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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Hold the revolution
Formula One has never known a season like the one which ended in Japan in a clatter of yet more records for Michael Schumacher and Ferrari.
But there will be plenty inside and outside the paddock cocoon who will be mightily relieved it is all over and hugely grateful if they never see its like again.
Ferrari appeared to win by remote control as audiences around the world reached for theirs to switch off.
One team went bankrupt and others are on the brink.
And the commercial future of the sport remains uncertain while bankers and lawyers pick over the entrails of the fallen Kirch media group, the one time majority shareholder.
Maybe under orders from F1's power pair, Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, Grand Prix racing may be radically overhauled for 2003.
On current form, they are the only people who stand between Michael Schumacher and yet more history making.
In 2002 Schumacher was mostly majestic.
Not even Ayrton Senna, the revered figure to whom the German is most frequently compared, finished every race in one season on the podium.
One day, when the most successful driver in history has long since tired of going round in circles for a living, his achievements will receive fuller acclaim and louder appreciation.
But Schumacher's record-equalling championship year will most likely be remembered for what he got wrong, not what he got right.
Ferrari's team orders in Austria defined the season.
Competition, what competition?
Precious little from rivals, and even less between team-mates.
The farce at Indianapolis was taking the mickey even further - such a contrast to McLaren's supreme season in 1988 when Senna and Prost were at each other's throats in the course of winning all but one of the16 races.
When the world wanted value for money in an uncertain economic climate, it found itself short-changed.
So in that sense, Max Mosley's idea to improve the show, putting Schumacher in a Minardi and Juan Pablo Montoya in a Jaguar should be embraced with open arms.
What a prospect - but what nonsense!
Spectators would love it but sponsors and the high-rolling team owners would run a mile.
In practical terms, too, the idea would not get off the starting grid.
Try seating 5 ft 11 in Ralf Schumacher in jockey-sized Nick Heidfeld's Sauber one race, followed by in-between Jarno Trulli the next.
But if Mosley's real intention was to drive the teams into serious debate about the future of their sport, it was a peach.
Likewise Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion to add weight to the leading car. If it happens in saloon car racing, why not F1?
Grand Prix buffs will get on their high horses and argue that fastest should be first with no further questions, m'lud. And how right they are.
Ferrari are currently kings of the road. But it was not that long ago that their every triumphant step on the way to the top was being hailed as a tonic for F1 in the face of the hegemony enjoyed by Williams and McLaren.
Clearly you can have too much of a good thing.
The wheel of success keeps turning and it behoves all comers to step up to the plate and perform.
Ferrari boss Jean Todt's array of talent outshines the rest like the sun beats the light of a torch right now.
Just as in 1992 when Nigel Mansell wrapped up his title in record time with nine wins and 14 poles.
Nonetheless, team principals would do well to heed the dwindling ratings and not become sidetracked in revisiting the dispute over TV revenue which nearly put Minardi out of business in the summer.
The sooner that huge pot of money is redistributed the better.
For example, why not turn the constructors' championship on its head and give the biggest share to the most needy teams who lack the sponsors and coverage of the front-runners?
The big teams would still attract the most sponsors but the smaller ones would face less threat of going out of business and have more resources to move up the grid.
Qualifying also needs attention.
I would be loath to lose the easily packaged drama of Saturday's qualifying hour because aggregate timings from a Friday and Saturday could become too complicated.
But teams should be forced to go out in each of the four quarters of the Saturday hour so that fans do not just sit there watching nothing.
Trying to ban traction control and other electronic gizmos is bolting the stable door.
A key argument in their introduction last year was the difficulty in official policing by the FIA. What has suddenly changed?
And why is it so many circuits make overtaking so difficult? Cart before the horse. Consider circuit revisions a priority.
Finally, here's a suggestion from one leading member of a recent champion team.
Instead of knee jerk responses to Ferrari's dominance, why not convene a working party comprising a former driver, such as Alain Prost, a former team owner and a former technical director?
None have a vested interest. They know the sport, they love the sport and they want it to survive and prosper. Let them examine the best way forward.
Rushing in new regulations may only damage the golden goose that is F1.
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