The ’57 French GP and a New Look for GPevolved.

English: Track map of Rouen-Les-Essarts.

English: Track map of Rouen-Les-Essarts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, so my project is clear, to cover as much of the span of Formula 1, race by race, as life permits me to get through.  My last post took a tongue-in-cheek look at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix as compared to its 1957 counterpart.  It was essentially luck that it worked out that way.  I hope that Grands Prix here at GPevolved frequently line up with their modern equivalents, but this may prove to be a fairly rare occurrence.

But, there are certain times, during the motorsport season, where even the most passionate fans loses a bit of interest.  I find that this sometimes occurs after Monaco.  Monaco is just so grand, there is a sense of, “well, what could possibly follow that?”, or more pessimistically, “whatever’s next’s gonna suck”.

But, the points system does not discriminate as to whether you win Monaco or the most forgettable of Herman Tilke tracks.  And so, from the cold eyes of the championship, it does not matter where you win.  But for the spectator and fan, some races are just not that interesting.  As it is late, and I am a bit slaphappy, I say we look at the anatomy of a forgettable Formula 1 race:

The Track

For a forgettable race, the track does not have to be a bad track, per se.  It just cannot stand out when compared to the other races of the season.  The French GP took place Rouen-Les-Essarts.  You probably have not heard of it, which I take as support for my point.  It was a high-speed track, but neither as fast as Monza nor as grand as Spa-Francorchamps.  From what I gathered, the track did not have the atmosphere of either.

The Schedule

A forgettable race can occur merely by happening to be scheduled subsequent to someone locking in the championship.  Or, in this case, it can be just an average race in the middle of the season.  But, generally speaking, being after Monaco and Le Mans is precisely where you would not want to be.  It’s sort of like when a bar-be-cue is scheduled from 11 – 5, and you go at two, only to be stuck cleaning up with the host, because everybody else decided to come early before they left to do other stuff.  Well, suffice it to say, a bad schedule slot contributes to the crappiness of a forgettable race.

The Competition

There must be some “x” factor at play which is dramatically reducing the competition.  For example, the Braun double-diffuser, contributed to some bad races during their race for the championship.  To me, a race is only as interesting as it is close.  And a race can only be close if the winning driver faces a legitimate challenge.  Right now, in 1957, Stirling Moss is the only driver who has even been coming close to Fangio.  Fangio, quickly approaching 50, remained untouchable, regardless of the car he drove.  But, for the French GP, Stirling Moss was out with a sinus infection.  I suppose when your life is on the line, you think twice about driving medicated.  Although, I have read rumors that Fangio kept a pouch of mysterious pills.

In any event, Fangio was untouchable and one the French Grand Prix.  And so, another Formula 1 race slipped into the remoteness of history, only rarely dug up only to be summarily dismissed.

There were a couple notable facts.  Namely, an American (Herbert MacKay-Fraser) made his only Grand-Prix appearance.  He died a week later in a Formula 2 race.  Luigi Musso, who has been around for a while now, set fast lap for the first time in his career.

But, the next race is the British Grand Prix.  After that, is the ’57 German Grand Prix which Fangio called “the best drive of his career.”

Please drop a comment below: For you, what makes a race forgettable?