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GP Week : Issue 223
OPINION mAt CoCh Editor At my local is a bloke, Bob, who has an opinion about everything. There’s one in every pub. Bob sits at one end of the bar and solves the world’s problems each and every night with the sort of insight achieved only through the bottom of a pint glass. Doing a spot of home renovations? He knows how to do it all. Looking for a new car? He’s an expert on those, too. Bob’s like that awful photo frame you were given one Christmas that only comes out when that person comes to visit. But he’s a good sounding board for public opinion, and he thinks Formula 1 stinks. The cars aren’t fast enough, loud enough and all these bloody rules make it too difficult to follow he reckons. His opinion comes with a grain of salt of course, more often than not he finds it too difficult to walk in a straight-line. He makes a valid point. Formula 1 has got too complicated. On Sunday morning I ran my eye over the provisional grid and spotted Fernando Alonso in 19th when I’d expected him to be in 20th. Penalties are applied in chronological order, so I’d expected to see him drop to the back for his engine penalty, get bumped up when Jenson Button had his penalty applied only to fall to the back again when his gearbox penalty was applied. But that didn't seem to be the case. Puzzled by this I enquired as to why Nando wasn’t last. The banter than ensued proved not only are the rules ridiculously complicated that even the teams themselves aren’t one hundred per cent sure how they all work. Eventually I accepted the explanation given to me, though I’m still not entirely sure it’s correct. That plays nicely to Bob's point. If the teams themselves find things complicated how the hell are the rest of us meant to figure it out? A friend of mine who works in the corporate world explained to me that she typically encounters two reactions when people face something they don't understand; fear or anger. It's the fight or flight mentality, with some wanting to yell and scream while others want to hide under the desk. Take mobile phones for example. Few among the older generation are comfortable with them, primarily becuase they don't understand them. They're therefore weary of them and are likely to get frustrated or angry when they can't figure them out. If a casual fan doesn’t understand what is happening in Formula 1 they’re likely to get frustrated and give up. So if we all agree and accept that Bob is right and the sport has got too complicated, what can we do about it? The first thing is we all need to stop moaning about it. And I don’t mean we the fans but we the media. It’s us hacks who set the tone and the current bashing the sport gets isn’t constructive. Sure, Mercedes is winning a lot but before that it was Red Bull and before that it was Ferrari. The sport is cyclical and the current state of affairs owes nothing to the rules – if it wasn’t Mercedes with hybrid engine regulations it would be someone else under whatever other regulations there might have been. Instead we need to acknowledge that, for all its flaws (who is perfect?) the sport is producing some pretty good racing. Cast your minds back to the 2000’s or earlier and racing was processional and unreliability an accepted part of racing. Somehow we remember that as the glory years becuase it's romanticised by us in the media. However the changes that have been made over the last years have, by and large, have worked. The racing is better than it’s been in a long time, and that’s extraordinarily positive. Really, it’s only some of the little one percent things that need to be tightened up. Penalties for more places than there are on the grid, for example, could be better solved. So too could the complicated rule making process. Those discussions need to happen behind closed doors but the single most important consideration must be what my mate Bob at the pub thinks because he speaks for the masses. As much as I hate to admit it, for once I think he might be right. 17 GPWEEK.com // 17 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: OPINION solving the world, one pint at a time