taken from http://www.autosport.com Dear Nigel, Having read your Autosport column for years and the strong feelings you have about driving standards and etiquette in F1, what do you think is acceptable behaviour in the modern era? Mark Webber seemed to brake test Fernando Alonso more than once in Bahrain, while Alonso did the same thing to David Coulthard last year at the Nurburging. And what of Ralf's antics why pass people when you can simply drive them off the track? Then on the other hand Takuma Sato was the epitome of aggressive fairplay in Bahrain despite his hot-headed reputation Katey Hollands, Salisbury, UK Dear Katey, As you say, I do have strong feelings about driving standards and etiquette in F1, and I'm interested that you should ask what I consider to be acceptable behaviour 'in the modern era'. As far as I'm concerned, 'the modern era' makes no difference and that goes for manners of every kind, and not just on the race track. Alan Jones used to say, "Good manners are not optional", and I agreed with him then, and agree with him now. When it comes to bad manners, I have zero tolerance, and I wish more people felt the same way. As for questionable etiquette on the race track, the same applies. By that, I'm not suggesting I expect F1 drivers to behave like choirboys this is the top of the tree, after all, and aggressive driving is to be expected, and, so far as I'm concerned, encouraged. 'After you, Claude,' is not going to get you very far in motor racing, let's face it. That said, there is a line over which I don't believe racing drivers should go and really what it amounts to, as Martin Brundle has said, is respect for those against whom you're competing. Back to Jones again. He and Gilles Villeneuve had some of the toughest fights I've ever seen, but they had consummate respect for each other, and drove accordingly. This was how Alan remembered those battles: "Gilles would never deliberately block you. If he thought you'd won the corner, he'd give you room maybe only a foot more than you needed, but never a foot less and consequently I'd do the same for him. A totally honourable racing driver". Keke Rosberg, another with whom Villeneuve had many an encounter, concurred: "In a race car, he was the hardest bastard I ever knew, but absolutely fair. Racing was a very pure thing for Gilles. He never put a dirty move on anyone in his life". There's no doubt in my mind that the driving etiquette in F1 is not what it was, and I think there are three reasons for this. First, the etiquette in sport generally is not what it was, so that these days 'sportsmanship' is regarded by many as wimpy indeed, almost contemptible. Sad, but a fact of life. Folk go to a football match, watch a scrappy game, with 22 blokes kicking the hell out of each other, and so long as their team wins 1-0 they seem to come away quite happy. Second, don't underestimate the significance of money. For a very long time F1 like most sports has been awash with it, and when the financial rewards are colossal people can sometimes behave in a manner they would otherwise never consider. Third, with regard to standards of behaviour in F1, I'm quite sure that the decline has much to do with the fact that racing is so comparatively safe nowadays not absolutely safe, of course, for it never can be but hugely more so than it was. When I asked former World Champion Phil Hill what had accounted for the change in driving manners, he said this: "Well, they feel they can get away with it, I guess. That's the only possible explanation. If guys drove like that in my time, they usually sorted themselves out pretty quickly with a big accident or else somebody else did it for them. "Some of the stuff that goes on today...I just don't know what to think. Doing that in my day...so many of them would have ended up in fatal accidents. It was just unthinkable, really, to touch another car, because of the potential consequences. I know it sounds corny, but those were the facts. Over the long term, you just couldn't do it, and get away with it. Now they know they can get away with it, so they do it." From what I saw, it looked very much as Webber did indeed 'brake test' Alonso in Bahrain last weekend just as it seemed that Alonso did it to Coulthard at the Nurburgring last year. As for Ralf...well, Patrick Head described his race as, "A bloody mess", and that about summed up the situation. I thought he drove like an idiot on Sunday. In the incident with Sato, he turned into the corner as if the BAR were not there where the hell was Takuma supposed to go? The fact was, Ralf on the outside had not 'won the corner', yet he behaved as if he had. I was astonished that he received only a reprimand afterwards. It came up elsewhere and I thought I'd bring it up here since it seems to be a growing issue. Has F1 lost it's sportsmanship, I know it's not just F1 that has it's rowdy athletes, they're everywhere. But where have the days gone where you'd give space to a car that has made the pass and you don't brake check another driver to put them off the track? There were a few instances in the last race, Sato and Ralf, Webber and Alonso. I think it has a lot to do with the huge safety margins we have now. Driver's are just being competative. Even though it seems like they've crossed the line a few times.