Sports

Clarkson brutally trivializes the F1 fairy tale

Huge cheers thundered through the stands at Albert Park when Max Verstappen’s car started smoking at the Melbourne Grand Prix last weekend.

It was a visual treat for avid fans of the sport as the three-time world champion was overtaken by Ferrari star Carlos Sainz, who had put in a spectacular performance in qualifying on Saturday.

Sainz, who missed the last race due to an appendectomy, won the race and briefly stopped the Red Bull freight train that has completely dominated the sport for over two years.

Sainz’s performance will go down as one of the most impressive drives of modern times, as he beat teammate Charles Leclerc while still wearing bandages under his racing suit.

But former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson isn’t letting the hype dissuade him.

In a recent column for The sunClarkson took Sainz’s victory as an opportunity to criticize the modernization of the sport and claimed that no man recovering from surgery should be able to win a Grand Prix.

The high-tech nature of the sport has seen the cars evolve from what were originally 500-horsepower coffins on wheels to the well-maintained engineering marvels that they are today.

For many die-hard fans who remember a time when drivers had to blast their bikes through corners with a certain death stare, the modern era is a little too sanitized.

Clearly in this camp, Clarkson questioned whether today’s modern cars needed a “superhuman” to drive them, claiming: “It’s actually harder to walk up to a Formula One car these days than it is to drive.”

“Of course, many people perceived this as a heroic display of stiff determination and courage,” Clarkson wrote.

“I wonder, though. We’re constantly told that these F1 cars are road-going fighter planes. That they are a volcanic orgy of noise and G-forces. And that you have to be superhuman to control one.

“Really? I’m only asking because Carlos, pictured in hospital, was clearly feeling unwell before the race, but he seemed to be coping in the car for almost two hours.

“That makes me think that nowadays it is actually more difficult to approach a Formula 1 car than to drive it.”

Sainz revealed that fellow driver Alex Albon had warned him about what to expect when he returned to the car following surgery. Albon had missed the 2022 Italian Grand Prix with the same ailment.

“I feel like it’s exactly what Alex told me before he jumped in the car,” said Sainz.

“He said when he had his appendix removed, just from the G-forces, it felt like everything inside was moving more than normal.

“It takes some confidence to strengthen your core and body like you used to, but you get used to it.

“There is no pain, there is nothing to worry about. It’s just a strange feeling that you have to get used to when driving.

“Especially on the tracks where we have five or six Gs in some braking zones and corners. Obviously everything is moving, but without pain, and I can handle it and adapt to it too.”

Last weekend in Melbourne, Sainz had more than one reason to show his courage. The bombshell news that Lewis Hamilton would be moving to Ferrari next year meant he now has no seat for 2025.

Big teams, including Red Bull, have shown interest, but it still remains a very wait-and-see situation for the Spaniard. While his teammate Leclerc, who has the longer contract, has overtaken him over the course of their partnership, Sainz has done more than enough to be considered one of the strongest drivers on the grid.

Formula 1 travels to Suzuka in Japan this weekend for the fourth round of the 2024 championship.

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