MotorsportThe view from the stands

Liberty Media: Fix Formula One. Please.

Thank you, Liberty Media, for purchasing the rights to Formula One.
Bernie has needed to go for some years now.

While this year’s races seem better, with some semblance of racing occurring, many races are still ruined by “power unit issues”. In the recent past, it would seem that the only time we speak of “great racing” is when we have “changing conditions”, when mid and tail-end runners have anything like a chance to score a podium. Pathetic.

We don’t need “danger” or a vast improvement in overall speed to make things exciting, as F1 insiders have suggested. I’d settle for a full schedule of races that feature passing and re-passing. You know, racing. Follow-the-leader lapping is just that. Drafting by and outbraking are things that happen only with DRS and sheer luck. It’s obvious Bernie never raced, nor have team heads or racing officials, outside of Adrian Newey, still racing historics, bless his soul. They have forgotten what racing actually is and is not.

This lack of racing experience is especially evident in the demon Hermann Tilke, the mass-murderer of racetrack design. It’s obvious he’s never mixed it up on a race track, at any speed, ever. Classic tracks had increasingly gone away, modern Tilkedromes replacing them, all extremely uninspiring (but very, very clean). We can do without the recent “street circuits” like Russia, too. Red Bull Ring (Zeltweg), Mexico City, Hockenheim and Paul Ricard have now been brought back, all reviving the fortunes of classic tracks. Take a hint, F1. Brands Hatch, Watkins Glen and Kyalami are still there…..

We don’t need no stinking hybrids.

F1 is about the best racing, not the best energy harvesting

We don’t need one mandated type of engine design, DRS, cascading wings with tiny new slots every race, mandatory tire compounds with built-in excess wear rates, carbon brakes or whole cars built, tested and raced in a computer, then improved in a computer, where they do the process all over again.

What we do need are F1 cars built to be safe, yet exciting, without the need for an obscene racing budget. $400 million budgets? That is both obscene and unsustainable (witness the lack of sponsorship on some cars). Make the prize money payout based on performance in the championship and not any other criteria. Ferrari doesn’t need the “heritage” riches and McLaren doesn’t deserve it (at present). Maybe then the entire field can compete at a relatively even level.

Brakes that require longer braking distances for the bravest drivers to show themselves (see Indycar), ground effect sidepods that allow cars to follow each other closely (yet don’t cause the drivers to pass out from g-forces). Simpler front and rear wings (maximum of three planes each?) that don’t need 24-hour wind tunnels to design and prove out.

We need internal combustion engines that make beautiful noise, whether turbo or not, no matter the number of cylinders or design. Keith Duckworth once proposed a simple fuel restrictor to equalize all manner of engines. Have as much fuel as you like, but it will only flow just so fast. Use fuel not needing NASA chemists’ approval. Weight minimum high enough to allow for cars to be built at a reasonable cost and for drivers larger than children. Refuel if you like, but over-the-wall pit crews of 7 people only.

I want some more Formula One entertainment!

More pre-season tests and limited private in-season tests and add an open test right before some GPs. Bring back fan access to the drivers and access to the garages and the mechanics that wrench the cars. Bring back the classic tracks, the sponsors, the fans, the noise, the smell, the excitement. Make that what F1 is about.

Lower the ticket prices. There’s more money to be had in the sheer volume of attending fans.

After you’ve done all that, banish Hermann Tilke from track design forever.