Johnny Herbert, the winner of the 1995 British Grand Prix, was back at Silverstone
this weekend - but not driving in a car. Instead, the former Benetton, Ligier, Sauber, Stewart and Jaguar driver was working with Sky Sports F1
on their television coverage of the event.
Herbert, who has also acted as an official FIA
race steward in recent seasons, said that this week's race had ultimately come down to a question of how the teams approached using their different Pirelli compounds over the weekend, and graphically showed just who had got to grips best with the 2012 specification.
"Only tyre strategy helped Mark Webber
to grab victory ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso," the three-time Grand Prix race winner told Crash.net
What had caught his eye in particular was how the relative performances of the top teams could vary so much from race to race depending on the weather and the varying characteristics of the tracks.
"It is extremely interesting how various teams have adapted to various circuits," he said. "The current fast Silverstone
is followed by a medium-speed Hockenheim and a slow, almost Monaco-like Hungaroring.
“McLaren and Mercedes started the season with very fast cars, but they fell behind in the development race and now Red Bull
Racing and Ferrari
are dictating the development rhythm of F1," he added.
"One team which has a fast car is Lotus, but for various reasons they failed to win a Grand Prix so far in 2012," Herbert suggested. "I certainly would not rule them out to win a race later this year."
As engrossed in this weekend's action as he was, it was hard for Herbert not to let his thoughts drift back to his own time in the sport. Although the modern day F1 cars looked great and must be fun to drive, he doubted they were a match for the cars of his days in the 1990s.
"I tested a Benetton-Ford and Lotus-Honda, both with turbo engines," he recalled. "They were on a different planet in terms of power!"
There were other ways in which his time in F1 had the edge over today's F1 scene, too, with Herbert having particularly fond memories of the Hungaroring: "It was always hot and the girls are very pretty!" he laughed.
However, he said that he'd been no fan of the grooved tyres introduced into the sport just before he retired at the end of the 2000 season and that he had been happy to see finally them go - even if the new Pirelli tyres were giving the teams their fair share of headaches in 2012.By Zoltan Karpathy