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GP Week : Issue 227
OPINION ChrIs LaMBDeN Are these people dense? can they not see what is immediately in front of their nose? Are they trying to drive fans away? Those are the questions I found myself asking yet again as the Italian GP weekend bumbled along through qualifying, the six rear grid positions made up of all the four Renault-powered plus two Honda-powered cars, all carrying ludicrous grid position penalties. Was that a 50 – yes 50 – place grid spot penalty for Daniel Ric? 35 for Verstappen? This really is getting ludicrous ... Does anyone – I mean ANYONE – involved in the running of F1 think that the public, which ultimately pays their salaries, has a nano-second’s interest in this? Can they not see that they got it wrong? That this is the ultimate waste of time for qualifying? That we’re all collectively shaking our head? Seriously? Okay, so they’ve stopped people taking ‘carry-over’ points to the next race, and the next race, but that really is only a tiny part of the problem. But hey, it shows they can do something if they really want to; if it really is nuts. My problem, you see, is I don’t hear any rumours or news to the effect that this whole ridiculous system is going to change for next year. Same as I don’t hear any real thoughts on how the F1 show is going to be significantly pepped up. Gosh, this is becoming a bit of a broken record isn’t it? ... But you’ve only got to surf the ‘punter’ forums to see how the fans are getting turned off. Nothing, it seems, can be done without teams’ unanimous approval. Well that’s that then. Self-interest rules in F1. Status quo. And with Ferrari going with Kimi for another year (was the buy-out cost of Bottas from Williams the clincher there?), and Force India re-signing Hulkenberg, there’s not even the anticipation of any new drivers in the serious teams to look for ward to. All that’s left is the ongoing debate about whether Red Bull will get Merc engines, and how long Dietrich M is going to put up with this crap. You have to feel for the real racers like Martin Brundle, Damon Hill, DC and Co who are fronting the various TV feeds and who you can almost see biting their collective lips. Cheers to Martin for exclaiming “penalties belong in football” – about as close as he’s been able to come to direct criticism. Anything too much more from any of them and they may be watching from the sofa next year! As GPWEEK has opined before, the solutions aren’t rocket science. Available engine numbers clearly (force majeure) have to be increased before any penalties come into force. At the same time (yes, boring repetition by me I know), someone get the teams to agree to take a punt – increase the fuel flow limits (and tank size) by a healthy slab (100 percent would be good), the horsepower will jump with it, and we may have some seriously exciting cars that aren’t described by the drivers as too easy to drive .... That might prove a challenge for some of the engines and there may well be the odd blow-up. It’ll cost a little more. But what is going to be the long-term cost to F1 if the show continues to attract the criticism currently circulating out there? Gosh (this is written early on Monza race day), I hope Kimi, or Sebastian, or both, get those red cars off the line before the Silver Arrows, or I might just get an early night! ... POSTSCRIPT: They didn't, but I did hang in there – and the post-race highlight turned out to be whether Lewis' tyres had been pumped up or not. Yes, really ... I rest my case. penalty shootouts and the f1 dilemma 15 GPWEEK.com // 15 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: OPINION