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  Monday, 2 September, 2002, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
How to make F1 interesting
A monkey bares its teeth
Could this little fella be the answer to F1's woes?

So Michael Schumacher wins the Belgium Grand Prix. Guess what? Rubens Barrichello finished second.

Great news for Ferrari. Bad news for the rest of us who used to enjoy the ding-dong battles of this great sport.

Schumacher's record-breaking 10 wins this season is a staggering sporting achievement - but it has also killed Formula One as a spectacle.

Here are a few ideas for Bernie Ecclestone to play with as he works out how to keep the television viewers awake.

Sprint start

One of the finest features of the old Le Mans 24-hour race was the unique start - where the drivers would have to sprint to their cars before zooming off.

Ralf Schumacher pours champagne down Michael Schumacher's neck
Brotherly japes light up F1 again
With a couple of tweaks this very same system could revolutionise F1.

First up, the drivers would have to leave their keys in the ignition - so whoever reached the grid first could jump into whichever car they fancied and simply drive off.

Secondly, a certain amount of physical contact would be allowed en route to the motors.

While handguns and knives would be out, rugby tackles, lassos and pinching would be allowed.

Just think about it - Ralf lays Michael out with a swinging right while several others rain blows upon Eddie Irvine until the marshals step in.

Compulsive viewing - and the race yet to get underway...

Fruit bowl fun

Taking inspiration from that popular feature of 1970s dinner parties in the trendier parts of Surrey, each driver would have to put their car keys in a fruit bowl upon arrival at the circuit.

David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher share a joke
News of BBC Sport Online's ideas went down well
Before qualifying each would reach into the bowl and pluck out a random set of keys.

They would then be saddled with the corresponding car for the entire weekend.

Michael Schumacher could find himself stuck with a Minardi. Alex Yoong could be behind the wheel of a Ferrari.

In an instant, all debate about whether F1 championships are won by car or driver would be washed away.

At last, we would discover who was truly the best driver.

Wackier races

It is time F1 looked to Hanna-Barbera for inspiration. Who can remember a single episode of Wacky Races that was not edge-of-the-seat viewing from start to finish?

Penelope Pitstop from 'Wacky Races'
Pitstop: no oil change necessary
I'm not suggesting that Bernie lets the Ant Hill Mob take the place of Arrows, although they would almost certainly bag more points than Walkinshaw's lot.

But some of the tactics used by, say, Dastardly and Muttley in the Mean Machine or Luke and Blubber Bear in the Arkansas Chug-a-Bug would certainly not be out of place.

And who can seriously claim that the appearance of Penelope Pitstop in her Compact Pussycat would not have the viewers turning on in their millions?

Monkey (1)

As Alan Partridge realised, monkeys and sport are instinctive bed-fellows.

Each Grand Prix car should be rebuilt to incorporate a small co-pilot's seat just big enough to house a small monkey.

Michael Schumacher looks serious
"They are doing what with the monkey?"
The monkeys - which under no circumstances should be house-trained - would sit just behind each driver and allowed to get on with their natural monkeying-around antics.

Schumi's a great driver. But would he find it quite as easy doing 200mph down a straight if he had a small simian wiping its backside all over his visor?

Chicane shocker

Spa and Suzuka apart, most modern circuits are faceless and dull, a poor test of a driver's skill.

Imagine how much harder all would be if a corner or chicane had behind it a huge hoarding on which were displayed computer simulations of the drivers' girlfriends in steamy clinches with their arch-rivals.

Could Schumi handle a sweeping right-hander if, micro-seconds before he turned the wheel, he spotted an image of his wife Corinna snogging his brother Ralf?

Monkey (2)

If all else failed - hard to imagine, but you have to prepare for all eventualities - the humble monkey could be relied upon to save the day.

Bernie Ecclestone looks puzzled
Ecclestone hears about the monkey panel
A specially-built control panel would be constructed with a random series of buttons, each linked to a different part of a different car.

Hitting one button would make the seat on Schumi's car go up and down like a yo-yo; another switch would reverse Barrichello's steering so that turning right made him go left and vice-versa.

At a random stage in the race, said monkey would be released into a glass cage containing this panel and be left free to work his magic.

Bang! He hits a button and the front wheel falls off David Coulthard's McLaren.

Wallop! He hits another and Mika Salo's helmet fills with chocolate sauce.

Maybe the crowd could get involved. Whenever they felt restless the chant would go up - "Monkey! Monkey!" - and the performing primate would be set free to wreak his wonderful mayhem.

In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

On-track action


Jonathan Legard

Race statistics

F1 2002
See also:

01 Sep 02 | Formula One
31 Aug 02 | Formula One
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