There’s no fear in F1 anymore

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As Formula 1 tries to determine its next raft of changes for 2016/17, the reality is that the series may have become over engineered through terrific technology and innovation. That’s to be admired if I’m honest but it does have a knock-on effect and much of that is sterile racing according to some in the paddock.

When speaking with veterans such as Sterling Moss and others, the element of danger has been reduced to a point that the cars seem easy to handle and the racing suffers because of it according to 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel:

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“The first time I drove an F1 car I was scared and I don’t think you get that any more,”

“It is still difficult to drive fast but probably back in the years you needed a little bit bigger balls.”

“That is what the drivers would appreciate – and the fans, so it looks more spectacular”.

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Sebastian says it is still hard to drive fast but the element of danger is not as it was. It is not an easy equation for anyone to sort out as no one would want to remove safety from the series but there are those who believe that the run-off’s have taken the racing to a pedestrian level with no penalties for running wide where there used to be a tree and grassy hill waiting for the errant driver who braked too late.

As for balls, he need only look down the pit lane at Pastor Maldonado who says he has big ones. Perhaps too big some might argue.

Is that the kind of danger fans want? When queried, most fans would say they do not want anyone put in harms way and that’s the real balancing act. As we’re warming up in Monaco this weekend, it was just eight months ago when Jules Bianchi had what appears to be a career-ending crash that tragically could be life-ending and no one wants that. Not for the entertainment of racing. So what is the equation?

The Grand Prix Driver’s Association (GPDA) just released their expansive fan survey and boast that it is the most comprehensive to date. I took the survey and I felt it was a bit pointy to a desired narrative they were trying to seek out. As fate would have it, our own Grace is an expert in surveys and creates them for the American government and we’re going to have her weigh in on this most recent effort soon.

Regardless, I think Sebastian Vettel could have saved the GPDA a lot of time as he wraps up everything fans want in one simple statement:

[quote_box_center]”I would like to have a much bigger engine, more power, better tyres, more grip so the cars car faster in general.”[/quote_box_center]

If the drivers are unanimous on that and they know the dangers, then the fans can perhaps stop trying to eliminate every possible element of danger from the sport given that the drivers know what they are signing up for?

Hat Tip: BBC Sport

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Warham Pendrich

I took the survey and found it to be well balanced. The argument that it seemed to pointed or had an agenda is ridiculous. You can choose your level of response. It was based on a continuum of responses. It’s the best way to measure validity.

PM

The survey was much more comprehensive than the one released last time around but yes you are right, it was a bit pointed. I wish they had a comment section where you could contribute your own suggestions instead of a scale from 1 to 7 for prescribed questions. But again, its hard writing a survey that caters to every single option for every single fan.

Also I dont know if you saw but autosport and f1 racing magazine released their own survey at around the same time http://surveys.haymarket.com/s3/twitter-feed Unlike the GDPA one, it had a comment section.

GaryK

To me, more penalties for stupid mistakes would be welcome in the form of less paved runoff or addition of chassis floor-threatening bumps to such runoffs. Other than that, Seb sums it up nicely.

jakobusvdl

I wouldn’t see the point in taking away features at the track that reduce the risk of physical injury to the driver or the cars (the cost of car damage must be humongous). However the electronics could easily be programed to penalise drivers who leave track limits, cutting power or stopping the car altogether.
That doesn’t introduce a physical harm ‘fear factor’ but would eliminate the liberties that drivers now take because there are no consequences of going off track.

Gerry

Seb said it perfectly! Why isn’t anyone listening? Everything else is smoke and mirrors. It’s really not that hard to figure out. One more thing. BRING BACK THE SOUND!!!!!

Paul KieferJr

You know, it could have been worse: We could have gone the Mel Gibson route.

Paul KieferJr

So, they’re apparently ignoring the fact that going around a track at 200 MPH is something to be feared? A normal, mentally healthy human being is afraid of something. Fear is natural. It’s our survival instinct. This is what nature has given us in order to stay alive. Bravery is not denying that there is any danger or fear. Bravery is acknowledging that the fear exists, admitting the fear and yet still overcoming it. Without fear, we do not survive.

Johnpierre Rivera

Nice work NC. Well this is the real problem with F1 now isn’t it? For me it has nothing to do with lack of sound or DRS, or energy recovery systems. For me the issue is the cars I grow up watching as a kid had huge wheels in the back and the drivers still could barely put the power down and keep the back end from stepping out. The cars I grow up with looked and sounded (I will admit the sound was one of the most visceral that i have ever heard. I do miss it but it… Read more »

Greg

Formula 1 must get away from the “road car development” tag and once again become a prototype series. NHRA top fuel dragsters will never incorporate electric motors with small turbo engines and if they do no one will go watch them.

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