FOM’s new Managing Director (Sporting), Ross Brawn, has already begun voicing his early ideas as he targets an improved show for Formula 1 fans. He spent a couple of days at the Barcelona circuit during the first week of testing, holding talks with teams and drivers, and getting a feel for the group of people he is going to be working with.
The early signs of this new era for Formula 1 have been good. Brawn is by far the most qualified when it comes to deciding what is best for the sport. A sport which he understood better than anyone during his 30-year career. He won Championships with Benetton, Ferrari and his eponymous team, Brawn GP. While many attribute the incredible success Mercedes have been enjoying to the initial work done by Brawn as well.
It is deeply encouraging to me that a man with such a history in the sport is now in charge. It hasn’t taken him long to say some very intelligent things.
Big Ideas, Big Future
I had resigned myself to the Bernie Ecclestone way. Horrifically irresponsible, knee jerk reactions to problems caused by problems. Amateurish things like changing the rules mid-season, double points and DRS, were all badly planned initiatives that have reflected poorly on the sport.
The decision to remove Bernie from power was bold. But I’m confident that Formula 1’s new leaders are going to bring the sport to a whole new level.
Brawn has introduced the idea of holding a race weekend that wouldn’t count towards the World Championship. This is not a new idea, in fact, when the Formula 1 World Championship first began, non-Championship races made up the majority of the season. Re-invented such an event would be a very positive step. New ideas could be tested without affecting the Championship. Ideas like the revised Qualifying format, or the radio bans that were such an embarrassment for the sport, before they become a problem.
So when people talk about changing the format of a race weekend, a non-Championship event would be the perfect time to try it. This is the kind of thinking that Formula 1 has been lacking. It could open the doors for new drivers to prove their worth in the car. New opportunities for youngsters to cut their teeth in a less pressurised environment. The drivers could even relax a little. Free from the pressure of their World Championship fights, they could actually enjoy a weekend of excitement and fun. It could add so much to the show, and I could see something like this becoming the highlight of the season.
From the Superficial to the Methodical
I’m looking forward to seeing what else Brawn has to say over the coming weeks and months. His comments about improving the show are different to what we’ve heard before. Superficial gimmicks are a thing of the past. Throughout his career as an engineer, Ross will have focussed on getting to the root of his problems. Now he will be applying the same logic to making Formula 1 the greatest sport in the world.
The only unfortunate part of all this is that it’s going to be a while before the sport takes the shape of his vision. 2017 has seen the introduction of these new cars. Regulations were written to try and make the cars look more attractive, more aggressive, and more like the legends that graced circuits in in the early 90’s. Unfortunately, the resemblance is loose at best. Efforts by the rule makers to re-create those smooth, elegant and monstrous machines have failed to achieve the desired affect. The thumb tip noses are still a glaringly unattractive feature of these cars. Not to mention the return of those “shark fins”, which do not belong on a Formula 1 car. New for this year, we have these ridiculous “T-Wings”. Attractive is the wrong word. But they are better than what we had and at least they are terrifyingly quick.
These cars are the final legacy of Bernie Ecclestone’s reign. Introduced for all the wrong reasons, and categorically failing in their mission, they epitomise the state he has left the sport in. But that’s gone now, and we are set to see everything change. Give it time, and Formula 1 will be a pure sport again.