Published on March 18th, 2013 | by Richard Wiley0
The farcical face of Formula 1
I never thought I’d say it, but I think I’m getting bored with the current Formula 1 formula.
Ever since the current tyre rules came into force, we’ve been denied the spectacle of real, out-and-out motor racing. As Michael Schumacher so pertinently said; “It’s like driving on egg shells.”
What prompted me to spring into print, and doubtless into a flurry of derisive responses from readers, was the press reporting on the recent Australian GP.
One report described the race as “thrilling.” Not sure I was watching the same thing. Outright speed wasn’t a factor at any time. Instead, and as we’ve become accustomed to, it was tyre degradation that determined who led the struggling pack.
The normally dominant Vettel was hamstrung as he slid about the track trying to keep his Red Bull in check. The favourite of the British press, Lewis Hamilton, who’s been hailed by them as some sort of messiah at AMG Mercedes, looked rank ordinary. And just wait for the ambient temperatures to rise – probably in Malaysia – and you’ll see exactly where this struggling team really sits.
Ferrari, as usual, manipulated Alonso’s position but took advantage of the fact that their chassis is more rubber-friendly than most, and the enterprising Sutil benefited from qualifying out of the top ten by fitting medium compound rubber for the “heavy fuel run.”
Since when should a driver actually benefit from finishing eleventh or worse? It’s far from the first time that this has happened but it demonstrates unequivocally the compromise that is F1.
If the rule-makers want to mix up the grid, they should remove the absurd requirement that the top ten qualifiers must start on their qualifying rubber just as they should remove the ridiculous compulsory use of two rubber compounds.
Since when can two rubber compounds provide optimum results? We all know they can’t and that’s exactly why GP racing has slowed down so much. The paucity of tyres also explains why so many teams sit out practice for so long. Is this what the public pays to see? I don’t think so.
Raikkonen’s fastest lap in Oz was nearly FIVE seconds slower than Schumacher’s nine year old lap record! And on that subject, certain TV programme presenters quite close to home were almost eating the sound proofing out of their studio in their praise of the Finn’s stupendous drive. The fact that the driver himself then went on to say it was one of the easiest victories of his career tells you all you need to know about the state of Formula 1.
The malaise goes beyond tyres though. It also finds root in the absurd restraints on engine development. The once dominant Mercedes powerplant has been progressively strangled by rules and by the DRS system which ensures that aero factors have become much more important than reliable power.
As for me – I’ll spend even more time watching the World Endurance Championship which offers a host of different technologies and genuine wheel-to-wheel racing.