ANTHONY ROWLINSON “F1, in many regards, is in rude health”
News just in! Formula 1 is doomed. Yep, the sport in which millions have invested quite a lot of their adult lives, will soon cease to be.
No more drivers’ world championship. No more buzzing anticipation of the season to come. No more slightly agog wonder at the sheer engineering virtuosity of the modern F1 car. No more charting the calendar according to the well-rehearsed rhythms of the racing year: long-hauls, the European season, then furious flyaways. All of this, we are being told, is to stop, as F1 self-immolates on a pyre of ire, fuelled by a volatile cocktail of fear and loathing. B******s. F1, in many regards, is in rude health. Let’s start with team and manufacturer involvement. Renault has just bought back in big time, rescuing Lotus and committing something in the region of 300million euros per season to a team that looked doomed at the end of 2015.
Haas – what an entrance! Yes, there has been sniping that ‘they’re not really constructors’, but all credit to them for a smart interpretation of the rule book and a pragmatic deployment of resources on respected partners (Ferrari, Dallara) to create an entirely credible mid-grid team almost from nought.
Manor: tail-end Charlies, yes, but with a positive future direction and technical alliances (Mercedes, Williams). We hardly need mention the hundreds of millions pumped into the sport by Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Honda (via Mclaren).
Moving along, what about drivers? Let’s see, we have a grid of five world champions, eight grand prix winners, and a pool of young tyros such as Stoffel Vandoorne, Kevin Magnussen, Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Gutierrez, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Jolyon Palmer, who’ve all shown terrific promise. Not too many worries there, then.
Venues: 21 this year and counting. Sure, the worries over Monza and the German Grand Prix are a concern, as is the drift from F1’s so-called European heartland. But this is a World Championship after all and new venues such as COTA, Yas Marina, Sepang, and Singapore have contributed hugely over the past decade or so to the multiculturalism of a genuinely global sport.
Technology: the V6 hybrid power units that have shoved along F1 cars since 2014 are pioneering pieces of kit, capable of achieving thermal efficiency levels previously unknown in motoring and motorsport. They are influencing the direction in which car manufacturer multinationals channel their investment, thereby helping describe a path for a more energy efficient transport future. Rest assured those power units are noisier this year, too, and are likely to hustle a Nico, a Lewis, a Seb or a Kimi to the fastest ever top speed recorded on-event at a grand prix, later this year.
The racing? Well we were all thrilled in Oz, weren’t we?
Does F1 have a few problems, most notably in the areas of equitable financial distribution, strategic vision, governance and succession planning? Of course it does. Does that mean it’s on the brink of collapse? Nope. So how’s about we all quit bitchin’ and get on with enjoying what might just be a classic season of grand prix motor racing?
“We are happy with the entry because it is the first time at Silverstone and the first time we have a race just for touring cars, so I think an entry of 42 cars is great to start with,” said Creventic’s Daphne Gengler. “We have bigger plans for the future and hope that it will increase, but for now it’s perfect.
“It’s good to have the touring cars fighting for the overall win and we’ve seen the time difference between the teams was not that big.”
This year was the first time that only touring cars took part in the race after Creventic took over from Britcar as organiser, but Gengler added that is the right direction to take.
“We see a lot of potential in the touring car class, it’s great to see that this first event is a success and we can build from there,” she said.