Former F1 racer David Coulthard
insists that the Spanish Grand Prix
wasn't a 'disaster for F1' despite the criticism levelled at Pirelli over the degradation suffered in Barcelona.
With drivers forced battle degradation throughout the race at Catalunya, almost 80 pit stops took place with a number of people in the paddock being critical of the way in which drivers had been prevented from running flat out because of the need to nurse their tyres.
Writing in his post-race column for BBC Sport, Coulthard – now co-commentator for the broadcaster – insisted that the race hadn't been a disaster because of the tyre issues even though it meant a different approach was now being taken compared to when he himself was in competition.
“I did not think it was a disaster for Formula 1,” he wrote. “Having said that, I do accept that this is not F1 as I was used to it. When I was driving, if you qualified on pole, unless you really screwed it up, you would be on the podium.
“In pure entertainment terms, there is no doubt that the spectacle F1 is producing now is far better than the days when we would go off in grid order and that would pretty much be the race result. People have short memories, but those days were really not very long ago at all.”
Coulthard added that he would like to see some kind of compromise whereby drivers would be able to fight flat-out on track, without the action becoming processional as had been the case at times in the past.
“All tyres get slower through their lives,” the former McLaren and Red Bull man insisted. “I never knew an F1 tyre that did not have a peak of performance when it was new and then degraded and wore out as you drove on it. What does seem to be completely clear, though, is that the drivers are not pushing right to the limit in the race.
“There are many sports that are not about extreme physical endeavour, but F1 has for me always been about man and machine taken to the limit, and if you go beyond that limit there is damage or there is death. Of course, F1 is still dangerous, but that gladiatorial aspect has been lessened.
“The current formula doesn't seem to please the drivers as a whole and there seems to be a growing discontent among the fans, many of whom feel they are seeing management rather than racing. They want to imagine the drivers are thrashing the cars from start to finish, even if that is not what is actually happening.
“I like to see drivers driving flat out. But I also want to see an interesting race and not a procession.”