The seeds of a problem can be planted many years before they germinate and the initial symptoms of a malaise become detectable. Formula 1 is now starting to feel the early effects of a decision made over four years ago.
For all the millions spent on designing, developing and running grand prix cars, the driver remains a vital component. A driver cannot win without a good car and a good car can be made to look less effective in the absence of a quality driver. It is a symbiotic relationship.
While the difference between the average rank-and-file F1 driver and a gold standard, world championship-winning one is tiny, this can make all the difference between a great season and merely a decent one. The best drivers are able to deliver week in, week out. Think of the relentlessness of a Fernando Alonso or a Sebastian Vettel, who near as makes no difference always deliver.
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Edd Straw is Editor-in-Chief of Autosport, overseeing both print and digital versions of the brand. Edd has worked for Autosport since joining as a junior reporter in 2002. He became Editor in November 2014, having previously worked as National Editor, News Editor and Grand Prix Editor.
Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, he joined Autosport shortly after graduating from university. He went on to cover a wide range of categories from club motorsport to the World Touring Car Championship and Le Mans to Formula 3 before switching to F1 full-time at the 2008 French Grand Prix. He continues to cover a range of international events in his position as Editor-in-Chief.
In his spare time, he was formerly a club racer whose abilities did not match his enthusiasm in a variety of categories.