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Johnny Herbert f1

Johnny Herbert exclusive: Qatar track used to be hell on Earth but it doesn’t push drivers now, Schumacher loved a party and Hamilton still a role model despite track controversy

Speaking to Lucky Block bitcoin casino, British F1 legend Johnny Herbert only sees another Red Bull win at the US Grand Prix but doesn’t think they are the greatest team of all time, insisting that title belongs to Lotus.

Who will win the US Grand Prix?

JH: “Red Bull have still got that little edge over everyone. We saw the McLaren performance which was good to see from the sprint race and the race itself. Red Bull had to think about their strategy to ensure there was a big enough gap.

“The characteristics of the track, which is quite bumpy, could aid McLaren who to my mind have the best handling car out there. It is not a horrible car to drive. The Red Bull still has little elements where it tries to bite you every now and again, but Max is able to deal with theta generally. The McLaren just looks very easy to drive. Maybe with the bumps they will be in a slightly stronger position. But overall it is still Red Bull and Max.”

What about the heat of Qatar?

JH: “I have been in those types of conditions in Qatar and Bahrain and you could cook an egg inside INSIDE the cockpit. I did a test in Dubai and it was an ambient of 52c. It was hell on earth. In F1 the only time I have felt that humidity was in Malaysia in 1999 when I was with Stewart. We had no power steering, it was like trying to run the wheel of a stationary road car. It was brutal. When I first came into F1 I always thought the sport should be the most difficult physical and mental challenge and it was.

“I remember Michael Schumacher changed the whole dynamic, changed everyone’s mindset as to what it should be like to drive a formula one car to make it win, which was to drive as fast and flat out throughout a race. In modern times we have not seen that really. It has all been about degradation and engineers, tactics and strategies; drivers at maybe 60-70% of their limit.

“That is not testing the human element as much as I would want to be honest.”

Was it too much in Qatar?

JH: “Well to my mind that is what it should be like. It should be tough.

“Going back to the Malaysia experience, I remember Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger in the weighing area sitting shattered for about 20 minutes. I got out of the car and was seeing stars. It was punishing. But none of us ever said we shouldn’t race in these conditions. We all accepted that it was part of it.

“Should it be looked at? Possibly. One answer would be for the drivers to carry7 more drink in the car. We also used to wear cool suits. But I don’t want the sprot to lose the human element. That has to be part of it, both physical and mental. Change fitness regimes. The drivers are supposed to be the very best at the peak of their powers. It has to be a test of man and machine. I don’t want to lose that.

Lewis Hamilton was criticised for walking across the track by FIA in light of his “role model status”. What did you think of that?

JH: “He is definitely a role model. However, walking across the track was the wrong thing to do. He knows that rule is there.

“The criticisms levelled against him for the accident with Russell going into turn one was not fair. That was part of racing. He only needed to give another six inches for it to be absolutely fine. But his judgment was not quite there. That goes back to my point about the human element. Even a seven times world champion makes mistakes. Even the best have made mistakes. And Lewis has made very few mistakes in his career. I’d struggle to count them on the fingers of one hand.

“Sometimes I just think the sport should just let the drivers, race let them get on with it without making so many rules which interfere with the trace itself.”

Lewis won his first title at 23, and his most recent at 36. Max has won three by the age of 26? How many can he win?

JH: “The only thing that might stop his domination is the rule changes coming in in 2026.

“The performance by McLaren was so encouraging. They had that front row in the sprint race they raced well on Sunday. Red Bull are starting to come under pressure from other teams. Everybody is getting closer. Let’s hope by the start of next season we will have a battle royal. The positive thing for race fans is that McLaren have been able to do what they’ve done. We will have a much closer pack.

“Max is not going to have the same domination next year. He is going to have to work at it. I never thought anyone would ever get near Michael. And Lewis did. It is not a given that Max is going to have everything his own way in the next couple of years.”

“As a natural talent he has the ability to eclipse Lewis and Michale’s achievements. He has that very rare special something that the very best have.”

