit exist- he is nothing like Senna definitely not on the human side


Hello, James. How is it possible that this post and many many others with the same misconduct (usually made ​​by this poster and some more) pass without moderation? Double standards?


@ James.

Many thanks for the answer.


Like I said some slip through the net. This one should have been modded in parts, I agree.

You know the rules. Please stick to them and this poster has been told the same


You should go and talk to Kimi, Massa and Hamilton (or more realistically read interviews). Maybe you would stop this stupid thing of Alonso's lack of speed on saturdays. This is one of the greatest nonsenses one can read in this site. Even Hamilton, who according to people here is the fastest of all over a lap, when asked about that, says Alonso's biggest quality is pure speed (if you ask, I think I can find you a link where he says, in 2010 and asked about what quality he admires from his rivals to title (Alonso, Vettel and Webber), that he only admires Alonso's "pure speed" which, he says, Vettel and Webber lack). For goodness sake, not even statistics can back this nonsense, as thanks to the regulations each team has two cars, which means there are two drivers driving the same machinery.

But I guess you are not interested in going deeper into this subject and maybe find you should stop repeating this saturday cliche, as you deeply dislike Alonso.


"Fernando is a great Sunday driver but he is not special on Saturday" - didn't I already say that?

The full story of what you allege as 'blackmail' has yet to be told. One day we will know the full story and you may well be proven to be correct but I suspect the true story will show that Hamilton and more importantly Dennis played a big part in what happened and will share much of the blame.

I think you are also viewing Senna through rose-tinted spectacles to be honest. He was as politically savvy as Alonso, and as Ron Dennis has said before in relation to these guys, "competitive animals know no limits". They have both been known to bend the rules.

I didn't know these guys personally so I'm not qualified to speak further to your points. You sound as though you knew/know them both otherwise your speculation is no more correct than mine.


Craig, I dont see Senna through rose coloured glasses in fact I was a huge Prost fan, so quite often I opposed Sennas actions on track. His charisma ( thats something Alonso will never have) off track was used in a way that was very political maybe even more political than anyone today. However he presented himself in an honest , forthright way presenting facts accurately as he and other drivers saw them- when you do this people tend to respect you even when you might have another agenda yourself!-. Thats the diff- Alonso exaggerates his performances when he does not need to making people question his integrity. People honestly need to get a grip if they think anyone before or after Senna could do what he did over single lap in any conditions. Comeon speak up - I dare you !!- Over a race Prost was often a match but we are talking about a 4 time WC!!..if you dont disagree whats your argument.


"“Fernando is a great Sunday driver but he is not special on Saturday” – didn’t I already say that?"

The thing is that it is not true. If you do a deep analysis, his head to head with teammates, how those teammates did against other drivers, the times curve during practice and qualifying, this is how fast the drivers get to speed, how their times evolve as the weekend goes on, how quickly they adapt to set up and tyre changes, etc.

If a deep analysis is done (I have done mine), it is hard to argue against Alonso being the most naturaly quick and talented. He is the fastest of all getting up to speed, and the fastest (probably pretty even with Hamilton) in low grip and wet conditions. The other drivers keep catching during the weekend, and in Q3 they manage to reduce the gap, and even close it in the case of Hamilton in 2007 (they ended 8-9 in head to head qualifying). Hamilton and Trulli are the only drivers to have put any preassure on Alonso in qualifying.


each person on earth is unique! can't you understand that? f1 is about driving cars fast so timers are used to measure that and compare them with the field.


I'm not sure what point you are making here?

I can indeed understand that everyone is unique. I can also understand that F1 is about driving fast and I also understand that timers are used.

So... ?


@aveli, let's see if you can see the contradiction. Some quotes from your last ramble:

"i do not understand how you measure intelligence."


"you are also wrong about hamilton’s level intelligence."

You say I am wrong and yet you don't know how to measure intelligence. LOL. I can't be bothered explaining it to you but plenty of people would agree that Alonso is the most intelligent racer out there just now. His mental capacity while racing at 200MPH+ is simply exceptional.

Why don't you wake up and realise this thread is all about comparing "legends" of the past with current drivers. If you don't agree with James's article then don't comment on it!


@ craig chamberlain,

if you watch this video, you would realise hamilton's intelligence when he recognises that senna's car was set up too stiff and on a different occasion points out to brundle that senna would have to go into tabac single handed had he selected a lower gear. senna went in the corner while the car was in neutral.


i do not understand how you measure intelligence. vocabulary is definitely not a measure of intelligence.

if you were aware that each human being is unique why go out of your way to compare a single character of the past with 22 of today's? why not compare that character with the rest of the same era? did brundle, blundell, hill, patresi, letho, berger and nanini have any of those characteristics you claim alonso has in common with senna's?

you are also wrong about hamilton's level intelligence. from what he has said in that video, i can only suggest that hamilton is capable of setting up senna's mp4/4 better than senna managed with his 'superior' intelligence and driving it faster than senna managed.

wake up, look into the past now and again but live in the present.


@aveli, you are talking in riddles!

I think you are also getting me confused with Helmut Marco as it was him who was comparing drivers across era's. I was simply drawing a comparison between Alonso and Senna, showing where I believe they are similar and where they are different. I'm very well aware that they are different people and that we are all unique etc etc.


with all due respect, why are you comparing the character of drivers from the past with those of today? look at your own character, has it not changed through different phases of your life?

a combination of genetic and environmental factors influence character. i think you know this too.:-)


Exactly! I think that what has changed the most the way we see drivers is that today the are much more limited in what they can say and can not. Fernando Alonso used to be the most sincere and direct driver early in his career, but even him had to change that to acomplish all the F1 standards.


I agree. In many ways,the hatred that people have towards Alonso has made him an under rated quantity. In 2007, he had the mental state to fight for the title even though his team boss was against him. I'm not sure any other driver could do that.


Here we go again overhyping Alonso, Alonso is not close to Senna. Alonso needs No1 status, something Senna did not needed or his team mate to crash in the wall for him so he could win a race. Alonso is slow in qualy, something Senna was not. Senna fought epic battles something Alonso is not involved in unlike Hamilton. Do i need to continue ?.. STOP OVERHYPING Alonso!


Senna had Elio de Angelis kicked out of Lotus because he didnt want a competative team mate. Aside from going to the all conquering McLaren with Prost and eventually pushing him out who were these other joint number 1 drivers he raced with?


Good points, "me", Doug and Nandy. I'll add that in MacLaren he had an extra car just in case whilst Prost had only one, plus many more mechanics working with him. And yet Prost still managed to win 1990, having lost 1989 by a very small margin. IMO, from 86 to 94 there were three perhaps not as fast but, at their peak, more complete drivers than Senna: Schumacher, Prost, and Piquet.


What about Alonso in 2004 at Renault ?.


Senna needed Honda to favour him, thus slowly edging Prost out of the team.


@Still I Rise. "Alonso needs No1 status, something Senna did not needed". You mean like when Senna blocked Warwick from joining Lotus? Oh yes.


Alonso doesn't need no 1 status as he is proving right now! Do you honestly think Kimi would be no 2?

Alonso was not aware of piquet's crash orders. That was clearly obvious at the end of the race when Alonso expressed incredulity at the "luck" he had received by the safety car.

I already said he was more Prost-like than Senna-like in terms of speed (ie. race vs qualy) but you don't get points for pole position do you...

Epic battles? What have you been watching over the last few years? Alonso defines the word "battle" - there is no fiercer competitor on the grid! Some of the classic battles of the last 10 years involve Alonso. "Relentless" is a word used often by commentators to describe his approach.

No, you don't need to continue because clearly you don't have a clue what you are talking about!


"Alonso was not aware of piquet’s crash orders. That was clearly obvious at the end of the race when Alonso expressed incredulity at the “luck” he had received by the safety car."

Finally somebody noticed it!! Thanks a lot for your common sense regarding the crashgate. I was looking for an opinion based on Alonso's comments after the race, and finally here it is. You are totally spot on.


@Still I Rise, clearly you see what you want to see. The singapore crash you mention, Alonso was not aware of it in advance.

Alonso assumes no 1 status through charisma and leadership - there is a difference. Try googling for "alonso epic battle" and you'll see plenty of examples.

Try to keep an open mind if you can.


Alonso does not need No1 status ?, tell me about Ferrari with Massa ?, McLaren and Hamilton, Grosjean at Renault in 2009 and both in 2005 and 2006 ?. - Alonso was aware of teh Piquet crash, after the race they interviewed Alonso and you could see it all over his face that he knew about it. - Then name me few epic battle Alonso fought similar like Hamilton vs Raikonen, lol. Alonso is good but don't exaggerate.

kenneth chapman

marko's comments are pretty much correct insofar as we have all witnessed this move away from the on track 'do or die' commitment to a whole different set of judgemental values.

this stems from the ever increasing part that technology plays in achieving the highest possible level of superiority between protagonists.

in this all consuming drive to create a 'show' by introducing gimmickry it has robbed the sport/business of the basic elements, all out racing from,start to finish.

i don't necessarily proscribe to the 'drivers can't do it anymore' school of thought as i believe that if they were let off the leash we would most certainly see that old fighting spirit back as good as anything that we've seen in the past.

the last ten laps of bahrein more or less proves that point. one of the greatest elements of farce is the pirelli tyre fiasco. the whole tyre situation should be rethought along with the fuel flow metering. give these drivers the tools,ease the current restrictions and give them the right environment to go racing and we could all be pleasantly surprised. will it happen? i very much doubt it, but it is nice to dream sometimes.


you and marco live on another world. why can you just live in the present and leave the future and the past to stay where they are? the world will always evolve and so will technology, like it or not.

kenneth chapman

@ aveli....you have missed the point entirely. i have no problems with the current technology and i have stated that, ad infinitum, in the past.

what i disagree with is the gimmickry, the 'driver puppet mentality' and the restrictions that are imposed re tyres and fuel flow metering.

i suggest that you read my post again, then pause and think about it before rushing to such an ill informed opinion. why do you think that the last ten laps of bahrein was so enthusiastically embraced with almost universal acclaim? well obviously you don't know so i will tell you....because they had enough fuel and [only] just enough life left in their tyres to make a race of it. that is what they did and it was excellent. great wheel to wheel racing, inclusive of the new technology.


marco's points are not correct. compare like for like. were there any characters like ranna racing against him or before him? why compare characters from the past with the present ones? it's crazy!


with all due respect, i have retread your post, thought about it for 2 minutes and still think you live on another planet. first of all i do not see vocabulary as a measure of intelligence, i am not fooled by it. there are numerous sports in this world, different in so many ways and yet enthusiastically followed by fans.

it doesn't matter what the rules are, so long as all the competitors face the same challenge, competition will be fierce and fans would find it exciting. i find it excruciatingly painful to accept your reasons for the last 10 laps of bahrain, hamilton didn't successfully defend his position because his tyres were in a good condition and he had enough fuel. perez didn't finish on the podium for the same reason. it is the combination of the competitive spirit in the drivers and their ability as well as the track layout and the proximity of the cars. so long as the rules are fair enough to give all teams the same opportunity, there will be exciting races at different parts of the season. why do you think wet races are so different from dry races?


