Here’s an interesting question: Would F1 without the drama off the track be interesting all? I ask the question because the past three races have been complete snoozefests, only made interesting by the drama not involving cars racing on the track. During the Spanish GP last weekend, my brother and I counted two passes during the entire race. Two. It’s come to the point where the qualifying on Saturday is more exciting than the actual race on Sunday.
Off the track, however, the manoeuvres are coming fast and furious. The latest in the never-ending political hemming and hawing at the FIA involves some pretty serious threats: Ferrari, Renault, Toyota and Red Bull are all threatening to pull out of F1 if new regulations being imposed on the series for next season are not revoked. The regulations in question are huge in their implications. What the FIA has proposed (and in fact has put into effect for next season) is an “optional” budget cap on race teams. Those that adhere to the cap will be allowed greater technical freedom, and those that spend past the cap will have technical restrictions.
I’m of two minds on this. First, F1 is the peak of automobile racing. This is where car companies come to research and develop their leading-edge automotive technologies. When you limit the amount that a company can research and develop for their cars you are hindering their capabilities not only as a racing team, but as a car company. On the other hand, spending has become so obscene in F1 that only a few teams could realistically compete. Bringing a cap in would level the playing field and theoretically improve the on-track product, which has admittedly become quite stale.
As with most F1 political tussles these days, it comes down to a battle of wills between Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone. Mosley, the embattled FIA supremo is digging trenches and preparing for a pitched battle, according to this snippet from a Reuters article:
“Mosley said recently that he was locked in a power struggle that he intended to win.
‘The sport could survive without Ferrari,’ he said. ‘It would be very, very sad to lose Ferrari. It is the Italian national team.’”
In the same Reuters piece Bernie Ecclestone confirmed what we had all suspected for a long time, that he is totally in bed with Ferrari: “Formula One is Ferrari and Ferrari is Formula One, it’s just a marriage made in heaven”. Thanks for clearing that up, Bernie. Maybe he could set up a Middle-Eastern auto racing series featuring only Ferraris: that would be the natural conclusion of his every move in the past few years.
As an F1 fan, these types of battles are the only compelling storylines to watch. Getting up early on Sunday mornings sure isn’t doing it for me these days. Let’s keep a close eye on this one.