For years now Formula1 has been called the pinnacle of all motor racing. People have said that it represents cutting edge technology that ultimately finds its way into road going cars. There are enough cliches about how racing improves the breed and the motor sport loving public loves to hear this and buy all this without nary a question being raised. Let us then start considering the veracity of these claims. First, Formula1 is the pinnacle of all motor racing. Is that really true? We think not. Here are the reasons. Till last year, it could be argued without fear of contradiction, that Formula1 was one of the most boring forms of motor racing, it probably was the most boring. People have fallen asleep in front of their TV sets and even those who have been to circuit may have done so. It is usually a procession of cars with positions changing just a little during pit stops and coming back to what they were, once all the cars finished their rounds of pit stops. Only a mistake in the pits or one on the pit wall saw any change in terms of positions. Last year all the excitement towards the end of the season was due to some bad management of all kinds by Ferrari, leading to Sebastian Vettel winning the World Championship. Otherwise, apart from Fernando Alonso asking his team mate be moved aside there was nothing else noteworthy (even this was noteworthy for the wrong reasons obviously), and there was not much in terms of pure racing on the track. Incidents such as Fernando Alonso’s request and Michael Schumacher’s in the past where he wanted no team mate of his to win a race have not contributed to this pinnacle of motor racing thing. Espionage is another thing. McLaren stealing Ferrari material and Renault stealing McLaren material and Renault asking Nelson Piquet Jr to crash his car deliberately undermined all claims of fairness and also that of top quality racing.
Now to come to the second point. Formula1 represents cutting edge technology that will later find its way into road going cars. While this may have been true very many years ago, it is now nothing but a bare faced lie. Present day Formula1 does not represent any cutting edge technology. Can you remember anything that was in the nature of innovation in the recent past? Today F1 rules clearly stipulate how many cylinders can be used, what metals and composites to use, why it even dictates the angle of the cylinders and size of the intakes, so what is the cutting edge technology we are talking about? KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) is supposed to be environmental friendly. Humph, environmental friendly indeed. The system uses batteries that increase the weight of the car and make it guzzle more petrol and what of the disposal of dead batteries? Send them to another planet or to the moon? This is hypocrisy at its best. Anyway, much before KERS happened in Formula1 road going cars have been using this system in various forms. Remember the Toyota Prius? Even the Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion uses regenerative braking and both these manufacturers are not in F1 (Toyota left a few years ago and VW never was in it). So you can have nothing to do with F1 and still have cutting edge technology simply because F1 technology is not cutting edge. It has been blunted long ago. Anyway this “green” thing is complete horse rubbish and we have said so in another piece preceding this. And what of the “new”engine formula for 2013 and onwards? Four cylinder, turbocharged and 1600cc displacement. Need we say more?
So that is two claims down and out and one more to go. Racing improves the breed. Really? What breed does it improve. Formula1 racing is completely dependent on aerodynamics today; aerodynamics that have very little relevance to anything other Formula1. Teams spend millions of dollars in wind tunnels, sometimes only to get wrong figures like it happened with Honda in 2007 and with Ferrari for this year’s car. Why talk this garbage then? Why are teams pouring money into something that is no better than anything else just to say, our cars are more aerodynamic. Right now in F1 Adrian Newey is the star. We would like to see drivers’ abilities determine who wins and who loses. This year the racing is spiced up due to Pirelli still learning to make durable tyres and due to the Drag Reduction System which can only be used at designated points on circuits. Does racing have to be made interesting artificially? Should we buy Ecclestone’s argument that sprinklers should create rain like situations to make racing interesting? Of what interest is this kind of racing which needs props to make it interesting?
The problem with F1 is that first it is motivated by greed and avarice (remember Kimi Raikonnen and Bernie Ecclestone, just to name two from potentially a thousand) and that pushes costs up and brings down the quality of racing. So let us not talk balderdash and get down to really uncomplicated racing. Let there be no restrictions on engine innovations but ration petrol like they do in MotoGP, banish aerodynamics completely and seek pure mechanical grip and make racing interesting. No need for KERS, DRS and all other hogwash. Let it be that talent dictates who wins and loses and not some garbled notions like they do today. And if you are thinking that we are saying that racing does not need to have anything to do with road going cars, you are absolutely right. Let car companies use separate R&D for road cars depending on the requirements determined by different roads and markets. Don’t make racing hycritical. There is enough of that in this world. So keep it straight and honest.