“The sport only works on TV…” Jeremy Clarkson’s F1 criticism continues

After attending the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix at the start of March, TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson hasn't held back in pointing out the issues with F1.
Jeremy Clarkson (GBR) TV Prese
Jeremy Clarkson (GBR) TV Prese

The former Top Gear presenter was unimpressed with how much pace management Red Bull and Mercedes had to do in Saudi Arabia as Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen were given ‘target lap times’ during the final stint at Jeddah.

In his latest column for The Times, Clarkson made the point that F1 is not great viewing from a live spectator point of view compared to watching it on television.

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Clarkson used one of his own early F1 experiences as an example.

He wrote: “At the 1973 British Grand Prix I was in the stands at Silverstone’s Woodcote corner, which meant I was right there, in the thick of it, when Jody Scheckter’s Yardley McLaren put a wheel on the dirt at 160mph, spun into the wall and set in motion what was almost certainly the longest crash in F1 history.

“From where I was standing it looked like cars were hurtling into the dust cloud and then coming out on the other side in component form. It was backwards Lego, but incredibly no one died. And only one driver, Andrea de Adamich, was injured.

“It took an hour to cut him out of his Brabham, and afterwards he decided to continue in the sport. As a commentator. Can’t say I blame the poor man.

“And me? Well, as my only sporting experience up to that point was playing badminton with [British politician] William Hague, I was hooked. And I vowed I would go to as many grands prix as I could for the rest of time.

“A vow that lasted until, ooh, about 15 minutes after the restart. It was a good race, packed with incidents and excitement. Jackie Stewart spun off while trying to pass Ronnie Peterson, James Hunt and Niki Lauda had the first of many battles to come. And Peter Revson staged a masterclass, going on to win. But I saw about none of it.

“This is the problem with F1 as a live event.”

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19. Formula 1 World Championship,…

Clarkson believes spectators are “very lucky” if they get to see the various incidents during a grand prix.

“You have to be very lucky to see an incident, and even if you do it’s usually over in a flash and there are no slow-motion replays to help you understand what caused it,” he added.

“This, then, is a sport that has only ever really worked on television.”

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