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Asleep at the Wheel: Has F1 become boring?

After yet another commanding season, Sebastian Vettel was crowned world champion. Again. ‘Red Bull’ have proven that they have the best car on the grid. Again. Formula One is meant to be the crown jewels sitting proudly upon the crown that is motor sport. Formula One is meant to be THE example of just how great racing can be. Formula One is meant to be the guiding light that may shine forward into a new future of automotive sport.

…so why have I spent such a long time now being bored out of my skin? 

The weird part of this whole situation is that I really want to love Formula One. The sport contains so many things that I love about life – fast cars, speed, glamour, theatre, the works. In many ways I can compare F1 to the James Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace’; that film has every aspect that should make any Bond film amazing, yet the whole thing appeared to be a bit of a laborious disaster. And I feel much the same about the apparent ‘greatest motor sport in the world’.

To examine the array of issues that are buzzing around my head, let me propose some questions:

Question One: Is it not exciting watching the rise of a new legend of the sport in Sebastian Vettel?

Formula One has been lucky enough to watch the rise of some of the greatest racing drivers known to man kind: Senna, Prost, Hunt, Fangio, Stewart… the list goes on. Throughout the 90s and early 00s we also saw Michael Schumacher. He won 7 world championships and became one of most loved drivers of the modern sport. Following this German take over, did any of us really think we would see another one? And then Vettel came along and proved us all wrong.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel

However this time, it seems a lot of people are not so impressed. The problem is that everything he has achieved has essentially been handed to him on a plate. He inherited a place on the best F1 team on the grid and has gone and started winning EVERYTHING. The difference between him and all the other legends of the sport is that he doesn’t appear to have worked for what he has gained. For some time I said exactly the same thing about Hamilton, but now he has moved to Mercedes and is proving his worth by being amazingly competitive in a car that everyone else thought would be mid-pack at best this year. Not only that, but since his initial success there has been a great deal of bias in the Red Bull team. In many ways I am not surprised that Mark Webber decided to retire having spent the last few years getting second rate equipment and playing Robin to Vettel’s Batman.

When Vettel keeps winning, it is now no longer surprising, it is just tiringly predictable. I seem to be spending most of my time hoping for a mechanical failure, a crash or a mistake. I really hate thinking that stuff but the problem is, it is the only way I can make it exciting in my head anymore.

Question Two: Technologically advanced cars racing at 200mph, what is not to love about that? 

Formula One is meant to be the pinnacle of modern motor sport. The racing should be hard, fast, close and spectacular. And yet, it is not. When you sit and watch your average race these days, the commentary team seem to have some form of auto-gasm when there is an overtake. It is one overtake, guys. In one race there will be a small handful of overtakes, and this is treated like proof of sporting perfection. The fact that cars have to be fitted with an ‘overtake’ button and additional aids to make overtaking even possible says a lot if you ask me. I have said it a multitude of times before, but look at any Touring Car series; the British Touring Cars or the V8 Supercars. That is what hard racing should be.

F1 2013 at Monaco

F1 2013 at Monaco

Furthermore, F1 cars seem so fragile that ANY SLIGHT contact seems to result in race ruining damage that renders a car near-useless. Yes, I am aware that motor sport should never focus on collisions, but it is natural that there will be some coming together across the span of a race. Why not sacrifice some of the speed and make for a more exciting sport? Is it really that much to ask?

Finally, racing should be about well, RACING. What it should never be about is tyre and pit strategy. They are two elements that can make a race exciting. But when the focus is placed more upon them than on the racing itself, then something has gone horribly wrong. Listening to the eternal discussion about wings, tyres and pit strategy during a race makes me want to find the nearest bridge and hurl myself off of it. Murray Walker would never have wasted his breath talking about that.

Maybe it is just me, but processional racing is not what I love.

Question Three: There are new tracks being designed and built all the time, is that not exciting?

There are some things that I cannot even try to defend. And the lifeless, soulless and emotionless race tracks designed by Hermann ‘no imagination’ Tilke are definitely one of these things. The tracks are usually a mix of LONG STRAIGHT followed by TECHNICAL SECTION OVERLOAD, LONG STRAIGHT, MORE TECHNICAL… you get the idea. These tracks seem endless and lack the passion and soul of the classics such as Spa or Silverstone. Speaking of which, what on this holy earth have they done to Silverstone? The home of British motor sport has become an arena of boredom. What is happening?

Circuit of the Americas

Circuit of the Americas

While I am on this point, Mr Tilke really needs to get some imagination. If you want to design tracks that are so health and safety perfect meaning that run off areas are so large that cars do not lose out from them then that is one thing. But do you then have to rip off all the other great tracks in the process. The new USA GP circuit in Texas seems to have borrowed corners from already existing tracks. America is already full of amazing race tracks, do we really need another one?

In conclusion…

The answer is simple. Change. Call it revolution if you must but please, something needs to happen. The sport has become a painfully predictable game of chess played out on lifeless race tracks across the globe, doing nothing but serving the egos of the leaders of the F1 teams (well, mainly Christian Horner but still).

Where is the passion? Where is the raw animalism? Where is the soul?

In the new F1 video games, why else do you think that they are placing more emphasis on driving the classic cars?  Could it maybe be because the modern sport is nothing compared to the titans of the past.

New is not always better. Sometimes we need to look to the past to find the answers for the future.

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter: @lewisglynn69

Peace and Love!

3 comments

  1. errr says:

    extremely boring article everything you list has been said before and you are merely repeating it and adding nothing new.

    November 18th, 2013 at 2:27 am

  2. KiwiGreg says:

    Huge F1 fan, but there is more than a kernel of truth in what you say. I’ve followed Webber since his days at Minardi, and while I DESPISE Seb for taking Mark’s only chance for a win this year, I also admit that he is a freaking genius behind the wheel. He seems to be able to eek out more speed, and better tyre wear and fuel consumption than anyone in the field. You only have to look at Qually 3 at Austin this year. Webber set the benchmark early on, and no-one had come close. The chequered flag dropped and the commentators called it for Mark. No other car could match the time, and Vettel was a full quarter of a second down (that’s like a week in F1) after the second sector. No chance to… wait… WTF??? Vettel on pole by .001

    Couldn’t agree more about Tilke designed tracks though. Singapore’s interesting, so I hope NJ does get up.

    November 21st, 2013 at 11:29 am

  3. Mick says:

    I disagree with a few things you mention. I hate vettel but he is very good. Red bull were not successful when he started with them. He has made them what they are. F1 cars are no where near as fragile as they once were. Once upon a time even the slightest touch would be race over. I do agree with you about boring racing and there should be more excitement during races. I love a good prang and it is great that no driver has died since 1994…but it seems to have gone too far and the tracks are made to be boring with few if any overtaking spots. Pirelli tyres are crap and need to be removed from all motor sport (and road cars) immediately. They are rubbish and should have been banned a few years ago. It shows that f1 isn’t governed by common sense but $$$$… No surprise there. I pray that something is worked out to bring the sport back to the driver not the tyres. I hope Daniel can really push vettel and knock him off. I also hope a few other cars can get some wins to mix it up. Finally thanks for the memories mark. It was a privelage to watch you since the first race in melbourne.

    November 26th, 2013 at 5:47 am