Op-Ed: Where have all the heroes gone?

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sj

Negative Camber and I must be drinking from the same bowl of Kool-Aid today.*

He’s just posted a piece outlining 2010’s heroes and villains. And this morning — about five hours ago, actually — I started this post but ran out of time.

So now it will seem like I’m just piggy-backing on him. But it isn’t true, I tell you. I’m always first and always fastest. Me: Alonso. He: Massa.

But NC’s list of characters from this past season is a fine segue into my topic, which started bubbling about in my noggin after reading how Sir Jackie Stewart thinks the current grid is every bit as talented as the one when he was winning championships.

Stewart seems nearly to blaspheme. Sebastian Vettel the equal of Jim Clark? I mean, c’mon now, Jackie. We’re talking Jim Clark, not to mention fellows like your fellow Sir, Stirling Moss, or Graham Hill. Heck, run through Lois’ list and you’ll see what I mean.

These guys were gods among men, right? The wrestled those demonic cars that annually were certain — certain — to claim a few of their lives. They pushed the limits of what was possible, and were in a select crowd doing so along with astronauts, test pilots and maybe a few of the wilder adventurers of the day.

And what do we have today? Any number of drivers who whine over their radios, come pre-packaged thanks to PR departments and seem to be less and less the key element to pushing the cars to the edge.

Right?

Well, then I got to thinking. Are the guys on the grid really that different from back in Stewart’s day? Or is it more likely that I’m the one who has changed? I’ll never be able to look up to Sebastian Vettel or Felipe Massa. (Probably haven’t been able to since I was about 13, but, anyway…) My sense of hero maybe is what’s been tweaked with time.

So my question goes out to a few different groups of our readers:

1. Any kids who have managed to break through the parental restrictions on their computer and post here at F1B.
2. Parents with kids who are into F1.
3. Readers with younger siblings — maybe with a cut-off around 13 or so.

And my question is: How do they (or, in the case of No. 1, YOU) see today’s drivers? Is there awe and wide-eyed respect? Do the kids pretend to be Mark Webber or Robert Kubica?

In other words, are today’s drivers every bit as much the heroes as drivers were “back in my day”?

* Consider yourself a long-timer if you remember the debate on that metaphor.

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