When drivers leave F1 for other formulae, it is interesting to follow their progress, especially if they do well. This gives us confirmation that F1 really is the peak of motor sport and its drivers the best. Of course, if they do not rise to the top immediately, we excuse their performance by commenting on how F1 requires different and more sophisticated skills; the F1 driver is having difficulty adapting his finely-tuned talents to the other, coarser formula.
So we keep an eye on former F1 drivers like Alessandro Nannini, who went to Touring Cars after his accident, Christiano da Matta in Indy cars and now Juan Pablo Montoya in NASCAR. And Montoya is particularly important to us; we want him to win everything in sight so that we can crow about the superiority of F1 drivers over all others.
So far, the signs are there, if not the results. In both races he has entered, Montoya led for several laps and he finished in third spot in Talladega. It was quite possible that he was going to win but had to spend time in the pits after being hit by another car.
This happened in Iowa too, where he was forced into the wall while in the lead. A long pit stop resulted in him only being able to come in 24th. And we begin to wonder if those good ole boys are plotting to ensure his downfall.
That is the nature of NASCAR, however – like all saloon car racing, it tends to be a good bit more robust and aggressive than F1. The fact that the wheels are covered means that cars do not automatically fly into the air when they touch and so some barging and shoving is inevitable.
I would guess that the signs are very hopeful for Montoya, in spite of the roughness of his introduction to the sport. He qualified well both times and has demonstrated real speed in going straight to the front. Once he learns how to be wary of the other cars and not to allow them to push him into mistakes, he should be a consistent winner.
So honor is satisfied and we can return to our pinnacle of motor sport, secure in the knowledge that it has been shown once again that F1 is only for the very best. Well, it is, isn’t it?