F1 is a sport that often divides opinion- some see it as an adrenaline-fuelled extravaganza of speed, others find it somewhat less exciting. Here, our writers debate whether fundamental change might be needed to catalyse increased interest in the sport, allowing it to reach its full potential.
Yes to change- Dominic Lee
A new F1 season means brand new rules and regulations which aim to make the sport more competitive.
Wholescale changes have been announced for 2021 including new cars and engines. However, the plan is not to make the cars bigger and faster but lighter and less powerful- shocking when you consider F1 is supposed to be a high-speed, high-action sport. In fact, the head honchos of the sport have even suggested that the future engine should be a HYBRID! Yes that’s correct, Lewis Hamilton and co would essentially be driving pimped-up Priuses around the track. While these changes are making F1 somewhat fairer and more eco-friendly, which is essential for the sport to stay relevant in today’s climate, they do show the sport has a real issue. It’s just too boring!
All these rules do is slightly alter the dynamic of the sport. However, for F1 to actually become exciting again it probably needs to take a leaf out of NASCAR’s book. NASCAR is everything that F1 should be. It’s pre-race parades and fly-over’s from jet-fighters, it’s driver’s engaging in punch-ups before races and wearing cowboy hats in the winners circle afterwards. What NASCAR has and F1 doesn’t is highlights! Sure, in F1 you might see a couple of nice overtaking manoeuvres, a car may even go into the gravel but its nothing compared to the excitement of the close-quarters action you get across the Atlantic.
F1 needs to be more about entertainment, which is seriously lacking in the sport at the minute. I’m not saying putting drivers in cowboy hats is the way forward, but at least making the TV coverage more entertainment based and making the sport more palatable with the odd pre-race show would go a long way to get ratings up.
No to change- Sesha Subramanian
Cost caps, equal revenue distribution, changes to the engine and more were all on agenda as Formula 1 presented its vision of what the season would potentially look like starting from 2021 both on and off the circuit. In attendance, of course was the FIA (The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile – The International Automobile Federation) and the teams taking part in the F1 season.
The ideas were, of course, very preliminary (and far from a definitive series of changes) and a lot more will follow over the coming weeks and months with regard to this, but some of the proposed changes do make you question whether F1 really is heading the right way.
One of the biggest changes in fact, is the implementation of a cost cap. The proposal is to put a limit on spending and bring teams on par with each other from a competitive standpoint. Personally I think the idea is great – there tends to be greater parity in such cases. But the caveat in this that makes me think this might not be good is that the F1 does not want to include driver salaries in the cap. This undoes the idea of a cap because if they can pay the
driver however much they want, the best drivers are still going to go to the best constructors like Ferrari. Making teams choose between having an average driver drive a brilliant car or a brilliant driver drive an average car would be better for the competition – especially with regard to the constructors’ championship. In those cases, finding the right second driver behind the stars such as Vettel and Hamilton would become important, if the salary caps had
driver salaries included in it.
Moreover, the salary cap negatively impacts the bigger teams like Ferrari and McLaren. Despite having the potential to spend more money and build better cars, they will be forced to settle for less – which might be good for competition but bad for the brand itself.
The other proposal that catches the eye is to make the engine simpler, cheaper and noisier and enable drivers to race flat out against each other at full speed for longer periods of time. Removing some of the fuel limits (which is part of the proposal) might allow for that to happen but it also makes racing that much more unsafe for drivers and is less a test for drivers as it is for constructors. Under the current system, drivers have to do mental work and prepare to judge when they can go all out and when they need to ration their fuel and not go at full speed.
Part of being a good driver is being able to make decisions like this in a split second and judging risks against rewards. Take that away, even for a little bit, and it makes racing that much less cerebral – to me at least.
Any sport needs to evaluate itself from time to time and keep changing its rules and laws to make it better for the fans and to attract new ones. But some of these changes are not necessary to make Formula 1 better at this point in time. Hopefully, in the months yet to come, teams realise that there other issues that need ironing out rather than these.