I do not like being negative in these blog entries, especially at the beginning, however I am getting rather tired of the endless debates in Formula 1 on non-issues, so I’m just going to start by outlining the supposed ‘problems’ that I am not going to talk about.
I will not be discussing tyres, and have explained why this is not an issue in a previous entry. I will not be talking about ‘testgate’ (as it has been coined), largely because I do not believe Mercedes would not have risked breaking the rules so drastically without some level of approval from the FIA, so no infringement will be found. I am also not going to talk about Monaco, which as always was quite the spectacle but besides a few high-profile crashes there was little of note from a racing perspective and few conclusions can be drawn.
So instead of discussing these ‘short-term’ issues, I would prefer to talk about my longer-term concerns for the sport, and for me this includes the direction Formula 1 is going under Bernie Ecclestone. It cannot be underestimated what Bernie has done for the sport, however a big part of me worries about some of the decisions he has made and is in the process of making, and wonder whether it would be a good time for him to hand the reigns over to a worthy successor.
First and foremost in these concerns is his desire to move more races away from Europe, the true home of Formula 1. We are already down to seven races, and are constantly hearing threats from Ecclestone to reduce this further, even suggesting Silverstone as being in danger (albeit I am sure he was merely sensationalising). Formula 1 needs to be in places where its wanted and embraced, rather than the near-empty stands that we have seen in places like Bahrain. And to think he has spoken about opening the season there!
A further worry for me is his stance on the teams at the back of the grid. It was announced recently that the team finishing 11th (last) would no longer receive prize money, losing that team $10 million a year. This money is incredibly valuable to those teams at the back, he really is just taking from the poor and giving to the rich in a move which just says to me that he is looking to starve the grid into ten teams.
Ecclestone seems to be underestimating the importance of these teams. This season more than ever the battle at the back has been really interesting, watching four drivers with only one years’ experience between them battle with each other for bragging rights in two improving cars, indeed seeing Giedo Van der Garde reaching Q2 in Monaco was great to see! They are by no means the finished article, but it is great experience for them where they can stay out of the way of the front runners (most of the time).
It is far better having these drivers in this position than further up in the mix, as Esteban Gutierrez has shown this year with several altercations with other cars. It is important for a driver to spend at least 2-3 years gaining the experience necessary to compete at the front with the top drivers, to eliminate high-profile silly crashes, as has frequently been seen with Romain Grosjean also.
If nothing else, you still want Formula 1 to be an attraction for new or potential returning teams also. This move to reduce the prize money for the last-placed team could only deter manufacturers who have expressed an interest in entering the sport such as Honda or even VW, as it would really pile the pressure on from the start.
To be clear, I have a huge admiration for what Bernie has built and achieved, it really is truly remarkable. He possesses great vision and is exceptional at what he does, and I credit him for that. However my feeling now is that he has done his part and made his mark, much like Sir Alex Ferguson maybe it is time for him to say ‘yes, I’ve done a good job’ and find a successor to lead the sport into the future.
Probably not David Moyes though…
I always look forward to the Canadian Grand Prix, a great racing circuit. Just time for a quick prediction for this weekend, and I’m going to go for a Vettel pole and Raikonnen win, with Alonso up in the mix also.