The world of swimming is up in arms about a controversial new piece of swimwear dubbed the Speedo LZR Racer. Its effectiveness in making swimmers faster can be judged by the fact that 33 swimming world records have been broken since February – 30 by users of the LZR gear.
The Times’s top sporting scribe Simon Barnes is not impressed:
Is swimming about the best cozzie rather than the best athlete? Do we want swimming to become like Formula 1, a battle not between individuals but between manufacturers?
Perhaps I’m biased (actually, yes, I definitely am) but I think he sells F1 short with that rather glib assessment.
No, you’re not going to win the world championship or even the odd race this year without an F2008, MP4/23 or F1.08 – F1’s equivalents of the Speedo LZR Racer.
But that doesn’t mean the drivers have no role to play. Look at the kinds of vast differences in performance we get between two drivers in the same machinery.
Had Renault’s lead driver in 2005 and 2006 been Giancarlo Fisichella, and Fernando Alonso driven for someone else, would they have been double champions that year? Without Kimi Raikkonen around would Felipe Massa have been champion for Ferrari last year? In both cases the stark reality of the championship scores suggests not.
Formula 1 is not just a technical exercise – it’s a sport at the same time. That’s one of the fundamental complications and contradictions that makes it so absorbing and fascinating to follow.
Unlike swimming, which would still be tedious even if they took the LZR Racers and all the other swimsuits off them…