Is the impending creation of a rebel championship in F1 ranks the end of Formula One motorsport as we know it?
More pointedly, should those of us who follow motorsport be asking, is F1 as we currently know it worth worrying about? Why should teams that want to expend vast sums of money on technology and safety enhancements be nobbled by a governing body determined to pander to the lowest common denominator? Formula One, in this followers eyes, hasn’t been the same since skirts were outlawed in the late eighties. The skirts, which enhanced the downforce effect of a vehicles aerodynamics at high speed, actually made the cars safer to drive by giving the driver greater feedback through the car and assurance of the performance envelope. Since those heady days, when Alan Jones won the championship, F1 has undergone a myriad of changes all designed to slow the cars, make the cost factors of development cheaper and equalise performance. Yes, and fiddle at the edges of driver safety, given the deaths of some very talented drivers in Senna, Villeneurve and Ratzenberger. Motorsport is a dangerous undertaking, it’s written on every entry ticket a spectator buys. It’s why F1 pilots are so highly paid, for their skill, daring and for risking their lives. The changes in F1 – from slotted tyres to rev limiters to aero restrictions and modifications to Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems – have all contributed to making the racing less of an issue and the politics the main event.
Here’s hoping that FOTA can breathe some much needed life into a format which, in my view, is crippled by it’s own politics.