Malaysia GP proved exactly why a budget cap would make F1 much more exciting
Behind the big three teams there was a superb midfield battle in Sepang
If the future is to be bright then the future surely has to be ‘budget caps’ – and the Malaysian Grand Prix was a great example of how that could make Formula One more exciting.
One of Liberty’s aims for the future of F1 is to try and level the playing field and give more teams a chance of glory - and I’m right behind that plan. I always hope that somehow, we can have a situation where a modern-day Lord Hesketh could build a car, hire some talent and win a Grand Prix.
It’s why I love Indycar and NASCAR so much because the little team always has that chance of winning a race. Yes, the big budget teams still have an edge but tight regulations mean that edge is never too far away and a surprise result is always on the cards.
No, I don’t want F1 to have similar one-design regulations so the freedom to build your own car has to remain - and that means the only way of not letting big budgets buy an advantage is to cap that budget.
Behind Max Verstappen’s brilliant display out front all the entertainment was provided by a hectic midfield battle. Take away the big three teams and, with twenty laps to go, we had Sergio Perez heading for a win for Force India - a team renowned for punching above its weight - but behind him a battle royal was being fought out for ‘second place’ between nine cars covered by just over ten seconds that would rage on till the very end.
Stoffel Vandoorne was in superb form in Sepang (Pic: Sutton)
Stoffel Vandoorne was the star of the show having outpaced his more illustrious teammate in qualifying and was fending off a pair of Williams that were equally busy trying to beat each other. Then came Ocon, charging back from an early stop, Hulkenberg, also delayed by an off, and teammate Palmer sitting on his gearbox for a change. Magnussen and Alonso were next up, about to bang wheels for position with impressive debutant Pierre Gasly close behind hoping to pick up the pieces.
Nine cars from six teams all seemingly equally matched and surely the sort of fighting we all want to see. While most of their Super Soft tyres had melted after just a dozen laps the highly developed big boys up front can make their rubber last twice as long, as exotic aerodynamics look after their compounds so much more efficiently.
Now, of course capping budgets is a pretty tricky thing to regulate but I’ve got another brilliant plan. When the team’s prize money is dished out, instead of giving the most to the best you do the opposite! Give Sauber £100 million and bung a quick £10 million to fat cats like Mercedes and Ferrari – and cancel all those ‘historical’ loyalty payments. Champions can more easily find big sponsors while back of the grid teams can’t.
Sauber and Ferrari working together - but is the Swiss team that should get the cash, not the Italians (Pic: Sutton)
Ferrari will dance up and down and threaten to quit but what else are they going to do to promote their image, join the Formula E exodus?
Of course, we will need those much talked about, simpler, cheaper, more powerful and noisier engines so teams don’t have to grovel to prima donna manufacturers, but can instead pop down to the Cosworth or Ilmor shop and buy a competitive engine – and, once you’ve chosen your qualifying settings, there’ll be no ‘turning up’ the power or altering the mapping in any way for the rest of the weekend.
Goodbye Malaysia - we will miss you
'Designed to thrill' - and it did. Farewell, Sepang (Pic: Sutton)
It’s sad to see Malaysia leaving the calendar because it’s one of the few tracks that produces close racing - especially from Turns One to Five.
Yes, you need the dreaded DRS to get alongside into One but if you can then hang on round the outside you can almost make the pass into Two. But, even if you don’t, you push the car ahead wide and compromise his exit so you can sit in his slipstream through Three and hopefully get the job done into Four – and even if that doesn’t work you can play chicken on the run to Five!
Overtaking should never be a simple thing...
By the way, when oh when did we start calling locked brakes ‘under rotating’? Those F1 folk just love to make their world as complicated as it can be!
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