Formula 1 news story about [F1 2018 NEWS] MAURICE HAMILTON: IS F1 ON THE RIGHT PATH?

Referring to race days, a recent quote from a member of the F1 Strategy Group says: ‘…it’s no longer good enough to just think about what happens on Sunday’.

It is if you speak to the man who came this morning to mend our dripping tap. He’s what you might call a ‘casual viewer’ who includes F1 in his eclectic sports conversations down the pub. He gauges F1 by what he sees on the live race coverage. (God knows what’s going to happen to such potential fans when F1 disappears completely behind a pay wall – but that’s another story for another day.) 

Not for him the subtle details of zip wires in fan zones or the track conditions in FP1 as opposed to FP3. Our plumber’s needs are as fundamental and as uncomplicated as the washers in his toolbox. If the race is dull then so, by his definition, is F1. “It’s bloody rubbish, mate,” was the succinct summary this morning. “Anyway…what d’you think of Alexis Sanchez going from Arsenal to Man U?”

Admittedly, his F1 satisfaction rating is informed by the need for overtaking moments similar in frequency to the Formula Ford Festival. But you get the point. The fact that there is almost no action worthy of mention (Daniel Ricciardo’s stunning challenges aside) tells its own story – or not, in this unfortunate case.

Meanwhile, the same group of individuals tasked with sorting out our sport has been giving detailed thought to sponsor-friendly race cars. Talk about letting us know where their priorities lie. 

Money is indeed important. But apart from allowing the financial tail to wag the racing dog, we’ve said before that cost savings in proper places would be more appropriate than looking for ways to gain more income, only to throw it extravagantly down the drain.

If you really want a case study in poor priorities, then look no further than the same experts’ reaction to suggestions of running simpler front wings. Ok, if you read this column last week, you’ll know we’re back on a Hamilton Hobby Horse. Nonetheless, a rejection on the grounds that (according to one report) ‘the aerodynamic impact would be too great to justify a change on non-technical grounds’ says absolutely everything about what’s wrong with the present decision process.

Here’s a perfect example of not being able to see the wood for the trees. It’s precisely the ‘aerodynamic impact’ that’s causing the problem and if these people can’t see that, then they shouldn’t be having an influential say in the future of our sport.

While we’re on the subject of pleasing sponsors, surely a simple front wing of one or two elements would provide a perfect platform for any backer aware of the basic rules of brand awareness? But that seems to be too simple for the Grand Prix Brains Trust. 

As is the ‘non-technical’ thought that the rear wing endplates are a useful position for every car to have, as standard, the competition number displayed large and round for the benefit of the people F1 purports to be wooing in the first place. This suggestion was rejected many years ago because…yep, you’ve guessed…it’s a valuable site for sponsorship. Talk about mixed messages and a cause for despair.

“Anyway,” said the plumber, brightening considerably, “all’s not lost with your lot, mate. Love the F1 story about Lewis going off because someone did a poo on his plane…”