Pole and fastest lap records per decade

POLE POSITIONS

2010s poles (until 2016)

1) Lewis Hamilton 44
2) Sebastian Vettel 41
3) Nico Rosberg 30
4) Mark Webber 12
5) Fernando Alonso 4
6) Jenson Button 1
= Nico Hulkenberg 1
= Felipe Massa 1
= Pastor Maldonado 1
= Daniel Ricciardo 1

2000s poles

1) Michael Schumacher 45
2) Fernando Alonso 18
3) Lewis Hamilton 17
4) Kimi Raikkonen 16
5) Felipe Massa 15
6) Juan Pablo Montoya 13
7) Rubens Barrichello 12
8) Jenson Button 7
9) Ralf Schumacher 6
10) Mika Hakkinen 5
= Sebastian Vettel 5
12) David Coulthard 4
= Jarno Trulli 4
14) Giancarlo Fisichella 3
15) Nick Heidfeld 1
= Mark Webber 1
= Robert Kubica 1
= Heikki Kovalainen 1

1990s poles

1) Ayrton Senna 23
= Michael Schumacher 23
3) Mika Hakkinen 21
4) Nigel Mansell 20
= Damon Hill 20
6) Alain Prost 13
= Jacques Villeneuve 13
8) Gerhard Berger 8
= David Coulthard 8
10) Riccardo Patrese 5
11) Jean Alesi 2
= Rubens Barrichello 2
= Heinz-Harald Frentzen 2
14) Thierry Boutsen 1
= Giancarlo Fisichella 1

1980s poles

1) Ayrton Senna 42
2) Nelson Piquet 24
3) Alain Prost 20
4) Rene Arnoux 16
5) Nigel Mansell 12
6) Keke Rosberg 5
= Patrick Tambay 5
8) Didier Pironi 4
= Gerhard Berger 4
10) Alan Jones 3
= Riccardo Patrese 3
= Elio de Angelis 3
= Teo Fabi 3
14) Jean-Pierre Jabouille 2
= Jacques Laffite 2
= Carlos Reutemann 2
= Michele Alboreto 2
18) Bruno Giacomelli 1
= Gilles Villeneuve 1
= Andrea de Cesaris 1
= Mario Andretti 1

1970s poles

1) Niki Lauda 24
2) Mario Andretti 16
3) Jackie Stewart 15
4) Ronnie Peterson 14
= James Hunt 14
6) Jacky Ickx 10
7) Emerson Fittipaldi 6
8) Clay Regazzoni 5
= Jacques Laffite 5
10) Carlos Reutemann 4
= Jean-Pierre Jabouille 4
12) Jochen Rindt 3
= Jean-Pierre Jarier 3
= Jody Scheckter 3
= Alan Jones 3
16) Chris Amon 2
= Rene Arnoux 2
18) Jo Siffert 1
= Peter Revson 1
= Denny Hulme 1
= Patrick Depailler 1
= Tom Pryce 1
= Vittorio Brambilla 1
= Carlos Pace 1
= John Watson 1
= Gilles Villeneuve 1
= Jack Brabham 1

1960s poles

1) Jim Clark 33
2) Graham Hill 13
3) Jack Brabham 12
4) John Surtees 8
5) Jochen Rindt 7
6) Phil Hill 6
7) Stirling Moss 5
8) Dan Gurney 3
= Chris Amon 3
= Jacky Ickx 3
11) Jackie Stewart 2
12) Mike Parkes 1
= Wolfgang von Trips 1
= Lorenzo Bandini 1
= Jo Siffert 1
= Mario Andretti 1
= Eddie Sachs 1 (INDY 500)

1950s poles

1) Juan Manuel Fangio 29
2) Alberto Ascari 14
3) Stirling Moss 11
4) Giuseppe Farina 5
5) Mike Hawthorn 4
6) Jose Froilan Gonzalez 3
= Tony Brooks 3
8) Eugenio Castellotti 1
= Stuart Lewis-Evans 1
= Joakim Bonner 1

INDY 500 poles
1950- Walt Faulkner
1951- Duke Nalon
1952- Fred Agabashian
1953- Bill Vukovich
1954- Jack McGrath
1955- Jerry Hoyt
1956- Pat Flaherty
1957- Pat O’Connor
1958- Dick Rathmann
1959- Johnny Thomson

FASTEST LAPS

2010s F1 fastest laps (until 2016)

