Bob McMurray: Race fans want entertainment
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From the dusty track at Le Castellet in the south of France to the green hills of the Red Bull Ring at Spielberg in the Styria region of Austria just one week later.
The two racing circuits are opposite in form and feature but just as dramatic in their individual styles.
It would be brilliant if the Formula 1 circus could arrive in one of the season’s most picturesque tracks on the back of an exciting race and a close-fought championship but sadly most fans look to the result of this weekend’s grand prix as another foregone conclusion.
The French Grand Prix was primarily an exercise in tedium, despite the TV commentators doing their best to make the race sound interesting.
Though there was action going on further down the field, it was not enough to fire the imagination.
To add to the monotony, Formula 1 continues to drag with the continuing discussion around application of rules.
As the Sebastian Vettel Canadian Grand Prix penalty saga ebbs away, new disputes flow.
The latest involves Daniel Ricciardo and his desperate last-lap adventures to salvage some points for Renault at its home event.
He twice went off track and was penalised for doing so.
Many feel the penalties were unjustified but it was clear that all four wheels were over the white line that delineates the track boundary.
Drivers often complain about other competitors exceeding those limits in the hope that a penalty will be applied, yet in the Ricciardo incident some drivers, including Lewis Hamilton, are saying it was not a penalty.
You may remember that Hamilton was adamant the penalty imposed on Vettel in Canada was well-deserved.
So what is a race steward to do?
Ignore some infringements as they spice up the racing, yet sanction violations if it makes little difference to the on-track entertainment value?
Stewards will be criticised and complimented in equal measure no matter which decision is made.
The drivers are as much to blame as anybody for the situation the stewards face, having demanded tougher action from the FIA on the rules regarding track limits, re-entering the track safely and other transgressions.
The Vettel incident and the Ricciardo exploits were — although judged to be “illegal” — exciting and entertaining for the TV viewer to watch: so is it time for those hard and fast regulations to be relaxed in the quest to improve “the show”?
Or will that lead to yet more complaints from those drivers who feel they have been wronged by another?
Rules are rules. So, how does any judge of fact determine which rules must be followed and which are debatable? And yet still have rules?
It seems this season there is a heavier crackdown on misdemeanours.
As the races become even more predictable, even more processional, those restrictions are, in turn, restricting the one thing that Liberty Media seeks for the TV viewing fan — entertainment.
This weekend’s Grand Prix in Austria needs to reintroduce just that.