Dull Lottery or Unpredictable Drama?
The 2012 F1 season is set to burst back onto our screens next weekend as the summer break draws to a close. The drivers will be itching to get back in the cockpit as they head over to Spa, where long, sweeping corners and a healthy blend of technical and high speed racing make the Belgian GP a favourite of drivers and fans alike.
Many have hailed this as the most exciting and open championship in recent memory; the first seven races yielding seven different victors. Not all believe this is in the sports best interests though. Jenson Button and more recently Mercedes team principle, Ross Brawn, warned that the unpredictability of the season will actually deter fans if it was to continue. Although Mr. Brawn perhaps detracted from his comments by using a rather heavy-handed fishing analogy, it is an interesting and probably valid observation.
When we lose sight of the hierarchy inherent in a sport, we also lose some of the most compelling aspects of live competition. The underdog factor is largely diminished and there is simply no reference point, no standard by which to measure a performance. For example, without the record and status of each team in a football league, results become a series of mindless numbers. However does this outweigh the feeling of getting up on a Sunday, flicking on the GP and knowing your man has got a chance? Whether he’s not made Q3, made awful setup choices or has no KERS, he’s still in with a shout.
It could be said that this competition’s erratic nature has not been caused by random event and acts, but instead a myriad of trends that have dragged teams and drivers up and down the leader boards. Mercedes started the season strongly, but have faded as they struggle to control their pioneering double DRS system (see interesting non-tech article by Gary Anderson http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/19064856). Jenson Button has also had issues. After winning the opening event, he only took 7 points from 6 races. He has admitted he made mistakes when altering the car to counteract his lack of tyre temperature, but now feels he’s back on track. Contrastingly Lotus and Ferrari appear to be settling well into the season as the teams start to find their optimum configuration. To add to all this, there is the added spice of the terror-inspiring Williams drivers. A flash of navy and white in the rear-views must send an icy shiver up the spine of many competitors. Perhaps Senna doesn’t deserve this mantle, a tot careless towards the beginning of the year, but Pastor Maldonado is only one snickering dog away from Dick Dastardly. The boys in blue have been involved in a combined 10 collisions in 11 races. Even ignoring the subjective and circumstantial nature of these incidents this is a suggestive figure. With this week by week changeability, consistency is the key, as Fernando Alonso is demonstrating in a typical workmanlike, mature manner.
Personally, I hope to see more of the same. The prominence of race strategy and tyre degradation is engaging, the midfield battle is furious and at the top the drivers know it’s anyone’s championship. If this wasn’t enough, the rumour mill is conjuring up a gripping backdrop as speculation builds on the future of Felipe Massa, the man who will take his seat and the expiration of Hamilton’s McLaren contract.
Please share all opinions, questions and angry rebuttals below.