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Fun on the tracks

As a bit of a “petrol-head”, I have been saddened by the recent demise of Formula One motor-racing, which is increasingly indistinguishable from a procession of cars with few chances for overtaking or for drivers to demonstrate their brilliance.

There are few characters or opportunities for eccentric outsiders to take the field, as in the great days of Fangio or Jim Clark. So it is encouraging to read that F1 bosses are trying as best they might to tweak the rules to make the sport get our pulses racing once again.

Of course we may end up being disappointed once more, but fingers crossed, this great sport can get a much-needed dose of excitement again. And of course all good libertarians should want a sport that celebrates fast driving, the internal combustion engine and obscenely-rich motoring moguls. You can bet that the Guardianistas loathe it. In fact, the killjoys would probably ban it.

6 comments to Fun on the tracks

  • Vladimir Dorta

    The new 2003 F1 rules won’t solve the basic problem because it has to do with the absurdity of unchecked technology as exemplified, for example, by automatic transmissions. I wrote this in 1998 as a footnote on a tennis article:

    “A parallel can be shown with the development of Formula 1 racing. This was the greatest test of human ability until Bernie Ecclestone began forgetting history. Instead of a man vs. man contest, it has derived into a machine vs. machine contest in which technology rules. Once technology is let loose, speed increases constantly and all that authorities can do is a futile attempt at slowing down. As in tennis, all kinds of ahistorical, dumb, stopgap “remedies” follow: shorter straight-aways, more slow-speed corners (chicanes), smaller spoilers, thinner cars, taller cars, slotted tires, narrower tires, switching from carbon brake rotors back to metal brakes, ad infinitum. Among others, 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has strongly criticized these constant and haphazard changes. If racing authorities would only see their sport as a human one instead of a technological tour de force, a couple of traditional rules could be reintroduced: manual gearboxes and no driver or remote control over aerodynamics allowed while the car is in motion. Racing would again be a real test of a driver’s ability, strength and determination. It would also respect the natural limit of a human being’s capability to control a machine. But that would mean that man, not technology, is in control.”

  • Jay N

    They should get rid of sodding launch control for a start.

  • I agree with Jay N – ban launch control. And get rid of (semi-)automatic transmissions as well.

    By the way, the Guardianistas may want to ban F1, but for the time being, the Wanker has one of the world’s best F1 commentators, Alan Henry.

  • Tex

    F1 has been ZZZZZ-worthy for years. No passing, same f*cking cars winning week-in, week-out. I switched to watching bike racing years ago.

    Some suggestions for f1:

    - Cut the race distance in half – they’re too bloody long
    - Ban refuels and tyre changes. Let the passing happen on the track
    - remove data logging, radio communication, speed-shifters and all remote-controls
    - remove ALL tight-twisty tracks from the calendar: this means *all* street-circuits. Monaco is a joke. If necessary, hold the entire season at the same three tracks: Hockenheim, Monza and Phillip Island :)

    …oh, and make the cars twice as loud, just to piss off the wankers at The Guardian….

  • A_t

    Hmm… fairly regular Guardian reader… quite enjoy a spot of F1… & Monaco’s my favourite circuit… so where do i fit into all this?

    Totally agree on the ‘cut down technology & make it human again’ front tho’… definitely. Bring back Rally Group B while your at it.

  • I think they’re just tweaking and none of the proposed rule changes seems inspiring. And then there is the question over whether rules will be enforced. Look how many times Michael Schumacher has been champion.

    It’s interesting that for many the attraction of F1 is the man. For me it is the machine. I am fascinated by the way technology has constantly improved. I hate technology bans.

    The problem, as I understand it, is that aerodynamics does funny things to the air at the back of the car preventing slip streaming. Perhaps they should introduce overtaking lanes. I don’t see the difficulty. Cross the white line and it’s a 10-second stop-go penalty. That should stop most of them. Banning pit stops also sounds sensible.

    On a general point I think rules in sport should be a simple as possible. The offside rule in football, for instance, is extremely complicated and confusing and I often wonder if it is in fact worse than the thing it is trying to prevent.

    Also, punishment should be simple. I have long thought that the bookings rule in football is absurd. Why is it that it is the next team that the offender plays gets the advantage when it should be the team he is currently playing?