John Watson Q&A

Last year John Watson made a return to an F1 commentary role with Sky's digital service, but after its demise he's once again 'resting,' although he will be working for Canada's TSN in Montreal. A recent visitor to the Austrian GP, where he joined other former winners in a celebration at what could be the last such event, he still keeps in close touch with the sport - and as ever has forthright and colourful views on what's going on. Adam Cooper asked for his thoughts on the current season

John Watson Q&A



"It was a great day for me personally, but also it was a fantastic day for the team, because one year earlier Mark Donohue, the driver that was so synonymous with Penske in racing throughout the sixties and seventies, sadly lost his life after an accident in the Sunday morning warm-up. So one year later the same team turned up at the Austrian GP, and when they went away it was like a weight had been lifted from their shoulders. They exorcised the ghost that was with the team that year."



"I think regulation changes, and changes to the operation of practice and qualifying don't help. Frankly I think there's only one thing that's important, and that's the image that comes through somebody's television screen into their living room. I want those people to be riveted to their seats, I want them to get up after a qualifying session or after a Grand Prix with legs that have got so little energy and strength that they collapse! I want them to be absolutely exhausted. And you're not going to do that with regulation changes.

The only thing you're going to do that is television and the technology that the industry is developing. Just look at what's available in computer games for kids. If they can get that level of excitement from a game, why can't our sport recognise that the way to do it is through television? Last year I was involved with Bernie Ecclestone's F1 digital broadcasting. I thought it was fantastic, and I think that's really the future of F1."



"I don't like them. First of all I think qualifying is about drivers being on track for one full hour. Qualifying in Austria finished in under 45 minutes. It's a joke. I want to see drivers with four sets of tyres doing four serious runs. We saw Raikkonen starting at the back in Spain, we had Alonso at the back in Austria. The penalty is disproportionate to the crime, and that's not good for F1, in my view."



"I've felt that since the end of last year. The way Ferrari are right now as an operation, with the line-up they've got, it's a fantastic team. Everybody else in one form or another are not able to challenge what they've got. Williams are seemingly getting bogged down in their own individual problems, and McLaren are somewhat hesitant in bringing forward their own car. Reliability is the factor."



"Alonso impressed me in 2001 anyway, I think it was outstanding what he did with Minardi. Mark Webber is the name that everybody's got on their lips right now. Within Jaguar he's on a pedestal. He's had a fantastic year to date."



"The only way you can look at it is to take it in the context of the teams they're driving for. If you look at Mark and Jaguar, Alonso and Renault, Raikkonen and McLaren, Montoya and Williams... I've got to go with Raikkonen and McLaren. At the end of the day the team has got a record of getting the job done. They are better structured I feel right now than any team outside of Ferrari to achieve that goal.

Whatever people say about Ron and McLaren being boring, he understands how to win championships and win races. Assuming Raikkonen has got the ability to learn, and you can see that Ron is guiding him like Mika Hakkinen Mk2, I would have to go with that package, because I think fundamentally it's the second best package out there."



"I think so. Renault have been very impressive, and the car is impressive, but there are still elements in the package which are let's say open to question, ie the engine. But the benchmark on which Alonso will be judged is when he gets into one of those perceived top three teams, principally Ferrari and McLaren, with Williams falling back into the clutches of the teams behind them."

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