Is the 2014 F1 regulation changes a bridge too far

March 15, 2014 12:50 am0 comments by:

2014 F1 Calender

Every global sports has a core fan base that enjoys and follows it. This is regardless of the particular sports state of affairs. It needs the support of not only the core fans but casual followers to grow further. A key ingredient in keeping the fans is good sustained competition among its core players. It is not essential that every competitor in the field has to win big prize but it is important to have genuine competition for top spot from small group of players. The rest will have the motivation to improve and occupy the top positions.

Take for instance lawn tennis, currently the men are hogging the headlines, with Novak, Nadal, Murray and Federer providing quality competition. In the background, you have a batch of young pretenders providing stiff opposition to their dominance. In contrast, the women game is struggling for jaw dropping matches. The women’s game is not struggling because it has no equivalent Novak,Nadal or Murray among the draw. You have Serene, Li, Agnieszka, Victoria and Maria.
It is due to over competition as a top 4 or top 10 can easily lose to a top 50 player. This scenario results in difficulty for 2 top 10 players with a better overall game to build momentum and then peak in the Grand slam final showdown.

The scenario in the men’s lawn tennis game is played out in other global sports like football, athletics and basketball.The scenario in the men’s lawn tennis game is played out in other global sports like football, athletics and Basketball. In my view, Formula 1 is in danger of moving from a situation where it had a bit of competition from Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus. To a position, where it is similar to current women’s game in lawn tennis. I am aware that the situation in the past 4 years was bleak, with dwindling fan base and lack of a surprise element. Vettel and Red Bull were winning races without having to do much. It was even worrying for opposing teams to get a look and more worrying that even Mark Webber, his driving partner could not beat him.
It had to change to avoid even the core fans losing faith and moving to a different sport. However, as a casual observer, the changes for 2014 seems to be a move too far. I read recently a quote from a former formula 1 driver Jacques Villeneuve about the current state of formula 1. He thinks that it is turning into fantasy racing . This comparison might be a bit too far but it is a reasonable one. A  reason  for his statement is the big change to cars being controlled mostly by electronics. There is less and less control given to the formula 1 drivers sitting on the cockpit.

Supporters of the change will argue that a test of the driving skills is still in existence. F1 drivers have to steer the car and decide on the vast electronic buttons built in the car. This argument actually supports the statement about turning into fantasy racing. Lewis Hamilton made this quote in response to argument about his technical ability. “I wish I could take you through the stuff we have to learn. I’ve just been going through the dashboard with my engineer. There’s 99 different pages on the screen. Rev counter, safety car lights, for the flags, braking, tyre temperatures. You have to do a different map for it all. It has the most hard core set-up.

The fact of the matter is that F1 have decided to make the changes for the 2014 season. It is up to the F1 teams to adapt their car to conform to the regulation for the 2014 season. Their success in designing a competitive, reliable and safe car will contribute to overall success of the objectives for the change. I assume that retaining its core fans and building more fans is one of the objectives.
Many observers felt in the past that it was boring to witness or watch same teams contest for the qualifying podiums and subsequently for the race win. It was manageable and bearable for fans just after the Ferrari and Michael Schumacher dominance and between Red Bull/Vettel charges.

In those years, you had Alonso, Hamilton and Button became World Champions. I am assuming that this is the ideal set up that F1 governing board is hoping to recreate with the recent regulation change. The question is whether it is possible to have such an environment and secondly what are the components to recreate it.

My overall view is that it is possible for every sports to have a competitive field. The issue is whether it is the appropriate solution for any problem faced by that sports. I agree that it was right to change the playing field. F1 have devised a plan to solve a problem. The debate is whether it is a step too far across that balance between healthy competition, excitement and reliability.
The season opener at Melbourne Australian Grand Prix will give us a clue.

Obioma Aguocha

Self Publisher:The Guide to being the Best(Paperback) 2007 &Sporting Success Simplified (E-book) 2012



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