I suppose knowing that any race could result in your last day on earth would be enough to bring out ‘the fighting spirit of legends’ – and raise their levels of ‘passion’.

However, we don’t want a return to the ‘good-old-days’ of fragile machinery.

So how about combining new tech with old school excitement and recreating those fireballs and somersaults of yesteryear via overlaid CGI in real-time?

Any driver committing an offence worthy of penalty points could simply be black-flagged and forced to retire ‘gracefully’ instead. On-screen his ‘demise’ could be explained by simulated mechanical failure and a horrendous accident involving him alone.

FPS computer games with their NPC’s do this kind of thing wonderfully well so why not incorporate that technology in F1. One could have a darn good laugh at the likes of Pastor and of course he’d be back for the next race to entertain us once again.


Great post James, and thanks for all your work on this site in bringing F1 to us.

In my view, this last week has brought 80's / 90's Formula 1 back front and centre. V12 engines, manual gearbox's, noise, controversy, spectacle, monstrous mechanical machines, that we all could clearly see needed supreme skill and total bravery to pilot...

One could say - the rose tinted glasses view - but like falling in love, that's what many of us fell for in the first place...

And that's before we speak of Senna... Nigel Roeback once wrote, in describing Senna: "I race, therefore I am" Perfect. For me, his presence, his human failings and, ultimately, his ability to truly convey what it really was to be a racing driver, means that he was, is and will be unparalleled.

We have a saying in Ireland in Gaelic, when a loved one passes: "Ni bheidh a leitheidh ann aris" which means when translated: "His like will never be seen again.... "

Like many things in life, we still watch... because it's our sport, and like in Bahrain when it was about the racing, we sometimes enjoy...but the question I ask, when all is said and done, do we still feel that passion?...

20 years on...and no one comes close...

Thanks James.


+1 and thanks to James for an excellent change of pace and thought.

John's comments above bring another name into focus: James Hunt. Bit of a rogue as well and yet another 'candle in the wind' eh?


imagine if all involved in f1 had the same thinking......f1 cars would still look the same as the first cars to race. is that what you'd rather have?


For once I agree with Marko. I have infinite respect to those drivers that put all in the line knowing that a single mistake would kill them yet they raced to the limit.

Watching a tribute to Senna and clips of other drivers that lost their lives or got injured in this great sport ours we call F1, I can't understand why F1 community (FIA) does nothing to remember them. It would make sense if FIA dedicates a week to remember those drivers, Marshals, fans that lost their lives so that we could participate and/or enjoy the sport today safely.

As much as I respect the drivers of today, it would be a disrespect to compare them to those heroes of our past.

Alexander Supertramp

So today's drivers are not as much heroes as the likes of Senna, Prost, Mansell,.. because they never risked their lives? Is it their fault that today's racing is much safer than it was ever the case? Or is it a bad thing in general that F1 is much safer nowadays? I'm sorry but I find your mindset really ridiculous..


I am never against any safety in F1. In fact I am glad that there is safety because I wouldn't imaging watching F1 knowing that there is a higher chance that my favorite driver (any driver) could be killed. Like I said as much as I respect today's drivers, comparing them to those that raced on the limit knowing that they could be killed just in single mistake is disrespectful.

I have lots of respect for today's drivers, but are they as much heroes as the likes of Senna, Prost, Mansell,.. no!

Know your hero, cos I know mine.


I would say at least a third of them are not the equals to yesterday's drivers, because they don't risk their lives. Alonso, Vettel, Lewis, Kimi, Massa, JB and a few others would all still be out there if racing were still very dangerous.

BUT...Maldanado? Chilton? Perez? And I wonder about even Vergne. The point is, it's an entirely different proposition to take up F1 as a rich boy's hobby when you believe you will not die, than it is to strap in when a few drivers were dying every year.


I never thought I'd say this.

Helmut is right.


Marko won Le Mans driving a Porsche 917. That tells me all I need to know about him.


Totally agree, Marko is in racing terms, legendary and he does know what he's talking about.

There was an excellent piece in Motorsport a few years ago, where Brian Redman described driving the 917 at night on the Mulsanne, serious stuff. These were pure beasts and for Marko to win Le Mans speaks volumes.

Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion, but in this case some opinions are more entitled than others.


Well... I have never felt that comparisons between different generations can be justified.

Now and "then" are completely different times (hey, it’s 20 years already!). All was different, time was different, people were different, world was different.

We do not compare modern software engineers to those, who started it all with punch cards… we do not compare aircraft pilots from WWII era and today… why? Because it is pointless and actually doesn’t provide any clarity to the questions asked.

I do NOT say Senna was not special – he was, but comparing him and modern drivers is a bit inappropriate.

Alexander Supertramp



It may seem that 20 years is not a lot, and we actually have active drivers from that era, but in reality it is a lot.

The world and technology evolved so much since then...

KING Arthur 2 U


Neither would you compare Maradonna and Messi. Each generation will have its own heroes


It certainly has - still, lets get a bit nostalgic............

1994 was the year Senna died, Nelson Mandela won the SA elections, a young idealistic politician called Tony was elected Labour leader, and a couple of brothers from Burnage, Manchester and their mates were creating a rumble with their power-pop tunes and headline grabbing attitude..........

So with hindsight, 1994 was the year when Cool Britannia, Oasis, New Labour and F1 emerged into a brave new world...........


Personally, I find it far easier to pretty well ignore anything that Marko says.


the only thing right about him is his right foot and right hand or right testicle...


that fighting for every inch and sacrificing everything for it

It sounds like Marko is saying F1 was better when people sometimes got killed. I've noticed this rhetoric in quotes from a few drivers of that era and I find it pretty distasteful.

Alexander Supertramp

You see the same here. It's beyond me!


Mark Webber was one of those guys reminding me of the Senna generation. Mark had a more difficult path into F1 coming from Australia with perhaps less sponsorship opportunities.

He frequently regarded himself as a man among the boys.. especially towards Vettel.

I think this is what current drivers lack, that hardship they had to go through to get to F1. All these driver programmes make it too easy:

-drivers walk on a career path that is 7-8 years long

-they behave like the programmes dictate them to do

None of these drivers had to sell their house to keep driving, or had to find it on their own in a foreign country. These levels of hardship yes, make the drivers more committed, not wanting to give up for what they fought so hard for. Also in the end perhaps they respect eachother much more, for having shared similar hardship.

It´s interesting that the very driver programmes that Marko helped establish, produces these corporate robots without personality... the ones that he now criticizes.


Agree - he is part of the problem creating the corporate, moulded, afraid-to-have-a-contraversial-opinion, always towing the party line, dull robots that infect modern sports (not just F1). That's why the likes of Webber and Raikkonen v2.0 not only stand out but get such strong crowd support (although I note that KR has quietened down again since returning to the red team - damn it).

Look, Helmut is entitled to his opinion, even though he is clearly wrong. As a previous post points out, the battle going on between Rosberg and Hamilton is pretty empassioned - but probably accompanied by equal measures of frustration at their inability to just charge hard with this modern tip-toe fuel conserving formula.

Alexander Supertramp

I understand what you're trying to say, but what's the added value of hardship to the sport? I couldn't care less about driver's background stories. And for the matter, there are the similar stories of Vettel and Hamilton's families making some pretty big sacrifices to give them the opportunity to race. People today are still chasing their dreams and risking a lot to achieve them. There are dads out there who are risking a lot to have their sons become the next big thing and most of them are failing.

I can only agree with you on the negative effects of the corporatization of F1.


"It´s interesting that the very driver programmes that Marko helped establish, produces these corporate robots without personality… the ones that he now criticizes."



"It´s interesting that the very driver programmes that Marko helped establish, produces these corporate robots without personality… the ones that he now criticizes"

That's a very good point, but in his dubious defence he can't very well help someone to struggle to get into F1.

He could however help nurture talent without the PR brain-washing element.


To be honest, from what I see, on track every driver gives it his all, I never get the sense that so and so isn't trying their best that's till the Pirells give up the ghost.

Plus we know the drivers train hard and put in the hours at the gym and simulator.

I guess what Marko is comparing modern drivers with Senna is in personality.

Yes Senna was a very intense bloke that didn't like smiling and hated losing, these attributes can be associated with passion and hunger.

As for modern F1 drivers, they tend to joke with one another and are very vast in the PR department which can be interpreted as a happy go lucky personality in some quarters.

But as always said, Senna was a one-of-a-kind pilot and character so everybody won't be seen in a favourable light compared to him and so everybody should just be themselves and not try to be a mini-Senna.



Thing is, the likes of Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme, James Hunt, Jonsey, Our Nige, Damon, DC, Jenson, Mark, Michael, Sebastian and now Daniel are very "Anglo Saxon" and don't have that mystique that South Americans like Senna, Reutemann, Fangio et al had, but that's not a criticism, it's just the different cultural background between the emotive Hispanic/Latin world of South America and the straight talking, no nonsense, slightly cold but very rational approach of the UK, Northern Europe and Australasia.

In other words, South Americans always come across as somewhat exotic to us Inglese [sic] because they wear their hearts on their sleeves in a way the pragmatic Brits/Germans/Aussies/Kiwis don't, so perhaps that accounts as why Senna has that air of mystique that the likes of Sebastian don't.

Just a theory.


@ Gaz boy

To be fair, I think I would add Schumi to the category of drivers that were mystique.


I've yet to be convinced that "Ruthlessness" is an attribute to be admired.

I've no doubt Senna had that attribute in abundance, and that is why I personally never liked the man and his racing ethos.


Well, yes. But then, nice guys typically don't win multiple WDC's.

Remember Bahrain, 2014? Rosberg was way too nice with Hamilton when attacking(the risk of causing a collision always on his mind). Hamilton was not so nice when defending. More ruthless, if you like.

So I think Hamilton is more likely to win WDC this year.


Dear Marko, maybe this is because the current form of F1 demands drivers with IT gadgets!?! Duhhh

To a certain extend I too think the balance between real racing and a strategy game is not entirely right at the moment. For instance, I would like to see the communication dissapear between the pit and the car. I think that hold drivers back too much and make them puppets at times.


