I have become a big fan of the FIA GT1 World Championship in the past year or so. The recently-revamped championship has done what had previously seemed impossible — it has made GT racing exciting.
But it has also developed a reputation for some pretty poor driving standards. No race goes by without some silly incident on the first lap, coupled with an avoidable crash or two midway through.
Things boiled over during yesterday’s qualifying race at Silverstone, when the Young Driver Aston Martin car driven by Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke was forced to retire after a messy incident involving the Sumo Power Nissans. Afterwards, Darren Turner spoke out about driving standards in GT1, saying that some drivers “need to chill out”.
But today’s championship race saw an even worse incident involving two of the same cars. Richard Westbrook, driving the Sumo Power Nissan, made an optimistic attempt to pass Stefan Mücke. The Aston was punted off the circuit, but it has to be said that the Nissan came off far worse in the incident in terms of damage.
Then came one of the most shocking and disgraceful pieces of driving I can ever remember seeing. With red mist seemingly getting the better of him, Stefan Mücke came charging down the Hangar Straight at full speed, and crashed into Richard Westbrook in an apparent attempt at revenge.
It’s understandable that Mücke might have been angry following the crash. But there is no way his actions can be excused. It may have been wise for him to heed the advice of the driver he was sharing his car with: just chill out.
If a driver feels aggrieved, it can be dealt with later. The racetrack is no place for revenge. Whether Mücke intended to cause a crash is debatable. But he was certainly driving dangerously. Needless to say, that’s not on in a motor race. Not only could drivers get injured, but marshalls and spectators could too.
It’s a shame because it has cheapened the GT1 World Championship. It was a prestigious event in the British motor racing calendar. The GT1 race was also for the 2011 RAC Tourist Trophy, and it was the first major race to be held at the revamped Silverstone Circuit with its new Wing complex.
Out at the front, two drivers from the same teams were showing how to race hard, fair and safe. Lucas Luhr in the Nissan held off Alex Müller’s Young Driver Aston by two tenths of a second in a scintillating battle as the race reached its climax.
What a shame for it to be overshadowed by idiocy. I hope the FIA throw the book at Mücke.