Formula One is hardly on the crest of a wave. To say the sport is on the precipice of disaster may be overstating it, but the diminishing viewing figures illustrate the growing disinterest people have for this once great sport.
After the abject failure of the new regulations introduced in 2014, the FIA and the governing bodies are planning to introduce yet more rule changes in 2017 to shake up the sport, and help make it more fan friendly. Unsurprisingly, the majority of these rule changes are totally ludicrous. The predominant changes being suggested are to make the cars faster – seemingly a good idea, but this is perhaps the worst of them all.
The FIA want to make the cars faster by piling more downforce on the cars, which invariably will allow them to travel around corners faster. They believe this will enhance the spectacle, make the races more exciting and most astonishingly, make the cars harder to drive.
Downforce is like kryptonite to F1. The abysmal racing that has occurred this year can be largely attributed to the high levels of downforce the cars now have, which has meant that they leave behind a thick trail of dirty air which affects the handling of cars a certain distance behind. This problem is perpetuated the more downforce a car has, which is often why you see the second place Mercedes haplessly unable to catch and pass the lead Mercedes because the Mercedes cars have the most downforce.
This is also why qualifying is now so vital for the Silver arrows, and why you have scarcely seen the two cars wheel to wheel this year. Adding more downforce would simply be a disaster, and so this idea must be squashed.
Another proposal, albeit one that is unlikely to come to fruition, is to introduce same chassis regulations, much like in GP2. This would be a nice idea if the drivers were not so highly skilled, but due to the fact that there is a large discrepancy in ability between Lewis Hamilton and say Roberto Mehri, this would not be good for the sport. The show will be further hampered as result diversity will be utterly squandered and a monotonous inevitability will characterize races. One driver, by definition, will always be quicker than everyone else which would mean he would almost certainly win every race. Imagine the state the sport if one driver was to win every race – it would implode.
A better idea would be to irrigate circuits. They could be watered randomly throughout certain races in a season and in random sessions, which would add an element of excitement and unpredictability to proceedings – a contrast to today in which it seems to get one rain filled session is a blessing, and when this rare possibility does occur, the cars are not allowed on track.
Water the tracks?
Partial irrigation could perhaps occur whereby certain areas on larger circuits like Spa are moistened, and others dry, but not wet enough to warrant the use of wet tyres, which are now seemingly redundant because whenever rain falls in F1, the session is red flagged for 4 hours. This is another self-destructive facet to the FIA: they must not prevent the cars from driving in wet conditions.
Some may argue that this would add an unnatural feel to F1, but we have long since abandoned naturalness by scraping naturally aspirated engines in 2014. F1 was and never will be ‘natural’ - Driving a machine 200 mph around a stretch of tarmac is far from anyone’s perception of naturalness.
Of late, it seems that the only arcane possibility of excitement in races comes through use of the safety car. If some system was to be put in place in which a safety car could be deployed in every race in some capacity, the show would be boosted dramatically. This is an outlandish proposal, but it cannot be disputed that bunching up the cars is the way to improve racing and thus boost global viewing figures.
The spiraling cost of the sport is also an issue in need of addressing. A sustainable budget cap must be introduced. Ferrari, along with the other very wealthy teams oppose this idea because they think that their success will be affected by them not being allowed to spend all their money.
Money will still be the core premise of F1, because with money teams like Ferrari can employ the best engineers and drivers, without there being such an enormous gap in performance as a result of the discrepancy in teams' budgets. The biggest and richest teams are still likely to win championships, but the racing will improve, aerodynamic innovation will be encouraged and performance will be determined on brains and innovations, rather than economic grunt and influence as is the case today - Excessive Expenditure is the very thing sending the sport amok.
On a human level, the sport must be guided away from discouraging drivers from speaking their minds and displaying their true personalities. With the greatest respect to Natalie Pinkham, who cares how the race went today.
I want to know if you considered punching the driver who crashed you off, Mr Alonso. Formula one is becoming hegemonic and institutionalised by media and TV. It ought to deviate from teams encouraging robotic behavior from drivers. The drivers are the superstars, so let us hear what they actually think of the events of a race!
It is simple things such as the aforementioned which will improve the state of F1, not constant technical revamps which confuse and alienate fans. F1 simply needs to go back to the basics.