I’ve been a Formula One racing fan since 1978.I was in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix and looked on as the legendary Canadian F1 Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve won the race, on a cold and windy fall day.Trudeau (pere) would land in a helicopter on the track, to present the trophy. It was an incredible, historic moment.I would return many times to Montreal, and to other F1 tracks to cover it as a writer and photographer. A big credit goes out to my mentors, Al Ruckaber at the Calgary Sun and Carl Morgan at the Windsor Star, who believed in me and gave me a chance.Getting accreditation or media credentials is next to impossible these days. You have to be a movie actor, multi-credentialed international press personality or have a papal dispensation. (Just kidding.)But yeah, it’s tough, if not impossible.Anyway, here I sit, waiting to see yet another Formula One race, the Mexico Grand Prix. Hoping it will be entertaining, and not just another follow the leader, with Red Bull Dutchman Max Verstappen winning by a country mile.Mighty Max has won 14 out of the 17 races held this season, and he also managed to rack up 10 wins in a row, which is a new F1 record.That’s all well and good, but it’s damn boring for some Formula One fans, including my buddy Ralph.He still tunes in, but he finds it “too sterile. No competition. No crashes. Just going round and round, like watching the laundry in a dryer.”Unlike NASCAR, which has lots of action and crashes, to make things interesting, Formula One has become rather predictable once you get past the first corner.Red Bull, led by the genius of its chief technical officer Adrian Newey and team principal Christian Horner, are simply unbeatable. For now.Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren have all challenged, but Red Bull is just too fast. And so the sport as it is today lacks the excitement it once had.As a race fan, I want to see some action. Some risks taken. Some honest-to-goodness passing. No more follow the leader. Get out there and fight!And here is where I sound like Grandpa Simpson, of the Simpson’s cartoon show — an old man, shouting at clouds. I want to see some Gilles Villeneuve passion!This is what is missing, from today’s Formula One racing. Not just the top teams, outspending the hell out of the small teams.Today, everything is done on a steering wheel! At close to $60,000, the carbon-fiber wheel is covered with a collection of knobs, buttons, toggles and levers that activate the radio, control the car’s settings and enable the driver to take a drink.It might even have a big screen — a far cry from the wheel in your Toyota.Qualifying? There is a setting for that. Wearing your tires too much? There is a setting for that. Need to save on fuel...…etc., etc.There is a setting for everything. And it is all on the steering wheel.F1 cars are incredibly complicated machines, with tons of adjustability for things such as the engine mapping, differential output, engine braking, brake balance and aerodynamics.The steering wheel acts as the central controlling unit for the entire system, with easy access for the driver. The buttons are the same type used on aircraft, designed to prevent any accidental presses by the driver.I don’t even know if you can call it an F1 car anymore. It’s more and more like aerospace design.So what is left for the driver to do? Read the manual? Hang out with his supermodel girlfriend? Go play some tennis? In Villeneuve’s day, it was all about the driver. Not the technology.This was a man who could take a scary car (the Ferrari 126C2), a beast of a machine, and win races with it. An inferior car, with a driver who just happened to have the heart of a lion.What kind of man was he? Thanks for asking.Well, for starters, at the 1981 Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort, he went for it, only to bang wheels and bounce and rotate down the straight at high speed, heading for me and a bunch of other photogs behind a flimsy fence!Thankfully, the wood chips slowed his Ferrari and I lived to work another day.But here’s what others would say.Sir Jackie Stewart: "His car control was extraordinary, even compared with the many talented drivers I have had the opportunity to drive against over the years. (He drove a) Grand Prix car to the absolute limit of its ability."Rene Arnoux: "It was terrible when Gilles died. I cried that day and the next one too, even though I had to race and I remember the feeling that we were all starting equal, from now. Villeneuve was gone. We all knew he had talent beyond our reach."Jacques Lafitte: “I know no human being can do miracles, but Gilles could really surprise us sometimes.”Jody Schecter: "[Gilles] was the fastest driver in the history of motor racing. But more important for me is that he was the most genuine person I have ever known."There will never be another Gilles, not a chance. Nobody today, comes even close. And it saddens me when I see today’s racing milieu. I should add I was lucky enough to interview Gilles, his brother Jacques, his parents, and also his son, Jacques, in my duties as a motorsport writer.I am very thankful for that.But alas, Villeneuve’s fiery passion to win at all costs, is sadly missing from today’s Formula One racing.While there is still risk, big risk, improved safety standards and a quantum leap in auto racing tech has turned it into a video game.I don’t want to take away the glory from Verstappen, a gifted driver. Probably better than the rest. His records stand on their own.But if not for Newey (undoubtedly the most successful designer in F1 history) he would just be another challenger.Some say Lewis Hamilton is the GOAT. [Greatest Of All Time.] That just makes me laugh.There was a fellow named Juan Manuel Fangio, who, it is said, could also work miracles on a track. With race cars much tougher to drive.He too, risked everything, had no fear. Went on to win the World Driving Championship five times driving for Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and Maserati.To some extent, yes, it is still the driver. But perhaps a different kind of driver?According to an eight-year study published in Applied Economics, a "long-held belief" that the car and the team contribute to 80% of race success with the skill of the driver making up the other 20% — sometimes called the 80-20 rule — is not accurate.It's actually the interaction between the driver and the team, the report said.Lead author Duane Rockerbie, from our own University of Lethbridge, said the findings are "particularly validating for drivers."The professor added: "The car and team's input has been greatly overestimated.”"The biggest factor is more nuanced and it's the interaction between the driver and the team, which accounts for 30-40%.”"More skilled drivers improve the return to team technology and vice-versa. After all, F1 cars do not drive themselves and drivers cannot ply their trade without an F1 car.”"The 80-20 rule vastly underestimates the role of the driver, given the critical complementarity between driver and team."Ferrari Technical Director Harvey Postlethwaite once said, "Gilles (Villeneuve) was a totally uncomplicated non-political guy with no hangups whatsoever. He was totally and completely honest.“If we were testing and the car was rubbish, he'd come in and say 'Look, the car's rubbish. I don't mind driving the car, don't get me wrong, I'll drive it all day and I love every minute of it, but I thought that you ought to know the car's rubbish.’ ”“The Old Man (Enzo Ferrari) loved him for this."That car would kill him at Zolder. And also seriously injure his teammate, Didier Pironi at Hockenheim.I wish there was some way to put the fire back into F1. To make it real again. Make it fun again. Until then, I will keep watching … and remembering Gilles.