Formula 1

F1 can blame Sebastian Vettel for rule changes

The 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix just got more important (©GettyImages)
The 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix just got more important (©GettyImages).

One of the great debates of 2013 was the influence Sebastian Vettel was having on Formula 1, was he turning off fans? Was he worthy of the level of success he has had?

Yet I always had the opinion that we should not be blaming the German for the lack of competitive exciting races.

Instead I always looked at the other top teams and said it was up to them to close the gap to Red Bull and Vettel, they were the target everyone else had to go get them.

I still believe that now looking back on how the 2013 season developed, Red Bull (and Mercedes) strongly called for changes in the tyres after Adrian Newey, for once, made a car that was not absolutely perfect in every way and as the frustration among fans grew and tyre failures rocked the British Grand Prix that was eventually what they got.

When the new construction was introduced at the Hungarian Grand Prix it was shock horror as Mercedes won in the hottest race of the year as Lewis Hamilton stormed to his only win in over 40 degree temperatures.

That would be an one-off however as some moved focus to 2014, Red Bull worked hard on the RB9 and brought a package to the next race at Spa-Francorchamps that would be unbeaten for the rest of the season in the hands of the 26-year-old Vettel.

So actually when the flamboyant German claims he and Red Bull’s success comes down to them working harder than their rivals, he may very well have a point and that doesn’t sit well with the Vettel haters and those that don’t like change.

In many occurrences I often wonder if some fans would be happy with Ferrari and McLaren winning every race in cars that are in no way relevant to the road cars of the 21st century, but that argument is for another day.

No instead those teams that should have been fighting with Red Bull for the final nine races instead sat back in those four weeks deciding there was no point in better developing their 2013 cars to the new tyres and instead became too focussed on the new V6 era coming next year.

As a result Vettel was left with a car far more in sync with the four wheels on each corner and Renault developed engine maps that got the absolute best from the exhausts indeed most French powered cars improved over the final half of the season.

It was always a risk that finding the balancing act of challenging in 2013 and being competitive in 2014 would lead to one team dominating the end of the season and that certainly happened, further infuriating an already agitated fan base, unless your a Vettelian of course.

So this brings me on to next year and the somewhat surprising steps announced by the FIA to try and spice up the F1 show and keep fans interested.

One of them was the decision to allow drivers to pick their own personal number to carry throughout their F1 career, this split opinion among fans on Twitter as some, again who don’t like change, were outraged ‘What’s wrong with the current system?’ they wailed.

Well much like the topic of drivers changing their helmets – another area where Vettel haters like to play – what is wrong with drivers being allowed to express themselves?

Damn, when people point at Lewis Hamilton and say ‘oh look he has a dog, that must be a distraction’ I just think ‘what the hell are you on about?’.

Last time I checked racing drivers were still human beings with passions and hobbies outside of driving very fast cars, a race helmet is a way for a driver to express himself, a dog helps Lewis Hamilton relax at the circuits and having your own number just adds to that persona.

Those who watch F1 and MotoGP are very supportive of the idea, everyone associates Valentino Rossi with the number #46, Jorge Lorenzo is always identifiable by his big #99 and current champion Marc Marquez is building his brand with the number #93.

Why can’t F1 drivers do the same? Of course the champion has the option if he wants the number #1 but by having your own number you make your car more identifiable and you can build a better merchandise brand.

I think it’s a great idea and certainly if Martin Brundle and David Croft mistake the #43 of Nico Hulkenberg to the #12 of Nico Rosberg then something is seriously wrong.

Finally there’s the ‘big one’, double points at the final race of the season which coincidentally is moving from the tear inducing venue of Interlagos to the glitzy if rather despised venue of Yas Marina.

Once again the traditionalists are up in arms mourning another ‘gimmick’ as the impending death of F1, seriously I think some people enjoy boring races with nothing going on.

I understand the arguments why people are unhappy with it, yes it seems wrong a driver could lose the world championship by retiring at one race which offers 50 points rather than 25, but I look at this from the other perspective.

Think of the opportunities particularly for the midfield, one good race could catapult a team up the Constructor’s standings, it gives them an incentive to keep developing knowing all is not lost rather than what happened this year with Red Bull pulling away late in the season.

I also say this, for all the critics of the plan imagine this, your favourite driver is 13 points behind heading into the final round, all he has to do to become champion is win rather than hope the leading driver finishes no better than fifth, much more exciting, much more unpredictable oh and the haters wouldn't be complaining if their favourite driver can out on top as a result.

Changes are good for Formula 1 and the debate as to whether they are the right changes will rage all the way until November 2014, all I can say is there is only one person we can blame for these changes, a young German by the name of Sebastian Vettel, so credit to him for that!

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