Formula Future: Liberty Media’s Ultimate Chance
After returning from another amazing weekend away in Barcelona at the Spanish Grand Prix, there’s one thing that will not stop constantly niggling at the thoughts of the weekend. As ever, the activities and weekend was amazing, the track and facilities were superb and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. The race, as we all know was a completely different kettle of fish, and the overall outcome is one that has everybody, including me, very concerned.
In response to the backlash that Sunday’s race received across social media and the internet, Sky Sports F1 and former driver Martin Brundle wrote a truly amazing article which brought to home the very negative state the sport has found itself in, using the race to highlight the main problems. For me it really hit home and got me thinking on the subject and with the points Martin raised in the article has me concerned that the current owners of Formula 1, Liberty Media, does not have the main idea of what the sport needs to be, and with the proposed 2021 regulation changes just around the corner, it is now time to grab the sport with both hands and return it to what it once used to be as the most ultimate, exciting and fastest motorsport on the planet.
Don’t get me wrong, I cannot criticise the weekend I had at the Grand Prix, or any of the three I have been to so far. But beyond the fun activities for fans and the lovely showy merchandise, the real problem lies on the track. Now, I do not see the current domination by Mercedes as a problem in the sport as I agree on the point that it isn’t Mercedes’ fault that they can develop a better car and domination has always been a factor in the sport. Look beyond that and it all just seems – wrong. Williams, a team enriched in success and history is facing a season that could destroy the team and yet if they do finish last in the championship will receive the lowest amount of prize money, thus putting them on the backfoot for the new season, where the big teams such as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull receives the biggest amount. It does not make sense.
Will we remember Hamilton and Vettel in the years to come as we do so fondly of Schumacher and Senna?
2021 is looming and fans are screaming change. We dream of a return to the glory days, louder engines, simpler cars, tracks were drivers were not mollycoddled at every bend. I’ve been criticised for my ignorance towards safety measures in the past, but surely, surely some gravel traps can be returned into some circuits given how safe the cars are now? Surely some of the challenges for the drivers can return. We hear of the return of Zandvoort to the calendar for 2020 for the Dutch Grand Prix, the first since 1985. Although it may replace Barcelona I welcome the idea od returning, but I fear when the FIA get their hands on it they’ll ruin it for the sake of tarmac run-offs and tec-pro barriers. Why not bring back circuits like Imola, Istanbul and the Nurburgring? Why not stop thinking about the money for a change, and start thinking racing? Speed, skill, concentration, excitement and return these drivers to the gladiator status they once admired in their relative heroes? Safety and protocols are at an all time high and getting higher in the sport, will it soon become to safe to be watchable?
Martin imagines his ideal 2021 concept brilliantly in his article and it isn’t a car which I quote that teenage drivers can drive them and “having it all mastered by lunchtime.” These cars should be challenging machines to drive on the limit, but ones that the driver will know that they have done the job when they’ve crossed the like. Cars that wow the spectators, that zip by with unrivalled speed and noise. There is no room for saving fuel and tyres, we are far enough into both the V6 turbo hybrid and Pirelli eras respectively to see these eradicated completely. This should be a flat out dash to the flag for sixty or so laps where its up to the driver to make the difference, not the team. The cars need to be simplified and teams need to be encouraged to both join and continue to work. Teams like Racing Point, Haas and Williams should be able to, at least sometimes trouble the top teams. As for these updates, they should definitely be monitored to a certain amount a season, or even eradicated completely. Think about it, when was the last time any team’s car looked physically the same from the chassis that debuted in Melbourne to the one that finished in Abu Dhabi? That’s what winter testing is for, and it is up to the team in question that the chassis they bring to Melbourne is the one they are happy with.
Liberty Media has done a fantastic job thus far in improving the sport from a fan point of view with the F1 Fanzone, much better social media pages and so on, but they are missing out on the main thing, the sport itself. A sit down needs to be done with all ten teams and Pirelli be told that these regulations are the way it’s going to go, solely for the sake of taking the sport back to the glory days. As Martin tells in his piece, financially as well as knowledge wise there is no reason nor excuse as to why this cannot happen. In a generation where full of safety and routine, give us something fast, furious and downright exciting. Tyre and fuel saving as well as engine modes and saving shall be no more, and drivers should be given freedom of speech. They’re Formula One drivers, give them back the god status of their ancestors rightfully held before them.
An example render of a 2021 spec F1 car, promising less dependence on aerodynamics and hoping to level the playing field.
It’s time to bring back the spectacle, simplify everything that has spiralled out of control and show people what Formula One is really about and why we love it. Encourage drivers to go for it, give them the cars they deserve and bring back the tracks and venues that made the sport so exciting in the first place. Are you listening Liberty Media? You have the chance to grab this sport with both hands and make it into something truly great. Please, I beg you as a lifelong fan, do not let us down.