I find it odd that no one talks about the words that used to come out of Senna's mouth - especially when he spoke about unusual events e.g. the qualifying lap in Monaco, or even his explanations for crashing into Prost, etc. They have such deep meaning, such a sense of enigma and almost a haunted feeling. Whenever I watch any film or documentary about him, this is the most striking aspect of his personality, and in comparison, today's drivers' interviews and talks appear to be very shallow and unspectacular. What amazes me even more is that he only learnt English after moving to Europe.

In summary, an amazing guy, the likes of which don't come around often. True legend and an inspiration.


I'd agree. I think Vettel is the one driver of the modern era that comes closest. He's the only driver who I've seen really be reflective in a more metaphysical way after a race (e.g. India 2011).


This is utter rubbish from Mr Marco. If anything is the corporate culture of F1 teams and their bosses that are trying to turn the sport into a toothless, colorless and pay per view show.

The drivers have the winning mentality, at least the ones that have earned their F1 seat. They want to drive as fast as possible. They want to be the best. Unfortunately the corporate nature of the sport is changing it to a more risk adverse activity that generates income. There is no room for "bravery". The only thing that sustains the interest of the fans is the brilliant minds of the drivers and the exceptional technology produced by the teams.

Give it a few years...

Alexander Supertramp



1. Motor racing is relatively safe now. If you grew up in the 1950s, 60s, or early 70s deaths of drivers in F1 were common. We haven't had a death for 20 years, and there was a 12 year gap before those. So you no longer need to have a passion which over-rides any instinct for self preservation.

2. Modern telemetry means the pits tell the driver when to push and when not to it's less about the driver's relationship with the car. Also modern drivers only drive the car at race weekends because testing has been abolished so the relationship between driver and car isn't what it was. Less "Jockey" more "Operator"

3. Budgets have got bigger (Williams employs far more people as a midfield team today than it did winning championships 20 years ago). Drivers are spokesmen for the sponsors "young driver" programs are as much about building someone who is an asset for sponsors (being the person Banco Santander, or Vodafone, or PDVSA or Red Bull wants to be represented by) as they are about skill behind the wheel. Even if Vettel (say) had the passion of the drivers of the 80s (Lauda, Mansell, Piquet, Prost, Senna) Marko and his team will have taught him not to show it.


Small correction: no *driver* death.

Maybe I'm quibbling, but the marshals will tell you it's still a dangerous sport.


Sorry; you're absolutely right, and I'm only looking at F1 (although drivers are getting into F1 at younger ages and spending fewer years in more dangerous formulae - drivers getting into F1 at 20,21,22 and spending more than a dozen years in F1 is quite common).

My point was that the perceived risk to life and limb is no longer something that needs huge passion to over rule.


Agree. Physical engagement with the vehicle has been replaced by an "e" connection, depriving fans of witnessing the complete personal struggle between man and machine of yesteryear. That physicality was something everyone could wrap their minds around. Great cyber technique leaves spectators cold; it's just not as human as a more analog based sport. It's too bad.


I'd much rather listen to an engineer than suffer through driver banalities. And don't get me started on past pleasures of being right gobsmacked by them fancy techno steering wheels. For the nth time! Man these drivers are tiresome, and even Kimi's shtick needs a nice long rest.

But then, who is the fan of motor racing now? It's increasingly people who themselves grew up with ubiquitous info tech. Maybe they like this show, even if what wizardry is actually shown to them is minimal scraps from the high table.

Honestly, I don't know how much longer I'll be a fan, paying attention now mostly to the politics on a derelict ship at sea.

(Go on, someone tell me to just go away, then)


Maybe just jump overboard? 😉

It is a different generation now with different interests, but I tend to agree with you.

As much as I despise and ignore *real* politics, after watching F1 essentially on my own for almost twenty years I've found that since I've started to visit JA and interact with the local denizens I do have an entirely new perspective and better understanding of the sport, which I think is a good thing.

I do find the goings on behind F1 interesting, if only to explain why things happen the way they do (drivers getting signed to certain teams instead of others for instance).

It's just an aspect of the sport, but (hopefully) the sport itself is still at the core.


Of course they do, they're just not allowed to show any emotions anymore - for fear of their words and actions being twisted by the media. Ridiculous rules and tyres limit any wheel to wheel racing and flat out laps. We were robbed of a great rivalry between Lewis and Fernando due to the 2009 technical changes. Those changes allowed Red Bull to soar past Ferrari and Mclaren in terms of pace. Gives the drivers more freedom, and we'll see more fighting spirit, ruthlessness, rivalries etc.


I’d much rather listen to an engineer than suffer through driver banalities. And don’t get me started on past pleasures of being right gobsmacked by them fancy techno steering wheels. For the nth time! Man these drivers are tiresome, and even Kimi’s shtick needs a nice long rest.

But then, who is the fan of motor racing now? It’s increasingly people who themselves grew up with ubiquitous info tech. Maybe they like this show, even if what wizardry is actually shown to them is minimal scraps from the high table.

Honestly, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be a fan, paying attention now mostly to the politics on a derelict ship at sea.

(Go on, someone tell me to just go away, then)


For someone who wants to be told to go away you're remarkably resistant 😉


Helmut Marko should remember that Ayrton Senna came from a family with money, that could help him all the way to F1. I don't know about Seb or Lewis, but Fernando Alonso suffered A LOT only to make it to single seaters. He had to be a mechanic himself with only 14 years old just to pay a small part of the costs. Sleeping all night in the car while his father drove to the tracks, spending the weekend wherever the race took place and then back to Oviedo just to be at school monday morning. Talk about fighting spirit.

Then look at their F1 careers. Senna sure had a spectacular driving style, most spectacular ever I would say, and cars helped to that sense of emotion, but tell me you have not seen titanic efforts and determination from Alonso. Hell, I have seen him faint after a race just to finish 8th.

Extremely different driving styles in extremely different times, but both with those hard to love but easy to admire personalities. You can sense that arrogant self sufficiency they both show that at first nobody likes, but in time everybody understands. And then you realize how they manage to stand out in the two most brilliant generatins F1 has ever seen.


Fangio's first races were payed by the argentinian government, as was Reutemann (this time via YPF - the argentinian Pedevesa), Barrichello was a well funded driver by Arisco and other brazilian companys... the point is: never in the history of motor racing a driver came out from a Shany town as in football, it is a very expensive sport, and each and every driver came from a rather comfortable middle class than any other sport...

H.Guderian (ALO fan)



It's true it was a slightly different world twenty years ago, but that doesn't change what the drivers are doing.

They're still out there, pushing the pedals and turning the wheel to the best of their ability and so long as there is motorsport that will never change.

Charisma is another thing entirely. It's difficult to quantify, but you either have it or you don't and it has absolutely nothing to do with a driver's ability.

It's easy to say the the old legends had much more charisma than the current crop but I think the reason for that is that what comes across to the fans now just seems somehow more diluted.

I for one tend to blame too much PR interference for that.

Let the drivers speak freely - then you'll see some real personalities again and that's when you'll begin to see some real charisma again.

Is that too much to ask?

Alexander Supertramp

I agree with everything you say. But ask yourself, aren't we hypocrites? The likes of Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton have had their fair share of moments when they were speaking out freely but got that PR boomerang right back in their faces. You don't even have to go a long way back for an example => Seb's tough luck comment. We want drivers to speak their mind but we criticize them the moment they do. Look at alll the stick Vettel got for the multi 21 affair. What's the difference between multi 21 and Senna crashing into Prost to win the title? What about Alonso and Hamilton in Hungary '07? People criticizing the lack of ruthlessness of the current grid are schizophrenic, lazy-romantic and have a very selective memory.


There's a lot of truth to that, but that's the problem when everyone is saying nice things; when all of a sudden someone says something different then it's a real shock.

In my own defence I did (reluctantly) defend Vettel in both cases, but imagine for a moment if every driver had the same "I deserve to take the win, I won't pull over, if you want to pass me then do it yourself" mentality.

Maybe we'd see a little more racing and a little less "after you sir..."


It's a damning indictment of the political correctness that infests the Western World........

There again, the influence of big money is also a factor. Even 20 years, I doubt any team - not even Ferrari! - would spend, inflation adjusted the amount that the Big Four each get through each year. So therefore, be nice to the sponsors, say the right thing, et al........


Mind you, back when Jonsey drove for Frank and Patrick Williams was sponsored by Saudi Air, and Frank told his drivers not to drink champagne on the podium for Arab protocol. How did Alan manage that? I suspect he didn't spray the champers, but had a few sneaky cans of Fosters in the motor-home!


you can't really have drivers' who are real characters because of the corporate approach.

everyone has to be a good corporate player i.e bland as vanilla icecream.

maldonado and to some extent kimi - they're the only drivers not plagued by corporate gobbledygook.

a lot of the real great characters in f1 history would not even get into to f1 these days.

drivers like jones, piquet, villeneuve, amon, schekter, hulme, hunt, peterson and rosberg

always said what they really think. the 'suits' can't handle it. that's what makes it so uninteresting these days.

f1 used to be amazing. then the suits turned up and that was the end of that. usual story.


We have AJ as a commentator in Aus now.

I can't say he's the best commentator ever, but he definitely doesn't mince his words and as far as I'm concerned we're lucky to have him 🙂


I remember when Jonsey was a guest commentator with Murray for the 1995 AUS GP (the last one at Adelaide) - plenty of forceful opinions and straight talking from the Jones boy!

Still, at least here in the UK on the BBC we've got DC, who more often things right - he was very critical of a certain South American even back in 2011..................


Marko's point could be said to be the counter.

With technology conquering modern F1, obviously the tools must be utilized by drivers to achieve results. Those tools were not available in the past.

Without these "aids" as we call them drivers would be same as years past. Another words, the fanaticism has been engineered out. Evolution they call it.


PS Judging by the photo above, why don't Williams have a white jacket with the Martini stripe? The dark blue one modelled above looks a bit like the Red Bull jacket!


Maybe it's just a nice blend of the old and the new.

F1 could take note...


Maybe yes, but the teams and the overly-corporate environment of F1 is mostly to blame.


I tend to agree with Dr Marko...

when I grew up, seeing the likes of Senna, Mansell Prost Piquet Rosberg was akin to watching gladiators in a ring...they were fighting each other as well as fighting the cars; was it Brundle who said the turbo cars weren't dribven as much as you just tried to stop the from killing you - i'm sure i've misquoted it somehow...

