Getting back to the action in Formula 1
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I love motor sport and I really love Formula 1 Grand Prix. Always have and always will.
I was lucky to have spent the major part of my working life in the sport and even luckier for many years to have been paid to work within Formula 1.
Occasionally over the past few seasons I have been heavily critical of the sport — the lack of overtaking, the lack of actual racing and the predictability of it all — although I never once allowed a race to go by without viewing every available second on “the box”.
But this year it’s a whole different ballgame.
Dull races have been infrequent; more than a handful with no clear winner right up until the last few laps, and real racing going on.
I know, and fully respect, the opinions of those who say they find GPs boring (I also find it surprising just how many of those comments are made on F1 websites, showing the writers are actually interested enough to visit the sites), which is much the same as I feel about some sports (I just cannot get interested in basketball) but each to their own.
But even after decades in the sport, I am still surprised that the unusual can come along, as well as by the unfailing ability of Formula 1 to make itself look plain stupid now and again.
The latest, almost unbelievable, episode in the sport’s weighty tome of bloopers came along in the final part of qualifying for last week’s Italian Grand Prix when a good few million dollars worth of cars — and an even bigger few million dollars worth of drivers — were competing on track in a completely bizarre attempt to see who could proceed at the slowest possible pace — reminiscent of those racing cyclists who manage to actually stop on the banked velodrome tracks to force their competitors to overtake them.
To make matters worse, with but one exception, they were all going so slowly they managed to actually run out of time before they had posted a flying lap, prompting the race officials to call on the FIA to find a future solution to this embarrassing public shambles.
The situation could get even worse if the FIA confirms the ban on tyre warming blankets from 2021.
So, what could the solution be?
A minimum lap time of course; but the phrase most often heard from drivers after qualifying, from Melbourne to Monaco to Monza and all stops in between, is “traffic”.
So how about revisiting an idea that has been discussed previously in the sport?
A single-car, single-lap qualifying, or even a Supercars style “shoot-out” for the final session for the 10 drivers in “Q3”?
No traffic, full attention on one car, just one set of tyres, huge concentration necessary from the driver and guaranteed TV airtime for the team and sponsors.
Surely that’s better than watching a farcical anti-climax reminiscent of a rest home Zimmer frame race that — were it not so embarrassing for the sport — would have been almost comical.
Go on F1, try it, what harm can it do?
I do still love Grand Prix racing though.