Three melting ice cubes

Formula announced they would be radically changing qualifying and also voted on proposed changes for the 2017 season. I must admit, the fan’s response has been weighted on the negative reaction side rather than the positive and while many fans like the current regulations and hybrid power units, it does seem that more fans are against it or at least more vocal about their dislike.

The drivers aren’t really sure what to make of the new qualifying routine for 2016 and many fans, if asked what one thing about F1 is working, would say that they were stunned the changed it at all as it was one part of F1 they liked.

When the FIA release information such as the big changes to qualifying, they fail to realize that there are a host of questions about how fans will understand the new system given its level of complexity. They left those answers completely out of the brief. This breeds doubt.

As for the proposed changes for 2017, perhaps the most scathing comments came from current world champion Lewis Hamilton and perhaps he has the clout, now, to say what he thinks without fear of being scolded by his bosses at Mercedes or F1 leadership. Lewis not only dislikes the proposed changes; he hasn’t liked any of the changes the series has made for the last few years:

“I don’t think the [current] regulations are fine, even if there were five teams battling,” said Hamilton.

“I like a different kind of car. I don’t have all the answers, I just would have a preferred type of car.

“I love a V12 and the big, wider tyres. I saw a picture of an old Ferrari when the sidepods were super-low. It must have been the mid-80s, and it just looked so cool with the wide track, wide wishbones and the slick tyres.

“I don’t know what the answer is. Whatever decisions they’ve been making have not been right for some time.”

Lewis didn’t stop there when queried about more driver input in the process:

“I don’t agree with the changes that are made, and have been made for many, many years. We just live with it,” added Hamilton.

“I think the drivers should be consulted, and I’m sure they’ve been involved more in recent decisions – not the ones that have just been made.

“But we do have a feeling in the car, some ideas of what could be better. We do know what is not good.

“For those who have been driving 10 to 15 years and have been through all the different rule changes, they know which ones worked and which ones didn’t.”

Let’s be honest, those are Sebastian Vettel types of comments that cut right to the heart of the matter. I like the fact that Lewis spoke his mind on the issue because clearly drivers like he, Alonso and Vettel are getting tired of this type of racing and it is really starting to impact their careers.

Mr. E wouldn’t pay to see a race

Veteran F1 journalist Kevin Eason released an audio piece today that bemoaned F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone’s candid and quite brutal commentary on the state of the sport saying he wouldn’t pay to go see a race, that’s how bad it is. Kevin wasn’t jazzed about that and I completely understand, F1 is a series these professionals rely on to put bread on the table and its waning audiences, inability to make the right changes and politics could mess it up for everyone…including Kevin.

Kevin felt that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy in that Mr. E’s negativity is then parroted by the fans and creates a spiral of negative thought. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said very much the same thing but I disagree with them.

We aren’t talking about a fat, dumb and happy fan base that has now turned on F1 because they heard Mr. E say something negative. You have to give fans more credit than that. We know how Bernard works and how he angles for the decision and deal he wants. No, the festering negativity was already there. He, perhaps like a certain figure in American politics, is just tapping into that frustration for better or worse but in Mr. E’s case, I think it’s calculated for a particular response.

Look at it this way, it is not a top-down thing. The top brass is starting to feel the bottom-up frustration about what F1 is now and where it may be heading. In the end, it’s the hybrid engines, HD tires, DRS and inability for anyone to reduce aero and make the cars more reliant on mechanical grip. If the fans are wrong on these points, no one is making a good case as to how they’re wrong…other than complaining that fans are becoming bitchy. Well, that’s not good enough coming from the sport’s regulators, owners, pundits and press.

It’s MY pretty pig, I’ve pwned it!

Mercedes is trying like hell to put lipstick on a pig because they have the sport right where they wanted it. Ferrari are sort of okay with it because they, right or wrong, feel like they could catch up to Merc but the rest of them are in varying states of lukewarm agreement or numb silence.

The press that professionally follow the sport and make their living from doing so are rightfully concerned. They should be, they have every right to be. I have a lot of empathy for them. They’ve worked hard to shape the fan opinion since 2013 and much to their dismay, and with little help from Mr. E and F1 itself, they haven’t been able to do so. They haven’t been able to convince fans that what they are seeing is a great direction for F1. To be fair, that’s not really their job so much as the FIA, teams and F1 but they found themselves in that uncomfortable spot nonetheless.

