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F1 makes me sad

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F1 makes me sad Empty F1 makes me sad

Post by Matt on Tue 29 Mar 2016 - 16:50

Has the magic been lost?

Let’s get this done early on. I’m not ‘down on F1’ in the sense that I’m jumping on any bandwagons but as a fan of over 20 years I am disappointed. I intend this to be undertaken in the most constructive manner possible and not merely another rant on the internet!

So let’s take some of the recent points that have occurred in the sport;

Qualifying - On the face of it, the pre-existing system of qualifying wasn’t particularly broken. Yes, the same names kept appearing towards the top of the times apart from the occasional times where weather or poor timing in the pits played their part. This wasn’t due to the system being broken, this was purely because they were the quickest guys doing the best job on a consistent basis.
As we saw in Melbourne, the ultimate grid was extremely similar to a 2015 example with very few surprises. Only in this instance, drivers close to the timer didn’t even have an opportunity to finish the lap they were on. There’s fix number one if you’re going to persist with this system (more on that later). The fact drivers were being eliminated in the pits was just bizarre and actually the track saw less cars in action than in the ‘old days’ of a straight one hour session.
As was also picked up by tv, graphical information was getting added to the presentation as the session was running. Sorry, but that doesn’t even happen at TORA! It smacked of an ill organised concept that hadn’t been planned, tested or properly organised behind the scenes. The frustration from the commentators was apparent when even they couldn’t explain to the viewer what was actually happening on the track and how it would affect the outcome of the session.Had the concept been tested during the Winter with teams? That would on the face of it seem like job one!

Following the conclusion of that debacle (team’s words not just mine!) the decision was publicly made to revert to the 2015 system in time for Bahrain. Only for this to then be reversed subsequently. The media engaged in systematic facepalming at this bizarre and frankly ridiculous move from common sense. If you're going to make a bad decision at least have the balls to stick by it. The way this has been handled leaves the whole paddock with the appearance of a group completely lacking direction and management. We also had the ill timed release of the pay-tv only deal for Sky in the UK just hours after the GPDA had issued it's own plea to the powers that be to engage more with the fans and not destroy the sport. I was left utterly dismayed.

Then we have the ‘halo’ device recently tested by Ferrari and dubbed the ‘flip flop’ or ‘Formula Thong’ and so on. I’ll make no bones about it. I’m into aesthetics when it comes to cars. I like my F1 cars pretty, Not too ‘wingy’ but certainly not brandishing somethign from the ‘small and dainty’ portion of the Ann Summers catalogue on it’s front!
F1 cars in their current state are not pleasant to look at. They stink of a technical rules package designed by committee...where someone didn’t talk to someone else and we ended up with a stupid step for two years and horrible stunted noses to this very day. In my mind safety can be achieved while producing attractive cars that entice viewers. Isn’t that what we want? The casual viewer isn’t bothered with tyre types, pit strategies or who has DRS or not. They want cars they can they go ‘wow’ at. The concepts produced by Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren are exactly the path F1 should be taking, Wipeout style aggressive looks, canopies and all out wow factor.
For me, the cars of the mid-nineties and early 2000’s did just that. The vibrant liveries, different designs and aggressive looks made me want to watch these 200mph missiles every other week. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying, I’m seriously not bothered about how these current cars look. Yes there’s steps beign taken to make them look better next year but do they go far enough? Also how short a memory do you think fans have not to notice that the rear wings in particular will be reverting to an almost pre-2009 style. Wasn’t that one of the key areas of ‘change for the better’ identified last time round? As someone who is design minded, how can I not roll my eyes in disbelief?

