- Sir Stirling Moss on the 2010 season
'Formula One is seriously boring now'Sir Stirling Moss March 25, 2010
I can't think of anything much more boring than the Bahrain Grand Prix. I watched the race from hospital alongside my good friend Professor Sid Watkins and I have to say I wasn't impressed.
The concern is that we could miss out on a fantastic season of motor racing. There are so many great drivers in competitive cars but it is near impossible for them to actually race against each other.
Frankly, I think the FIA and the constructors should do something about it. Fundamentally they need to put an end to Formula One's dependency on downforce; the amount these cars can produce is remarkable. In my era downforce wasn't even a word. I would say the highest lateral G-Force that I or anybody else could ever get would be under 1G. But now, I mean my God, when they back off entering a corner they've got 4G.
The most recent car I drove was a Tyrrell about 10 or 15 years ago and I could not believe its performance. I was coming into a corner at about 170mph, I backed off as normal, but then I had to accelerate again because I hadn't expected the drag from the aerodynamics to slow me down so much. And that was in an old car by today's standards, so the current ones must be ridiculous.
So I think we need to look at stripping the cars back rather than adding anything, and make sure we cut right back on the electronics that take away from the rudiments of driving. Right now I would rather see a good IndyCar race than I would a Formula One race, because it is far more entertaining to watch. Formula One as a spectator sport is pretty near zero at the moment.
One of the main problems is that the driver input is restricted by such a huge amount, and that reduces the advantage of having an Alonso, or a Vettel or a Hamilton on your team. The opportunity for them to demonstrate their skill is minimal and that's a great shame.
If we want to put it back into the driver's hands we need to make the cars more difficult to drive. That's not to say they're easy, but considering you can take the top twenty drivers in the world and the difference in lap time can be less than a second from front to back, then there has to be something wrong - there's no two ways about it. The driver's role is cut down so much that you hardly ever see them lock a brake or get any wheelspin - they don't even make proper gear changes. I think that is bad news.
These modern circuits such as Bahrain don't help either. They are beautifully presented but actually make for pretty boring racing, and sadly one has to say that of most circuits now in Formula One. Comparing them to the ones I used to race, in my opinion there is only Monaco that is still interesting and that's about it. I suppose it's inevitable given the focus on safety, which has ruined and emasculated motor racing. But there you go, that's the way it has to be.
There are suggestions of bringing in shortcuts for overtaking or reversing the grid, and although they are undoubtedly gimmicks, they would make the racing more exciting. I don't disagree that it would create a poor man's version of the sport, but Formula One in my mind no longer holds the prestige that it did or should. I'd rather we found a more sensible solution, such as addressing the aerodynamics, but if we can't get round that problem then I'd rather we had those gimmicks than nothing. It's unfortunate I have to say that, but it's seriously boring now.
Putting F1's problems to one side, there are some interesting battles emerging within some of the teams.
To pick just one, I've found the competition between the McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton particularly interesting. Lewis beat Jenson in Bahrain quite comprehensively, and although there is a long way to go this season, I think that was a fair reflection of their talents. Jenson is a great world champion and has done a terrific job but I don't think he has as much ability as Lewis. I think Lewis is more of a competitor and more of a fighter. Jenson's strength lies in his ability to conserve tyres, but now the Bridgestones have proved to be particularly durable, that has gone against him. And if they bring in compulsory second stops, which is an idea being mooted to improve the show, it will go against him even more so.
Looking ahead to this weekend's race, I think we can expect a much more exciting atmosphere. First of all it's in Australia which is so sports orientated and secondly the circuit is more interesting to look at because it's more of a road rather than a track. So I think we can look forward to, not necessarily a more competitive race, but certainly a more interesting one. I suspect the order at the front will remain the same, it's been just two weeks since the first race, so I can't imagine anybody will pop up and have us all saying "Christ, where did he come from". Whatever happens I'll be watching and I'll let you know my views in my next column.
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