In this exclusive article for @F1PaddockPass, Anil Parmar discusses the over reaction to the new Formula, the need for patience and remembering the 2010 season.
After Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position at Albert Park last Saturday, Formula 1 pundits and fans alike expressed their pleasure for the latest generation of Formula 1 cars. The high speed, high downforce cars looked mesmerising around the Albert Park circuit. 24-hours later, once Sebastien Vettel had toppled Lewis Hamilton to win the season opener, people began to complain. Had downforce ruined racing? Did we need more pit stops?
In the days following the race, everyone had an opinion, with even Mark Hughes, James Allen and Martin Brundle all producing content for their respective sites discussing the problems facing Formula 1 this year. I’m not saying this year will be classic, nor am I saying that the racing at Albert Park was great. What I do believe however is that judging a season based off of the opening race is ridiculous, and the 2010 season is the best example of it.
There was a lot of excitement going into the 2017 season but it doesn’t compare to 2010 off-season. Schumacher’s return to partner Rosberg at the newly former Mercedes, Button’s move to Mclaren to take on Lewis and Alonso jumping to Ferrari were just some of the subplot’s that got us all tingly ahead of Formula 1’s return, which was to be held on the endurance layout of the Bahrain International Circuit. The removal of refuelling also added more question marks and intrigue ahead of the race. Despite the hype, the race was incredibly dull, in part due to the circuit layout being overly complicated and dreadful for the racing. The over-reaction from the media and from fans following the race was quite something, and I can remember reading this story (https://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2010/03/press-put-the-boot-into-new-look-f1/) from James Allen where he summarised what Wall Street thought of the race. Many were asking for mandatory pit stops and for the return of refuelling . Surprisingly it was Bernie Ecclestone who provided the most reasonable assessment of the situation, asking for fans to wait for the first four races to be over before passing judgement.
F1 has a history of making knee-jerk decisions but thankfully there weren’t any following Bahrain. What we got instead was a classic Formula 1 season, where five drivers went head-to-head to claim motor racing’s most prestigious prize. Aerodynamics and track design were still problems and reared their head on multiple occasions, most famously at Abu Dhabi where Fernando Alonso spent half the race behind a slow Vitaly Petrov, costing him the championship, but despite how hard it was to overtake and how dominant Red Bull were capable of being at times, the season was a thriller. Drivers and cars were pushed to the limit, resulting not only in errors from most drivers throughout the year but also reliability woes.
It’s therefore a shame that one race into the 2017 season we’re already seeing a lot of negativity. The Australian Grand Prix may not have been a classic but anyone who has watched Formula 1 regularly for the last 20 years will tell you that most Grand Prix play out similarly. Whilst the on-track action may not have been scintillating, there was certainly a lot to talk about, and that’s just as important, right? Has Formula 1 ever had cars of equal performance racing nose-to-tail in Moto GP style thrillers that provided overtake after overtake? Not in my lifetime, and I certainly wouldn’t have expected it at a street circuit like Albert Park.
So whilst I’m not saying that the 2017 will give us an incredibly memorable championship battle full of close racing, I do think we need to let the racing settle down before making judgment. With Ross Brawn at the helm, I’m confident that the future of Formula 1 is in good hands and that better racing will be at the top of his agenda going forward. For now, why can’t we just wait and see how things go? Vettel versus Hamilton, even if their battles are based on strategy and not just on-track racing, is still a thrilling story to watch unfold.
- Written by Anil Parmar