F1 – A Rundown to the Australian Grand Prix : Part 1

The previous Bahrain Grand Prix was an entirely new experience for the drivers, engineers, organizers and fans. Barely hours after the race, plethora of doubts over the new refuelling ban was in the air. One thing I’m sure it was not good for Formula 1.

After undergoing so many changes from the day Michael Schumacher made the sport to himself, F1 kept being criticized inside out. I think it was later in 2008 and 2009 F1 started to heal and the mood in the paddock and among the fans were sky high. 2008 witnessed some of the best races and the title was decided at the last corner, on the last lap of the last Grand Prix. It couldn’t get better than that to be honest. Not in a million years.

2008 Renault F1 and 2010 Mercedes GP Petronas side by side comparison. Here the effect of the rule changes can be seen and the differences are quite dramatic.

2009 rule was quite radical. It changed the appearance of the car totally from the sleek sexy machine to an ugly unevenly proportioned race car. Well, it was my view back then and many shared it with me. But it’s amazing how beauty is actually a subjective matter and has been proven time and time again. Now that I’m already used to how it looks, I have to admit it’s a pretty damn sexy beast. Looks aside, 2009 proved to be a difficult year for big marques such as Ferrari and McLaren. On technical grounds they were steps backward due to different interpretations of car design. Brawn got lucky the Formula was spot on from the beginning. They secured the title albeit the car got slower towards closing stages of the season. But the points were enough since the big marques were fighting each other shielding Brawn from any significant championship damage.

Renault was not the best engine to have in 2009. With the engine freeze Renault is powerless to rectify its shortfall.

2009 witness some incredible racing moments on and off the track. The introduction of slicks has got to be the most significant contribution in improving the spectacles. But the 2009 rules was not perfect. In my opinion, teams could do without the engine freeze. We have Renault far down on horsepower only to be allowed some changes later on and we have Mercedes which the paddock claims have the best engine. I don’t really quite understand this, with the engine freeze, teams kinda stuck in the deal forever. To be fair, I do understand something must be done to curb the exploding cost in this era of economic failure. So the engine freeze kinda work somehow in that respect. To sum up, 2008 and 2009 were the best rules ever since FIA start to meddle too much in an attempt to boost the show.

Refueling is a thing of the past in 2010. With the ban, the sport entered a new era, but not a good one. If the procession continues, will refuelling gets another life?

Then came 2010. The already revolutionized rules of 2009 takes a step further. And so far the results have not been impressive. Bernie warned of a knee jerk reaction, ignoring that F1 now has serious problem. However, most of the drivers and prominent journalists feared the worst. I think it’s a valid concern, the proofs are all over the place. In my opinion if a huge track such as Bahrain saw processional race, I’m afraid the street and some other narrow track will be worst. These two weeks, debates over this issue are all over the media, blogs, newpapers, forum and tv. Is there any proposed solution yet? Well, not at the moment. As much as I wanted to see changes for the better, I would like that any decision made must be a well thought one unlike most of the previous before us.

Formula One has to learn one simple life philosophy, “Why fix it if it ain’t broken?”

Australia will be the yardstick this time. It’s a Grand Prix that will be under a lot of scrutiny from all sides. From my account, I can’t remember the times watching a Grand Prix to scrutinize it. This has never happened before.

Michael Schumacher has not lost his fan base. Recently he tops the poll with 19.5% popularity of the recent fan survey conducted by FOTA. With his presence, F1 certainly has a better future.

One thing about Formula One based on my observation, it will survive. With the likes of Schumacher, Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso onboard, it’s still a big factor and it’s still a huge story. Don’t let politics and all that take Formula One excitement away from you. There are still many different angles to look at the sport. It’s just a matter whether you like that angle or not.

To be continued…

Editorial : Mu’az Zakaria
Image Source : Renault F1, Mercedes Petronas GP

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