Wed 24 Oct 2007
Well it’s certainly been an eventful season, I don’t think anyone could argue with that! Some of it has been good and some of it has been bad, but from both of these we can learn things which should be either repeated or avoided next year when it all starts again.
It would be easy to say that the FIA are the ones who should be changing, and in some instances that is correct but from a personal viewpoint I think there are a few other people who also need to change in some areas.
But let’s start with the FIA:
- There are to be certain rule changes next season regarding traction control, etc but really the entire rulebook needs a general tidy-up. The Brazilian GP has shown that there are rules in there which are unenforceable in their current form, so these need to be looked at as a matter of urgency. If they can’t be policed then remove them or change them so the stewards can act on evidence which implicates teams or drivers.
- Whilst on the subject of rules, the FIA need to sort out once and for all what happens when a car goes off the track - are the marshalls allowed to push him back onto the track? Are they allowed to use a crane to lift him back onto the track? At the time of the incident this season when Lewis Hamilton was lifted onto the track by a crane, it was argued that in the rules it stated that if a car was in a dangerous position then the marshalls could help it back onto the track so that it was out of harm’s way. That’s fine, but the car should still be deemed to have been retired from the grand prix and the driver should simply tour around the track to park his car in the garage.It would be a hard rule to word I think, as there has to be a point at which a car is deemed to have retired from the race - the point at which it can no longer move under it’s own steam would seem the most obvious one, but this would undoubtedly lead to more confusion and arguments. To have certain cars lifted back into the race by a crane is plainly ludicrous though - this is F1 not Scalextric!
- The single biggest source of argument is the penalties dished out in Formula 1 - and that can only be down to the FIA and the race stewards. In the past this was mainly due to their being different stewards at each race, and these stewards would interpret the rules differently thereby handing out different punishments for the same crimes. To their credit, the FIA have appointed a permanent steward who oversees each race in an attempt to counteract this.
But it doesn’t go far enough and when we hear that a driver has been referred to the stewards over an incident then we simply don’t have a clue what the likely punishment is. To my mind, it would make more sense to adopt a system similar to case law in the law courts.Within this, prior to the season starting, the FIA could draw up a table of punishments for certain rule breaches - although each rule breach may be deemed to be unique depending on circumstances, this would at least allow for a starting point as to which punishment is appropriate. If, for example, the punishment for having fuel which is outside the relevant temperature requirements happened to be a fine of £10,000 then that would set a precedent for the next time it happened. If in the first instance, the fuel was 2 degrees over the limit and the fine was £10,000 but on the second rule breach the difference was 6 degrees over the limit then it could be argued that a fine was reasonable punishment, but that it should be proportionally higher than the initial £10,000 fine.I think this is how the FIA’s punishments are meant to work - it is run by a lawyer after all - but this is not how it seems from the outside.
If this table of punishments was made public (and why shouldn’t it?) then I think everyone would be able to understand the whole process better. There will always be rule breaches which are not accounted for in this table of punishments but they could be dealt with on their own merits.
- FIA should be more transparent - the general impression is that this is an organisation with an awful lot of power, but that it’s power is wielded by one man, Max Mosley. This can’t be the case, can it? If not, then they have to show this - when the FIA are mentioned, Mosley is the only name uttered and his is the only face ever seen on TV. The supposed bias towards Ferrari has to be addressed - I’m not convinced it exists 100%, but we all need proof that decisions are reached in a fair manner and the only way is to show us the decision making process.
- Team orders - everyone knew Ferrari were going to use Massa to help Kimi at the last GP, but they couldn’t do so openly or in a blatant fashion which I think is wrong. Yes there is a driver’s championship but Ferrari are a team and so should be able to use their two drivers as they see fit. I can understand why the public can be a little upset if their favourite driver is asked to stand aside for their teammate in the first few races of the season so perhaps some compromise could be reached. I’m not too sure what that could be, perhaps after a certain point in the season team orders can come into play, or once one driver has lost the mathematical possibility of winning or something - I don’t know, but a discussion would be good!
