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GP Week : Issue 112
GPWEEK OPINION >> China Crisis – and what F1 can learn from it New world not so brave after all fans. The rider is using his skill, and the spectators can easily see him doing so. Wonderful stuff. But I’m afraid it doesn’t herald a return to an older world: back before 2007, when fire-breathing 990s ruled, and the wheels were very seldom in line with one another. We remember it fondly. But even then, it is through the usual rose-tinted specs. It is already common cause that electronics had gone a long way towards taming the 990s when they came to their end in 2006. They’d still get pretty wild now and then under braking, but the wheel-spinning corner exits were a thing of the past. Those electronics have been considerably developed since then over the five years of the smaller engines. So too have tyres and other running gear. It is not only the lack of torque that keeps the wheels in line for the unloved 800s. More crucial still is fuel consumption. The reduction to 21 litre tanks with the switch to 800cc was the biggest reason for riders, or their electronics, to learn to do without wheelspin. It just wastes fuel. The new 1000s retain the same tank size as the 800s. The need for economy will be even more pressing – even for the Claiming Rule Team production- powered bikes, which get an extra two litres. It’s one thing for Rossi and Hayden to enjoy riding with an engine power ful enough to spin and slide when they ’re circulating at a test, and can call in for gas whenever they like. Quite another when you’ve got a whole GP ahead of you, and only just enough gas to get to the end. the issue is even bigger than China. They erect green tarpaulins over the grandstands there to disguise the fact that there are almost no fans present. “Go around Istanbul on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday and tell me how many billboards or advertisements you see," complains the FOTA boss. "We need to learn that lesson before we go back into the US market. We can't just plonk ourselves down and believe that America will re-ignite any enthusiasm for F1. We need to work harder." Hear hear! It is essential that F1 has a strong marketing strategy ahead of Austin, and India too, in order to ensure they know we’re coming. Forget the Field Of Dreams ‘If you build it...’ line. It hasn’t worked in China. Looking out of the window, I see some expensive buildings, smog, and bugger all enthusiasm. Which is puzzling, because we just witnessed a breathless, utterly unpredictable and fascinating Chinese Grand Prix – all the more reason why we should encourage newcomers to watch. Raceday was better, but not a lot of locals rocked up for F1 qualifying in Shanghai ... 21