In a typically excellent feature in London's ‘The Times’ newspaper, Rick Broadbent looks forward to the MotoGP championship that starts this week in Qatar.
The piece is based around Marc Marquez, the five-time World Champion with traces of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Gilles Villeneuve rolled into one diminutive bombshell capable of leaning his bike at a more scarily acute angle than any other rider.
The 26-year-old Spaniard has been accused by Valentino Rossi of destroying the sport, the charismatic veteran saying he is ‘scared’ to race against such an allegedly reckless rider, who happens to be joined this year in the Repsol Honda team by Jorge Lorenzo, the only man to have denied his fellow countryman the title in the past six years. Talk about lighting the blue touch paper of anticipation.
Meanwhile in F1, we’re majoring on cars that may or may not be able to race each other. The signs are good, though, with at least one driver reporting from the Barcelona test that getting closer to the car in front seems easier than it was.
We have to trust that’s the case because it’s cost each team an arm and a leg to adapt to new bargeboard architecture and front wings that are – and I still can’t believe they’ve done this – even wider than before and seem, with the exception of a few details in and around the end plates, just as hideously complex.
But not to worry; it’s going to change completely and cost even more money after just two seasons when serious investigation currently being carried out will finally solve the mystery of preventing a faster car from suddenly becoming slower as it gets close the one in front. Any motorway traffic police near you would pay a fortune to have that built into the cars of persistent idiot tail-gaters. Moving on…
In broad terms, they’ve worked out that downforce created under rather than around the F1 car is preferable. So, a bit like ground effect - which Mr Chapman and his clever little team at Hethel discovered a mere 40 years ago at the time when the front wing (if there was one at all) was a single element?
Is it beyond the wit of man to call for such simplicity again? Obviously not because the scream of objection would come from aero departments understandably not wishing to return to the dark ages in technical terms, their cries being supported – again, with good reason – by team principals unwilling to make hundreds of highly paid technicians redundant.
Which brings it down to prioritising technology and employment over entertainment, plus the teams possibly having a say in the framing of regulations because the sports promoters and governing body not wish to lose them.
No coincidence, perhaps, that Mercedes this week unveiled impressive investment in the Formula E programme for 2019-20. The F1 powers-that-be are probably concerned Merc and their like could turn their backs on F1 completely if they don’t get their way. But who’s to say they’re not going to leave anyway?
How about someone in authority either accepting F1 has to go totally electric, stop messing about and get on with it while the rest of us go off and watch MotoGP? Or, preferably, how about issuing a letter along these lines:
‘Dear Prospective 2021 F1 World Championship entrant,
‘Thank you for your valued enquiry.
‘Attached, please find the regulations covering every aspect of F1 car design as we see it for 2021 and beyond. The plan above all else is to go racing and entertain the people who indirectly pay your wages.
‘Please tick the box at the bottom and sign if you accept. If not, sod off.
‘Yours in sport