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Brought to you by first time TJ13 writer Ben Kolb
I now conjure up the power of the F1 genie who appears before and says: “I offer you a choice – In my left hand I have some Sport, and in the right some ‘Show’.. Which do you desire?” Sport or show, Show or sport, sport-show? Answer now, preferably on the internet, and angrily!”
WHOA – Just for now hold back those itchy fingers – ready for a world wide web rampage because before we select a left, right or a swift left-right to the chin for asking silly questions we should try and get at the heart of the issue and attempt to define what we are really fans of.
What is it that elevates F1 to that special place in our hearts and why is it more alluring than other motor sports? Because its not just attention that we give to Formula One but our devotion, more waking moments than we should and of course our fandom.
Well to answer the question in short, F1 is something which brings together the best brains in engineering and an ever increasing array of other technologies split off into various competing tribes, each with their own culture and histories.
These teams of world class wizards are hell-bent on outdoing each other to produce the fastest, most efficient 4 wheeled grip machines on the planet harmoniously married to the bravest, daring yet simultaneously calculating pilots available – the drivers. We are captivated by this finest group of personnel, cars and drivers at the best tracks in the world all aligned to give us the greatest chance of a compelling motor sporting contest. We crave sporting moments that will live long in our memories, duels, feuds and rivalries – competitor against competitor, peak performers giving it their best with the highest of stakes.
From a sporting perspective whether it be Tennis, Golf or Tiddley-Winks at the most compelling of moments, no one is concerned with ‘The Show’. Sport creates this for us and should be framed in such a way that it will do so again in the future.
And herein is the key to F1’s lost momentum. Its not due to the demise of the show, but aspects of ‘The Sport’ are now lacking.
All this began with the rubber stamping of the 2014 regulations, which unwittingly allowed a powerful manufacturer in Mercedes AMG to spend years and an eye watering amount of money creating a beautifully engineered hybrid masterpiece. Their power unit is simply the envy of the pitlane.
Yet even this was not a terminal state of affairs until harnessed with a system of Power Unit regulation which cemented Mercedes’ head start until such a time when the regulations were to change once again
Instead of the top 10 Qualifiers separated by a few Tenths of a second, with tiny mistakes punished with a poor grid slot, it quickly became the norm to see Rosberg and Hamilton about a second a lap faster than the 3rd place man, with another sizable gap behind them to 5 /6th. It was almost the case that a Mercedes could drive into a wall head on at the start, come in for new everything, rejoin and scythe their way through the field to the podium with little worry.
This was where the Sporting aspect of F1 began top drift away and fans rightly became disenchanted, but fear not – it can be re-found.
If performance differentials are reduced as is now intended for the 2017 rules; if cars can follow another without destroying tyres and if drivers can divert less attention to tyre conservation, we’ll be on the way to renewed competition proper.
Many would welcome the removing of ‘intervention’ in the competition too. DRS and 2016 tyres merely create faux-overtakes.
Car 1 on 6 lap old supersofts attempting to pass car 2 on 12 lap old mediums (which that car is working well on today, etc), simply muddies the viewer’s sense of the competition before them.
Genuine competition is compelling, and as a 4 Time F1 Champ recently said of Formula One: “For me, is a Sport, then a show.”