Pit Stop – Racers Want To Race – By Lewis Brearley

How you reacted to the late-race radio exchange between Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes engineer is a clear indicator of what you want and love about Formula One racing.

When Lewis’s engineer, responding to the looming threat of a rapidly closing Fernando Alonso, radioed with the rather oblique: “Your rear traction metrics are under 2000,” Lewis replied simply: “just let me drive man.”

The get-out-there-and-drive-the-wheels-off attitude doesn’t tend to compliment the technical, cerebral very well. Indeed, this was the issue at the very core of the Senna versus Prost battle years ago and we all know how destructive that became.

Yet in modern Formula One the most obvious example of this culture clash is with Lewis Hamilton, who puts Senna as his hero. The engineer simply meant that there was plenty of life left in his driver’s tyres and was giving him a coded message to push to fend off Alonso. Was there really such a need to make such a command so complex?

In a sport so technical, where tenths of a second can separate glorious victory from despairing loss, any advantage and even ways of working are jealously guarded.

While a huge frustration to the Hamilton-ites, it surely makes sound sense for the more technical minded fans. Why spend millions on aerodynamic parts, engine software developments and brake cooling devices to blow it with a rash communication?

The thing which makes F1 so different and special among sports is the fact that it can be enjoyed in such disparate ways, and every fan across the spectrum can love it just as much.

After all, whether you were shouting in unison with Lewis and his plea to just “get on with the driving”, or instead you were in harmony with his engineer in thinking that there was nothing more vital to the race than Lewis’s rear tyre degradation matrix, your love of Formula One isn’t any less.

However, someone who just may be falling out of love with F1 is Jenson Button. Just as it looked that his team was finding its way out of the mire it found itself in at the start of 2013, his torrid season reached a new nadir. For the first time since the dark days of 2009 the team finished with both its cars outside the points.

This was supposed to be Button’s year in which he finally had a big team to lead, to mould around himself and to challenge for a second championship.

But with the winding down of the Mercedes technical partnership next year and the loss of the technical director Paddy Lowe, there doesn’t seem to be any light visible at the end of the tunnel yet.

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