These days, yes, since Senna's death safety has improved vastly, thank God for that....but we've lost the personalities, the aura that surrounded these drivesr in the past. For some, maybe a good thing, for others, not so much...

The new F1 has become too clinical, too much technology and information driven...the drivers have not the big personalities or charisma...although that said, times change, and with it the sport does too...but in my opinion there's just something missing...i also believe the whole "corporate image" that most teams and drivers must uphold has contributed to the loss of personalities...

Hamilton vs Rosberg is about the biggest fight we've been able to see in a few years, although i wish Alonso had stayed at Macca and gone head to head for a 2nd year against Hamilton...

Now, Nascar - which i follow when F1 is on a break...that's plain fun nuts and bolts racing with big cars, big engines and bigger egos...these guys are not shy to speak their mind or "get thier own back" on track if necessary...

is this why everyone loved Kimi saying "leave me alone, i know what i'm doing"...we all love a personality...


Marko is right. I have 2 kids, and they are not socialized the same way because of gadgetry.

Drivers now are always "on", dry, bored. Their lives are a marketing exercise and on track there are issues too.

Telemetry hides weak drivers just like the technology does. We have a lot of talent on the grid, but we also have a sterility.

Although I'm no fan of Vettel, his comment about how the new cars sounded like s*** was one of the few moments of the kind of honesty F1 has been missing for years.

H.Guderian (ALO fan)

"Although I’m no fan of Vettel, his comment about how the new cars sounded like s*** was one of the few moments of the kind of honesty F1 has been missing for years"

This have a totally different name to me.

Do you really think Vettel would complain about the engine noise if he was still wining a race after another??? Don't think so.


Complete tosh, generalizing a whole generation, from a man that has no relevance in modern F1, so he simply invents it instead! He brings nothing to F1 but the ability to undermine anyone who is not HIS driver. Yes, very productive contributions from Mr. Marko!


Helmet Marks in "Younger Generation Not The Same as Older Generation" shocker! Whatever will he come out with next? That bears defecate in woods? The Pope might have Catholic leanings?

I suppose, if we must regard his comment as being qualified by some vague insight to the mind of a driver, then one might see some rationale in his thoughts. On the other hand, I'd suggest the average driver is several times better mentally, physically and technically prepared for F1 than the average driver 20 years ago. I'm not sure that's any more significant than any other change in the average person's lifestyle and attitudes over the past 20 years though. Whether that makes F1, or society and life at large, better or worse than it used to be is rather a moot point. Exactly the same comment could have applied to Senna compared to a driver from 20 years before HIS generation.


That's the first time I have ever agreed with something Helmut has said haha


Don't be too concerned, even a stopped clock is right twice a day 😉

Spencer Shand

As much as I think Marko is right, I think it is not a question of today's drivers lacking the charisma of old, it that it's not required anymore. In years past racing must have attracted a certain type of person, willing to risk their lives to race, to drive fast and live free. Ironically the gains in safety post-Senna have opened the door to many more types of people to race. It is no longer a rock star way of life where young men left the "family business" and went their own way, now the business is within. I think Ron Dennis summed up Senna very well when he said that his aura of greatness, his god-like status has come from his short racing life, we did not watch him return like Schumacher and as some suggest tarnish his legacy. We do not remember Prost the same way, even though the battles that he and Senna fought are the stuff of legends. How would we have spoke of Hamilton had his racing career ended in 2009?


I remember a couple years ago on the 30th anniversary of Gilles Villeneuve's death, someone commented on a site (not sure if it was here, or somewhere else) what would he make of F1 today? And today's drivers? They're certainly not like Ayrton or Gilles now anyhow.


I feel that it is not really a product of eras, and it is just the nature of the individuals.

The sport is more expensive now and a consequence of that is that to avoid burning money slowly climbing the ladder, promotion to the top levels tends to be more rapid, but generally there are drivers who will do anything to succeed, others who play percentages to win championships and those who realise there is more to life than just the result of one motor race.

Senna was 30 in 1990, which was when we started to get a stronger sense of his catholicism and its influence on his self belief and also his charity work in Brazil. Our impression of most of the current drivers has been formed from when they were younger than Senna was at the height of his fame. Webber's comments became more interesting as he got to his thirties. I suspect many of the other drivers will be similar as their personalities develop and mature. Someone like Damon Hill tended to have more nuanced things to say, probably as he had more of an independent life before coming to F1 quite late. There are fewer of the new generation drivers who are holding part time jobs, even at racing schools, these days. The focus is on racing. To misquote Mark Spitz, if you spend 8(?) hours a day with your head stuck in chlorinated water then you're unlikely to develop a personality.


Interesting comment from Marko - “Today they grow up with their IT gadgets so they have never developed that down-to-earth race fanaticism – that fighting for every inch and sacrificing everything for it. It is a different generation.”

There is not alot I like about Marko after his definite interfering with the team rivalry between Webber and Vettel but his comment above would appear to be spot on given the age that we all live in. Whether this can be seen as change due to technological progress remains a contentious issue depending on your age I would suspect. Perhaps it would be an idea to ban simulators which must add an enormous cost to a team?


The irony was the similator was introduced when track testing was limited due to costs


The trouble is that in the 1980's and early 90's when Ayrton was driving he was up against many great drivers like Prost, Piquet and especially, for the British fans, Nigel Mansell. We did not appreciate some of his features like charisma so this type of appreciation only came after his death. Neither did the Formula 1 fans have the access to the races and web sites that we have now.

Back then when I went to the British Grands Prix at Silverstone it was all about 'our Nige' and the competition between him, Piquet, Prost and Senna. When Nigel came out on top, as he often did, the place would explode with the fans going mad with excitement. One year when Senna went off the crowd cheered because it meant Mansell would beat him.

Nowadays we have so much more to look at and to appreciate just what a talent Ayrton was. The film released last year and the programs on Sky F1 about him show him in new light and how unlucky Formula 1 was to loose him when he still had so much to offer the sport.

I don't think we will ever see his like again!


this is absolutely, dare i say it? crazy!

how could someone possible conceive such an idea in their mind? senna was one person, one driver out of all the other drivers during his time. were there any other drivers, in his time, as charismatic, ruthless and as fast as senna? or even before his time? how could you possibly compare one person with a whole group of people? what happened to the idea of a fare test? how could technology have possibly influenced personal attributes by so much? there has never been a single person like senna, before him and there will never be another like him in the history of humanity thanks to sexual reproduction.

here is how senna's driving compares with that of hamilton in monaco.



Heh heh 🙂


Drivers don't show much personality these days because they've been coached to say things a certain way. Many drivers probably start to feel a bit paranoid about saying the wrong thing (something the team doesn't want them to say).

It can be seen quite often when drivers are speaking to the media, the 'minder' team representative standing next to them with a recording device of their own, even though there are four microphones right there! Everything is taken a bit too seriously and the sport has been drowned in business.

It is the robotic and sterile environment that has created seemingly passionless drivers.


I agree with Marko - and I extend that critique to the "management" of F1 - including the FIA and team bosses. It is very noticeable that the return of Mr Dennis and a few others has made everyone sit up and watch -- simply because those guys are the ones who have racing in their blood, in their hearts. There are precious few drivers who are more than clever system managers. There could be a qualifying race in cart sprung buggies to sort out the drivers -- that'd be interesting 😉

Alec Tronnick

I don't think that the fear of dying is what makes the difference between the old and the new... Racing today is still 'cut-throat" if you can't perform from race 1, your career in F1 is very limited... There's someone else coming off the conveyor belt.

But as to having the killer instinct, today's drivers are damned if they do and damned if they don't... We consider Pastor to be crazy for trying it fit into gaps that aren't there and Mark Webber as gutless for not having more of a go.

You can't look back to the past - it is what is today.


I always thought that Marko was a one-eyed Vettle fan.


I don't (entirely) agree with Helmut.

My opinion is that today we have grid full of characters just as much as we used to have in the past, all the way to the beginning of racing.

The problem is freedom of speech.

Today there's basically none.

Every single one of them is castrated by corporate PR machines.

Passion being the topic here is something that is heavily constrained by big corporate PR machines that F1 has become in last 20 or so years.

Long gone are days when "garagisti" were able to take fight to the big manufacturers (early to mid 80's) was pretty much the last time we saw that. Relaxed attitude and approach to racing doesn't do any more.

After that it became industry and corporation and image and all sweet and dandy PR talk.

Unfortunately we don't get to hear anyones honest and truthful opinion any more.

I don't remember Senna ever saying "...we did this lap pretty much on the edge..." It was always I did it.

And he would say it with fire in his eyes, fire that you can see and feel...stuff that todays castrated (by corporate approach) drivers lack.

In those times drivers were speaking for themselves and they would say what they think.

Nowdays (pretty much from beginning of Michael Schumacher's era onwards) and this particularly include Ron Dennis who of all team bosses is the one who insisted the most on correct PR from every single one of his employees.

Luckily he didn't manage to tame Senna during his time with McL.

And that wasn't for lack of trying.

That made me appreciate Senna even more.

Wealth (either from your own family, or from various sponsors) was always the most important aspect of getting in F1 as a driver.

I haven't heard of any driver ever since I've been following F1 (late 70's) who didn't have substantial backing, to came through the ranks.

By talent, merit or passion alone none of them are.

Senna came through pretty much the same as every one before or since, so no difference between then and now in that aspect.

As for the telemetry studying and gadgets, I'm sure Senna would study every single available bit of information had he had it.

As for todays drivers, I'm sure many of them are with plenty of character, but they just aren't allowed to speak up.

Too bad.

I'm sure we'd have a lot of "leave me alone, I know what I'm doing" kind of talk, not only on radio (when Kimi doesn't know he will be broadcasted).

With that down to Earth honest far less corporate attitude F1 would attract many many more spectators.


force india is fighting with redbull, ferrari and williams. is that the same as garagisti fighting with big manufacturers?

live in the present and leave the future and the past where they are. nothing wrong with looking at them from time to time and learning from them but just don't try to live in them.


The only driver similar to this now is Alonso. He's the only current driver to have driven an uncompetitive car to victories and within touching distance of a world championship. None of the other world champions have done that. As a result I think Alonso is regarded as a better driver now than when he won his 2 world championships


"The only driver similar to this now is Alonso. He’s the only current driver to have driven an uncompetitive car to victories and within touching distance of a world championship."

I don't think Senna ever did such a thing...


