There are things more important than speed, why can’t we have competition?

2017’s cars will be as fast as their 2007 counterparts, according to Mark Webber.

That particular season sticks out as one of the more exciting in recent years. Not least because it was Kimi who came out on top. Lewis Hamilton made his extraordinary debut while Fernando Alonso provided limitless drama. There were some fantastic races, with some truly spectacular moments.

I definitely don’t remember anyone mentioning how exceptionally fast the cars were. The speeds had already dropped considerably from the peak of 2004. Since 2014, Formula One cars have been gradually edging towards the kind of times we used to see ten years ago anyway. At some races, the times were almost matching. The increase in speed is not going to yield an awful lot.

Sport relies on competition

The truly desirable aspects of seasons like 2007 are the competition, the excitement and the unpredictability. The championship was fought between four drivers, each taking at least three wins each. Compare that to the season just gone and it begs a question. One three occasions, the same driver won four races in a row.

The concept of sport demands competition. Had Rosberg retired a year earlier, Mercedes could have put Wehrlein in the car without hesitation because they new they were going to win. That kind of situation is unhealthy.

(1) The three title contenders were inseparable during 2007

Fortunately, even if via a knock on effect, the technical changes that have been made for 2017 have put the teams back into the unknown. There is a real possibility that we could return to the idea of having three or four teams who all have the performance to win races. This years World Championship could be as close as it was in 2007. Figuring out the relative performance of each car will certainly make for an intriguing opening to the season.

I don’t believe that increasing the speed of the cars is going to add to that intrigue. Allowing the drivers to go faster means nothing if the car in front is destroying their aerodynamic advantage. The close racing and adrenaline filled action could prove hard to come by if that is indeed the case. That age old problem seems doomed to remain.

Formula 1’s half way house

At the end of the day, it is the racing that will satisfy the fans. The show on the track is what sells the tickets. It’s not just about the Championship standings, every single race needs to be fought for. It should be about giving each of the drivers the chance of victory. The build up to a race should be a buzz of discussion – who out of the top 6 can claim the victory at the end of it? Even if at the end of it all, the best driver wins ten races, at least he will have fought for those victories.

(2) This is the extent of Formula One’s competition in 2016.

I think we are going to hit a half way house in 2017. The cars seem likely to be closer in terms of performance, which bodes well for a more competitive championship. The freedom for engine manufacturers to develop throughout the season will also open the door for major mid-season improvements. These areas are pointing towards a more positive season. Unfortunately, processional races seem likely to remain a major feature, perhaps even more so. All the signs from the experts are pointing to a year of uneventful on track action. Until the season kicks off in March, I am striving to remain optimistic.

(Morio CC BY-SA 3.0)

((1) Morio CC BY-SA 3.0)

((2) Andrew Locking CC BY 2.0)

(Morio CC BY-SA 3.0)

Simon Ostler

I am currently training to become a Journalist. I write best when my subject is something I enjoy. I have spent time working with CAR Magazine and Parkers.

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