Chasing Cars

Posted on 23rd September 2008

The Ferrari boss, Luca di Montezemolo, has said that the increasing number of street circuits in Formula 1 is bad for the future of the sport. I can only agree with him. Monaco is perhaps a bit special for all sorts of reasons, but the other street tracks have mostly ended in very uninspired racing. With all the accidents and resulting debris, it makes for a very messy race and ultimately a race that ends mostly in the order that the cars line up on the starting grid, minus those cars that crash out. Driver skill is more about not getting hit rather than using their talents to break, pass and manoeuvre round the track and their competitors.

Singapore's night street race is going to attract a lot of interest, mostly because a night race has never been done before. I can see why they're trying it, as the majority of fans, constructors, sponsors, etc are based in Europe and it makes it easier for them to watch it just after lunch rather than in the early hours of the morning. I think a night race would be worthwhile on a proper track, as it would likely have the same kind of visibility (if not better) than some of the races in torrential rain that we've had recently. However, on a street track I can't see it having anything but a negative effect on the racing. I hope to be able to watch the next race and will be intrigued to see whether I'm proved wrong.

In other news Hamilton & McClaren have lost their appeal over the incident in Spa. The BBC News piece picks up on a few areas of concern that do need clear and decisive resolutions by FIA. At Monza there were several cars that cut chicanes and no-one got penalised in anyway. The drivers took the decision not to overtake until after the succeeding corner, but that's not what the rules say. The various decisions being made in recent times have definitely gone in Ferrari's favour. Now while I doubt there is any conspiracy, it has damaged the public face of motor racing. Aside from fans, those who having a passing interest in the sport, are reading and hearing all these news reports and getting the message that Ferrari and being engineered to be the winners, as the FIA can't accept Hamilton winning. That may not be reality, but that matters little when the media are only showing the sensational parts of the stories. It bad for Forumla One, certainly in the UK, as if the sport gets much more bad press, I wouldn't be surprised to see sponsors starting to not renew contracts and opt for other sports with more good publicity.

The responsibility and heirarchy within the sport and espcially on track day is dreadful. What is the point of having a Race Director?  If the Race Stewards out-rank him, why bother even having him there if any advice he gives is a complete waste of time. Then there is the heirarchy between Forumala One and the FIA. Seeing as Bernie Ecclestone is consided to be the one running the show, and with Max Moseley being largely just a big embarrassment, isn't it about time there was some sort of clear cut management structure? Maybe there is, but it is not being made very clear. The F1 racing rules are in dire need of a review by race officials, constructors and drivers. With all the uncertainty over ambiguous or remarkably unfair penalites being awarded at a very descretionary level, some clear unarguable rules need to defined, with a level of penalty attributed much more suitable to the incident.

This weekend is going to be crucial for Hamilton, as with only 4 races left, it doesn't leave much margin for error. I hope he wins, as he has injected a lot of interest in the sport, and his racing style has ignited enthusiasm within fans of the sport. Whether he wins the championship or not this year, I have no doubt that he is still a future world champion. I just hope FIA get their act together and provide him a sport worth competing in.

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