1) Lewis Hamilton 28
2) Sebastian Vettel 25
3) Nico Rosberg 18
4) Mark Webber 16
5) Fernando Alonso 9
6) Kimi Raikkonen 8
= Daniel Ricciardo 8
8) Jenson Button 6
9) Felipe Massa 3
= Sergio Perez 3
11) Nico Hulkenberg 2
12) Bruno Senna 1
= Romain Grosjean 1
= Kamui Kobayashi 1
= Robert Kubica 1
= Vitaly Petrov 1
= Esteban Gutierrez 1
= Valtteri Bottas 1
= Daniil Kvyat 1
= Max Verstappen 1
= Michael Schumacher 1

2000s F1 fastest laps

1) M. Schumacher 37
2) Kimi Raikkonen 35
3) Rubens Barrichello 17
4) Fernando Alonso 13
5) Mika Hakkinen 12
= Juan Pablo Montoya 12
= Felipe Massa 12
8) Ralf Schumacher 7
= David Coulthard 7
10) Lewis Hamilton 3
= Sebastian Vettel 3
= Mark Webber 3
13) Giancarlo Fisichella 2
= Jenson Button 2
= Nico Rosberg 2
= Heikki Kovalainen 2
= Nick Heidfeld 2
18) Jarno Trulli 1
= Pedro de la Rosa 1
= Adrian Sutil 1
= Timo Glock 1

1990s F1 fastest laps

1) M. Schumacher 39
2) Damon Hill 19
3) Nigel Mansell 17
4) Mika Hakkinen 13
5) Gerhard Berger 12
6) David Coulthard 11
7) Alain Prost 9
= Riccardo Patrese 9
= Jacques Villeneuve 9
10) Ayrton Senna 6
= Heinz-Harald Frentzen 6
12) Jean Alesi 4
13) Thierry Boutsen 1
= Roberto Moreno 1
= Bertrand Gachot 1
= Giancarlo Fisichella 1
= Eddie Irvine 1
= Alex Wurz 1
= Alessandro Nannini 1

1980s F1 fastest laps

1) Alain Prost 32
2) Nelson Piquet 22
3) Ayrton Senna 13
4) Nigel Mansell 13
5) Alan Jones 10
= Rene Arnoux 10
7) Gerhard Berger 9
8) Niki Lauda 8
9) Didier Pironi 5
= Michele Alboreto 5
11) Riccardo Patrese 4
12) Jacques Laffite 3
= Carlos Reutemann 3
= John Watson 3
= Keke Rosberg 3
16) Derek Warwick 2
= Patrick Tambay 2
= Teo Fabi 2
19) Gilles Villeneuve 1
= Marc Surer 1
= Brian Henton 1
= Andrea de Cesaris 1
= Alessandro Nannini 1
= Satoru Nakajima 1
= Mauricio Gugelmin 1
= Jonathan Palmer 1

1970s fastest laps

1) Niki Lauda 16
2) Clay Regazzoni 15
3) Jacky Ickx 10
= Mario Andretti 10
5) Ronnie Peterson 9
6) James Hunt 8
= Jackie Stewart 8
8) Gilles Villeneuve 7
9) Denny Hulme 6
= Emerson Fittipaldi 6
11) Carlos Pace 5
= Jody Scheckter 5
13) Jack Brabham 4
= Patrick Depailler 4
= Jacques Lafitte 4
16) Chris Amon 3
= Carlos Reutemann 3
= Jean-Pierre Jarier 3
= Alan Jones 3
20) Francois Cevert 2
= Jochen Mass 2
= John Watson 2
= Rene Arnoux 2
24) Henri Pescarolo 1
= Jo Siffert 1
= John Surtees 1
= Jochen Rindt 1
= Mike Hailwood 1
= Jean-Pierre Beltoise 1
= Gunnar Nilsson 1
= Vittorio Brambilla 1
= Nelson Piquet 1

1960s fastest laps

1) Jim Clark 28
2) Graham Hill 10
= John Surtees 10
4) Jack Brabham 7
= Jackie Stewart 7
6) Dan Gurney 6
7) Phil Hill 4
= Jacky Ickx 4
9) Richie Ginther 3
= Stirling Moss 3
= Denny Hulme 3
= Jean-Pierre Beltoise 3
= Jo Siffert 3
14) Bruce McLaren 2
= Lorenzo Bandini 2
= Jochen Rindt 2
17) Ludovico Scarfiotti 1
= Tony Brooks 1
= Giancarlo Baghetti 1
= Richard Attwood 1
= Pedro Rodriguez 1
= Jackie Oliver 1
= Jim Rathmann 1 (INDY 500)