Not having the fastest car doesn't mean it is uncompetitive, did he win in 2009 with an uncompetitive car as it was that Renault or in Minardi before? no and it was not his fault, I mean, yes he is a great driver, really good, but saying that for the last four years (not including this one) he has driving uncompetitive Ferrari cars is not real, maybe he has won a couple of races with an uncompetitive car, but not as much as Alonso's fans want to believe.


Hes not even close.. When does the entire pit lane stop when a driver comes out to quali today ?..Maybe for Hamilton & the same driver was the only one with outright speed of taking it to Red Bull for the last few years

Andrew Carter

I'll give you the Championship part, but victories? Should I remind you of Vettel in the Torro Rosso at Monza 2008, Hamilton in the McLaren at Hungary 2009. Heck, Button at the same track for BAR in 2006!


That toro rosso was a rocket in the water. Remember Sebastien Bourdais qualified 4th (!) with that same car, and did the second fastest lap in the race (!!) right after Sebs one. Difference is Bourdais had some issue that made him start from the pits, otherwise we could have seen two toro rossos in podium.

And about Lewis' victory in Hungary... that Mclaren wasnt a bad car anymore, from hungary on every race he ended, he did it on the podium. And its funny to remember he inherited that victory when Alonso (that was driving a really bad renault) had a problem in his fuel pump system and then suffered a terrible pit stop from Renault. Kovalainen was 5th that race.


Yago, we talk about uncompetitive cars, not only "inferior". Inferior takes all the grid but the fastest car, uncompetitive is a very different thing. The Toro Rosso and the Mclaren were maybe inferior, but not uncompetitive.


Andrew Carter is right, of course Vettel (once) and Hamilton (more than once) have won races with inferior cars. Sorry but you con not deny that.

However, he is out of the point. Which is that Alonso does that almost on a regular basis, which is amazing and puts him obove any driver in history in that regard IMO.


I think what mjsib is referring to is that Alonso seems to do this on a 'regular' basis and the incidents u mention, although memorable, are 'one-off' incidents. Let's face it, Alonso hasn't had th best car since 07, and neither of his 5 ferrari's were anything to shout about bt he has been in the fight for the title with these ferrari's until sheer domination came from RBR in 11 and the second half of 13 - not an alonso fan


The times have changed. It is no longer possible to fight for every inch the way drivers did in Senna's generation because of a huge TV viewership, social media and non-stop commentary which scrutinizes a sportsman's every word/move.

The drivers in the 90s were the "bridge generation" between the current generation and those from the past. And when Schumacher pushed himself to the limits and put a cigarette foil thin barrier between what was legal and what was not in 1997, there was an uproar. I think it became ample clear that the generation of bare knuckle fights were over.

You can say this about other forms of sports too. Just watch a Motogp 500cc race from 80s with Lawson,Rainey,Gardner and Spencer literally locking each others handlebars and compare to today's Motogp. There is a world of difference. As Bob Dylan said..times they are changin..


With all due respect to Ayrton Senna it easy to say that he was the best when most people would agree with you. It easy to say that few, if any, can compare with Senna, as that is the result of being the best.

Talking about the charisma, it is like beauty, mostly in the eye of the beholder. And, by definition, you cannot "acquire" something that you "either have or you don't have."

Comparing any generation of drivers (as a group!) that were not contemporaries to Senna to him as a single best driver (by opinion of most) to support any conclusion is utterly inappropriate. Those were different times. How anybody could say that today's or any generation of drivers, if put in the same circumstances would not raise be the same or better than the drivers of the "good old times."

BTW, there is no such thing such "good old times." Just watch "Midnight in Paris" by Woody Allen. It is all about extracting and enjoying the best what we have at present and trying to improve upon it so that the very best is always in front of us.



Alexander Supertramp

Ah, a critical thinker, I like this! English is not my native tongue so it's not always easy to share my views on this forum, but everything I wanted to say is in your comment. Thanks!


I would agree. The drivers today are all puppets.


I agree. They really don't earn there stripes. They are all amazing drivers better than ever. But they are not amazing people they are just rich kids. Senna was a rich kid too. But he had a life before he got to formula 1 and that is more important. I guess its why alonso and webber got along.


What life Senna had "before" ? Do you know how old Senna was when he sat in his first Go-kart or at what age he was racing Toleman. Senna was 24 when he started F1. Get real, before you start rubbishing contemporary drivers.

German Samurai

I find myself once agreeing with Helmut Marko.

Vettel has that fighting spirit, but he's been hounded by the media (British especially) for displaying it.

Alonso is more concerned with creating a narrative around himself than letting his driving speak for itself. I mean could you imagine Senna or Prost with a samurai back tattoo? We get it. You fight like a samurai. How about win races/championships at Ferrari like Schumacher did?

Then there's Hamilton. I'm pretty sure that by the time the championship gets to Austin Hamilton will have fully converted to an American accent. Does he want to be an F1 driver or Eminem?

Andrew Carter

Hypocrisy at its "best". People complain that F1 drivers have no personality, then complain that they don't like the personality that is shown off.

And how is Alonso supposed to win races/championships when the team can't make the best use of their resources to design a good car?


Does it matter he is still the greatest formula 1 driver this country has ever produced. and when his career comes to an end an awful lot of people the world over will recognise him as one of the greats the stats alone will support that. so as far as I'm concerned he can speak with whatever accent he likes.


So what, if he wants to be an entertainer and it doesn't affect his driving skills , why not. Just accept that nothing is standing still, it flows, it changes. Lewis is himself, he ain't anyone's clone. What is wrong with that ? "Panta rei"


Hamilton's accent is fine. He usually speaks quite well and pronounces words so that non-British speakers of English can understand what he is saying. In fact, I wouldn't mind if every Briton had his accent.

Valentino from montreal

Bravo ! + 1 mil


How about win races/championships at Ferrari like Schumacher did?.... yeah right like rosberg wiping the floor with him in his last 3 years at Mercedes 🙂

H.Guderian (ALO fan)

"How about win races/championships at Ferrari like Schumacher did?"

You forgot that Schummy was crushed by Alonso in a far inferior car/team.

Whem Schummy was exposed, he retired.

German Samurai

2005 Schumacher had a car incapable of race wins let alone fighting for the championship.

In the first half of 2006 Alonso benefited from the illegal mass damper. When that was outlawed, Schumacher destroyed Alonso in the second half of the season.

German Samurai

"Legal or ilegal parts on the car dont matter if you are comparing the drivers. The Renault was faster the first half of the year, the Ferrari was in the second one. Fernando took it, becoming the first (and only) driver to beat Schumy for the title in an equal/inferior car. You can drive a car with many ilegal devices, buts still be slower than others."

Fair enough. In equal machinery, Alonso beat a 37-year-old by a tiny margin. Both finished with the same number of wins. Schumacher was inconsistent but still competitive in the first half of the season in an inferior car, however, Alonso was made to look positively second rate by a 37-year-old Schumacher in the remaining 4 races of the season.

I suppose that's how good Schumacher was. To be 37 and taking the fight to the wire. When the shoe was on the other foot in the final races of 2010 and Alonso was veteran while Vettel was the young driver, it was Vettel who thrived under the pressure and Alonso who wilted.


Schummy retired after he was crushed by Alonso.

And he came back only to be destroyed by Nico.

Keep dreaming. Keep dreaming."

IMO Ferrari sacked Schmacher because LDM wanted more control over the team. Don't forget that throughout 2006 Schumacher was dealing with all kinds of politics behind the scenes.

Schumacher had some of the best drives of his career in the final four races of 2006. The Chinese Grand Prix especially he absolutely crushed Alonso in conditions unsuited to the Bridgstones.

H.Guderian (ALO fan)

So, what you are saying is that when Schummy wins is his merit. When he fails, blame the car.


Schummy retired after he was crushed by Alonso.

And he came back only to be destroyed by Nico.

Keep dreaming. Keep dreaming.


haha TMD being illegal aero device haha

Ferrari International Assistance did what they could with that absurd decision to help MS get another title, but thank God they failed.

In '06 they've (Ferrari) failed again and then MS was forced to retirement to make room for Kimi.

As for not having a car capable of winning in the first half of the 2006 season. In first 5 races both MS and FA had 2 win each.


Legal or ilegal parts on the car dont matter if you are comparing the drivers. The Renault was faster the first half of the year, the Ferrari was in the second one. Fernando took it, becoming the first (and only) driver to beat Schumy for the title in an equal/inferior car. You can drive a car with many ilegal devices, buts still be slower than others.

BTW, in your original post, change Samurais for God and you got Senna. Well actually not, Senna talked much more how he was in connection with God than Alonso about the samurai culture. Talk about a driver beeing hounded...


I've always thought Marko was a bit of a clown, these comments prove it. Current F1 drivers race the cars they're given. When they've got a steering wheel with 100 options to choose from, it makes sense they have learned their skills from games and the like. They don't have the opportunity of learning on the track, now that testing has been banned.

Michael Schumacher, Senna, Mansel, DC and other drivers from 20+ years ago, all earned their stripes in karts. Getting to the top has always taken a lot of money, in the past drivers would race around the world in all sorts of cars to increase their income. That doesn't happen now, so rich parents and the right sponsors are needed to get to the top - despite RB's schemes for young drivers.


Today's racers are pampered by the race engineers. They are never alone in the car. There's always someone at the pitwall telling them what to do.

The most pathetic thing however is racers complaining about their team mate on the radio. It is like going to mum and dad to get what thou want.

I'd say: get rid of the radio communication. Let the driver (mis)read the race and (mis)judge the car. It would make the racing much more emotional …

Alonso, Hamilton and Webber would stand out in such a scenario.


I don't think having an engineering on the pit wall is pampering per se. The cars probably aren't that much more complicated, but what has changed is the volume of information extracted from the machine and the way that the car is then manipulated to keep its characteristics within certain performance levels - hence seeing less retirements.

And I think we can also see that it is possible for a driver to excel in the absence of this data - Rosberg's 2nd place in China in the absence of telemetry is testament to that (and yes - I am aware that his car is currently technically superior to all others on the grid, but he still had to get it around the track ahead of everyone else)


Let's not stop there. The driver should also execute his own pit stops. Driver fitness would take on a whole new importance. They should also have a limit on their fluid intake just like the cars.


What I want to say is that people do funny stuff when they are on their own, cut off from the world.

Senna described to be in touch with God. This would be impossible nowadays as you have your race engineer talking to you every lap.

I wonder how drivers manage to get "in the zone" with so much radio distraction? I mean, Kimi was even shouting to leave him alone!

Perhaps there should be only one way radio interaction of the driver to the pitwall? To tell them to get ready for the pitstop.


I disagree. Its impossible for someone to say if other people do or dont have a passion for something. Passing blanket statements like that are always error prone.

