Hey F1, looky here y’all

When is F1 going to wake up and change itself for its fans? I count myself as a die-hard F1 fan, but fundamental changes need to be made to improve the show, or else millions more will switch off.

The issue is crystal-clear in my head right now, because I’ve just seen the most dramatic race for, well, maybe ever – certainly for as long as I can remember. It was as if the realisation of how engrossing and entertaining motor racing can be was rammed back into my head with a pick-axe, after too many years spent falling asleep during F1 broadcasts.

It was a mighty race, full of action and drama and a terrific fighting finish which made last year’s F1 finale in Brazil seem about as exciting as, well, an F1 race. As I staggered away from Daytona, clutching a tee-shirt and hat to commemorate my being there for possibly the greatest race ever run,I was thinking that ultimately I should thank the governing body  – the same people who run NASCAR – which allowed these Grand Am drivers to compete in equal machines. More on that later.

The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona saw the four lead cars virtually nose-to-tail, battling it out for 24 hours and especially the last three, culminating in a balls-out, cut-and-thrust slipstream scrap in the final hour between Juan Pablo Montoya and David Donohue. Donohue’s Porsche-powered Daytona prototype (below), which qualified on pole by a thousandth of a second, was quicker on the straights, while Montoya’s Lexus (right) handled better on the tight infield.

And Montoya – and this is something even Donohue might concede – was the only truly world-class mega-driver in the field, despite the presence of guys like Dario Franchitti, Jimmie Johnson and Scott Dixon, and his skill made a big difference. Montoya was majestic – precise, combative, brilliant, aggressive but unerringly fair, technically perfect, wrestling a car that shouldn’t have been anywhere near the lead into a fight to the finish.

I had the feeling I was watching the greatest racing driver on earth on this day – what a loss to F1 the Colombian is. Donohue was damn good, too, fired up to fever pitch by the fact that he’d be scoring his first win at the Daytona 24hrs on the 40th anniversary of his father Mark’s last victory here. Mark Donohue was killed in a testing accident when David was eight.

Seeing Montoya hold off Donohue after the last stops was electrifying. I was on my feet every lap, watching them hurtle toward me at 190mph on Daytona’s banking and yelling at the top of my voice as they went by, side-by-side, lap after lap. Donohue would duck out and go high on the tri-oval, Montoya would stay low and try to shake his rival out of the draft and defend his line, then there’d be a do-or-die braking duel at the end of the straight, cars twitching right on the edge of control, followed by a similar scene on the far side of the track into the bus stop.

Eventually Donohue got by, but it took every ounce of skill he could muster. Then Montoya clung onto him for the best part of an hour, trying to force the American into a mistake that never came. In the end, after 24 hours of racing and 735 laps, the gap between first and second was 0.167sec, with 10.589 seconds covering the first four cars. And my voice was completely knackered.

What underpinned the whole event was the fact that regulations governing the cars allowed these racing drivers to race, in precisely the same way that modern F1 cars don’t. I have a sneaking suspicion that the new rules for F1 in 2009, while a step in the right direction, haven’t gone far enough, and we’ll be watching more processions. If I don’t see proper scraps and changes of position and dices for the lead, I might have to switch F1 off for good.

And that’s a crying shame, because the F1 grid – or at least, the upper quarter of it – is full of world-class mega-drivers the equal of Montoya. And they would put on an even better show if they were given cars that allowed them to fight. But they’re wasted. Let’s have some more sweeping rule changes! Let’s make F1 a racing show and have these guys go at each other! Hear me, Max!

Daytona prototypes of the Grand Am series are fast and dramatic to watch live, but also relatively inexpensive and simple. Smaller teams can fight with the bigger ones. Downforce is low, power is high, braking distances are long with steel brakes and the engines are equalized as closely as the officials can manage it. The premium is on driver skill.

This blog has gone on far too long but I don’t care – something needs to be done about F1 to fix it once and for all and deliver some racing. Let’s keep lobbying the FIA.

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Vegetarians would go slower than good old fasioned omnivores, though I doubt it’ll be the next Top Gear challenge to prove it…

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the real stig:

The finish at Brazil was plenty exciting, but as we said above, it was contrived excitement caused by tire choice, mechanical failure, and dumb luck. It was also a finish that decided *6th* place, not the win, which is never as exciting.

