Formula 1

F1 must stop comparing itself to past eras

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Formula 1 is at it again, not even a year into a brand new set of regulations the governing body, the FIA has called for a study into how to make the cars harder to drive.

It's laughable that so soon into the V6 hybrid era the sport is already feeling the need to make more changes.

But the news comes as the sport continues to analyse why there has been a decline in popularity with the latest reason being the cars are now too easy to drive.

This is something that has been suggested due to the large drop off in lap-time between the fastest lap in qualifying and that in the race plus the arrival of Max Verstappen who will make his F1 debut in Japan this weekend driving for Toro Rosso in the first practice just three days after turning 17 years old.


Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, recently spoke about the challenge of driving the current Formula 1 cars and admitted that despite more torque and less downforce, the RB10 is easier than some of his previous V8 Toro Rosso's.

"Physically, it's not a walk in the park, but it's easier than it was a couple of years ago at least," he told Autosport.

"If the cars are quicker they'll be physically harder to drive. But what we don't want is to make the cars fast like it was 10 years ago so that you can't even follow another car because of the dirty air.

"I think right now is not a bad compromise but it's probably a few tweaks that could be made."

'Proper' F1

While Ricciardo didn't completely write off the challenge of driving the current F1 cars, former world champion Alain Prost was less complimentary telling the British publication it was time for a return to "proper" F1.

"I don't know what's going to happen with Max Verstappen, but it's true that he's going to be able to drive the car no problem," he said referring to the Dutch teen's impending arrival.

"This was absolutely not possible in our time - the cars were so difficult to drive.

"Every year we were testing in Portugal, we were stopping sometimes for a month testing.

"But the first time we went to Portugal it was not possible to make a complete day of testing at all, no way!

"It was physically really difficult, which is not the case today.

Old vs modern

There is no doubt that the cars of today are easier to drive than those gone by, the steering is lighter, downforce much greater and the paddle shift gearboxes means changing gear is as easy as flicking a switch.

The tyres are much grippier, as is the tarmac, while the fitness and the commitment to the cause of being a racing driver is much greater as well, after all we'll never see drivers smoking and flirting with girls ala James Hunt in the hours before a Grand Prix.

But what I'm doing now is precisely what I think is wrong with most current F1 onlookers, comparing today to times gone by.

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Time to appreciate

Of course we can all look back at reminisce over the great 1000 horsepower monsters darting through the streets of Monaco in the 1980's and the mammoth V10's howling along the Kemmel Straight at Spa-Francorchamps but is Formula 1 in 2014 really that bad?

We have high-tech V6 hybrids proving that you can still go at over 200 miles per hour, travel 300km and use under 100 kilos of fuel something unheard of a few years ago.

We have incredible circuits that may have been built with safety in mind and likely can't match the legendary venues like Suzuka and Monza but I'd happily relive this years Bahrain Grand Prix over and over again or go to Circuit of the Americas safe in the knowledge the guys behind the wheel have a much improved chance of being unhurt in the event of a crash.

New style of racing

All I ever hear are complaints about DRS and the degrading Pirelli tyres but all of us remember how torrid most races were in 2010 with rock hard tyres and no overtaking at least now a driver can make a move and the tyres offer differing strategies like those we saw in Singapore just over a week ago.

Heck I must be the only guy who doesn't mind double points in Abu Dhabi because the rules are the same for everyone and I still believe that the driver who scores the most points after 19 races deserves to be crowned champion even if he was 30 points behind after the first 18.

It may not be pedal to the metal, flat-out racing but why shouldn't drivers be forced to think about how much fuel they use and look after the tyres after all those who drive on normal roads think about it all the time!

Filling the cracks

I agree there are things that need to be improved, drivers need to have the chance to push to the limit in races and not have to worry about looking after every last part on the car, but as the technology improves fuel won't be an issue and hopefully Pirelli can maintain the type of tyres they had this year which still need to be cared for but are a bit more durable.

I also think there needs to be more done to improve the action early in the races, Singapore again proved that for much of the opening 30 laps there was little point in watching but if there was ways to spice up the first half to a race then the overall 90-minute to two hour experience would be much more enjoyable and appealing to more casual fans.

Off-track engagement

The biggest problem I have with Formula 1 today is the time between races, and the way the sport tries to keep fans engaged.

Twitter has been fantastic at allowing the teams to keep in constant contact with fans, those who are more open to communicating with the fans and even following back have really helped propel the sport to a bigger audience.

Recently FOM, the company behind the sport, has also begun to embrace the social media platform offering insightful information before, during and after sessions but there is still much more that can be done like sharing race edits on YouTube and giving greater access to older races.

Bridging the disconnect

Recently there has been a greater feeling of a disconnect between the sports rulemakers and bosses and those who pay for the privilege of watching the best drivers race in these incredible machines as rules have been made that very few want and the way the sport is run is also killing its appeal to those in the know.

This is where the dinosaurs at the top need to step aside and/ or allow for greater fan participation an input so the show better reflects what the fans want to see.

Be positive!

While its true some will never adapt to smaller, quieter engines and a button that in effect allows you to overtake, Formula 1 is in a good place as the next generation of drivers come through and we have seen some of the best races in quite some time this year.

We don't need legends claiming that a 17-year-old stepping into a racing car somehow means anyone can do it and men in suits coming up with artificial sparks and standing safety car restarts because this is Formula 1, the most awesome spectacle on wheels and one of the most elite sports in the world.

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