Formula 1

F1 Icon Sir Jackie Stewart Reflects on Racing Evolution: Verstappen’s Era Easier Than the 60s and 70s

Sir Jackie Stewart, a former F1 Champion and racing legend, has shared his perspective on the current state of Formula 1, specifically comparing it to his time in the 60s and 70s. He suggests that today’s F1, including Max Verstappen’s success, is easier compared to the challenges he faced in his era.

Key Takeaways:

  • Comparing Eras: Stewart points out that during his championship years, the number of races was significantly lower, with only 11 grands prix in a season compared to 24 today, offering current drivers like Verstappen more chances to win.
  • Varied Racing Experience: In his peak years, Stewart competed in 65 races annually across different motorsport disciplines, including rally, IndyCar, and touring championships, to earn sufficient income, highlighting a stark contrast to today’s F1 focus.
  • Modern Comforts and Media Scrutiny: Stewart remarks on the luxurious conditions modern drivers enjoy, from better travel to team facilities. However, he notes the intense media scrutiny today’s drivers face compared to the more personal and less public interactions of his era.

Sir Jackie Stewart, a distinguished figure in Formula 1 history, recently spoke candidly about the evolution of the sport and the contrast between his racing days in the 1960s and 1970s and the current state of Formula 1. Reflecting on his experiences and observing the current landscape, Stewart provided a unique perspective on the changes over the years.

In an interview with Bild, Stewart shared insights about his racing career, highlighting the fewer opportunities drivers had to prove themselves back then. “When I became world champion for the first time in 1969, we only competed in 11 grands prix. This year the calendar consisted of 24 races [although two were cancelled],” Stewart explained. He emphasized the relative ease for current drivers to rebound from a bad race due to the increased number of races in a season.

Stewart also touched on the extensive travel and diverse racing commitments of his era. “While drivers now drive 24 races a year, I had 65 when I was at my peak,” he said, detailing his participation in various motorsport competitions to make a living. His record for most Atlantic crossings in one year stood at 61, a testament to the demanding nature of his racing schedule.

Addressing the current comforts enjoyed by F1 drivers, Stewart acknowledged the luxurious conditions they experience, from better organized grands prix to more comfortable travel arrangements. Yet, he pointed out the increased media attention they endure. “However, they are also followed by the media at every turn. Every action of theirs is evaluated. It was different for us. We also went out for a drink with the journalists in the evening, and the content of the conversation wasn’t in the newspaper afterwards,” Stewart revealed.

Finally, Stewart commented on Max Verstappen’s potential in F1. He observed that Verstappen has little room for improvement due to his early start and extensive experience in F1. Stewart also mentioned the possibility of other drivers like Sergio Perez challenging Verstappen in the future, despite the current ease for Verstappen to secure multiple world titles.

Sir Jackie Stewart’s reflections offer a unique glimpse into the past and present of Formula 1, highlighting the significant changes in the sport and the evolving challenges faced by its drivers. His perspective provides invaluable insight for both long-time fans and newcomers to the world of F1 racing.

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