Flavio to help improve the show? Eek! #F1 #NASCAR

News that the flamboyant Italian might be appointed to spice up F1 should send a shiver through the true fan, and not just because this is a man whose team was found guilty of race fixing.

 

The sport is motor racing and the central idea is that a number of cars start together and finish according to a variety of factors that might include, in no particular order; driver skill, car design and preparation, engine performance, fuel consumption, tyre choice, weather and Lady Luck.

Now with all of those elements in play you practice, qualify, line up on the grid and set off for however many laps, or hours, that the race is run over. And that should be it; the race pans out over that duration and if one car vanishes into the distance, laps the entire field and wins easily then well done that driver and crew for that is racing.

Since the advent of TV, especially live coverage, there has developed the desire to keep the outcome in suspense as in the thriller book, movie or TV show. They want to have the same concept; the race result to be in doubt until the last lap, and over in NASCAR the phantom caution for debris became notorious for wiping out a lead with, say, 35 laps to go so that everyone could stop for fresh tyres and enough fuel to go the distance before unleashing the pack all nicely bunched again.

My view is that if you want a 30 odd lap dash to the flag why bother with the rest of the race? NASCAR could run eight 50 mile dashes in the time that they spend on a 500 mile job and could, in theory, have eight different winners on the day. What a show that would make, with plenty of time for commercials and studio analysis. Watching NASCAR on TV is dire anyway because of all the commercial breaks, so maybe this is the answer?

Staying with our US tin top friends for the moment they have also put the competition caution on their championship season with the ludicrous Chase concept whereby they take the bulk of the season and then reset the field for the last dozen or so races so that any crew that has done a stellar job through the year to establish a big lead will have that advantage taken away. As with race length, why have a 36 race calendar and decide the title over a third of those races?

F1 is going the same way with all of the artificial gimmicks that are being introduced or considered. The use of safety cars has robbed many a driver of the win that they deserved and, on one occasion, allowed a team to steal a win by triggering a safety car. The rolling re-start did at least allow the leader a chance to manage the start to some extent, but now we are to have standing re-starts. Now there was a chance to redress the situation of lost advantage because the race could have been considered in two parts like it used to be with the results decided on aggregate, but no, any advantage will be wiped out still and that is not fair, nor is it racing.

The double points issue in F1 is another piece of fiddling, but it is not that far removed from the days when only a certain number of results could be counted or when they split the season into two and the best results from each half counted. Graham Hill scored one more point than John Surtees in 1964, but had to drop a fifth place and two points so JS is in the record books for that year and Graham only has two world titles to his name. What is more important, wins or consistency? Jim Clark won four times in ’67 but Denny Hulme won the title with two wins. Keke Rosberg only won once in the year he was world champion so who do you reward, who has done the best job?

Even that tinkering with the points was not a new way of managing races for the Brooklands years saw most races run as handicaps; a lap and a half start for Marussia and Caterham anyone?

Charles Darwin put evolution on the map and motor sport is no different to the species; it has to evolve. In doing so its fan base is going to change and there are those like me who are being alienated by the organisers of motor sports. But there are others who are being attracted and as long as that happens does it matter if I drift off into my memories and memorabilia instead? Of course not.

True fans of motor racing are not blinkered to one formula, we like it all and could be just as happy with the sights and sounds at a hill-climb or club meeting and that sort of racing will always be there for us to enjoy. The major league; F1, NASCAR, IndyCar and the like will vie for the TV audiences and the sponsorship money that it brings and I am enough of a businessman to understand that without the sponsorship money the racing will die, but there will also always be people who want to race and will find ways to do it economically. The latter will never need manipulation which is why it represents the purest form of the sport.

 

 

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