Formula One needs a miracle worker who can cure its stupidity

Anand Datla


Formula one has got its formulae wrong yet again. In a bizarre measure announced on Monday, the FIA has decided to award double points for the final race of the 2014 season. Such a parochial decision is a cause for dismay, especially since the sport itself rides on great sophistication and engineering. It is the kind of shocker that leaves even the most diehard fans gaping in wonderment at the stupidity of the people that control this frenzied circus.

On the face of it, the decision is meant to keep its dwindling audience captivated to the final lap of the season. But then, we also know now, that even with this rule, Sebastian Vettel would have long sealed his victory during his imperial runaway effort in 2013.

And the idea that the race in Abu Dhabi is somehow more worthy than the other 18 races that precede it is outrageously repugnant. It is both dumb and devious to just accord more value to the final race on the calendar, blinded by some misplaced sense of authoritarian nonsense.

The world championship is meant to be awarded to the most consistently successful driver who has outwitted his seasoned rivals through racing excellence. As it is, the problems in Formula 1 are not stemming from any huge distinction in quality among the drivers.

The root of its problems lay in the yawning divide between the front runners and the laggards in terms of resources and engineering. Over the years Formula One has been taken over by the machine, in many cases making the driver almost an incidental part of the equation.

Could Vettel be wiping the tracks clean if he were seated in a Force India car? Could Michael Schumacher have won those seven titles if he weren’t the blue eyed boy of those men at Ferrari? These are moot questions that may go begging for an answer, but worth asking nonetheless.

The idea that the statement came straight after a meeting of the people responsible for strategy in F1, makes you wonder if they have left their brains at home inside their vacant helmets. Surely it has nothing to do with strategy and everything to do with a self-serving attitude at the helm of the sport.

There is an inescapable irony in the shortsighted decision taken by the bigwigs of F1 – Formula One Strategy Group and F1 Commission – in Paris on Monday is a step that is long on intent and short on content. The possibility that a racer from the chasing pack could usurp the title purely on the basis of his showing in the final race is hard to digest.

Nothing gets an F1 fan glued more than a good old overtaking maneuver by a driver with an ambition and a penchant for calculated risk. While some of the engineering changes in the offing for the next season are indeed intended to bring the driver back to the centre stage, it is already apparent that they may not nearly be enough to bring about a sea change.

Formula needs to go back to its roots – create opportunities for young men to showcase their driving skills and daredevilry. The sport is in dire need of entertaining athletes who are willing to drive their car to the limit to find a way and upend competition with raw skill rather than on the strength of well-engineered vehicles.

Remember that drivers such as Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet earned a permanent place in F1 folklore through the sheer dint of driving brilliance that enabled them to conceive and execute some stunningly brilliant racing moves on their bitter rivals.

The excitement that gripped Silverstone when Mansell finally got past Piquet through the inside of Stowe with just two laps to go, is rarely seen these days. It was 1987 and the Brit had been chasing Piquet relentlessly for much of the afternoon.

And then in a sudden burst of brilliant driving, he appeared to move left forcing Piquet to defend the line, before carting right and squeezing through the inside to pull off the stunning move and take the race.

Right now, fans are begging for their beloved sport to rediscover its soul. Let us put our collective brilliance in engineering to create the tracks and cars that allow the drivers to showcase their skills and the ability for sharp thinking by providing them the space needed to pull off imaginative moves on the track.

Racing ought to be about the driver, not the car or the engineer behind the pit wall. If the sport is to regain some of the past glory and earn back the fanatic loyalty of its devoted fans, the administrators need to huddle in and brainstorm for ways to make the action on the track take the headlines once again.

Going by indications though, it appears that the men running the sport have lost the ability to ideate productively. One shockingly inane statement after another, that follow from these junkets at luxury hotels in Switzerland and Paris will do more harm to an already damaged sport.

And where there is a lack of ideas, the technology of today offers great hope. The F1 officialdom will do well to simply crowd source ideas and eager fans will only be too delighted to suggest ways and means to revitalize the adrenaline filled sport.

One can only wonder if sense can dawn on the corridors of power in F1. It might be as likely an event as finding Pope Francis racing past a speed gun in a Ferrari 250 GTO, but miracles happen sometimes. Let us hope that some good sense prevails before the circus reaches Melbourne in March next year.

Edited by Staff Editor


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