Formula 1 has passed the danger point where it might become sports most boring spectacle and has officially become sports most boring spectacle. The so called pinnacle of motor sport has long been processional even with the addition of artificial overtaking aids that we saw earlier in the decade. The results are almost always skewed in favour of the team with the most money; driver talent has much less to do with success in formula one than in series such as INDYCAR or even its feeder GP2.
The cars are visibly slower than they were less than 10-15 years ago and it is by a significant amount too. Lewis Hamilton’s 2015 fastest lap at Melbourne’s Albert Park was a full 6 seconds slower than Michael Schumacher’s mark from 2004. 6 Seconds may seem like a stretch to say that car’s a visibly slower than previously but there are other factors. Cars start the race with 100kg of fuel on board so Hamilton’s lap number 2 time was 1:33.49 nearly 9 seconds slower than the lap record, to only shave 3 seconds his fastest lap, and the fastest lap of the race on lap 50 was 1:30.94 an increase of just about 2.5 seconds, which doesn’t seem like a remarkable improvement given that you’ve burnt off essentially 12% of the cars weight (Minimum Unfuelled weight 691kg + 100kg Fuel + Driver 80kg). Physics doesn’t mean that a 12% saving = 12% faster but the Upshot of it all is that Formula 1 cars aren’t designed to go as fast as they can anymore. With restrictions on fuel flow preventing the driver from giving it everything that a car has drivers rarely drive at the limit for long periods of time.
For the last decade but even more so since the switch to the hybrid power plants, Formula 1 has been about interpretation of the rules, the great strides of innovation are long since gone instead F1 rather than pass down an innovation f1 has taken a road going innovation and made it more powerful, Its worked backwards, essentially building ultra-Priuses. The reason for this, the manufacturer teams wanted to better reflect road going technology, which is subtext for money. Everything about this sport is now about the money, the team with the biggest budget can build the fastest car, there’s little motivation to run a smaller team if you’re budget is 1/3rd that of somebody contending for the title. If you do manage to pick up a driver for a season that can possibly push your underpowered crate around the circuit a better than before it’s a matter of time before he gets absorbed by the big budget teams.
Words like sentiment and tradition hold no place in Formula one, classic tracks and local traditions are waived if you can’t afford to pay the fee to hold a race, which around £25million increasing by 10% annually, which on a ten year contract is a killer!
The cars look awful and sound terrible, the drivers are personality vacuums who spend far too much time in media training and most of all there’s absolutely no competition. There’s no money at the back of the grid which means the grid will shrink, and will continue to do so because money doesn’t want to be associated with losing! F1 is fighting a losing battle with itself until it learns to spread the wealth. Once it learns to spread the wealth only then will the talent and the competition spread around with it. Every substantial rule change brings with it a power shift in which of the top teams are competitive.
The random elements of F1 have been removed, there are no x-factors no flash in the pan pieces of greatness, the sport is measured and calculated to within an inch of its life. Teams don’t need a great driver to win; they need a consistent driver to win. They know that if a driver is able to operate in a certain timing window per lap then they don’t need to overtake and be spectacular because in the shakeup they’ll know where they’ll finish relative to anybody else. The math’s is so detailed the results of the race have already been simulated a dozen times over and panned out before each of the teams even take to the track, the race is just run to see if any random elements effect the outcome, which is why wet races are among the most unpredictable and often the best.
Formula 1 cars are still among the best in motor sport but that seems to only be the case because other series are wilfully not pursuing them. GP2 car’s use a 4 litre V8 and weigh slightly less than a formula one car. Give an engineer a week to unleash its power and one will give a modern f1 car a run for its money. Give them a month and it would likely blow one away. The trouble is Formula 1 cars are so limited in what they’re capable of now, innovation gets harder and harder because of over restrictive rules that actually stifle innovation and this is becoming more and more apparent.
If Bernie Ecclestone wants to know how to make F1 sustainable look at how the NFL conducts their business with the teams.
Here’s a simple reality check for everyone in this borefest. I care if my car is fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. I don’t care if Jenson Button’s is; I’d rather his was fast! F1 is supposed to be the best a car can be, not the best a car is supposed to be.
What do you think?