The finish at Daytona, like it is in so many great racing series, was a close finish for the *win* between two excellent drivers in nearly-equal machinery. In North American racing, that kind of excitement is actually a pretty normal occurance, which is why our racing is so great. What made the Daytona finish THAT much more special is that it was as such after TWENTY FOUR STRAIGHT HOURS OF RACING. The fact it even finished on the same LAP is rare enough, let alone a few tenths of a second.

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Sorry, 24hrs=way too long, seen 24hrs Le Mans live and found the parking spot most interesting.
F1 has this special x-factor, c all the celebs and VIPs attending, that is why it has to stay cool!
Last years racing was great, only jeopardized by FIA stewards on occasion.
Tires, luck, mechanical, it is all part of it!

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Not saying it isn’t, and as I said I enjoyed last year as much as anyone… but it’s not a solution to a problem. You can’t rely on mechanical failures and rain to be the only “excitement” in a race series.

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re.101..fed the right stuff vegetarians would blow omnivores to the moon anyday, their(omnis) carnivorous instincts would take up too much space where as vegetarians could be fed with pure protein in the form of fx beans and produce all the right stuff with only their actual bodies as waste product,and you could still claime organic, fair trade and free rande hahaha so bite me bro :D

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I enjoyed 2008 last race! especially the Massa’s father scene. :D

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yes obviously you can’t go further the REAL limit.
but some things about our little discussion
1) is true that Group b cars were excessive, but is also truth that they were having enormous problem with spectators and the driver weren’t used at all to that power (group b grown really really fast in just few years and the cars before them were around 200 bhp and 4wd driving was pioneering). Walter rohl himself said to the team chief testing the last evolutions of the s1 that the only driver in the team and possibly in the full grid capable of driving it was him, but was almost a job of not crashing than driving.
20 years later, the actual wrc cars, are faster than the old group b thanks to technology evolution.
they were excessive in power and have a completely lack in control and safety. In the same way (imho) the f1 cars were. So the job of spec limitations have to be a job of balancing safety and control with power, not cutting power and then cutting control to make the sports more interesting.
Imagine how much power can be handled by actual aerodinamics, tyre, suspension and other illegal control technology.
2) probably 20 year old 1000bhp turbo engines are cheaper than the actual 950bhp na engines. the same things can be real for other features, and this means that teams have many cheaper way to be competitive. (well this is very simplified but… c’mon ;-) )
I like this discussion! ;-)

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I would agree entirely on the group B modern WRC comparison, technology has come on so that those sort of speeds are attainable and controlable at the same time. With F1 it isn’t the same though, with all the dials switched to 11 the cars would be too fast. If all the aero tweaks were legal with forced induction V12’s and adaptive suspension the cars would hit well over 200mph without a sweat. The problems occur when cornering at 170mph because you’re left dampers have turned to solid rock and your slicks are on the very limit and the G-forces are trying to tear your head clean off. If something, anything, changes, such as hitting a spot of dirty air, or even a small gust of side wind, or perhaps a piece of debris breaks traction on a tyre you’re going to have a massive accident. Drivers aren’t quick enough to correct a problem at that speed and since racing drivers will always be at the limit then people will die. It isn’t ideal, but for the sake of safety these technologies do have to be limited. The speed of the car isn’t the problem, it’s the physical limitations of the bloke in the seat.

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You’re – your. Schoolboy error, I apologise from the very heart of my bottom.

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the race is good but the coverage sucks and so do the comentators. i also think that they need more races

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my BIG idea to improve f1. COMMENTS PLEASE….

just open the engine options right up. have the current tight controls on chassis and aero, but let anyone do anything they want with the engines… BUT specify the materials they can use. Get rid of exotic/expensive materials they currently use. ALSO give each car an allocated amount of fuel for the total race. Meaning if you build a 12 litre monster v24, you’ll only get half a lap of racing. Also, without the expensive materials, bigger engines may be heavier. Therefore if ferrari decide on a 2litre turbo/super v8 and mclaren decide on a 4ltr v8 atmo hybrid both cars only have so much fuel. one will be stronger in some races and the other will have the edge in other times. Each team must specify the engine displacement and basic driveline layout at the beginning of the season and then live with it for the duration.

Also, make f1 cars pass emmisions tests. this would also mean increasing performance through technologies that can’t be adapted to road cars due to emmissions irrelavent.

Every engineer would have their own take on what would work best. It’d be great to have a car that monsters the straights yet other cars that have more response and dominate the twisty bits.