This sounds like one of those classic older generation arguments: "these kids today dont appreciate x,y,z because of a,b,c,d".


I don't believe that drivers fight any less today than in previous generations, if anything they have to fight harder because getting to the top is harder now than ever before because so many young drivers have the opportunity with good equipment.

Having watched F1 closely for 30 years the way Alonso fights for example is at least a match for anything the attacking drivers such as Mansell and Senna did.

I agree that Senna's charisma was in a class of it's own though,

Senna's a true legend but I believe we have at least one driver today who is a match for him in terms of pure driving.


Deeply ironic for a man that controls a set of revolving doors at the end of the Red Bull conveyor belt.

Maybe if they stopped promoting kids to F1 we'd see a different mindset. People need time and space to develop.


I have to agree with "Dr. Marko" on this one.

And more: nowadays, those guys looks a little bit alienated from F1 politics and main decisions, and that´s a point where Senna was huge — He was a political animal because he was deep involved on F1 at its core.

What I sense is that those 'kids' today lacks character and thats really ironic because living in an era of deep and breakthrough communication, we should be have more information about those drivers; instead, they look like kids in the kindergarten in comparision with true and adult men like Senna or Prost — men who seemed with irreconcilable and complexities personalities.

To illustrate that: can we see any driver today with this kind of bravery to face and fight the F1 politics in his own terms like Senna did with Balestre? I´m not sure...

Today, only Alonso looks close to Senna on this regard...

Another point is that in the last years, F1 PR machine is sanitizing any clue that we could be have about drivers personalities and their dislike for each other, fearing that that could be bad to F1 teams and their sponsors.

So for me, this alienation from drivers, those lack of carachter, and the PR machine have created a F1 without rivalry, sense of drama, and no narrative at all.

F1 drivers today looks fake and void, exactly like the DRS...


There are more layers of bureaucracy between the drivers and the upper levels of management of the sport - plus more legality and contractural risk. I think it is unfair to suggest that the drivers of this age are any less than those of another era. We are picking out Senna, a legend of his time, and comparing the whole field against him through rose colour glasses - completely unfair.


Well of course it's a different world and it's quite impossible to compare era's. One thing is for sure Arton Senna was outstanding. I think the reason is simply that F1 has changed and is rather more car lead than driver lead which is a pity. Today unless you have a competitive car you don't stand a chance, advanced aerodynamics sees to that. That said we saw a brilliance from Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain that very few drivers could have pulled off. I believe in this modern era Hamilton is the closest thing to Senna given the appropriate formula. It is unlikely that even Arton Senna could do much with an uncompetitive car in these times so the formula is self blunting for a better choice of words and it is because aero plays too big a part in a car performance. If you need some sort of proof of that it was ably demonstrated by Michael Schumachers return even allowing for three years away. The only time it is possible for other cars to close the gap is in wet conditions and even then the car needs good downforce to compete.


maldonado won in a williams.


in 2009 hamilton had a poor car at the start of the season and yet won races by the end of the season. in 2013 the mclaren had a poor start and ended just as poorly. can we conclude that drivers do lead teams into winning races?


The 2009 McLaren was an absolute dog as you say. Certainly driver feedback is very important, but so is the design and engineering staff. Vettel's wins were to a large extent due to design prowess, but undoubtably he was very good at driving Newey cars with exhaust enhanced rear down force. Currently it seems Ricciardo has the edge, but I expect things to change when Vettel/engineers finds the answer to his issues.


Yes but an isolated win which seems to underline what I'm saying. In his case circumstances conspired enough to make him sufficiently competitive, although I can't remember the race, but similar to Vettel in the Torro Rosso.


Aveli: Well you've heard of cause and effect!? - Well everything happens for a reason, but sometimes circumstances conspire to change the order. It's the unexpected like mechanical failure that surprises us. On a different note, it is looking as though Mercedes have indeed made a bigger step than anyone else as I don't think we've seen all yet this weekend.


richard, there is no point in the teams going to race if you are capable of working out who would win and who would finish where. mercedes has the best chance simply because they have the best car and the best driver but anything could happen. we saw how hamilton failed to complete 5 laps in melbourne. hamilton had all those things you mentioned in his favour and yet he didn't win.

let's talk about what has actually happened rather than pretend to be able to predict the future. i found out that prophecy is the least paid profession.


Aveli: What you have to understand is that Red Bull have basically got a very good car with just the power unit and torque delivery questionable. I think it unlikely Ricciardo will win because Mercedes have got too big of a margin and may actually increase it. On the other hand I expect Ricciardo to be in the top five. Five things to consider when making these judgements:-

The track.

Prevailing conditions.

The basic car.

Set up and balance.



what will your response be in ricciardo wins this weekend? a win is a win, isolated or not.


Couldn't agree more, and this raises another question; are today's drivers so groomed from such an early age that they are just taught/afraid/conscious of every word and action they make?

If there is any one driver that I would say is not as much like this it would be Vettel, but even he has dialed it back since a few years ago.

Is it the driver's, or the handlers/sponsors that are to blame?

Money has always been the primary driver in F1, that won't change. But how quickly their words and actions spread across the globe, with everyone a critic, and the sponsors not wanting any form of a black eye, who wouldn't be cautious?

My guess is that how they act at the track and how they act at home/play are entirely different.


It is a typical conceit of men beyond their reproductive and productive years, that the world is going to hell in handcart. They pine for the good old days which are just a figment of their imagination--Our generation was better than this current bunch of sissies. Times change, circumstances are different.


Really? Do you think the pussy - cat rich boys that are Maldonado, Chilton, and perhaps even Perez still be sitting behind that wheel if KNEW there was a 20% chance of dying every year they raced?

That is not about generations...that is about having BALLS, and not having balls. And today's drivers know they race with very, very little risk. Risk culls out the pussy -cats...


I agree that that is a possibility. There is definitely nothing less than total commitment if one is willing to die or be maimed to perform one's craft. As a young man that was very attractive. But does that defacto make that driver a better driver? I think that is hard to say. It is also possible that improved safety, big money,and greater exposure have made it more attractive to drivers with intrinsic talent such that those who percolate to the top are part of a greater selection process and quite possibly through better training methods, superior drivers. Just because the soldiers of WW1 were slaughtered at a very high rate, and they accepted the risks as they dug in to battle, does it follow that they are superior soldiers to our soldiers recently deployed in Afghanistan?


It was much easier then to be honest and open if you had an opinion...you watch some old F1 races and the journalists are pally with the drivers - not trying to trip them up for the sake of a quote that will then be printed out of context...and the big business will not be happy etc etc...

In terms of spirit - Senna was unusual in this. But I dont think he put more into it than most other top drivers. Senna just had huge talent - and once he did something amazing - he reflected on it and gave it spiritual meaning. This is what Ron Dennis said and it makes a lot of sense to me. Senna created his own mystique due to his spiritual and religious side.

I think its a bit unfair to suggest drivers are more flaccid - when its more likely the wider system and society which does not promote outspoken views. Only a driver of the most prodigious talent could afford to be outspoken in these days - otherwise they risk getting sacked because they upset the sponsors. F1 has become corporate - but it was the only way it could be if it was to be a big global sport.

In any case - Im fine with the way it is.


Some modern Champions are certainly different. Some seem refined to the point where they only win if they dominate and everything is exactly to their spec. - then they win and win. If 'the car doesn't suit them' they can't even compete with their team mates. This is not helped, in my view, by the fact that they take part in no other motorsport. I think few 'racers' who have plenty of money and no other job would choose to only race 20 times a year.


That is because the formula is car lead created by advanced aerodynamics. In Senna's day aero was relatively crude and the driver was able to some extent make up for an uncompetitive car particularly in wet conditions.If Senna was driving today he would be up there with Hamilton, Alonso, and Vettel but would be equally hampered by an uncompetitive car.


I don't think this explains Kimi and Vettel's inability to compete with team mates. I can't imagine Senna being uncompetitive against Hill because the Williams 'didn't suit him'.


Well it's a complex business and much more car lead in modern formulas than it was in Senna's day. Beyond that set up differences can make or break how competitive are relatively like Hamilton and Rosberg. I can't overstate how good Hamilton's defensive win in Bahrain was over Rosberg truly magnificent. It's difficult to understand why Vettel and Raikkonen are having problems particularly Raikkonen because the whole business is far more complex than in Senna's day, but I suspect it is to some extent to do with torque delivery. In Senna's day cars were fundamental more basic and could be wrestled by a good driver like Senna beyond what is should be capable of. I think there is an element of that with Alonso, but I suspect Raikkonen will bounce back when his issues are sorted. We can't really compare eras, but undoubtably Senna was extremely capable.


I think Marko is quite opinionated regarding what makes a true racer.

Senna was a cut above the rest...but in terms of wiping every other racer aside is absurd.

James Hunt wore his heart on his sleeve too, saved fellow racing drivers from crashes. Prost Mansell Clark Villneuve, Piquet.

In the Here & Now its has to be the big three

Hamilton Alonso on same par. Then the singing kettle Vettel. Then Raikkonen & Webber.

No way would you have Button or Massa In that list.


You mean the same Massa that took a suspension piece to the skull and damned near made him a vegetable if not killed him, and yet came back and is still racing these past 4 years???

Sorry mate, but FREAK ME, if that doesn't speak to passion and determination, what the hell does? I don't even like him that much, but in terms of balls Massa has little to prove to anyone....


Point taken 🙂


What the.. has this guy been watching the races for the past 15 years?

Teams throw all kinds of rules into the contracts to keep the drivers on thier best behavior. The drivers have the spirit. But they trust thier teams. When the team says you cant race your team mate how do you think a driver is going to act?

Outside of Red Bull and Ferrari there have been some epic fights over the last 15 years.

As usually happens though the team or teams that are licking wounds of defeat always comeout in the media and make noise about how it didnt used to be like this.

This story linked to some wider political agenda to push for a mid or end season regulation change.

In my humble opinion Marko could'nt be more wrong.


+1 re: contract rules - totally agree


"that down-to-earth race fanaticism – that fighting for every inch and sacrificing everything for it"

you make above statements and yet you and all other teams have team orders to move aside...

none of drivers on grid currently like to lose it is clearly evident.

To me he is making statements just for heck of it, as always.


unless he had too much coffee,


I disagree with Helmut Marko's opinion to a degree, I believe he forgot that Senna's nemesis was a man nicknamed "The Professor", so named because his championships came through his calculated approach to success on the track and strength in dealing with F1 politics, and definitely not his total commitment on the track.

