Murray Walker once said ‘Anything can happen in Formula 1 and it usually does’. Probably if you were watching the 1980’s races, you wouldn’t have been so wrong, but this today, it is definitely one quote distant from delineating the reality of Formula 1.
An F1 fan in India had to stay awake up till 1 am to watch the grand Prix du Canada. With hindsight, Canada never fails to provide a good show. In 2011, the race went on for 4 hours with Jenson Button pitting 6 times, being thrown back to the dead end of the field but finally taking the win. And who could forget 2014 when Daniel Ricciardo snuck his car ahead of the Mercedes to take his first win in what was a fantabulous race overall? The evidence is in the bag, nothing could go wrong with the thrilling competition around here. Unfortunately, 2015 was the beginning of many one-offs. The race was comfortably won by Lewis Hamilton, who as such as already pretty much sealed his world title this season, followed by Rosberg and Bottas. The only show that went on was Sebastian Vettel’s phenomenal run through the field from P18 to P5, Valtteri Bottas taking advantage of Kimi Raikkonen’s mysterious spin, Felipe Massa’s equally awesome field run from the back of the grid and finally, a beaver. It’s hard to believe this is the same sport in which racers mattered more than machine (Mansell, Hungary 1989) or teams making a radical strategy work (Alonso, Japan 2008).
Despite the heart-warming resurgence of Ferrari and Williams, F1 2015 has been nothing but a Mercedes whitewash up till now (add a spark of red, if you may). The sport has lost one of the most iconic grand prix’s of all time – the German grand prix, and slowly losing spectators too. The kind of fillip that formula one needs at present will set the sport back in years; something like a broken bridge missing the middle path. To cover up the wallowing, GPDA, the association formed by drivers, had launched a survey that took 25 minutes to complete, asking for fans’ opinion on the sport. The response was record breaking with over 200,000 fans responding, however seeing F1’s recent slackness in almost everything, I would see my 25 minutes gone to waste already. Not pessimism, just the truth. Drivers themselves have requested for a Formula One more thrilling rather than a management game.
“F1 cars need to be faster again whether that is through more power and downforce or better tires. It must be a challenge again to tame these beasts so that the wheat is separated from the chaff” said 4-time world champion and director of the GPDA, Sebastian Vettel.
What needs to be done to bring F1’s old mojo back and first?
F 1 is a huge sick tree standing tall on its old but strong roots. Although the strategy group is trying everything in its power to regain the 5-6 seconds lost over the years, its inefficiency is seen in every step of the way. There is no proper governance of the sport – the Strategy Group’s composition is unfair and disregarding the existence of smaller teams, FIA and Bernie Ecclestone do not seem to take charge and execute the decision neither are they too willing to loosen up the sport regulations, and capital partners CVC are inconsiderate of all the teams on the grid.
There are several questions left unanswered despite hours of debates taking place behind the glass doors in a room away from media. For starters, if the new regulations proposed for 2017 enough to regain lost viewership? Or does F1 need to spice up things by making regulations less restrictive? All we can hope for is F1 to muddle its way though to all the current issues to some rapprochement.
Until then.. let’s move onto Austria!