Something is wrong with F1

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Formula 1
Now don’t go write this on a rock as it is really only an emotional appeal with very little logic or wisdom seeping from its pours. It’s just that I think there is something wrong with F1 this year. Yes, we know…tell us something we don’t. I am not talking about the “Liegate” issue or Ron Dennis stepping down from McLaren and who forced him too; no I am talking about the other part of this season that we all actually tuned in to watch. The racing.

For the last two years we have had a championship decided by one point. Take last year for example. It was a year of very exciting racing including newcomers like Lewis Hamilton who set the world on fire with brilliant potential and terrific results. Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais.

Then there were the contenders like Felipe Massa who has spent a career trying to prove he deserves a career in F1 and actually answered all critics last year. Kimi Raikkonen with his lack of deference for anything and his indifference to issues except for the blindingly quick pace he shows when his mind and car are up to it. Fernando Alonso who many consider the best driver on the grid struggling with a car that forgot to cheat and made the second half of the season the most memorable in years as far as spirited drives go. Include as well the rise of BMW with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld winning their first race since entering the series. The veteran like Jarno Trulli, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jenson button, Mark Webber and Rubens Barrichello rounded out a terrific grid.

The prior years were fought by incredible drivers in incredible cars. The battles between Kimi, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Juan Pablo Montoya were exciting. The teams were not always equal in resources or performance and while the tire war played a role, it was up to the teams to raise their game and find that magic element that took them from best-of-the-rest to the top tier of motorsport. Renault and McLaren actually achieved it and BMW looked set to join them. That is until the 2009 regulations.

Now we have something completely different that has this season relegated to the “I can’t take this too seriously” category because there is something drastically wrong. Perhaps it is just the conventional wisdom that the drastic regulation changes have caught the big teams out and they are now suffering while traditional mid-pack and back-marker teams are now leading the title chase.

I like Brawn GP being in the limelight and think it’s great for them. I like Williams and Toyota appearing resurgent and very competitive but I can’t help but marginalize it all as this year is not indicative of what reality is. Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Renault don’t just forget how to design, build and race cars over 6 months. There is something wrong and not just because my team isn’t up front.

For the last 8 years we have seen how difficult it is to make the slight increase to run with the top teams. Renault did it; then lost it but that point is being discussed in our forums should you like to contribute to reasons why. McLaren raised their game (or stole their game from Ferrari depending on which camp you rest in) to reach the top and BMW have been chipping away at the magical top echelon of performance each year with this year to be their swansong. Then…all of a sudden…they all suck. Three formerly struggling teams are leading the championship and this is being ascribed to superior design and intelligence. I’d buy that if we were talking about Newey but last years car was a Newey car as well. I’d also argue that McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and Renault have some outrageously intelligent designers in their camps.

No, something is wrong and while I don’t mind Brawn GP winning and I think it’s great to see because I like Brawn, Rubens and Jenson a lot; this year is not indicative of real F1 for me. It seems artificially produced via goofy regulation changes, suspect rulings, idiotic tire management programs, KERS, rude aero-changes and ugly cars. Next year is narrow front tires. It just keeps getting worse.

Remember when all the regulation changes were to make F1 safer for drivers by just reducing speed? Now that has been placed on the back burner in the quest for “Green” initiatives and entertainment overtaking. Not racing in my book. True, good racing IS entertaining; NASCAR taught us that a long time ago but equally thought entertainment was somehow better when manufactured through regulations, rules and competition cautions.

Now before the angry emails start flying, I stated up front that this is purely an emotional email of what I have seen so far. I have not the resources, time nor staff to exhaustively research finite lap times over the last 8 years. I am not suggesting that Brawn GP doesn’t deserve success and I picked Toyota as by dark horse this year. I have never made any bones about my fondness for Sir Frank and Williams F1 and Nico. Nor have I minced words about my respect fro what Timo Glock and Jarno have accomplished. But still…something is really wrong.

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