1950s fastest laps

1) Juan Manuel Fangio 23
2) Stirling Moss 16
3) Alberto Ascari 12
4) Jose Frolian Gonzalez 6
= Mike Hawthorn 6
6) Giuseppe Farina 5
7) Bill Vukovich 3 (INDY 500)
8) Tony Brooks 2
= Phil Hill 2
10) Piero Taruffi 1
= Luigi Villoresi 1
= Hans Hermann 1
= Jean Behra 1
= Onofre Marimon 1
= Karl Kling 1
= Roberto Mieres 1
= Luigi Musso 1
= Bruce McLaren 1
= Maurice Trintignant 1

INDY 500:
Johnnie Parsons (1950)
Lee Wallard (1951)
Jack McGrath (1954)
Paul Russo (1956)
Jim Rathmann (1957)
Tony Bettenhausen (1958)
Johnny Thomson (1959)

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Five venues eligible to hold additional F1 races in America

Bernie Ecclestone has again re-iterated his wishes of six Grands Prix to be held in America. Here are five venues capable of holding Grands Prix if modified to FIA standards:

Sebring International Raceway

Capacity: Open seating without capacity limitation

Track length: 3.74 miles (6.02km)

Best known as the venue of Sebring 12 Hours, its track surface contains a mixture of asphalt and concrete. It held the 1959 edition of US Grand Prix, but was shelved due to poor attendance and high costs. At least $500 million would be required to bring this venue up to FIA Grade 1 standards. Its location in Florida, however, would provide convenience for those fans unable to travel to more illustrious circuits based in North America.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Capacity: 235,000 (permanent)

Track length (F1): 2.605 miles (4.192 km)

The venue of US Grand Prix from 2000-2007, Indy has unfortunately encountered the dark political side of F1 more often than it should done. In its first Grand Prix held on its custom made road course, controversy arose in qualifying due to the position of pole and 2nd place being placed directly on the famous bricked line. Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher and McLaren’s Hakkinen deliberately set slower times to start on the second row, but the front row was dropped back on race day to avoid wheelspin issues for their respectative team-mates Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard. The 2004 race saw a worryingly slow response from the safety crew, who took two minutes to drag themselves to the aid of Ralf Schumacher. The German had crashed into the concrete wall on the banked oval and he would fly home with undiagnosed fractures of vertebrates in his back. He later threatened legal action against the Speedway officials for his inadequate medical treatment. The 2005 edition, however, would witness F1 politics at its ugliest, as Ralf’s practice accident near the same spot of his accident from the previous year’s Grand Prix due to a delaminated tyre sent Michelin into disarray. who later ordered their contracted teams to avoid doing more than ten laps on any set of their compounds. Race day would see a farcical pull out of the Michelin-shod teams, as a failure to agree a temporary chicane before the final banked oval turn would see just six cars start the race.

Road America

Capacity: Open seating without seating limitation

Track length: 4.048 miles (6.515km)

Seen as the best road course in North America, this venue located in Elkart Lake, Wisconsin would almost certainly gain popularity with international fans. It contains fourteen daunting turns, with frequent bumps and varying levels of residual grip. Road America has held many encapsulating Indycar races sanctioned by the now defunct CART organisation, including Al Unser Jr’s last lap engine failure in 1996 and Juan Pablo Montoya’s gearbox dying in the 1999 edition. If F1 was to hold a race here, its spectacle may sadly been hampered by fuel restrictions, which would demand the cars to lift off early at the end of straights. However, the close proximity of the walls and blindness of the kinks will demand the respect of the world’s best racing drivers. Like Sebring, work would be need to be done on laying asphalt run-offs, as well as proper permanent seating areas and a high tech pit area.

Sonoma Raceway

Capacity: 47,000

Track length: 2.22 miles (3.57km)

Based in California, Sonoma is often seen as poor cousin to the famous Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. This venue is a dusty, twisty circuit capable of testing the stamina of the best road racers, however some F1 fans may see his track mirroring features of the much-maligned Hungaroring. Its capacity would need to be doubled in order to hold a F1 event and its safety features would need to upgraded to FIA Grade 1 standards.

