It's time for sweeping changes

The clear and present danger to F1 is actually in the attempt to get rid of the very aspects that the sport is supposed to portray. The current sterile environment is sounding the death knell for F1.

Formula One ... tough road ahead. AP   -  AP

Formula One is under duress. The brand is slowing down faster than the F1 car is. A plethora of silly changes has driven away even the diehard petrol-head from the sport. Not only are the fans leaving the circuit now; even the circuits are leaving the fans. Bernie Eccelstone and the complexly structured owners of F1 are cleverly and hastily establishing new circuits to compensate for the departure of classic circuits such as Hockenheimring/Nurburgring. And next on the chopping block is Monza.

Next year, we will witness the puttering around of neutered cars on the new Baku circuit in Azerbaijan.

Establishing 21 circuits — which is on the anvil — does not really mean that it is a result of the growing popularity of the sport. This is a back-up plan by the shrewd businessmen at the steering wheel of the ‘One Formula’ that drives the sport — MONEY! Money that is largely accrued from permits to run the event, TV rights and all the way from even a cut on the sale of hamburgers.

All this, while the bottom end of the grid limps around the circuit, putting on a brave face despite cutting a sorry figure. These teams are there to make up the numbers, and the harsh fact is that one should not feel too sorry for them. If they choose to come to a gunfight armed with a knife, then so be it. The lame 107% rule is not enough to bring respectability to F1. The authorities have to find ways to add financial and technical muscle to the sport or perish.

It is baffling to see a collective lack of reasoning among the think-tank to find ways to reignite the passion in the traditional F1 fan, sustain it and, finally, find ways to bring in new ones. Night circuits such as the one in Singapore are able to generate crowds, more due to the extra-curricular activities such as music concerts by international talent, rather than the sport itself. Entertainment aces the sport again!

To add to the woes of F1, the current crop of drivers are not ‘characters’ like the ones in the 1970s and 80s and thus are not appealing to most fans. The effervescent Lewis Hamilton (off-track!) alone is not sufficient to raise the image of F1. Unrealistic gag orders imposed by teams and the F1 management have reduced the macho and ballsy drivers to the status of a choirboy.

Current regulations that shift focus from hardcore F1 drivers indulging in furious nose to gearbox battles have to be eliminated from the technical regulations ASAP. Any preposterous rule that regulates fuel use in an F1 car has to be struck down. Refuelling should be allowed again. There will be fires. Deal with it. One cannot hope to eliminate danger and risk from normal life let alone in the world of high-speed racing. The clear and present danger to F1 is actually in the attempt to get rid of the very aspects that the sport is supposed to portray. The current sterile environment is sounding the death knell for F1.

Drop certain controls and change a few, such as ‘no refuelling’ during a race, weird tyre regulations, 100-litre fuel cap, extremely limited and restricted hours of testing. These rules only stymie the growth of the lesser teams since the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari possess the intelligence and resources to simulate results within their own factories innocently and without declaration. Non-factory teams have a snowball’s chance in hell to make the cut — EVER!

Drastic rule changes are the need of the hour. It may take a decade to bring F1 back to its old glory days. Time flies, but better a decade than the sport gets decayed.