They’ve peddled road relevancy, sustainability, passing devices such as HD tires and DRS and the total number of passes versus years past. They’ve tried to highlight the incredible technology these Power Units have and they then turned slightly bitter when fans didn’t sponge it up and parrot it on social media. They started to see the impact and don’t get me wrong here, I am on their side. They are terrific people but my point here is that even they haven’t been able to stave off the slide in fan passion and attention. They haven’t been able to assuage fan frustration or shape the opinion and narrative.

In the end, Tuesday’s F1 Commission announcement was really a bit patronizing. Driver of the day as voted on by fans? Some future date in April—it’s already been over a year waiting for these changes—until more possible 2017 changes will be agreed upon? A radical overhaul of one of the elements fans felt was actually positive in qualifying?

Socially responsible sustainability..where’s my damned ice!!

Like much of the social responsibility narrative, it sounds fine but the application is miserable. It’s like curly light bulbs that only get bright after you’ve tripped and fallen in the room you entered, new refrigerators that only hold 3-cups worth of ice, washers that take 5 hours to run a low-water-usage cleaning cycle, F1 cars that could run fast but are starved of fuel, regulations that could make the right changes but for fear of making manufacturers mad, simply ignore the fan’s greatest desires.

No one wants more spice, they want more meat. Meat grilled correctly doesn’t need spice. Point is, these sustainable technologies are simply systems that work far worse than the previous systems, provide less of what you want and are slower and ill-performing. So too is the current regulation F1 car. It’s an incredible engineering feat but that dog don’t hunt when it comes to great racing and fan interest.

You see the narrative that ties all of this together? Everyone just gets less. Less light, less ice, less clean clothes (in a timely manner) less real passing, less speed, less tire grip, less fuel, less water in the shower, less water to appropriately flush the toilet, less, less, less. It isn’t about replacing these things with eco-friendly systems that are more efficient than the old ones, it’s about making them produce less of everything and when you do that, of course you use less resources. Look at the current F1 car as the curly light bulb and you’ll start to get the big picture.

The press, bless them, were always going to have a hard time selling that and shaping the public opinion on F1. Mr. E knows that all too well and he’s calling a spade a spade. I say good on him. He’s playing the angles, of course, because that’s what he does when he’s feisty. We all know that and Kevin knows that more than most.

When F1 decided it would regress

In 2013, Formula 1 decide it would become much less than it ever had been before and it would gift wrap this less-is-more package in sustainability talk and positive thoughts. It isn’t working. When is it a great thing to talk about how these new F1 cars, fridges or cars are close to what you used to have. They are pretty fast or they do make ice and 3-4 cups worth. Point is, we’re always making excuses and bigging up the tech and forgetting the actual performance delta to what came before. It begs the question, how much of all this crap is actually ready for prime time? You have to replace something with something that is better than what came before. Not less and then find ways to make it sound like it’s more.

Even fans that LOVE the technology side of F1 probably weren’t thinking that technology in F1 would be used to provide them much less. Less speed, less real passing, less grip, less action. Less sound, less power, less media coverage, less F1 journalists and less parity amongst teams. That’s never been how technology was used in the past in F1. It was always used to produce more, better and faster. Quite a dupe there wasn’t it, you tech wonks?

The small teams have less money and as it turns out, less patience and ability to remain a going concern in light of less sponsors and less revenue from a lopsided commercial prize money agreement. They also have less of a voice and less power within F1.

The only people who are getting more? That’s where you have to focus in this whole equation. Manufacturers, the FIA and commercial rights owners. In a world of less, if there is an entity getting more, you have to seriously consider why.

There are more races, more far-flung locations chasing money and more circuits going bankrupt and more legacy races falling off the calendar. What if we really took the less-is-more route and did what Lewis wants, gearboxes, shifter knobs and V10’s? Is that too archaic? It happens to be a less strategy that many fans would rather have and that’s only because they don’t know what to tell F1 as far as the future direction goes, that’s F1’s job and Lewis says they’re not very good at it.

Maybe curly lightbulbs and no ice is a good thing and that may be your kind of living, so be it, I’m not trying to pick a war over the planet earth. Maybe those types of things work in a model where appliances make less and therefore use less. If you like that, more power to you…I just don’t think its working well for F1 or at least not with these regulations. WEC seems to have regulations that allow it to work better or at least fans feel like it is so they’ve done a better job with shaping the narrative and opinion.

