Yes, the rule changes have spoiled the fun. Whilst I understand the FIA’s desire to save more energy and be more efficient, I can’t help but feel that what seems like meddling for meddling’s sake is sucking the life out of motorsport’s jewel in the crown.
Purely from an aural perspective, the 1.6 litre V6 engines sound horribly hollow and weak compared to the visceral V8s- and anyone who tells you engine sound is irrelevant has never been to watch an F1 race. ERS over KERS just sounds horribly pedantic. Drivers will now have to spend so much time mulling over pit crew advice on how to use their powertrains to get the best out of their weaker 760bhp that they can’t focus on what the audience want to see: wheel to wheel blood and thunder action.
Some of the decisions smack of carelessness too. They’ve piled all this new technology into the car, MGU-K and the like, forgetting that every gram counts and the increased weight will mean heavier drivers will have to lose a fair bit of weight to compete effectively. Ridiculous.
Those who are saying that the rule changes have led to a welcome break in Red Bull’s stranglehold on pace and power are somehow ignoring the fact that Christian Horner’s team have simply been usurped by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I guess it depends what you want from F1, but in my opinion these rule changes are turning a sport famed for high-octane no holds barred battles supported by good strategies into one dominated by strategy.
They’re turning it into chess – and no one likes to watch chess.
First off, let’s get one thing straight: in motorsport, it’s essential to alter the ground rules every once in a while. It helps to keep things fresh and exciting and to prevent one team from just dominating the entire spectacle, like Red Bull have done in the past few years with Sebastian Vettel’s endless cycle of victories beginning to bore and irritate Formula 1 fans worldwide.
If you keep all rules the same, teams get progressively closer to perfection, but it’s a game of diminishing returns. Progress grinds to a halt rapidly and the sport stagnates. Now, in the good old days of V12 engines and tyre changes, you could overcome this somewhat by bringing in new, better drivers, but nowadays teams nurture drivers pretty much from birth to be machines of driving effeciency, and teams are hardly likely to ditch someone they’ve invested so much time and money in so readily.
Rule changes are therefore the only way to keep the sport exciting. There’s always some teething problems (remember how boring Bahrain 2010 was?) but things improve in time and the first two races aside, this season has been pretty fun. The Red Bull hegemony has been broken, Williams are back in contention and we saw some great wheel-to-wheel action between the Mercedes drivers in Shanghai.
Even Ferrari are showing signs of recovery since Stefano Domenicali’s resignation as team principal of the Italian giants. Fernando Alonso is simply too good a driver to be kept out of the reckoning. Rule changes have brought unpredictably back to F1, and that can only ever be a good thing – for the drivers, for the race engineers, and for the fans.