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Charlie Sheen is the Stig. See ‘The Rookie’ for confirmation. Right height, right build, you know its the truth!!!

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Would only advise following to the FIA:
-Skip KERS
-Bring wings dims back to 2008 proportions

Movable flaps and slicks are great but those wings are to aw-full to look at, horrible, worst racing cars ever!

Sponsors do want to expose on elegant racecars, not on snowplows !!

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Emissions testing would be meaningless as F1 cars aren’t exactly running on the 95 RON down at BP…

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I saw this race today. It was boring. It just became the same as any F1 race towards the end.

If you want REAL racing, go watch the 250cc motoGP, not the big bikes. Some races have many different leaders, tons of crashes, bikes exploding, riders fighting when they have taken eachother out, and you never know who is going to win.

The BIGGEST problem with F1 is the air disturbance behind the cars. It becomes almost impossible for a car behind to stay within 1 second of the car ahead due to turbulent air, thus, lack of downforce. Clean the air and watch the cars get closer and be able to pass. No idea how you would do this though :P

Get rid of street circuits except Monaco, just because its so damn old. Bored of making ideas now, no1 with any influence will ever read them anyway

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Robby – Slicks ugly??? That’s what any car in any form of motor racing SHOULD have!!! I’m bloody glad they’re back, grooved tyres were god awful.

Also if they stopped using hi-tech expensive materials, the cars would be heavier, slower and less safe.

The FIA should have a look at how the rules and regs were in the 70’s and 80’s and try to attain something like that, because that’s when F1 was at it’s best. I wrote about this at length earlier :P

I don’t think making the field closer to increase overtaking means it will be better. I’ve watched series with lots of overtaking such as 250 and 125cc MotoGP, NASCAR, Porsche Supercup and various other forms of more spec series, and its not necessarily very exciting. Too much of a good thing ruins it.

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Charlie Sheen Is The Stig!!!1!!1!

See ‘The Rookie’ for evidence.

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So many experts here in their bedrooms!

Fact is, all of you have no idea how to make these highly technical cars overtake. None of you understand aero, high speeds, Gs – physics essentially.

And that is what F1 and the FIA need to understand. Not some bullplop set of rules that make no sense, but a set of people who know what’ll negate aero issues among other things.

Bill, yes you may yearn for the good old days of yore, but they’re over. Steel breaks went out a long time ago in formula one for very good reasons – they’d be warped before the end of the warm up lap. To be frank, we should be pushing technology – what advances have we seen in the last 5 years other than gills and slits and bull horn wings, which any acne riddled 18 year old has on their vauxhall? These F1 cars could levitate for all i care, as long as the racing is interesting.

The fact is, we’re too safety conscious. You don’t disarm bombs for a living expecting to be safe, and likewise driving a car around at 180mph+. For crying out loud, go a few mph over the limit on the roads and you’re in the same league as a murderer. These people know what they’re signing onto, yet they prance around in their protective coccoons rather than actually getting down to any dangerous and real racing. How often have doors been slightly ajar for an overtaking manoeuvre only for the driver to chicken out? The leader isn’t going to park his car and wave you through, you need to have some balls, even risk getting banned for a few races if it turns out wrong, and yeah, potentially die. But what incentive do these over paid, protected species have?

The fact is though, people are turning of F1 one, and there are many other sports to turn to, so in the end it will turn out just fine, because Bernie, Max and the other cronies whose lives revolve around pretending like they matter in this circus will realise that proper racing is what will revive the sport

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F1 is slowly becoming boring. I think the new cars are UGLY!!! The cars from 92′- 93′ {Well, the Williams at least.] looked what F1 should be like!!!! No wonder Alain Prost won the championship in a 93′ Williams!!!! But the new rules look like the good old days are back. The days when Prost and Senna were taking and overtaking themselves every lap. Hurray!

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I agree, F-1 could use some changes, mainly Bernie, Max, and the race stooges, uh I meant “stewards.” Race stewards selectively penalizeing one driver and team for the same infractions that other drivers and teams consistently get away with is assinine. Make your rules, moronic as they may be, and then apply them to ALL DRIVERS AND TEAMS! It was so obvious last year that Bernie/Max/ & the stooges DIDN’T want McClaren and Lewis to win the championship, that my 9 year old could see it! Gawd, I hate seeing a bunch of a$$ wipes determining how a race or the season should turn out! LET THEM FREAKIN RACE THIS YEAR!!

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I bet that we´ll see that these new rules will work.

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