Winning…. It’s all about “lying!”
Max Verstappen was recently quoted as saying that it is “better to stop (racing),” if you don’t believe you’re the best driver in Formula One. On this basis, there is a minimum of nineteen drivers on the grid lying to themselves (excluding the test drivers). But I have to agree with Max’s statement.
Using the verb lying seems a bit harsh but it is a reductive term for self-delusion – a major component of the “C” word – Confidence. Confidence is a prerequisite necessary to be a successful race driver. However, it is often ephemeral and the mere mention of its name can result in it upping and offing without so much as a bye or leave. But when possessed in enough quantity, it enables the slightly less skilled, or talented to outperform those who have more, either on the day or even over a season sometimes.
This may come as shock, but it is backed by scientific studies and evidenced by the crop of current drivers. If we cast our eye across the grid these days we see a number that seem to have mislaid their “C.” In some cases it's recent but for others, there has been a slower longer-term decline. Sometimes the driver’s “loss” is equally matched in the “gain” by their teammate, but this isn’t always so. A good example would be Perez. His “C” has been in the ascendant for more than a year now with his success at Aston Martin (nee Racing Point) in 2020 and is surely turbocharged after last weekend’s win. I think Max might find things a little feistier with his teammate over the next couple of races, although I have no doubt who will reign supreme eventually….
Can a driver relocate his “C”? Many don’t, so I must give a big chapeau to Monsieur Gasly. Barely recognisable after the “mind job” of being Verstappen’s teammate and being summarily relegated to the “b” team halfway through the 2019 season. He has risen phoenix-like after his Monza win in 2020 and the Alpha Tauri team are looking more capital “B” than lower case with his performances this year.
Other drivers are also currently on a “C” high – Messrs Norris and Russel. All delivering superior performances in cars their teammates are finding challenging to tame. Neither of them, however, have had to compete in the shadow of a Hamilton or a Verstappen. Until the other members of the grid can “lie” to themselves as convincingly as Lewis and Max can they will only be making guest appearances on the top step of the podium. For some confidence is hard-won and easily lost. For others, the narrative is never questioned. But It’s the difference between winners and participants. Some drivers say they are best, others think it, but only these two know they are. Unequivocally!