F1 now a race of computers, not drivers Former Grand Prix winner Thierry Boutsen believes that technology now plays too great a role in the sport, having joined Formula 1 in 1983 before his retirement a decade later. The Belgian also feels that the championship is now lacking in the kind of driver camaraderie which featured throughout the 1980s.
After making his debut with Arrows before switching to Benetton but picking up three race wins for Williams at the 1989 Canadian and Australian Grands Prix plus Hungary 1990, Boutsen drove for Ligier in 1991 and 1992 prior to his exit from the sport after ten races with Jordan in 1993.
“There is a big difference,” the 53-year-old explained to India’s F1Pulse.com when comparing the two eras. “Technology has taken over, completely. When I was in F1 at the beginning, we didn’t have any computers - laptops didn’t even exist! We had a really different way of working.
“The drivers needed to have a lot of experience, in terms of setting up a car and building it with an engineer - there was a really strong relationship between the two. Today it’s totally different. The human part of F1 was much stronger than today.
“I believe, from what I could see, that we had a really good relationship between us; all the drivers were eating together in the evenings and travelling together.
"I remember once leaving from Nice with my Learjet and we were ten people on the plane including Senna, Alboreto and a lot of other drivers; I mean, there were five Formula 1 drivers inside the airplane - today you would never see that!
“Drivers today don’t even have a right to almost speak to one another, to stop the transfer of technology. We really enjoyed all that, in the car and outside of it. We spent a lot of time travelling, eating and going to parties. It was really good fun on the driver side of things, too; the relationship between the drivers and between team-mates was also always very good.”