Don’t write the script for misery
Back in the dog days of F1, Mrs Codling would take a nap on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon. Roused only by Bob Constanduros’s strident cry of “Champaaaaaaaaaagne,” she would open a weary eye and enquire as to the identity of the winning driver; usually it was Michael Schumacher, and, thus apprised, her only comment would be, “Borrrrrrrring!”
She’s taken more interest over the past couple of years, but about 10 laps into the 2010 F1 season opener my wife decided that her time might be more productively deployed in the manufacture of some carrot and orange soup. Should we now, like many of the sport’s luminaries, be pressing the panic button?
I ask only because there has been an unseemly, tawdry and tedious rush to screech from upon high that F1 is broken and must be fixed NOW, NOW, NOW. You could understand if this noise issued forth solely from journalists who’d been left without much to write about by such an uneventful grand prix; but no, we’re getting it from those team principals who are never knowingly last to reach an open microphone.
Saint Martin of Whitmarsh beat the Frystarter to it on this occasion (maybe we should assign points and turn it into a championship). Before the engines were even cold he was assuring the BBC that the tyre situation needed a ground-up rethink:
We were one of three teams that said we should have two mandatory pitstops because we were worried about one-stopping. I think we have to re-examine that. But I think if we can now push on Bridgestone to have ‘racier’ tyres, we need a super-soft tyre that is really going to hurt if you take it to 20 laps.
Sounds good enough, but a man in Martin’s position would know that it’s unworkable. The tyre allocation for the season has already been determined. Melbourne’s allocation is already on the boat. Bridgestone can’t simply torch a load of tyres it’s already produced and come up with an entirely new set of compounds overnight; that would be asking a lot, even if the company hadn’t already decided to pull out of F1 at the end of the year. Such talk is shamelessly populist.
Speaking of shameless populism, enter the Frystarter:
I think it would be bad if we didn’t react. I think we have all seen a race that was far from the most exciting that we have ever seen, and what we now need to do is between us have a look at it and establish what we do need to do.
I know what we need to do: declare a moratorium on outright guff.
Perhaps Bahrain was the wrong venue for the season opener. I don’t wish to demean it as a location; no other nation to have joined the F1 calendar in the past decade has shown such unswerving commitment to getting it right. The royal family takes a personal interest in the running of the circuit (compare and contrast with China and Turkey, who host grands prix to the ever increasing indifference of the authorities and the local populace). But it isn’t used enough, it’s dusty (an absolute deterrent to overtaking), and the fiddly additional section had no meaningful effect on the racing.
We’re one race into a season. One race that has overpromised and underdelivered. There have been boring races in the past and there will be again. We shouldn’t extrapolate one set of circumstances to arrive at a storyline for the whole season. Could we at least see what happens at Melbourne and Sepang before we decide that F1 is heading off to hell in a handcart?
Less reactionary heads may prevail. Stefano Domenicali of Ferrari has it right:
Let’s wait and see how the other races will develop. It may be a different situation in different conditions, so I would like to tell you my opinion after a couple of races so we can at least have a different scenario that we can say, this is the real situation or not.