Formula 1 Debacle

Sports play a very important role in our lives. They provide a wide variety of entertainment to many people. They provide for the livelihood of thousands of others. And they allow a relatively large group of highly skilled professionals to live well even though their skills are not directly economically viable. That is the aspect of sport which I admire most, the respect that is given to people who are extremely skilled and talented.

Every sport has two aspects it must balance very carefully. The first aspect is the integrity of the competition. This includes how fair the competition is and how well the competition determines who is indeed superior. A good example of games lacking integrity are collectible card games. At this point in time it is not a contest of who has a better strategy at the game itself, but who has more money. You might as well just compare checking account balances and determine the winner right there. Yes, I know that is not 100% true, but you get the idea. The other aspect is money. All sports require money to operate. To accurately execute the contest of who is the best at a particular thing you need money. Someone has to pay for the equipment, the land, the time, the officials, etc. F1 is obviously the most expensive sport in these regards. Some like hockey are not as much as F1, but far more expensive than baseball or soccer. The money that is used to pay for these things comes from those who are entertained by the sport. If people did not pay money to attend sporting events then there would be no money for the sport to happen.

This is where a dilemma often arises. Sometimes decisions must be made that will compromise either the money a sport makes or its integrity as a true competition. When such decisions are made there must be a balance. A sport with perfect integrity that makes no money cannot operate. And a sport which only exists as a money making machine with no integrity will fall apart as it becomes pointless and silly. Just such a dilemma occurred for Formula 1 this past weekend, and the decisions made by all parties did not attempt to strike a balance in the least.

Compared to most sports Formula 1 Racing is incredibly balanced towards integrity. The F1 drivers champion is almost surely the greatest driver in the world, and the constructor’s champion is almost surely the greatest car. NASCAR is perhaps the exact opposite, where winning means you were the guy lucky enough not to crash every race. And the rules of the race themselves are designed to induce, not prevent, crowd-pleasing accidents. In the US Grand Prix Michelin messed up manufacturing tires. Standing by the rules and fairness of the sport 100% the FIA basically said they could choose between losing or not racing. Obviously the team that messes up in making tires is not the greatest car in the world. So every team using Michelin tires did not race. While it is easy, and probably right, to put the majority of the blame on Michelin, nobody in the sport of Formula 1 smells like roses. This latest debacle will do irreparable damage to the money factor of the sport that it may not exist much longer.

So rather than talk about fixing F1, which I just said was irreparable, I have a solution I would propose. Let us create a world Grand Prix, but not like the one which many current F1 teams are proposing. This Grand Prix will have races of all shapes and sizes. Roads, off-road, city to city, oval track, endurance, drag, short track, super speedway, street and of course Grand Prix. There would be allowed one team per auto manufacturer only. Each team may enter one car with one primary driver and one backup driver only. By one car I mean one car only, not one design of car of which they manufacture many separate vehicles. One car. That car must be used in every race of the championship. There would of course be refueling and tire changes when necessary. Teams would be allowed to modify gear ratios, suspension settings, wings, etc. However, no parts of the car may be added or removed nor may the design of the car change. There shall be one engine that will last the entire championship.

The rest of the details can be figured out later, but the point remains the same. A championship of this nature will be both extremely entertaining and profitable to the entire world. The excitement of watching the same set of cars driving through the Sahara one week, a mountain in Japan the next and then 500 laps at Indianapolis is pretty much as exciting as racing gets. And when it comes to a test of driver skill and car quality there is no compare.

While I doubt this will ever become reality due to many logistical problems with such an endeavor my point is made. We need to have a system by which we can determine the greatest drivers and car in the world. And watching that championship play out should be the most exciting auto racing event in the world. F1 used to be the real deal, but now only is so on paper. So I say to everyone with the power to do so, fix it. I want to see cars go fast, turn left, turn right, go up, go down and bank. I want to have something to cheer for and something to be amazed by. The politics between all the different groups that currently make up F1 are no good. Fix the sport, balance it out.

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