In the end, it isn’t good but I could write an equal editorial talking about what is right with F1. There is a lot that is absolutely terrific about it if they make the right changes and get it back on track. Don’t get me wrong, I love this sport. That’s why it hurts so much to have less of it. I like ice too but can’t seem to get more than 3-cups worth of it from my refrigerator and that’s really pissing me off! Wonder what Lewis thinks about that?

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT

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My Friendly Atheist disqus acc
Guest
My Friendly Atheist disqus acc

Hey! I love the new curly light bulbs, you can actually pick the color temperature of your indoor lighting now.

Negative Camber
Guest
Negative Camber

Sure, that’s the fun of it isn’t it? Never mind I can’t see for 5 minutes and to be honest, that’s actually a safety issue and could be dangerous. :) But it looks nice and cool when it finally lights up a room so you can see the carnage. :)

longshot
Guest
longshot

Great article. FBC has become most interesting F1 blogsite by far, thanks to articles like this.

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

Proof positive of the old adage: You get what you pay for.

Scott Crawford
Guest
Scott Crawford

I’ve come to realize that F1 has a paradox on its hands; it’s now funded by groups promoting “sensible” and yet scrabbling around trying to make us have fun. I’m not sure the two are compatible. I’m certainly not anti-environmentalist (I have a degree in Environmental Science), and from Monday-Friday I recycle, I spent more to change my truck from a V8 to a V6 hybrid, and I’ve spent a small fortune on LED lights for the basement I’m finishing. But you know what? On the weekend I just want a couple of hours of V10s screaming round. Formula 1… Read more »

Negative Camber
Guest
Negative Camber

I agree Scott, I am all for being good stewards of the resources we have. Life and politics is difficult enough but for whatever reason, it seems now that businesses and our entertainment has to be forged in the fires of our ideologies and it really is annoying. NFL and it’s pandering, F1 and its social responsibility and many more. Sport and entertainment has always had an element of that and been used for political purposes but I believe you reap what you sow when you go down that path. It seems like the right message and ideology to attach… Read more »

228929292AABBB
Guest
228929292AABBB

I guess I’d just suggest some perspective when I hear lines like ‘NFL and it’s pandering, F1 and its social responsibility’. The NFL is a place millions watch while people literally destroy each other. And before a wheel is ever turned in practice, just the transportation of goods in F1 is an environmental disaster.

I’m not saying you have no point, but the idea these 2 sports have gone overboard in responsible thinking is just sort of breathtaking.

Negative Camber
Guest
Negative Camber

No…I mean pandering. :) We’ll just disagree mate. That’s perfectly legal. ;)

geeyore
Guest
geeyore

“Formula 1 should be the antidote to our sensible lives.”

All of motorsport – maybe all sport generally – is exactly that.

B_Quick
Guest
B_Quick

Todd great editorial wraps up my feelings on the state of F1 perfectly. People look to the past with rose tinted glasses for the most part but with F1 the past is more of everything, faster louder and more on the edge. We invested F1 fans want all that we got into the sport for in the first place with that added sprinkle of modern technology. The current tech would be great if it accentuated the core of what a F1 car should be. Instead it’s just watered it down, slow, quite with predictive racing This is F1 not WEC.… Read more »

geeyore
Guest
geeyore

Not taking offense, but the “pinnacle of motorsport” is now WEC – at least as it’s expressed in Le Mans – followed by Dakar and maybe even Baja and IoM TT. When F1 eventually untangles its objectives from “sustainability” perhaps it will rise once again to some spot in the pinnacle. I don’t think it has any place there at the moment.

surveyortom
Member
surveyortom

Fantastic Column, Sir! You nailed it with “No one wants more spice, they want more meat”. Sadly it seems that the sport is like a Steakhouse that has been inherited by vegetarian spice purveyors who have zero understanding of their market. Or worse yet actually abhor their carnivorous customer base.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Great piece, NC. As a F1 neophyte (three years’ fanship and remembering but a taste of the V-8 era), I have to say that, like you, I am still excited about the forthcoming season in specific and the sport in general albeit acknowledge some revisions and/or reversions are necessary. For the head honcho to say he wouldn’t buy his own product, though… talk about pissing in your own pool!

