If you’re going to set yourself a rule, you might as well follow it. For my blog this was it, “Every blog post must be completely different to the last one”.
I have fiddled about with rallying and circuit racing. I have looked at and given my two pence on new Hypercars and SUVs. As such I owe it to the rule I set myself when I set this up to talk about the one series everyone talks about. Formula One.
Its not that I have anything against F1, I love watching it, I love talking about it, on the radio or with friends. Yet, as I’ve discovered as a journalist, it often eclipses series that are in better health e.g. MotoGP, the World Endurance Championship 2014-2016 or the World Rally Championship (2017-present).
It is nevertheless, the sport that started it all off for me. The 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix was the first televised race I watched all the way through. It was won by a bearded Jenson Button aboard a Honda RA106 with a 2.4 litre naturally aspirated V8 engine powering the rear wheels. No HALO, no ERS, no Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen or Ricciardo. He beat the likes of Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica, Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen.
It was the end of the first Schumacher era, when Alonso was still making sound career decisions. Raikkonen, in fact, was about to make the best one of his career too, (for those unaware he would leave to go to Ferrari at the end of the 2006 season.)
Their careers at top teams end this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 100th of the turbo hybrid era. Of those 100 races Raikkonen has won 1 and Alonso 0. A final ‘win’ for the Finn against a Spaniard who has suffered greatly since leaving Ferrari at the end of the 2014 season to a McLaren being powered by a Honda engine that, according to Andrew Benson was, “not yet ready to compete in F1”.
Raikkonen now slips into a two year contract with Sauber alongside Antonio Giovinazzi almost like Felipe Massa did with Stroll at the last minute in 2017. Although we likely won’t see Raikkonen win again and though it isn’t the end most fans, including me, want for him I think there is a simpler fact. That is, in reality, as long as he’s satisfied, it doesn’t matter one bit what we think.
The same goes for Formula One as a whole. The McLaren MCL33 in the cover photo is a lot heavier than Honda RA106 of 12 years ago. It might be a lot faster but it doesn’t give me the same buzz as that win on that day for one bearded Brit. If it were my decision we’d go back to similar regulations even if there was less road relevance and less speed.
Then again that car may provide the same buzz to another 9 year old (my age in 2006) that the RA106 doesn’t and that’s fine. I’ve come round to the opinion that HALO, though not beautiful, adds a bit of muscle to these 750kg cars.
Perspective is everything as we well know, a car that wins even if it isn’t pretty (see the cars of the 2012 and 2013 seasons), will still be given a good reception. Success sells us rose tinted glasses for free and F1 knows this.
The Brawn GP001, a car built to regulations not universally loved by fans, demonstrates this too. With its wide front wing and skinny rear wing it, and the rest of the 2009 cars, looked a bit odd. That didn’t stop it receiving a massive cheer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed however.
In the end, Formula One will carry on regardless, we as fans, must merely wait and see as drivers, and cars, carry on changing.