Sport Motorsport Aussie legend Alan Jones says Formula One could go back to the future

Aussie legend Alan Jones says Formula One could go back to the future

Alan Jones driving his Williams FW06 Ford Cosworth V8 during the Swedish Grand Prix in 1978. Photo: Getty
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Former Formula One world champion Alan Jones survived in an era when eight of his fellow drivers did not, but he has no doubt a purer and louder form of the sport will live on.

That is despite the rise of electric technology in motorsport, with the 1980 world champion hopeful that the rise of the new Formula E category will mean technological advancement may move to that category.

“It’s not impossible to see one go completely one way and the other go the other way,” Jones told The New Daily.

“It’s not impossible, I believe, to see them go electric, hybrid or whatever the case may be [in Formula E] and the other one go back to screaming loud engines.”

Since 2014, F1 fans have complained that the visceral feeling of being at the circuit has diminished because the new turbo V6 engines are not as loud, despite recent efforts to re-engineer the cars to artificially increase the decibel level.

In his recently released autobiography, Jones claims F1 has been sanitised, but maintains the greening of motorsport could be an opportunity for the premium category to return to its roots with bigger engines.

Jones said this would risk a backlash from “politically correct” critics, but he is convinced it would make F1 even more unique and popular.

“At the end of the day, we should never lose sight of the fact that Formula One is show business,” he said.

“It’s a show and a business … so the more they arrive in helicopters and off the bow of the boat in Monaco … people love that stuff.

“And that’s the sort of colour that the average blokes think ‘wow, how good is that’ … that’s one of the attractions of Formula One.”

The 70-year-old’s book offers new insights into his early years as the son of open-wheel racer and car dealer Stan Jones, revealing the personal demons that haunted his high-flying father.

His father’s business failed and money dried up, but Jones said that made him more determined to survive and thrive on his own in Europe.

And while he said it is now much harder for Aussies without financial backing to find a way into open-wheel racing in Europe, he feels it is still doable.

Alan Jones Daniel Ricciardo
Alan Jones shares a joke with Daniel Ricciardo. Photo: Getty

“It’s always handy to be within the system and it’s always handy to have some money,” he said.

“I don’t believe it is totally impossible for somebody to go over there without any money and work the paddock, you know, sweep the floors … it is much, much, much harder … the likelihood of making it is probably a lot less than if you front up with a couple of million … but it’s not impossible.”

Jones said despite Australian star Daniel Ricciardo having the benefit of family financial backing, he has showed what can be achieved by backing yourself, taking a risk and going to Europe early.

“He might have gone over there with a few bob but he still had to probably be in an apartment by himself, couldn’t call around the corner to have a roast dinner with mum on Sunday,” he said.

“These are all the little things that add up.”

Looking back on his own career, Jones thinks of his eight peers who died at the wheel and the lone Christmas card he received one year from the legendary Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, who was killed at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

“I feel blessed and lucky [to have made it through],” he said.

“There were a number of occasions where I had various accidents where, but for the grace of God, I could have been killed and seriously injured.

“But I managed to avoid that and I feel very grateful for that.”

AJ: How Alan Jones climbed to the top of Formula One by Alan Jones and Andrew Clarke, published by Penguin Random House, is now on sale.

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