Has 2023 been the dullest season ever?

JH: “No, this has not been the dullest season ever. Michael’s era was the dullest in history as far as I am concerned. You have to give Max credit for what he’s done. He has not just dominated, he’s dominated in a way that it is very special to watch. He can dig deep and still perform as he showed in Miami and also in Spa.”

Perez to retire? Is that likely?

JH: “I’d be very surprised and also find his thinking very confusing as to why he thinks his time might be up. He is up against Max. I was up against Michael so I know what it is like playing second fiddle.
“It is so, so tough when you string some good laps together and you get the timing screen put in front of you and you just sigh!

“He started strongly and it evaporated. And he hasn’t been able to get it back. Qatar was a very scrappy Perez weekend. Red Bull have weak pairing. And if you look at what Red Bull did historically, I would be very surprised if he was there next season. They have options.”


JH: “The logical thing would be Daniel. He has a great reputation and has done some brilliant overtaking manoeuvres . But he left Red Bull because of Max. Is Daniel better than he was? No. Is Max better?

“Lawson has done a great job coming in for Daniel and is very impressive but he hasn’t done a full season.”

An Andretti team is looking likely now. Is that a good move?

JH: “Yes I want an Andretti team to happen. It will give another two drivers a chance on the grid. In fact I’d like to see 26 cars back. It looks better as a grid. It will add a lot to have another American team back. It adds to the American market, you’ve got the powerful Andretti name.

“Critics say they’ll never win. Is that the point? Everyone on the grid tries as hard as they can. But not everyone is going to be a world champion, not everyone is going to win a race. Does that make them rubbish? No it means like in any sport you have a pecking order.”

Who might their drivers be?

JH: “There’s talk of trying to get a US driver from Indycars. It would be lovely to see an American coming in to lead the team.

“People talk about needing experience. And that is always a good thing. But it is a different world now, In the 80s and 90s he experienced drivers were your modern day simulator. The drivers input now is way less than it used to be.

“What you’re really after is speed. And Hulkenberg would be the one I would look at. He still has that potential. Maybe they should rill down to the next generation and someone like Liam Lawson.”

Why are Toto and Stroll resistant to another team?

JH:”I don’t understand. They talk about having less money. But having another team would add more and help the sport to grow. There would be a bigger wow factor which would add to the value of the sport worldwide.”

Ralf Schumacher recently spoke about partying until dawn with his brother? Was the social side better in your day?

JH: “Yes, the social side was better in my day. The big one we had was in Adelaide after the last race. Everyone went to the same bar or club. Michael would get quite drunk early on. His party trick was to go up to someone and rip their shirt apart with buttons popping everywhere. You knew it was coming!

“It was an easier thing to do back then. Adelaide was the main blow out. What has changed is the advent of social media. It has changed everything. You can’t go anywhere without being papped.
“They still have fun now but it has to be more controlled behind closed doors.”

Who are the best three teams of all time?

JH: “It depends on the era. That’s difficult. From the 60s and 70s Lotus, they would be top. What Colin Chapman was able to do was incredible. Brabham when they started in the 60s, Ferraris have been there every single season.

“In modern times Red Bull is one of them as well as McLaren and Williams. Overall top of the heap has to be Lotus.”

Lewis. Why does he generate a lot of negativity?

JH: “Drive to Survive has opened up a door that was previously slammed shut. You never saw the characters come out. The series has drawn people into that world.

“Lewis has always had people who knock him. I remember when he did a little video highlighting the amount of plastic in the seas. He cleared up a little cove and he got slammed for it for virtue signalling.

“I don’t understand it. Is it a form of racism? I don’t just know. He pushes diversity hard. He always supported the women in the W series. He gets criticised so much which I think is unfair.”

Has Oscar Piastri shown up Lando Norris this season?

JH: “Not sure he’s embarrassed him. But he has made Lando realise he has a great team. Oscar is a talent. They are very evenly matched. Lando at his best would always beat Oscar. They are pushing each other and learn from each other.