Back to Jackie Stewart. A passage in his autobiography, Winning is Not Enough, about getting easy access to drivers at Grand Prix races, rings true with me: “…it is a pity that the modern [F1] drivers seem to have become so remote from the enthusiasts. In 1953, I was walking up to drivers asking them for their autograph, standing and watching mechanics prepare the car, seeing, feeling, smelling and hearing the power and glory of this extraordinary spectacle and…. I became hooked. Nowadays, a 14-year-old boy can only experience a Grand Prix through television coverage, through the media or through his binoculars.”
He’s right. Of course, the sport has changed immensely since Sir Jackie competed, but this passage made me think of Lewis Hamilton and his complaints that he needed to move to Switzerland to escape all the fan adulation and media attention that dogs him in England. It’s ridiculous that a professional athlete thinks so highly of himself that he feels the need to isolate himself from his fans, further depriving a young follower of a chance to experience a moment that could set him or her on a path to racing passion.