New look F1 cars won't necessarily mean a better spectacle
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We are just under a month away from the 2017 Formula One season.
Last year's champion, Nico Rosberg, retired after the final race, so for the first time since Alain Prost retired at the end of 1993 after winning the title for Williams, the defending champion won't defend his title.
In the off-season the sport has gone through some significant changes.
Specifically the ousting of Bernie Ecclestone as boss by Liberty Media and some new aerodynamic rules aimed at making the cars faster.
Unsurprisingly, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was against the changes, presumably because he thought Mercedes' current dominance of the sport would be challenged by the new regulations.
The sport has got some major issues it needs to sort out.
The core fans have remained, but the fanbase has declined since the introduction of the turbo-charged vacuum cleaner engines in 2014.
Even the best driver on the grid, Lewis Hamilton, has gone on the attack over the engines because of the hideous noise they make.
The sport is desperately missing an engine like the magnificent V10 that was engine of choice between 1996-2005.
The turbo-charged vacuum cleaner engines may be technologically advanced and leaner on fuel than any other engine before them, but they do not deserve to be in the sport and I hope Ross Brawn forces them out in the next few years.
The manufacturers want them because of their relevance to road car technology. It's quite disappointing that F1 cars are no longer the pinnacle of motorsport but have instead become prototypes testing road car technology.
The sport has been in a cost cutting mode for the last decade or so. This means refueling is banned, and teams are allowed only four engines per season.
As noble as this is, these two things have contributed massively to the spectacle of F1 suffering because along with the tyres that aren't durable enough, they have effectively caused the drivers to drive within themselves in races to preserve their equipment and fuel.
As a result a lot of processional races have happened, with only artificial overtaking aids like the DRS contributing to action on the track.
So the sport needs these things to happen:
Bring back the V10, an engine that contributed greatly to the spectacle of F1 with its memorable engine note. They're nowhere near as expensive and complicated as the turbo-charged vacuum cleaner engines that we're currently stuck with and sound so much better.
Bring back refueling. As it is, teams apparently will under-fill the cars and ask the drivers to coast at times during the race because that's apparently a quicker way to race than driving flat out from start to finish. This goes against every instinct the drivers have. They just want to race and don't want to be asked to conserve fuel, tyres, engines, gearboxes, etc.
Allow more engines per season so that drivers aren't forced into protecting their cars as much and have more freedom to race.
Make the tyres more durable so, as in the previous sentence, the drivers can race harder without worrying about the tyres wearing out too quickly.
Finally, they must adjust the bonus money they distribute so that the backmarker teams have a better chance of survival otherwise we'll continue to lose teams like Manor who can't afford to race in the current climate.
If these things can be achieved over the next few years then I think the fans will start to come back to a sport that has lost the plot with it's tree-hugger friendly engines that have done nothing but alienate the fans.
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