It is all hail the halo now.It is hard to argue against its efficacy given how Charles Leclerc’s life was saved by the protection it offered in the Belgian Grand Prix. Saving lives fits the temper of the times.
Having walked away unscathed after Fernando Alonso’s McLaren bounced off the titanium protection, Leclerc said: ‘I was never a fan of the halo, but I have to say I was very happy to have it over my head today.’
In the name of balance we should record the traditionalist’s argument that the ugly device, though not as repulsive as feared, gnaws at the soul of open-cockpit motor racing.Sir Stirling Moss embraced danger and has a medical record of remedial surgery to prove it. His mantra is: put up more trees and then try to avoid them. He hates the halo and always will.
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, once said he would like to take a chainsaw to it.Now, it would take a brave man to say that today.
Charles Leclerc (bottom) walked away unscathed after Fernando Alonso’s car bounced off halo
Leclerc admitted he was grateful for the halo on Sunday, despite initial reservations on it
Alonso’s car narrowly avoided Leclerc’s head and instead bounced off the halo on Sunday
There is a degree of naivety in the shrill criticism of Lawrence Stroll’s expected placement of his son Lance in a Force India race seat after his takeover of the team.
Some people are suddenly impassioned supporters of Esteban Ocon, fretting that he will be moved aside for nepotistic convenience.
I share some of those concerns, for Ocon is a better driver than Lance.But a handful of considerations smudge black and white together into a more blurred picture.
First, Lance is not alone in being helped up the ladder. Which driver is not a beneficiary of a wealthy donor, albeit not always a rich father?Lewis Hamilton, who came from an impoverished background, was bankrolled through his teenage development by his own sugar daddy, Ron Dennis, pinbahis and arrived on the Formula One grid the most lavishly prepared driver in history. Ocon himself is advantaged by being on Mercedes’ books and managed by Toto Wolff, the most powerful man in the sport.
There’s a degree of naivety in shrill criticism of Lawrence Stroll’s expected placement of son
Secondly, Ocon is not a Schumacher or a Senna or a Hamilton. He is a very decent driver indeed, but not a putative legend.Those golden handful announce themselves like gods. As Hamilton did in 2007, admittedly in a better car than Ocon is driving. Ocon performed well at the weekend but finished a place (sixth) behind his team-mate Sergio Perez, who, incidentally, is worthy of his seat regardless of the Mexican money he brings in.
Thirdly, if Wolff cut Ocon’s umbilical cord to Mercedes, the Frenchman would be welcomed at McLaren — problem solved.
Fourthly, Formula One is a fierce business and money counts.That is not a bad thing; it is an inevitability and a positive in that it keeps the whole imperfect sport afloat.
Fifthly, Lawrence Stroll, a billionaire, is as free as the next man to spend his money as he wishes. He wanted to buy a Formula One team and he has.In doing so, he has saved 400-plus Force India jobs in the Midlands that were threatened by the administration from which his buyout lifted the team.
Why are his detractors so picky about their saviours?
Lance Stroll is expected in a Force India race seat following his dad’s takeover of the team
The soundtracks of our sporting childhoods were the commentaries of great voices: David Coleman’s emotive yodel, John Arlott’s bucolic burr, Murray Walker’s demented pyrotechnics.
There were others, though the first-lap crash on Sunday brought Murray to mind.It was at Spa 20 years ago that the field pinged around the track like pinballs on the extraordinary rain-slicked dart from the start line. In the same race, Michael Schumacher drove through the mist into the back of David Coulthard. ‘Oh, God!’ exclaimed Murray, his pants fully on fire.
I am not sure anyone today can match that kind of intonation (please, listen to it on YouTube).We shall not hear their like again.