Watkins Glen International

Capacity: 38,900

Track length: 3.4 miles (5.43km)

Last, but not least, we have Watkins Glen based in the outskirts of Schuyler County, New York. This track was the venue of US Grand Prix from 1961-1980. The lower safety standards required by NASCAR, Indycar and sportscar racing has allowed this venue to remain with mediocre safety features. The picture above shows Tony Stewart testing a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-23 in a Mobil 1 promotional event.

How F1 is failing to prioritise its agenda and is smearing the image of motorsport

The week following the opening Australian Grand Prix has been one of farce and disbelief amongst fans and journalists alike. The political state of Formula One has reached its nadir, but many within the organisational bodies of the sport remain as headstrong and firm in directing their affirmative against reviving the structure of the premier class of motorsport. The egregious and shambolic elimination qualifying format has formed a soap opera of its own and the announcement of Sky Sports’ deal to agree exclusive live race coverage of F1 from 2019-2024, ceasing free-to-air live coverage likewise, are just the tip of iceberg within a sport whose relationship with its fans has hit point zero. Fan satisfaction of the sport is at absolute all-time low, with many questioning why they even ever took an interest in F1 and taking flak from bemused outsiders for their continued interest.

Fans of rival motorsport series may scoff with incredulity when reading this, but Formula 1 is and has been the face of motorsport since 1950. It has been marketed as having the best drivers in the world competing in the fastest cars, with an image of glitz and glamour to accompany to gladiatorial demeanour of its competitors. The trouble is however, it has appeared to represent anything but this since the loud, screaming 3 litre V10 engines, which were pushing close to 1000 horsepower, were outlawed at the end of 2005. In the place came the puny 2.4 litre V8 engines, slurred with statements from hotheads such as Juan Pablo Montoya as a transition from “Formula 3000 to Formula 3”. Constant restrictions of chassis developments, cutting down on testing, replacing gravel pits with tarmac run-offs, inflating parameters on driver and team penalties & fines and frivolous campaigns such as the FIA Action for Road Safety, are just some of the dismaying evolutions of recent seasons. Lack of driver satisfaction has become an ever-loudening presence within media printing, culminating in the infamous GPDA statement printed last Wednesday, slamming unnamed senior figures within the F1 ranks for the whole of the world to see.

Over the years F1 has tried (and failed) to please its fans and participants in numerous variations of hackneyed solutions and false promises. These include:

  • Insisting to reduce costs (Proposing the £100 million budget cap in 2009 to attract Caterham, HRT & Manor, the former two liquidated with massive debts)
  • Closer racing between cars (The research of the defunct Overtaking Working Group being deviated to suit the teams’ insistence on a large front wing, therefore disregarding its conclusions)
  • Accessibility for fans (Increase in the exclusivity of paddock passes, restrictions on boundaries have reduced fan enjoyment and the increase of pay TV broadcast deals)
  • Showcasing the modern automotive technology (Many see the current hybrid power unit formula as outdated and only existing due to the car manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Honda & Renault) determined to re-establish themselves on top of the sport’s hierarchy)
  • Clarity of the progression of the sport from the FIA, F1 Strategy Group and Formula One Group (Very little evidence of this)
  • An increase of aero appendages in order to restore F1’s status as overwhelming faster than rival series by 2017 (Teams and the FIA are still in the midst of negotiating the new technical regulations, with no agreement appearing to emerge in the immediate future)
  • A better distribution of TV and commercial revenue by CVC group (Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes unfairly receive the bulk of the revenue due to recent championship success and historical existence)
  • Attracting new manufacturers to supply hybrid power units (Volkswagen continue to express disinterest in doing so, whilst former suppliers such as BMW, Toyota and Ford insist upon never returning to F1)
  • Improving the Pirelli tyres and the authenticity of racing (Drivers and teams still express misgivings over the functionalities of the Pirelli tyres and the DRS wing is ever-increasingly relied upon to help drivers overtake slower cars)
  • Increased involvement on social media (Formula 1 only started to become proactive on Twitter, Instagram & Youtube as of last year, whilst rival series such as MotoGP started much earlier and have even started using emoticons on Twitter consisting of their riders’ numbers!)

