On Thursday I mentioned Ross Brawn waxing lyrical about the magic of Formula One being locked up in the technology.
Whatever Ross’s motivations for saying it, you know he genuinely believes it, and his thoughts will be echoed up and down the pitlane by other engineers. But for every Ross Brawn, Martin Whitmarsh and Adrian Newey, there’s the counter argument, espoused by the likes of Flavio Briatore and, latterly, Tony Fernandes, which argues engineers, if left unchecked, will rampage through the sport, spend too much money and spoil the show – which should be about drivers competing out on track, not designers competing at the drawing board.
My instinct, as a fully paid-up nerd, is to agree with Brawn, simply because in the real world the alternative is uncomfortably difficult to contemplate: If F1 isn’t constantly innovating and developing, getting smarter, sharper and faster, then how does it justify calling itself the pinnacle of motorsport? What makes it different to any other racing series out there in the big wide world today?
I accept the argument that there’s an audience out there that really doesn’t care whether one car has an F-Duct or where another car’s exhausts are pointing, and they’re only interested in seeing drivers battling out there on the track. But implicit in that argument is the idea that you really don’t need the innovation, the furious battles over legality, the tens of millions spent striving to find that last tenth of a second. You can have frozen regulations and standard parts. You don’t need upgrades every week. Actually, you don’t need upgrades every year.
Personally, I find that idea of an F1 championship like that to be incredibly unappealing. Dull, in fact. It’s fine for a feeder series like GP2, and it’s OK for NASCAR but Formula One is supposed to represent the very best motorsport has to offer, both men and machinery. I expect it to be constantly pushing boundaries and I accept that’s going to make it costly and occasionally contentious. I’m certain that it needs to do this to stay at the pinnacle in the minds both of spectators and also aspiring young drivers. This sport would be in trouble if they grow up wanting to race anywhere else.
I certainly don’t think technology stifles competition. Today in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix we had four teams and eight drivers at the top of the order separated by less than half a second. That, I think, is pulling a very big rabbit out of a very small hat.
- Check out the Malaysia GP event page
- Visit the official Formula 1 website
- Search for Formula 1 videos on YouTube
- The RB8 Revealed
- F1 New car launches for 2012