I do however agree the fight to get into F1 as a driver is a different fight than it was in the past. You have to be a salesman as well as a talented driver to sustain yourself through the lower ranks and get your shot. Whereas in the past being a fast, committed race driver would catch the eye of Frank, Ron, Colin or Ken and you'd get your shot. It's not enough any more and the kind of personality that makes it will be different as a consequence of this.

I also think that the financial stakes are so much higher in the modern era, and with no "highest points finishs" aspect to the championship, every point in every race counts. The value of points finishes are higher and race wins are devalued. The new points system just doesn't compensate for this change to a large enough degree in my opinion. The result being there is more "settling for a position" than in Senna's day. Do you think we'll have Mansell versus Senna Monaco '92 part two this year, say between Hamilton and Alonso? I don't think so.

My conclusion from all this. Yes, Senna was as special as we remember. I wish I could have watched him race for another ten years.


the young professor beat his multiple world champion teammate only for senna to turn up and humiliate him in the same team.


I never understood the comparisons of different eras. It is impossible to compare them unless you raced in all the eras you are trying to compare.

Besides, time is always kinder to the passing generation, especially when the one looking back belonged to that particular time. It's the proverbial pat-on-the-back. No one wants to score an own goal.

The perception of passion in today's facebook and instagram realities also serve as double edged swords for the current crop of f1 drivers. Nowadays, everything a driver says and does is open to both praise and villification by anyone. And I mean anyone. Even my 88 year old Nana has a facebook account.

If a driver says "that his goal is to be the best that ever lived", he is deemed arrogant. Mind you, it is his ambition which he aspires to and not a proclamation of his greatness. But so often, it only takes one "hater" to jump to conclusions before everyone, including my Nana, joins in the "disagree button" mob and that driver is forever branded a conceited bell end.

If Senna tweeted his famous "if I see a gap..." line today after he took Prost out in Suzuka, he would be crucified online as a neanderthal racer who belongs in a certain American racing series and Lewis Hamilton would have thought twice quoting Ayrton in a BBC interview because he would have seen how much instant, which is the key word here, "instant", controversy that statement generated. There is no time for damage control. You are either a hero or zero in an instant. What's a driver to do? And we complain because drivers today have no personality and no charisma. No passion.

I think passion is sometimes also used as a stereotype for some of us who live in certain parts of the world. You rarely hear the word passion when describing a driver from colder climates, like Kimi or Valteri. But when it comes to drivers like Alonso or Massa, even their fans are described as passionate. Sometimes, even rabid. Kimi should have worn a sombrero while eating that ice cream.

I feel sorry for Lewis Hamilton, a black Brit who has hot blooded Caribbean roots. He has no chance in today's online circus. The only driver whose hat gets more thumbs down than Pastor's driving. He is too "passionate" for a Brit and too "American" for the rest of Europe. How dare he try to emulate Senna?

To question the top drivers of today's passion for the sport is unbelievably disrespectful. How dare anyone? Passion lives inside you and no one can quantify how much of it you have but yourself. You cannot say "I don't think so and so driver has the same passion that so and so did..." How do you know? How does anyone know? The only time we can say that is when someone has actually been quoted as saying so. The rest of the time it's just an opinion, which doesn't mean much on tweeter nowadays.

Disagree or thumbs down? Just don't report it as abuse. Cheers.


you tell them!


Good news! the spirit skill ability and charisma in the new generation is alive and kicking but not in f1 but in moto gp racing and goes by the name of Marc marques, only 21 a world champion in his first year of top class racing 4 victories from 4 poles this season and unbeaten so far this year and to top it all off he has passion and charisma. If you haven't seen him race give it a look a legend in the making!

kenneth chapman

@bandit600...couldn't agree more. this kid is a revelation and the way he goes racing is an inspiration. he reminds me very much of casey stoner. when he's on it you won't see a better racer and you probably won't see the second place rider either!!!

danny almonte

Just look at how Vettel is moping about without the perfect car. He seems to have lost the will to fight. He was always quick to complain that his team mate was in his way but when the role was reversed, he didn't want to obey team orders. He never had a fighting spirit. He just happened to be in the best car.


he most certainly hasn't lost the will to fight. he would've retired otherwise.


He is right, 100% right.

Is difficult for people that are not old enough to understand how drivers were back in the days, those HAD passion for the sport and F1.

Drivers got killed week after week but still they wanted to keep trying to race in F1.

Something tell me that if F1 becomes that dangerous many of today's grid will quit right away.

Do I see Button driving Fangio's Mercedes at 325kmp/h through Spa without helmet and seat belt like the argentine?

No way


do you not cross the road because you are old enough to know the dangers of crossing the road?


may be its difficult for you. age has nothing to do with it.


there's an amazing interview to Juan Pablo Montoya, (here'es the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEW7EIYd4Dk) were you can see about the human side of an F1 racer. It's all about politics now, and they can't talk as long as they want to keep racing an f1 car. When they don't want to be part of the circus anymore, then they talk, and HOW LOUD THEY TALK!


Dr Marko is funny, he develops the most successful young drivers programme ever, and then complains modern drivers are dull, maybe he needs to modify his program, and if you ask me, Webber and Ricciardo are not lacking in charisma

F1, like any other human activity changes with time and is influenced by global perception

Modern F1 is politically correct and safe and trying to be green, and so are the new drivers

IMHO modern drivers are on average a lot better than in the past, have better information, more experience(years in karting and lower classes), more physical training and more focus than ever before, as well as fighting spirit. The skills required are different though and charisma per se is not a winning requirement

Is it more difficult to handle a wheel with 20 buttons at 4Gs while the pit gives you instructions, than a stick shift with 5 gears at 1G wandering in your own thoughts, who knows? We can't compare

Are they allowed to race ruthlessly and speak their mind, no, they are penalized if too aggressive (by the press and the fans as well as the FIA), and are trained to handle the press the way sponsors instruct them to (they do pay their wages)

One issue usually overlooked is the age of the present drivers, like in most sports they are younger than ever

Senna became WDC at 28, Stewart at 30 and Fangio at 40, Vettel is not 28 yet and he's already 4 times WDC

They don't lack character, they are kids still, I am sure when they grow up they will be nice chaps (most of them)

Is the whole current field better than Fangio, Clark, Senna and Schumi? No, those are once in a generation talents, and hard to come by, whatever the technology, or competitiveness or politics involved

Raw talent will show through, even if you have to nurse the tyres and save fuel to win


When the elderly speak often they impart the wisdom of years spent in intelligent observation, and likewise they may also express prejudices discerned from personal preferences writ large.

Mr. Marko seems to believe the youth of today have less passion than those of his past, seemingly in part as a result of the technological world we all now inhabit.

In this regard Helmut is surely only showing his age, or perhaps a restricted interaction with the youth he disparages.

Having followed the sport since 1959, I can say that I find the drivers of today much the same as those of the past; if anything, perhaps they are a bit more professional in how they deal with the public, but that is certainly a result of their more extensive media exposure and responsibilities than in decades past.

Mr. Marko's remarks, I would submit, reflect more about his own preferences and prejudices than those of the drives he critiques.


nicely packaged.


Webber had plenty of spirit. but he was an exception, unfortunately today many of the drivers are little more than PR puppets forced to dance to the whims of the likes of Marko who micro manage from behind the scenes.


did webber win any championships with his spirit? may be he was distracted from his objective by his spirit.


I don't think it matters much whether you agree with Marko or not, great drivers are great drivers in any era, but it is certainly true that the human drama has been suffocated by design in the modern era by the disdain for the drivers, race fans and the promotion of corporate speak by the teams.

This era does not have the personal tension of the times that proceeded it. Look at the personal burden Senna was carrying on his last weekend as he thought of the risks versus his ambitions and obligations. Look at the decision Jochen Rindt made when staying with Lotus in 1970 - I could die but I might also be World Champion. Drivers do not carry these risks anymore and that is a good thing but it certainly changes the emotional narrative and the storytelling.

Combine this with all the technology that aids a driver but strips away his decisive role behind the wheel and its no wonder it seems as bland as a race engineers voice. It's a wonder that drivers appear passionate at all and that's a loss for the sport... though Alonso on the opening lap is still magic whatever the era.

kenneth chapman

@ greg...good points, well said.


Marko sounds as if he is nostalgic for Death Race 2000.


I will say one word "RULES". If a driver today drove like Senna with all his "committment" and "Ruthlessness" he would be banned for life. He would have soo many points on his Super License that he would not even be able to drive the team truck! Period. Drivers today need to be measured in thier manner and professional in thier driving. Not pushing off rivals because they want to win and careless about the well-being of others. Marko is just trying to get himself heard and wanted to say something nice about Senna. The best things about Senna have already been said. The nicest thing you can say about Senna is nothing. He was so great he doesn't anyones comments.


James, off topic question please

Is there any truth in rumours that Mercedes got the FIA spec for the new gear box much earlier than all other teams? and so were able to finalise plans much sooner?


Not heard that

Why would that happen?


as I understand it, Finnish press claim that Merc got gearbox dimensions early and so packaged their engine 'lower' from the word go, while Ferrari and others could not .....


is that why winters are so cold over there?


I'm sorry, I'm pretty sure regardless of generation, everybody needed a wealthy father or sponsor to get to F1. Nobody gets into F1 with 5 quid and a bag of biscuits. The only reason why Marko is talking this malarky is because Vettel isn't winning, when did he say such thing in the past five, (yes, five) when Red Bull had a superior car to everybody else on the grid with the exception of the early stage of 2009.


eagle eyed!


Senna came from a background of wealth and privilege. He of course worked extremely hard to get to the top, coming over to the UK etc, but a better example would be Mansell for sacrifice, ambition and sheer determination. He drove the car the same way.


Marko's comments are nonsense. The drivers fierce determination to win hasn't changed, F1 has changed. Bruce McLaren owned Team McLaren, managed it, was technical director, test driver and race driver. Look at Team Mclaren now.


I've always thought Marko to be knowledgeable but ruthless and with a bit of a grudge for his injury. Interesting that he rates Senna, who gave his life to F1 ans, even I would admit, was ruthless. That said, to slate the Vettel/Hamilton/Alonso/Raikkonen/Button era compared to Senna/Prost/Piquet/Mansell/Rosberg Sr seems a tad unfair. I don't think we'll ever see the combined quality of top 80s/early 90s drivers again. But today's stars are very close - and in a more modest way entertaining off the track too.


better, not close.


If Senna was still alive, would like to see racing with

Alonso. and Hamilton. these 3 guys. are the best of all!


if senna was alive, he'd be 54.


