...on the surface it’s sitting comfortably in a chair, but I don’t necessarily want to know what it was about below. This is what I’d like to see happening in Formula One in the long run.
Recently, I have refrained to say anything about the state of Formula One. The reintroduction of the turbo engines at the beginning of 2014 stirred some relatively huge controversy, driver management through the radio went over the top, costs once again escalated and development tokens made it near impossible to follow which driver got penalized on the grid for what exactly and what that meant for the future.
All that is to say Formula One has taken a direction where the general audience has a hard time to keep up the happenings of the sport, turning it a not much beer and couch friendly TV programme.
Well, here’s something I have been saying for quite a while about F1 that might have some sense to it, or quite possibly the opposite.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with the powerplants or driver management through the radio or anything that bothers the general audience these days, but it definitely makes bad TV. People like to see these drivers figuring out what it takes to win on their own. One solution would be to ban radio completely, but it would be bonkers and waste of money generally, risking blowing up engines or anything.
See that picture I embedded at the top? That’s the cockpit I’d like to see. The beer and couch person (i.e.: me) wants to watch the driver shoulder and elbow the car through the track track without any nagging. Take away all those buttons and switches and hand it over a race engineer in the pits. That person will watch telemetry and turn knobs and whatnots accordingly.
I would also take away radio to an extent that it could be used for the main straight only, which would enable a few seconds worth of conversation at a time. For any safety measure,s the FIA should have a hotline to the drivers, warning about flags, wrecks, spillages, rain, whatever.
Can you imagine those conversations?
“Guys, why am I going slower? I’m flat out.”
“We had to turn down power, otherwise you wouldn’t make it to the end.”
“I’m one tenth away from DRS-range, TURN IT UP!”
“Keep focused on the track.”
On the technical side I believe a bit more mechanical and less aero grip would help the spectacle a lot more, especially if that aero downforce was further pushed to work from the underside of the car, enabling a smaller front wing - so that the car would be less sensitive to pushing and shoving.
All of this would make racing LOOK more of an individual effort on the track where you can sit and watch the story developing. Also, lifting the management of all the small details of the car off the shoulders of the driver - accompanied by about 85% radio silence - would make him/her concentrate more on the track action itself, without overdriving the machine.
You sense something funny on the car? Probably they are seeing it in the pits and already working on it and you’ll talk about it next time you come around. Want to get something done? You’ll have to get to the straight to call it in. Disadvantage? Hardly, as everybody else has to address the issue the same way. It is just that you don’t need to throw away expensive technology on the track for the sake of entertainment, but you could potentially mute it for the viewer and the driver alike.
On the surface, you (or at least I) want to see GP2, GP3, Formula 3 action happening, KNOWING that it’s Formula 1 below with cutting edge technology. Will this happen? Probably not, but we were really close to this in the late 80s early 90s.
...and we didn’t really have a problem with that, did we?
All images are of Creative Commons licence