Formula 1 fans are confusing—well, at least 35,000 of you are. Sure, there are demographic issues to be considered when reading the results of a F1 survey and you have to also consider that these demographics will fall along age and location variables but still—F1 fans are confusing, stupefying, bemusing…mental.
AUTOSPORT released the result of their very nice survey of F1 and you can see the full results here. What caught my eye were a few disconnects but I am plainly willing to accept that it is a perception issue and mostly my issue to wrestle to the ground but still—you folks are confusing.
Let’s take a look shall we?
The question at hand is this:
[quote_box_center]Are you in favor of using artificial methods to tighten up the Formula 1 races?[/quote_box_center]
Now, you could interpret that question in different ways. Are they asking if we want the races tightened up or the actual car-versus-car action tightened up?
The response to this question was a resounding and overwhelming NO!
That’s fine, I have no issue with that as it is also how I would have voted given the question and its wording. But just a few questions away, we get this:
The response to this question is a mind-numbing YES by 50% to NO’s 40%. WHAT? You just said you didn’t think the series should use artificial methods to tighten up racing! Go home F1 fans, you’re drunk.
The confusion continues as you read this question:
[quote_box_center]Would you be happy to see F1 become a spec series using identical chassis and engine, like GP2, in a bit(sic) to reduce costs?[/quote_box_center]
Logically you said NO by a resounding 86% but then you went on to read this questions:
How did you respond to that one? An overwhelming 62% said YES. What? If three teams bought Ferrari chassis, engine and drivetrain, it’s a spec series and not a constructor’s series. This is what Sir Frank Williams is so vocal about.
On one hand F1 fans want F1 to be the pinnacle of technology innovation and yet they want refueling. They want the fastest cars possible and detest the concept of purposefully slowing them down to be more competitive with each other and yet, they’re undecided on the sound of the new power unit?
Now here’s where AUTOSPORT got political with their survey. They crafted the question of engine sound like this:
Ok, they know full well that the majority of respondents, 44%, have not attended a F1 race. With that large—read majority—of respondents skewing your survey with a lack of presence at a race, why would you ask them about the sound of the power unit with the caveat or requirement that they must be at trackside to have an opinion?
What? People at home can’t hear the difference of the engine? We can’t hear the lack of sound on our TV’s? Bosh! And yes, I have heard them trackside by the way. I took a sound pressure meter with me and the Ferrari support race was louder than the F1 cars. These were Ferrari 458’s. F1 was approximately 92db while the Ferrari’s were 98db from the exact same distance away from the track—which was about 50 feet. For reference, the average SPL for a large office environment is approximately 60-65db.
It’s not lost on me that when queried again about the hybrid engines, it was a close run thing! With 42% saying YES and 46% saying NO, it left 11% clearly identified as comprehensively numb about the role of an engine to the entire F1 user experience.
Perhaps the sadder narrative out of this question is the teams and employees who paid the price for hybrids and lost their business and jobs as a result. If there is only a 4% delta between the “love it” and “hate it” crowd and 11% comprehensively lost on the concept, we did all of this damage to the sport for what? We spent all of this money for what? Road car innovation? I think not. Planet-saving technology? I think not. Bravado and ideology? Perhaps. Silly humans and their piety.
Perhaps there is no surprise here:
[quote_box_center]What is the reason you watch Formula 1?[/quote_box_center]
The majority, 42%, said they watch for the “rivalry and competitiveness between drivers and teams”. Is it any wonder fans get bored with Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari domination in F1? Is it any wonder the viewer numbers are waning? If F1 fans want any team or driver to have the chance to win on any given Sunday, then F1 is not the sport for them. Perhaps NASCAR or GP2 or reruns of the IROC series would be a better fit?
In the end, it’s a nice survey that AUTOSPORT did and I have a lot of time for the folks over there as they do a great job of it but it does highlight one thing. You may feel very strongly that F1 needs to make changes quickly and you may feel its lost its way and isn’t a great series now but regardless, demanding changes is easy—determining what those changes should be is no small task and I don’t envy Messrs. Ecclestone and Todt with a task ripe with all the politics, hidden agendas and money involved.
You had your say and in some ways, you’re more confused than F1’s management about where to take F1 in the future and what changes should be made. What you’ve learned here is that F1 is a very, very complicated beast and things aren’t as easy as they appear to be.
As is the cultural meme these days, you’ll be obliged to be the immediate contrarian to any point being made here and that’s fine but the reality is, no matter how much the contrarian you fancy yourself to be, you’re still miles away from a simple solution to F1’s woes and you, unlike Ecclestone, Todt, teams, F1 press/media and people with skin in the game, enjoy the bravery of being out or range. And by “YOU”, I mean “Me”. The F1 fan who took the survey—although my pride would have me let you know that I didn’t vote in favor of DRS…I’m not quite that daft!