Off topic but tangentially not.

Rosberg is losing the plot after Bahrain and claiming he is better in the dry than Hamilton.


Rosberg needs to do his talking on the track and finish in front of Hamilton if he ever wants to become a World Champion. He really needs to turn the tide. If not in Barcelona, then latest in Monaco.

Unfortunately for Rosberg, Hamilton is Fast AND Smart. He is also fully focused. Now is the time for Rosberg to really transform into and drive as an aspiring World Champion. I believe he is capable of doing so. Let's see how the battle evolves in Europe.


It's debatable but he might have a case. All 3 of Lewis's poles came in either wet or cold or both, while Nico's came in a hot, dry Bahrain.

Nico might be faster in the dry but Lewis seems to be the better racer, come rain or shine.


only 4 races, not enough data to draw reliable conclusions.


I only have one word for Marko's 'lack of fighting spirit' remark:

Adrian Sutil.


It is impossible to compare drivers in such distant era. I had a privilege to meet Alonso at a dinner in 2007. He was a guest of honor and he gave such a heartwarming speech to young boys and girls, kart drivers, who took part in IAME Challenge World finals. His passion for the sport was overflowing in abundance. Those young people afterwards were presented with presents and had a collective photo taken with double World Champion. On their faces one could see that that very moment was so special in their lives. So to say that his generation of drivers and the generations to come got no passion for the sport sounds ridiculous. Perhaps Marko is to old to understand current generation, it could mean that he is out of time and era, obviously it is time to retire. Isn't Ricardo passionate enough, or wasn't Weber passionate enough ? Senna was a very special person, true, but there is no reason to idolize him beyond human dimensions. What is passion after all ?

kenneth chapman

@ kartrace...interesting post. amongst all the drivers ricciardo and especially webber have acres of passion and are simply enthusiastic and dedicated drivers. i'm sure there are others as well such as alonso.

your anecdote was illuminating and thank you for sharing that. those kids will have great memories.


My pleasure


Sometime I think this guy just wants attention and likes to stir the pot. I wish he would just go away.


And I question whether I give a rodent's buttocks what Marko thinks.


All this talk about Sena would be this or that if he would drive6 live nowadays is a bit pointless. It was a different era when he drove. Nowadays drivers are children of their time. Senna would not be much different than them if he was a driver of this time now. FranK williams himself said it. It was a different time you can't compare the drivers from differen earas, as he was asked about how nowadays drivers ( Hamilton)are compared to Senna.

roberto marquez

I think the big difference is made by commercial interests.Nowadays a top pro sporstman has to weigh every word he says in fear he looses a contract.Pay makes a whole lot of difference also,if you get a contract for several years and hundred of millions,you will never take the risks people took in the past. I will give you an example from baseball,in the 50 s a team like the New York Yankees won I do not remember how many World Series ,however with the possible exception of Mickey Mantle(from the income point of view ) ,all its players had to play like mad because most of its yearly income came from going to the World Series and specially from winning it. If they did not get there most of them had to get winter jobs to pay family expenses,maybe selling cars,or insurance or training young people.Mantle had a big motivation also either he did very good in baseball or he returned to a mining job in Oklhoma.Nowaday you see kids signing contracts for 8 years for 170 million dolars ,and after 2 or 3 years,most of them are not a shadow of the original player.My suggestion pay for results, 500.000 euros for pole, 5 million euros for a win, 2 million for second place and so on , we would see much better and interesting racing. Sorry for taking so long to explain myself.


"Are they motorsport fanatics or just drivers on a conveyor belt? That is Marko’s thesis."

If Helmut Marko has overseen nearly 100 drivers through the Red Bull Young Driver Programme, then he has answered his own question, and he is in charge of the conveyor belt.

One thing you can't do is compare drivers over the years, who's best, quickest, more passionate etc. The sport itself changes over the years, as do media needs, sponsor demands etc.

Just because a driver might not come across as having passion doesn't mean he doesn't have it.


Marko's argument would be more convincing were he to compare the average driver of today with the average driver of past eras. Senna was a unique individual, one who demonstrated an ascetic level of commitment to his profession, that surpassed that of other top drivers in past and future eras.

If anything, drivers today are fitter, more prepared via use of simulators etc and more willing to indulge in the aggressive driving tactics pioneered by Senna and perfected into an acceptable practice by Schumacher. They also enter the sport younger, impressionable, thus groomed in the art of image management, in a breathless age of 24/7 media scrutiny. The likes of Senna, Prost, Piquet, Rosberg Sr, Lauda and Mansell (to name the top guys from 30 years ago) were less concerned about their image, or perhaps they had more latitude in shaping it. The likes of Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel have demonstrated an appreciation of F1 history, a level of raw talent, a passion for pure wheel-to-wheel racing, and commitment towards excellence that any of the greats before them have demonstrated. I argue that corporatism and excessive media scrutiny can kill emotion, technology obscures talent, and the cost-structure of the sport can kill competition. I don't see this larger context transforming anytime soon, so we'd best appreciate drivers as products of their times.


This is a somewhat muddled and ironic argument from Mr Marko. The notion of drivers' motor racing career being like a conveyer belt, professionalised from an early stage is something they have been at the forefront of with their young driver scheme. And the standards of young driver schemes are so high that sacrifices remain very high to get to the top. Having a social life or even a family life? Forget it these days. Even those outside young driver schemes have to make huge sacrifices, in their cases financially as well (think Alonso or Robert Kubica).

Also disagree with the notion that professionalism has seen drivers lose their passion for the sport. Sebastian Vettel has been known to get very emotional when told of his achievements in the context of the history of the sport. Alonso and Lewis have been known to wear their hearts on their sleeves when things don't go well. Mark Webber was always happy to be open and frank about a range of issues. And Felipe Massa got very emotional when he narrowly missed out on the 2008 world title.

If there are two issues at play regarding perception of drivers, I'd say one is probably a human element. Because drivers are so professional these days, maybe their individual human identity is less overt. In this context Kimi Raikkonen tends to be quite popular; he does stand out because he's known to like a drink and he does things like riding in snowmobile events before GPs.

The other is probably that, with so much F1 news available to the public these days, and every major event dissected from every angle, we have all developed a deeper critical faculty. Hence the instinct is to be cynical or sceptical of most if not all drivers in some way, and most fans having grown up on a diet of "it was all so much better in the 1980s" - when news on the sport was less scarce, but growing quickly from a low base onto wider public consciousness - also then tend to follow the same argument, even if (like me) they weren't around at the time!


talk of the good old days is bull and we know it.


Blah Blah Blah Dr Marko. I have only been watching F1 since 1985, but even back then it was hugely dangerous. And yes, maybe he has a point that drivers today are not fanatics, but that's only what we see.

Drivers are groomed to be professionals now from an early age and taught what to say and how to behave, because that's what the teams demand of them. I'm no fan of Vettel, but he has plenty of charisma away from the car and so do many other drivers.

And what Dr Marko refers to as Senna's ruthlessness is not really acceptable anymore. On the track, Senna's game was to put his and another car in a situation where there's going to be an accident and then let the other driver decide on the outcome. And almost always the drivers would yield, unless they were blind (schlesser) or fed up (prost 89). Maybe drivers we scared of dying then, but now the racing standards are much higher in general, so drivers give each other racing room etc.

Let's not forget he blatantly cheated to seal the title in 1990. Ruthless and passionate? yes. But tainted at the very least, if not sullied.

I'm no young bloke myself, but I really get annoyed by older people banging on about how "Oh they just don't make em like they used to." Well good I say. And the reason these young girls and guys are like this is because of how they were influenced and trained by the old blokes doing the moaning!

I'd love to see some more personality shine thru the media/corporate wall put up by teams now, but other than that I say I'm happy with the passion and commitment of the young drivers today and even more happy that we are seeing women come through as well. Let's not forget that perhaps the upshot of all this sanitisation is that F1 will become a more accessible sport to female drivers... what will the old codgers say then?


"...what will the old codgers say then?"

>World Now Officially Gone to Hell<

(film at 11)


i like.

kenneth chapman

surely button's question to his pit wall, 'who am i racing?' covers one of the most salient points in this debate.


😀 comical


Helmut Marko's always been known for saying things that force people to think, whether or not that's his intention. This is another statement to file in that category.

The way I've seen some of the drivers on the current grid drive, I'd have to disagree with him strongly.

David in Sydney

The tools are different, the risks different, but the drivers are the same.

Put F1 drivers in over powered F3 cars and you'll get Senna-esque drives from the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, etc.

Remember: every driver started off in karts, F Ford or F3 before getting spoilt by personal trainers, media liaison, a jet set lifestyle and too much money.

Every driver has had to decide whether to push someone off a circuit to fight for the corner, or to lift for fear of breaking their own neck.

F1 looks easy and hi tech but in race conditions I don't think we could imagine how hard it is... many people wilt after 10 minutes at racing speeds in karts... let alone FF, F3... GP3... you get the picture.

They make is LOOK easy, but it it?


Marko is entitled to his opinion. To formula 1 fans, his opinion is as good his relevance. My take, Graham Hill and the drivers from his generation were the best, as people, as drivers and as champions


Yes, I agree, right you are. They were far less self centered. They had much more social, down to the earth, relations. With fellow drivers and spectators alike. You could even engage in,one on one, conversation without utilizing non existent social networks. Life was completely different. But hey, what are wee talking about. Today if you are not self-centered you are just another looser. Senna was self centered to.


agree 100%


I think Senna acquired this God-status mainly due to his death on the track at the peak of his prowess. It is something like Monica Seles in tennis who could have achieved lot more had she been not attacked. But at least tennis world is sensible in not glorifying her as much F1 does for Senna (may be because she did not die on the court). I do admit that I've not watched him racing. But surely, in over 50-years of F1 history, there are other equally capable drivers like him if not a tad better. Whatever it is, if Senna were alive today, he would be part of this same system like other drivers. So you cannot really compare him with the drivers of this generation.


senna was not only the only champion at the time of his death but a 3 times world champion who humiliated the professor of f1 into retirement. his skill was superior to the field but the present greats are just as skilled if not better.


if senna carried on the way he did back then he's have served many race bans now.

that aside, i did see senna drive (on tv at least) and his qualifying efforts were really quite stunning at times, but he made just as many mistakes as today's drivers and he did not hold every record in the book.


I take my hat off to most MODERN winners. Yesterday's heroes had a car that was streets ahead of the competition - that's why they gained fame. By comparison, today's cars are only fractions of a second per lap apart. So the skill of the driver (backed up by team strategy) makes a repeated winner stand out much more today.