No doubt there are scores of other areas where the FIA should be turning their attentions, but those are the ones which have stuck by me as the season has gone on. The chances of them actually paying any attention to anyone, least of all me, are slim to none though unfortunately. Max knows best!
While we are on the subject there are a few other people who I think need to have a look at themselves :
- Please at least consider replacing James Allen - we know you don’t want to, but believe me everyone else thinks it’s a very good idea! The man is an idiot with an annoying voice, which let’s face it is a pretty useless combination for a commentator. Just one example from the season gone past, Lewis Hamilton’s crazy lunge up the inside of Barrichello at the last grand prix - there was one reason why it didn’t end up in a shower of carbon fibre and that is because Rubens was wise enough to see Lewis coming and steered away to give him room. Someone like Scott Speed or Sebastian Vettel wouldn’t have moved that’s for sure, and Lewis would have ended up looking a right pillock.Instead of which, James Allen was literally screaming about how BRILLIANT!!! a move it had been. I actually muted the TV at that point because I couldn’t take any more!
- Please also reconsider renewing Mark Blundell’s contract as well - yet another idiot as I’ve spoken about before. He has nothing to say - or “nuffink” as he would put it. Steve Rider has been pretty good this year, although he has talked about Lewis far too much - not really his fault though, I assume he is being told to do that, but no matter what he asks Blundell, he gets the same response. Blundell basically repeats the question by adding in a “most definitely, Steve” at either the start or the end. Prior to the Brazilian race he was harping on about Lewis this and Lewis that but when asked by Steve if the right man had won in the end, his reply was “most definitely for me the right man has won Steve.”How can they justify paying this man to fly all around the world at their expense to be a human parrot?!
- I don’t want this to turn into a “please replace everyone onscreen” list, but does Louise Goodman actually serve any purpose? When ITV started showing F1, she played quite a big part in the build-up show and had obviously pre-recorded a lot of interviews etc. Now her role is mainly confined to the pits in order to interview drivers as they retire from the race - there are two problems with that, firstly that this year there were hardly any retirements (and that’s likely to continue as engine developments etc are frozen), and secondly because I don’t want to hear driver interviews during the race!Fair enough if they have something to say, but the majority of the time the driver doesn’t even know why he retired - the big favourite is a hydraulic leak, but unless there’s a smash where the drivers can just blame each other, the whole thing is just pointless. By all means keep her on the payroll, but at least give her something worthwhile to do!At the moment the only slightly lively interviews are either when DC makes some form of sexual innuendo or Mark Webber swears live on day-time TV.
- At the end of a GP weekend, there are still so many unknowns which are just left up in the air - such as exactly why people failed to finish, or why strategies went wrong, or just what did happen in qualifying.Why don’t ITV have a show later in the week, which can be more indepth (and geeky) to explain all this? They could take the time to show a fuel-corrected grid to let everyone know exactly how well everyone really did in qualifying - all too often someone gets huge praise on a Saturday for their qualifying performance only for them to pit early and fall way down the order.Martin Brundle would be absolutely ideal for this - but I fear getting permission from Bernie to show additional footage may be the stumbling block.
The sad thing from a viewer’s point of view, is that ITV actually had their highest viewing figures for 7 years so the chances of them actually wanting to listen to criticism are slim - they probably are in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” state of mind. Which is unfortunate.
Another media outlet which could do with a little tinkering is F1 Racing magazine, which I have already covered previously. I hope that they let the “loss” of editor, Matt Bishop, be a chance to rejuvenate the magazine - it was once great so it can be great again!
Lastly, I think the arguably most important element of F1, the drivers, can also learn from this season as well. Heikki Kovalainen wrote his own column on the BBC’s website through the season, and DC had a blog on his own site as well as a regular column on ITV’s site so hopefully this is the start of drivers being a bit more accessible to their fans. We all know that they lead busy lives and so their spare time is precious, but these little things really do make a big difference.
Renault should also be applauded for their website and blog this year, which was excellently written and very informative - hopefully they will repeat this next year, and fingers crossed that a few other teams follow their lead.