A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
Time for an F1 revolution
TJ13 has long advocated a change to certain F1 events, with Monaco being the prime culprit.
The modern Formula One cars have such incredible acceleration that even when drivers make a mistake around the streets of the principality, it is not on the whole punitive. The driver in front predominantly retains their position.
In days of yore, this would have cost the errant pilot a place in the race.
Yes, we saw an audacious move by Hulkenberg on K-Mag in the 2014 Monaco event, as he swept up the inside of Portier. But these opportunities are few and far between.
For the F1 fraternity, no other event in motor sport serves up the same cocktail of speed, glamour and incomprehensible wealth as the historic race through the narrow streets of the tiny country perched on the Riviera.
Yet the dirty secret Monaco withholds is that it in reality, it is the most boring race on the planet.
“It’s a spectacle, it’s a part of the social calendar and it’s about glamour and the dolce vita,” commented James Allen, “but the truth of the matter is it rarely produces a great race.”
In nine of the past 11 years, the driver starting on pole position has gone on to win at Monaco. Corner one decides the outcome.
In contrast, the 2013 Indy 500 race featured a record 67 lead changes whilst first place that year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was still changing hands after seven hours and 100 laps,
Monaco is a symbol of Formula One’s on track problems.
Yet the dour occasion that takes place in Monte Carlo each year is in fact a challenge not only to the way this marquee event is run, but also to the format of each F1 weekend.
Finance is at the heart of all F1’s current woes and from a race promoters’ point of view, getting enough revenue to cover the Ecclestone hosting fee is vital. This requires getting the maximum of fans through the door all weekend.
Friday attendances at a Formula One weekend are typically very small when compared to Saturday where qualifying takes place and then race day on Sunday.
Pirelli’s commercial director, Paul Hembery is now calling for a shake up in he format for all Formula One weekends.
“I thought qualifying on Friday night was a good idea, so you can actually win something, and the promoters have something to sell,” Hembery tells The Guardian. “And maybe a sprint race on the Saturday, an extra product, so Saturday fans actually see a result and podium places.
“It’s not for us to tell people what should change, and how it should change, but change is needed.”
Pirelli are contracted to provide tyres for F1 until the end of the 2016 season, and naturally they are keen to know the long term plans of the sport.
“We’re anxious to understand what’s going to happen in 2017, when we will be looking at a new contract,” said Hembery. “We’d like to see what the plan is.
“We are in the entertainment business. Some people get ruffled by that idea, but if we don’t entertain people don’t watch us, and then the sponsors won’t come, and the cycle continues.
“The current business model is clearly not working for enough people. Change is needed and the current mechanism for change is very cumbersome and very slow. We’ve got too many people with different vested interests.
“Someone has got to put a marker in the ground and say this is it. We can’t spend another year going round in circles trying to find the big compromise.”
If promoters can sell qualifying on Friday and a sprint race on Saturday, this will then provide incremental funds for the race organisers to more ably fund the astronomic FOM hosting fees demanded of them.
Formula One must adapt. The current arrangements are an utter failure so something must change.
Van der Garde speaks out
Giedo van der Garde won a number of historic judgements against the Swiss based Sauber F1 team. He had paid the team’s wages in 2014 with an advance payment on his contract to drive for Sauber in 2015.
Yet the team’s finances were so mismanaged that team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was desperately fishing around for more cash.
“I should have gone to the team and said ‘Hello, I’m here to drive’,” van der Garde told the Dutch magazine Formule 1. “But then I went to the motorhome and nobody said anything.
“All those people I worked with before, ignored me. Nobody looks at you and you think to yourself ‘What’s going on?’
“I walked to (team manager) Beat (Zehnder) and he shoved me a race suit and shoes and said ‘Here’. I dressed in the garage to have the seat fitting, but the pedals were set up for (Marcus) Ericsson. Nothing could be changed. They didn’t adjust the foam – nothing.
“I don’t know what the team told those guys, but if they are honest, they would acknowledge that they only received their salaries because of our early payment in 2014. And then suddenly we are the enemies, which is of course bullshit.”
Van der Garde understood the Sauber difficulties, but feels he should have been treated with more respect.
“I understand that they were worried their jobs were in jeopardy, but I think we deserved a little more credit,” he said.
“Only the engineers behaved normally, saying ‘If I was treated like that, I too would stand up for my rights’. It’s nice when you get respect like that, including from many drivers and team bosses.
“Sure, I’m out of the seat, my dream is gone, but I think it might change F1 now.
“I have spoken to Alexander Wurz, the chairman of the GPDA, and he is adamant that there should be better fairness in Formula One. I hope he succeeds, because this must never happen again.”