By creating so many incongruous promises, the senior figures are establishing unrealistic ideals that are impossible to achieve simultaneously. The interests of major car manufacturers are guaranteed to clash against of the well-being of F1 and by allowing them to create a F1 Strategy Group, where only the top 5 finishers of the previous season’s constructor championship are permitted to the majority of technical conferring with the FIA, is absurd and wholly undemocratic on its merits. By listing a lengthy and ambiguous agenda, F1 is attempting to deliver numerous promises without realising only a few of them can be delivered upon. It needs to realise what is paramount in terms of importance before it can create a coherent marketing strategy. Being able to provide the best technology, with increased aero performance AND close racing are incompatible in their functionality together and many need to avoid being swayed by alarmist opinion pieces by idle journalists.

What Formula One fails to realise that the fans of motorsport operate their allegiances in a markedly different way to rival sport fans. Fans of team sports such as football and rugby lean towards supporting a club and watching matches of rival teams to check upon progress of rival players, whilst motorsport fans appoint their attachment to an organisation of a championship series. Although Motorsport fans may claim allegiance to a team (e.g. Mercedes) or a driver (e.g. Hamilton) within a series (e.g.F1), they supporting the championship series primarily as a whole by watching and attending their races. Whilst team sports will hold multiple one-to-one matches between teams at various venues within a league simultaneously, motorsport series pitch their competitors against one other within the same venue. There is also widespread conflict of opinions over whether motorsport is a form of sport or entertainment. Motorsport struggles in its popularity due to the lack of tribal culture shared within team sports amongst its ranks, as fan participation within football and rugby invariably lends itself towards fierce dedication to a club within their leagues. Therefore an “I-must-watch-my-team-at-all-costs” loyalty is paramount to the mentality of consumers of team sports, whilst motorsport series are regularly judged upon their entertainment factor, something which is disregarded to be a primary necessity by watchers of team sports.

In my own point of view, my interest in F1 principally lies within the support of an individual driver: Kimi Raikkonen. Arguably the sport’s last true maverick and a throwback to the old days of motorsport, Raikkonen has unwittingly forged a large fan-base, due to carefree and monosyllabic approach to media duties and his personal and professional life. The Iceman refuses to arrogantly rave about his status as one of the sport’s five world champions, preferring to avoid the glare of cameras by donning a trademark combo of shades and a cap. Often regarded as rude and aloof, Raikkonen is (silently) questioning the misguided need for lengthy press conferences, which consist of journalists asking vague questions and the sport’s attempts to masquerade its political situation. It is likely Raikkonen’s participation will cease by the end of this season, due to rumours of Ferrari refusing to offer a contract renewal. Why did I choose to support this driver? He is a symbolic representation of the drivers’ and the fans’ rapidly growing disillusion with F1 as a whole and the stale corporate image which is hammering the sport with an unappetising aura to casual viewers.

There is now an increasing suspicion that recent episodes such as the confusing implementation of the new elimination qualifying is yet another irritating smokescreen to divert fans’ attention from the true issues engulfing F1. It appears the main tactic of FIA (and its impotent president Jean Todt), F1 Strategy Group, Bernie Ecclestone, CVC and the Formula One Group is to create ambiguous headlines to retain a stimulus of interest within the sport amongst fans. In doing so, it instills a belief in many fans that they could solve the sport’s problems if they were given an increased voice. However last year, the GPDA released a survey, which was answered by 200,000 fans, but ultimately these ignored by governing officials. There is intense hubris amongst the major figures within the sport that many will display unquestioned loyalty in lieu of such degrading news, but an exodus to MotoGP (which provides the overtaking extravaganza F1 can’t deliver) and WEC (which provides the technological extravaganza F1 can’t deliver) is now indelibly prominent.

In a sense, it could be regarded that the senior officials of F1 have generally lost interest in attracting the youth of today and prefer to direct its attention on retaining its older audience, whom they believe will spend their larger exposable income on their products. It is well known the youth and the poor cannot afford to buy products from Rolex and Chandon, so it was likely Ecclestone saw the exclusive Sky deal as an affirmation of filling the sport’s coffers and accepting defeat on its quest to attract the less wealthy. In my view, the working class origins of the sport’s five world champions is being despised and viewed with derision, as everyone is passively permitting a return to the days of motorsport being solely a activity of the extensively wealthy for eternity. This is disgraceful, but tragically the new reality of the top echelons of motorsport.

