Has F1 ‘overdone it’

If you need a good spokesperson and all-round good guy to trumpet a cause, few are as good at towing the line like Nico Rosberg. We’ve said it many times before, if I were a sponsor, I’d want Nico peddling my products. He’s like a wind-up spokes-bot who says all the right things with the right smile.

We’ve also noted how Nico seems to always look at the bright side of things and when DRS and HD tires came into the equation, Nico was out front championing the new artifices and loved the impact they had on Formula 1.

No surprise then that Nico is leading the spin to stop the bleeding that F1 is currently experiencing telling AUTOSPORT’s Mr. Noble:

“It’s been good for F1,” Nico said. “It has shuffled everything about, which is great. The sport needs that.

“And it is contemporary. It is all very, very energy efficient, which is a good direction to take.

“Driving-wise, it is good fun too. It is slower than last year, which I don’t like, but I have got used to it and I don’t notice any more that I am slower.

“It is all good. It is very complicated in the car of course, because there is so much going on, and it will take some time to get on top of all that.”

It will be somewhat difficult to get a driver to denigrate their livelihood so perhaps some quarter must be given to Rosberg and Bottas who feel the sport is better off with the 2014 regulations. No one wants to pile on to an issue if it means you could very well be out of a job because of it—not that I believe it has reached those proportions mind you.

I don’t want to throw a grenade into a ideological debate that is ripe with politics but the FIA’s incessant poking and some team’s verbal affirmation about “going green” seems to be a part of this regulation change equation for sure but even Todt now says he doesn’t want this to be a sport of economy runs—makes you wonder what he thought the new regulations would do to the sport to begin with.

Regardless of how you feel about the “green” issue, there are many mouths speaking and sharing the voices of journalists, drivers, former drivers, teams, fans and sponsors. It’s been interesting to see how journalists of car magazines have struggled to be on board with a “green” ideology while writing about an industry that is the absolute antithesis of their belief. That must be difficult to do—hello Chevy Volt you wonderful 2011 car of the year. It also must be difficult for F1 to want to be green but by its very nature simply isn’t.

Is F1 changing because the very livelihood of the series is dependent upon being “green”? If F1 didn’t change to a fuel mileage series, would it risk dying? Would manufacturers leave the sport? Would fans leave the sport? What could that mean? Would Ferrari leave? Would Mercedes? Don’t ask me…but you can take Mario Andretti’s word on it as he told ESPN:

“I think quite honestly that they’ve overdone it, with the gigantic rule change they made — especially on the technical side,” Andretti said. “It’s got no spectator value whatsoever. The cost factor is ridiculous, and I think it’s taking away from the show, quite honestly. It puts more of the onus on the haves and the have-nots.

“Mercedes obviously is going to thrive on that because of all the manufacturers, they’re probably the most liquid to get into that area and it’s showing. But is that going to do anything for the show? I think it’s detracting, and the pure music of those 18,000-rpm engines is going to be missed.”

Even MotoGP star Valentino Rossi sees the danger in overhauling motor sport telling Tuttosport:

“I was expecting something different from Formula 1 with the new rules, instead I found it boring” said Valentino Rossi. “In motorcycles and cars you should run with the fuel you need. What is happening now in MotoGP I do not like, it’s just an exercise for engineers”

Former Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore feels the same in that this is an engineering exercise and nothing more. Before you discount that, consider that the two main protagonists in F1 were sidelined due to software issues. Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton both set on the sidelines as the race went on without them.

Sure, attrition has always been a part of F1 but software glitches over a battery store, MGU-K or fuel-flow? In the past, drivers battled drivers and if there was attrition it usually meant an engine went boom under stress. Wouldn’t it have been much better to see Lewis and Seb battle it out than sit it out?

Surely there is a balance and perhaps 2014 will represent a year of seeking the balance between a more efficient racing series, a competitive series focused on driver battles and a sound worthy of the pinnacle of gladiatorial open-wheel battles. Finding that harmony will take some serious thinking and hopefully the fans will be patient enough to allow for this R&D year.

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