The 2018 Formula One season officially started today with Australian Grand Prix held on Albert Park. What can we say? The race was, as previous races in 2017, more a parade with less action on the track. Vettel won the race thanks to the Virtual Safety Car, Some say Hamilton had a Software problem, and Kimi was faster than Vettel and Hamilton, but finished 3th. For the rest it was boring. The Formula One is in crisis, what can they do?
To start with, this is my current view on Formula One. I used to be one of the biggest fans in the Formula One. I clearly remember the first I saw. I was four and Jos the Boss scored his first podium in Hungary, 1994 it was. I enjoyed many races, partly because I’m a Tiffosi fan, because there was always something going on during the races. However, the last five years I lost more and more the interest in the today’s Formula One. That Max Verstappen came in the Formula One couldn’t stop this loss of interest.
The blocked flag felt in Albert Park, is it a sign for the next races? Will every comming race become a boring parade ? With few action on the tracks? I am afraid this is “again” Formula One in 2018. With Mercedes and Ferrari dominating as before. There is no action on the tracks only complaining spoiled drivers who don’t seem to care their fans at all. I can’t blame them, I would get frustrated as well to participate in today’s Formula One.
Where did it go wrong? To answer this question we have to go back to 2008 when the financial crisis hits the world badly. It damaged the Formula One badly. Big factory teams such as Honda and Toyota disappeared from the grid as result of the crisis. Peter Sauber bought BMW-Sauber back. Renault left the Formula One as constructor, and Lotus took over the position as constructor. Big sponsors left the Formula One, but there were also some positive signs. Ross Brawn bought the Honda team, included the Honda RA109, and won both the constructors championship, as the drivers’ championship with Jenson Button.
The big question in that year was how many team will appear on the grid in 2010, as the financial situation was still bad for many teams, and seemed no to improve. As a solution on the situation, the FIA came with the plan to adapt an budget cap rule in the Formula One. It would mean that teams had a maximum budget they could invest in their team. The budget cap was also needed to get more teams on the grid. Of course, the budget cap was not implemented.
In late 2008, the FIA announced the bid for a place on the grid on 2010. There were four spots available no the grid. Several teams showed their interest and did a bit. In the end the FIA choose four teams that were allowed to enter the Formula One in 2010.
USF1: Seemed to have a great financial package, and booked progression in their design. In the end the team didn’t even build a car, only a tube and some wings. USF1 went bankrupt and it seems it was one big lie.
Campos Meta: Before the season started, the team changed its name to Hispania Racing Team (HRT), as money was an issue for the team. Without pre-season testing, the team entered the First grand prix of 2010. In 2012, the team drove their last race. The team already worked on the F113 car.
Virgin Racing: Entered the Formula One because they could, as the owner of Virgin had money enough. The team did it pretty good compared to the other teams. However, the team was sold to Marussia, and soon after the team became Manor Racing. The managed to score points in 2015. However, went bankrupt after it. The team already completed the design of the MRT 06.
Lotus Racing: The team used the Lotus name. However, after a conflict they changed it to Catherham. The team didn’t manage to score points and at the end of 2014 the team disappeared. The team already completed the design on their 2015 car, the CT07.
I believe the FIA made wrong decisions when they chose the team. Let me explain why. There were teams that made a bid that seemed to have a better financial base to start with. Some of the teams even had their own infrastructure, as they were already active in Endurance or lower Formula series.
Stefan Grand Prix bought the Toyota assets including the unraced Toyota T110, which got renamed to S-01. The brand new Toyota engines powered the car. The other team Epsilon Euskadi was already active in the Endurance racing and had an impressive factory and infrastructure. The team already made a start by designing their Formula One car. The car seen during an interview in the factory on the Spanish television, looked promising. Another Team I would have chosen for was the March F1 Team. This team already started developing their Formula One car. The FIA denied their entry.
The FIA decided to accept HRT, Virgin, Lotus Racing and USF1 bids. If you look back at it none of the teams stayed in the Formula One. It wasn’t the success they were hoping for. In the meantime, the FIA came with a new plan to improve the races. In A1GP, they called it the Power to Push button. The tool was extremely successful in the A1GP series, and the FIA thought it would help to improve the races. The idea behind it is that drivers have for several seconds some extra power for their engine, to overtake. However, I am still not convinced it works properly in the Formula One.
There was more, the FIA came with the biggest failure, if you ask me, the DRS (Drag Reduction System). If you are one seconds or less behind a driver in a DRS zone on the track, you can hit the DRS Button and the back wing opens. It will give the car some more airflow and allows them to overtake the drive in front. It is not overtaking, it is cheating in some way and I’ve never been a fan of it. The DRS shows in what kind of crisis the Formula One is in the last eight till ten years.
Let’s take a short trip back to memory lane. Do you remember the good old days? When drivers as Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were fighting each other on the track, wheel banging in corners, fighting for every centimetre on the track. In those days, the 80s, 90s and the early years this millennium, in the front, in the middle and in the back there was always something going on. Even McLaren, Williams and later Ferrari were dominating the Formula One.
The drivers were always looking for the limit, and sometimes they took even more risk by going over the limit. Sometimes it went well, sometimes it didn’t and they ended up next to the track in the gravel. Race over. If you ask me, the cars look smoother and nice those days. The cars were not that complicated. Sure Benetton, Williams, McLaren, Ferrari and so on used electronically tricks such as active suspension and launch control. Probably they use lots more but could hide it. However, it didn’t matter at all. The races were exciting with lots of overtaking.
Let’s turn back to the present day. The blocked flag felt in Albert Park. Vettel won in front of Hamilton and Kimi. We can conclude that the crisis is still going on in the Formula One, and is even getting worse. I remember the day that Liberty Media made the announcement that they were the new owners of Formula One. That they would make the sport more approachable for the fans. Wake up call Liberty Media! You don’t make the races more exciting and approachable by replacing the grid girls with kids. By introducing a new Logo, no one was asking for. Oh and the Halo… well it’s already an never ending story.
I know it is easy to complain. However, I learned if you want to complain you also have to know solutions. Maybe the Formula One can oversee the rules of the cars design. Take a sneak peek back to the 90’s and early years of this millennium. Why these cars were more competitive compared to today’s cars? Give the design more freedom to create their cars.
Stop using the DRS trick. It makes the drivers only lazy and they don’t take risks any more because of it. Let the drivers overtake on the circuit by their own. Not because of some tool, that doesn’t matter In the Formula One. Maybe the FIA and Liberty Media can think twice reducing the gravel next to the tracks. Instead of placing tarmac, bring the gravel back. When a driver makes a mistake, it means end of the race. Now it means let’s take over a few cars. Make also the Kerb stones lower.
Perhaps there are more tyre companies needed in the Formula One. Pirelli has monopoly on it. We used to have more tyre brands in the Formula One such as Bridgestone, Michelin, Avon and so on. Give the team also more space and time to test their cars, and improve the cars. In the past, the team also used the test sessions to test young talent. Many drivers got the opportunity to test a Formula One car. Now the opportunities to test one are few. Oh and stop punishing drivers for silly mistakes or bullshit reasons. Let drivers be drivers. It is human to make mistakes or get overpowered. It is unhuman to be punished for it. And please bring back the grid girls. Why listening to some movements that yell it is not from now? Stop be political correct. I know I know it’s hard for Americans not to be.
My last suggestion is to bring back teams as Minardi, Jordan, Forti, Tyrrell, BRM, Brabham, the old Sauber team and so on. The teams these days are boring and lame. Time for new old winds in the paddock!