228929292AABBB
Guest
228929292AABBB

There’s a lot of this I agree with, but not all. For the sport to be what it once was, drivers have to die. That was where all that power led from time to time and it was at the root of the fascination. If that’s not acceptable, it’s no use looking backward, F1 has to be something that’s both worthwhile AND new. The past is no longer available. The aero is a big problem, totally agreed there. But I think the power units are good and your curly light bulb analogy actually does the opposite of what you intended… Read more »

ShocksAndAwe
Member
ShocksAndAwe

Yes, and Polo should start using bicycles instead of horses, because they’re better for the environment. As other’s have pointed out, F1 doesn’t have to pander to Environmentalism to progress. It’s not like any of this is getting more people interested in F1 anyway. F1 can do it’s part for environmentalism without trying (or pretending) to lead the charge. You want to be a vegetarian, that’s your prerogative, but don’t expect me to follow suit, or be happy about others trying to take my meat away. You want more spice and less meat? Watch Formula-E. The point is, there are… Read more »

228929292AABBB
Guest
228929292AABBB

It really surprises me that people who watch a site like this one (and people who write it for that matter) would make such basic mistakes as blaming the new engines for boring racing, when it’s not a matter of opinion but rather observation. When the new engines came out cars were slithering and passing their way to fantastic racing under the extra torque, no less than David Hobbs saying they’d put the driver back in the equation. Because of OTHER parts of the F1 rule structure at this point, and because of the excellence of the engineering brain trust… Read more »

ShocksAndAwe
Member
ShocksAndAwe

I don’t know what you’re on about, mate. I’ve never heard or seen anyone suggest that the engines have anything to do with the ‘boring racing’. The lack of passing is due to two major issues. Aero and track design. I think virtually everyone on this site will agree. I’m not going to again go into the reasons why some (most?) of us dislike the Hybrids, as they’re posted all over this site. “primitive Me-Like-Noise-More-Meat-Live-In-Past fan” that’s pretty close to a personal attack, and I resent it. The fact that I enjoy seeing people push themselves and their machines to… Read more »

228929292AABBB
Guest
228929292AABBB

I don’t agree with you but I think that’s a pretty logical and well phrased post, I’m going to appreciate your perspective and not try to stir up trouble. Regarding your comment that you’ve never heard anyone suggest the engines have contributed to boring racing, I’ll leave you with the words of our dear founder and author of the article I was commenting on: “I understand, can I offer that the constant hybrid praising is wearing on me? I have nothing against them but I’m not sure they were ready for prime time in F1 and I would argue your… Read more »

ShocksAndAwe
Member
ShocksAndAwe

I guess I see what you’re saying, but I read this as an argument that is less about what’s wrong with the hybrids, and more about what’s wrong with the ideology that leads to decisions that have nothing to do with perpetuating great racing. Decisions that deliberately water down the the spirit of F1, as well as the racing.
So the hybrids are seen as a symptom of the overall problem that creates boring racing, but not a direct cause.

Anyway. Cheers, mate.

ShocksAndAwe
Member
ShocksAndAwe

Btw. This is what we’re talking about. This is what we’re missing from F1. Not that it happened everyday, but when is the last time you saw two F1 cars able to follow each other that closely?

MIE
Editor
MIE

If you want the teams to develop cars that can follow one another and be in a position to overtake, then change the blue flag rule. If the requirement for the lapped driver to pull over was removed, then the leading driver would have to be able to pass the lapped tragic or they would be caught. It would only take a couple of races being lost due to inability to follow lapped cars close enough to overtake quickly before the team’s would develop the car that can work more effectively in turbulent air. The current regulations allow the teams… Read more »

ShocksAndAwe
Member
ShocksAndAwe
228929292AABBB
Guest
228929292AABBB

I honestly think the main thing ‘watering down’ f1 is computer technology. These are engineers, they’re going to find a way to spread resources in a logical fashion just as much as is needed to deliver the desired end of season points tally. (i.e. they’re going to make it boring). The reason racing was once exciting was that engineers couldn’t control every piece of data, know everything, or adjust ad infinitum in real time. There was a driver involved, who was typically partially nuts. Now they can control everything and the driver is largely a technician. You’re never going to… Read more »

