Everyone is moaning about Formula 1 again. There are plenty of opinions on how to fix it, but much like everything these days, the sport has become overly complicated. Can we just get back to basics?
Lets stay away from rules like the absurdity of standing restarts. If the last 2 race weekends weren’t enough proof as to why that’s a terrible idea, the sport deserves to ruin itself.
What we’re more concerned with is the show itself. The buzzword around the paddock and media circles is spectacle. Apparently, the spectacle is what’s been missing from Fomula 1 in 2014 and the new technical regulations are only making matters worse. As a result, a whole slew of terrible solutions including titanium skid plates, to help generate sparks, have been written into the rules for 2015. These temporary fixes will be good at attracting the fair weather fan, but they come off as inauthentic to the serious fans and will do little to keep them hanging around if the overall product doesn’t improve.
What Formula 1 needs to do is allow the current engines to redline at their intended 15000 rpm.
What has really damaged the product in 2014 is the lack of noise on track. Watching a motor race in person is a completely different experience than watching it at home, which is actually far better. At home you get more information, are able to see all of the on track battles unfold and generally don’t miss a single lap of the race – unless you’re watching NBCSN. At the track there are other, more sensory experiences that make up for the lack of racing you get to see. One of those major advantages is hearing the cars in person. If you’ve ever been to an air show or any kind of motor race, you’ll know precisely that other-worldly feeling of shock and awe that can only be achieved through sound. Hearing any open wheel race car at WOT is a mesmerizing, joyous experience.
Formula 1 has always been the global purveyor of such sound-related bliss and in 2014 that’s all gone away and with it, the attendance on Sundays. Without the sound the sport no longer seems so exciting and so dangerous. Formula 1’s ticket prices are astronomically expensive and it’s a difficult sell outside of the diehard fans so if people are spending the money, the product better be excellent.
Some teams have tried to respond to criticism about the new sound of Formula 1. Mercedes were seen testing trumpeted exhaust earlier in the season with little effect. Right now the cars’ V6 turbos are redlining between 10-11000 rpm, however changing their tuning configurations would give the cars an additional 4-5000 rpm. The extra revs would produce much of the high-pitched wailing people have been calling for all season.
So why hasn’t it been done already?
The answer is simple, tire degradation and fuel savings. Under the current technical regulations, the cars must maintain a certain fuel flow throughout the race.
Somewhere along the line, the FIA and Formula 1 decided they needed to become more “road relevant”. The more the sport adheres to an environmentally friendly approach, the more automotive manufacturers (like Honda) will want to become involved with the sport. New manufacturers will attract new sponsors which means more money for Bernie.
Open wheel racing was never intended to be road relevant and it never will be. There is very little to do with a Formula 1 car that you’ll find in your own garage. These machines are so specialized that even the most mundane of adjustments could adversely effect the entire car’s performance. For as much as sport is about competition, it’s also about entertainment. You would be kidding yourself to think otherwise. That being said. part of what has always made Formula 1 so entertaining, is the immense competition – the best drivers in the world racing in the best machines that money can buy. Environmental preservation will never be entertaining and at the end of the day, it’s not motor racing’s battle to wage. The sooner that’s realized, the sooner we can all get back to enjoying Formula 1 without all of the gimmicks.