Usually when one car or marque enjoys total dominance of a series, as Porsche did then and as Mercedes does in F1 today, usually the loudest noise from the crowd is not applause but mutters of disgruntlement.
The only time I knew I was watching history unfurl before me was in the late 1980s when Jaguar and Sauber-Mercedes contrived to end what at times had appeared to be Porsche’s impregnable grip on sports car racing. I can remember going to Le Mans every year, watching them all, mixed with thundering Astons and wailing Mazdas and realizing this was genuinely special and that it wouldn’t last for long. And for once I was right.
But I’ve got that feeling again about sports car racing, and await this weekend’s opening round of the World Endurance Championship at Silverstone with greater anticipation than the Monaco, Belgian and Japanese Grands Prix combined.
What we currently have in sports car racing are cars that are genuinely as quick as lower order F1 machines, yet which will last 24 hours. We also have a rulebook that far from designing 95 per cent of the car for you, permits engineers to choose between petrol, diesel and hybrid power, front, rear or all wheel drive, front or mid engine locations and engines with as many cylinders and in whatever configuration you choose. Cleverly the rules are evolving at a rate that means all regulatory attempts to slow the cars are offset almost exactly by engineers finding ever more clever ways of finding a bit more downforce here, a bit more energy there. This time last year Mark Webber told me his Porsche 919 had over 1000bhp for over 80 per cent of the Silverstone lap.