Paul Riseborough
Guest
Paul Riseborough

NC – I don’t dig the analogy between hybrid engines and curly light globes. The hybrid’s are now faster than the V8’s and I don’t know what technology you are stuck with in the USA, but the world is moving on to LED lighting which comes on with full illumination in the first AC cycle. F1 rules are an artificial construct – whether it is a naturally V8 with 2.4L capacity and an RPM limit or a hybrid 1.6L V6 with a fuel flow limit. Both can give good racing and both can give bad racing. What we need we… Read more »

ShocksAndAwe
Member
ShocksAndAwe

I don’t think NC has anything against Hybrids per se. I think he, like many of us, misses the tooth-aching sound of the v12s, v10s, and v8’s @ 20k RPM. There’s a lot to be said for pure-bred normally aspirated engine.

NC’s point, think, is F1 is not the place for Hybrids. F1 is not the place for compromise. F1 is/should be all about excess — over-the-top, Maldonado’s-to-the-wall, pedal-to-the-metal, seat-of-the-pants, out-of-control, pushing-the-limits, flat-out, excess.

View post on imgur.com

Sorry if I’m putting words in your mouth, NC, but it’s certainly how I feel.

geeyore
Guest
geeyore

Yes. 100 percent.

Negative Camber
Guest
Negative Camber

I understand, can I offer that the constant hybrid praising is wearing on me? I have nothing against them but I’m not sure they were ready for prime time in F1 and I would argue your point on them being faster. Everything in F1 now is about less, not more. Reduction, less, coast, degrade…devolution of the sport that was always about more, extreme, push, limits and more. It is driven by ideology and it hasn’t been a pleasant impact for F1 fans en masse. Many like it and that’s perfectly fine, we’ll just disagree. I share your intrigue about the… Read more »

Paul Riseborough
Guest
Paul Riseborough

It’s being driven by more than ideology and I think the marketing $$ are the biggest driver. No strings tobacco and bank money has disappeared, alcohol advertising has problems with a number of key races, so the big spenders prepared to come into F1are automotive companies, and they need to improve their credentials with these new technologies. What we are seeing now is a power struggle where Mr E is trying to reduce their influence and is verbally trashing the sport in the process. I disagree that the sport is no longer about being extreme and pushing limits. The limits… Read more »

geeyore
Guest
geeyore

“Unfortunately some of the the new limits are hard for the average fan to understand” FIA has described the new limits extremely well: the first three goals of the post-2014 Formula 1 are efficiency, efficiency and efficiency. Literally, the first three goals, stated unambiguously and in print in official FIA declarations. http://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/publication/file/FIA%20F1%20Power%20Unit%20leaflet.pdf 1 – The Goal: “In [the] future, the best car in Formula One will be the most efficient. This is what the new power unit regulations are designed to promote.” 2 – Ensuring Efficiency 3 – Promoting Efficiency While certainly admirable for urban grocery getters, this is a… Read more »

partofthepuzzle
Guest
partofthepuzzle

I think it’s worth noting that Hamilton also said that the concept Driver Of the Day prize (a prize that has also not been specified) was meaningless. IMO it’s a silly bandaid move to gain more fan involvement and further indication that main goal (exciting on track action, winning races and championships) in the current F1 simply isn’t enough.

Do fans need a Player of The Day in football, soccer, baseball, basketball or any other professional sport to get fans involved?

Negative Camber
Guest
Negative Camber

There you go, if Lewis said it then I am sure I’m not that far off base here. :)

#F1 'o^°o-
Guest
#F1 'o^°o-

Sure i miss the v12,V10’s but the cars are going back to engine development ,a wider track car with wider tires and low swept wings with tires that you can race with so there are positives!

geeyore
Guest
geeyore

Excellent editorial, you’ve captured it all perfectly. I share exactly those same sentiments, and particularly this one: “Don’t get me wrong, I love this sport. That’s why it hurts so much to have less of it.” Thanks for expressing it so well. And here at home we don’t use the 5-hour dishwasher anymore (hand-washing is so much more efficient and satisfying, and probably more “sustainable”), and we’ve come to find that the expensive curly bulbs only work in very limited applications, otherwise they burn-out with alarming frequency or don’t supply enough wattage to read this month’s Motorsport. So yeah, the… Read more »