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F1 Season Already Seems Tedious

March 16th, 2015 · No Comments · Motor racing

The 2015 Formula One season began in Australia on Sunday, and it began about as poorly as was possible.

Lewis Hamilton won easily.

Nico Rosberg, the other Mercedes-GP driver, was 30-plus seconds ahead of the third-place car. a clear second. And Hamilton and Rosberg finished 1-2 last season in the most dominant team performance in F1 history.

The Australia race was a procession. Only 15 cars started, the lowest number in a decade. Five others didn’t get to the start line. Both of the Manor team’s cars were left in the garage. Only 11 finished.

Anyway, even F1 fans are becoming bored with this. The lack of competition, the lack of depth, the reality of two-thirds of the field having no chance to win.

And how do I know this?

–The F1 fans who work for The National sports staff are losing interest and already are grousing about how awful this season could be. Those guys are like canaries in a coal mine: When they don’t care, the sport is in major trouble.

–The German GP probably is not happening this year. And this is one of the great races of F1. Just dropped. For lack of interest. Because it has been overcharging fans, who are not turning out, and has been losing money. Germany giving up on F1 (or vice versa) is like Nascar giving up on Talledega.

Part of the problem is the guy who owns/runs the sport, Bernie Ecclestone. Bernie is, like, a million years old, and seems far more interested in cashing checks than improving the sport.  As if he plans to take his money with him and buy a yacht in heaven/hell.

He said some astonishing things, in an interview last November, including the fact that he doesn’t care about young fans or social media.

“I don’t know why people want to get to the so-called ‘young generation’,” he said to Campaign Asia-Pacific magazine. “Why do they want to do that? Is it to sell them something? Most of these kids haven’t got any money.

“I’d rather get to the 70-year-old guy who’s got plenty of cash. So, there’s no point trying to reach these kids because they won’t buy any of the products here and if marketers are aiming at this audience, then maybe they should advertise with Disney.”

His rant was so remarkable, showing zero planning for the future, that F1 people are still talking about it. The most amusing follow-up thought has been that Ecclestone wasn’t closing the door on all young fans — because he considers 70 to be young.

Ecclestone typically is known as a “supremo”, which is a ridiculous title but reflects the inexact sense of what he actually runs. “Chief executive of Formula One group” is nebulous.

Anyway, the only other guy I can remember being called a “supremo” was, like, Chiang Kai-shek — who lived so long ago probably only Bernie and I remember him. Though Chiang also seemed to answer to “generalissimo,” which is pretty much like “supremo”

Anyway, the supremo needs to take action if his glamorous but non-competitive sport is to avoid going down the drain.

A start would be standardizing engines and/or chassis. So that someone other than the wealthiest teams might have a chance. Also, to get costs under control.

The rule of thumb is … it costs something like $1 million per car to start an F1 race.

This is a sport that needs the unexpected. Toro Rosso winning a race. Hamilton and Rosberg breaking down on the first lap.

(Some of this would be cured if Ferrari could get their stuff together and be competitive again; they finished third in the team competition, last year, and didn’t win a race. Maybe with Sebastian Vettel driving for them, and he was third in Oz, they are making a comeback.)

Anyway, you can make money running auto races. Nascar and the France family could tell you about it. Lots of cars, lots of teams, lots of passing, lots of potential winners.

Nascar ran 36 races in 2014; F1 had 19. Nascar had 15 guys win at least one race in 2014; F1 had three.

F1 is considered, globally, a much-superior product to any form of U.S. racing, one with faster, more beautiful machines. Europeans, in particular, are contemptuous of Nascar.

All Nascar does is draw crowds, bring in big sponsors and make money.

F1 could stand to look at what is going on in the States, before they lose their 70-year-old fans, too.



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