On the face of it, the changes are made to ‘improve the show’ except with each change and botched decision, less and less people are watching. Viewing figures are generally down the world over. Cost of tickets to many events are prohibitively high. Merchandise is horrendously expensive. Even Haas F1, a team I really wanted to show my support for are selling shirts for well over the odds. Attending F1, indeed any motorsport event, is a luxury. If the sport has the opinion that fans will continue to blindly pay whatever is asked of them for the smallest trinket simple because it’s F1 they are sorely mistaken. I believe in value for money. When I’m trackside I want the best day out I can have. I don’t get that with F1. Limited track action and access and entertainment that I can get at a local fair - guess what I don’t attend them either!
Naming no names, I attend a wide range of motorsport events and other sporting events quite regularly and I get proper value for my time and money. I also have a heck of a good time! At races, the paddocks are open, people can have a nose in garages and mix in with the teams and drivers up and down the paddock and yes, maybe even get that autograph. These are world class series I’m talking about. What makes F1 so special? What allows those within the sport to place it on this pedestal and demand so much from its fans while giving very little back in return?
These people are not gods, they are humans like you and I.

Ultimately it’s a cyclical argument. F1 needs sponsors to survive (it’s lacking those too) those sponsors will only invest in a  product they are likely to gain the most exposure. If fan numbers trackside and viewing at home drop the sponsors will move away to better alternatives. F1 needs it’s fans, there’s no hiding from that. The sport needs to embrace the massive online audience that thrives around it's passion for whats left of this shambles of a sport. Many of us in the sim racing community have extensive back catalogues of FREE mods provided by equally passionate fans who have studied the intricacies of the cars in the tinyest of details and produced some amazing work. This doesn't threaten the work of the developers, it adds to it. Enhances it where they may not be able to. Instead of embracing this massive community F1 chose to stamp it down. Shutting down mods and demanding their removal. If these were paid for and diminished the hard work of games developers then yes, fair enough. These are free. These are produced by fans for fans and yet other categories wholly embrace the efforts of those dedicated to their favourite team or sport. Why not F1?
Some pint-sized billionaire may well say that F1 only needs the rich who utilise the sponsors they have. Well your young viewer now may well be that Russian oligarch buying thousand pound watches in 20 years time. If F1 continues on the path it is currently sailing on I fear that it won’t be there to welcome that grown up fan when they come back complete with watch and bulging wallet.

I first attended an F1 race in 2000, having watched from home since 1992 and having attended other motorsport events since 1995. I was in awe at the speed, the colour, the sound. My family saved for months to get us to Silverstone on that rather wet April weekend. Yet, despite many fans disappointing experiences we had an amazing time. I took my granddad on a special trip to one of the testing events to be held at Silverstone in 2007. We took many pictures, we enjoyed the sound and we appreciated the effort the drivers were putting in even on this simple test. It would sadly be the last motorsport event he would attend. I’d watch contemporary F1 with him and even he would comment that it just wasn’t the same. He didn’t mean the 70’s or the 80’s. He was referring to that test in ‘07.

Watching F1 as a fan right now is like watching a once great actor trying to reprise a legendary role and just not capturing the same sparkle it one had. They try to adapt to new styles, try to make you think they can still do it but the magic is lost. The wrinkles show, the motion just not quite as direct and the words recited slower as the brain struggles to remember quite in the same way it had in the past. The actor becomes a parody of themself.

And that makes me sad.

Last edited by Matt on Mon 16 May 2016 - 9:02; edited 1 time in total

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Post by SGR Yuuko on Tue 29 Mar 2016 - 18:04

Agree. If anything the series I most like the look of now is Super GT. GT500s are now DTM-rules ballistic missiles, GT300 is a pick and mix of smaller ballistic missiles and GT3 cars, and its all live streamed free with UK commentary thanks to Nismo TV and RadioLeMans! Also can't wait for WEC! Going to Silverstone this year finally Very Happy
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Post by Ax4x Mikey J on Tue 29 Mar 2016 - 19:47

Matt, what you say of F1, one can just as easy say about NASCAR.

Once Detroit's ultimate testing grounds for the limits of production car performance, it is now so far removed from "production" that the only identifiable bits are the headlight and grilles, which are inkjet printed stickers. A series that once featured Plymouth Furys, Dodge Chargers and Ford Torinos, that spawned Superbirds and Daytonas, now races spec cars with stickers identifying them as Ford Fusions and Toyota Camrys.


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