Is F1 a victim of success? It appears definitely so and a restructured organisation of Grand Prix racing as we know it needs to replace it as soon as possible. Such names such as “Premier Grand Prix” or “Grand Prix Elite” could be used for the new organisation, with a strong dictator with engineering knowledge such as Ross Brawn taking the helm to ensure the migrated participants co-operate and ensure the best possible success for the reformation. Ultimately, if F1 is allowed to continue to rein in its position as the premier class of motorsport, then the image and reputation of itself and rival series to the outside world will sustain irreversible damage.

Top 3 F1 Drivers 1999-2015

1999

1st Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan-Mugen Honda)
2nd Ralf Schumacher (Williams-Supertec)
3rd Rubens Barrichello (Stewart-Ford)

2000

1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
2nd Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes)
3rd Jacques Villeneuve (BAR-Honda)

2001

1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
2nd Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW)
3rd Fernando Alonso (Minardi-European)

2002

1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
2nd Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan-Honda)
3rd Mark Webber (Minardi-Asiatech)

2003

1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes)
2nd Fernando Alonso (Renault)
3rd Mark Webber (Jaguar-Cosworth)

2004

1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
2nd Jenson Button (BAR-Honda)
3rd Giancarlo Fisichella (Sauber-Petronas)

2005

1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes)
2nd Fernando Alonso (Renault)
3rd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)

2006

1st Fernando Alonso (Renault)
2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
3rd Mark Webber (Williams-Cosworth)

2007

1st Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
2nd Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes)
3rd Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber)

2008

1st Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes)
2nd Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber)
3rd Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso-Ferrari)

2009

1st Fernando Alonso (Renault)
2nd Nico Rosberg (Williams-Toyota)
3rd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)

2010

1st Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2nd Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes)
3rd Robert Kubica (Renault)

2011

1st Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2nd Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes)
3rd Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

2012

1st Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2nd Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes)
3rd Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus-Renault)

2013

1st Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2nd Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3rd Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber-Ferrari)

2014

1st Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2nd Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3rd Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull-Renault)

2015

1st Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
2nd Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3rd Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso-Renault)

Formula 1’s Three Biggest Enemies

Wednesday 24th February may appear as just another day in the world for an average person, but for a Formula 1 fan it goes down as yet another footnote of F1’s numerous PR woes.  For a sport that is clearly searching for direction and vision, the powers that be decided to shake up qualifying. Just as the majority of its fanbase was flabbergasted when the FIA announced the mandate of a single helmet paint scheme before the eve of last season, social media was filled with more proverbial long faces over another unnecessary rule change.

It stems from three issues that engulf Formula 1 worse than ever: bureaucracy, ennui and nostalgia. It appears the FIA have suffered a diminishing control over its premier sport since Max Mosley left, who although many saw him to be a figure of ridicule and detachment from salient issues, he knew how to avoid the inmates running the asylum throughout the majority of his tenure. Whilst many cringed at Bernie Ecclestone’s recent quips about his hatred of democracy, in the context of F1 it is a political system which fails to work well at all. The infamous FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) was proof of F1’s constructors’ inability to work and harmonise as a working group. Formed at a meeting in Maranello on 29 July 2008, the organisation became notorious for partaking within the FIA-FOTA dispute of 2009. Mosley stanchly proposed a £40 million budget cap for 2010 in an attempt to attract new independent constructors, but FOTA rejected this, as well as many of the FIA’s additional proposals. FOTA announced they wanted a unanimous agreement upon technical and sporting regulations between themselves and the FIA before renewing the Concorde Agreement, which was due for review. There were attempts between both parties to smear each other with claims that both were jeopardising the existence of F1, which led to six of the FOTA teams announcing a withdrawal from submitting entries for the 2010 season. Eventually, it dawned upon FOTA the regulations had already been set in Paris at the FIA’s headquarters. The reputation of Mosley had already fallen on a slippery slope from his Nazi sex orgy allegations from the previous year, which meant FOTA were able to demand his removal. Whilst FOTA eventually withdrew their threat of creating a breakaway series, the teams eventually became disinterested with running FOTA and it was discontinued by early 2014.

Ennui is a feeling that not only affects the actions of the political figures within the sport, regardless of the organisation they work for, but particularly that of the fans and drivers. Whilst it is a great thing that Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula 1 website has taken social media far more seriously over the past year, it has profited upon a whim which leaves fans yearning for a worrying and unhealthy nostalgia. Watching videos of Juan Pablo Montoya set the fastest average lap speed record at Monza during 2004 is something that provides a weapon for fans to lampoon modern Formula 1 as a depilated, inferior sporting product. The visceral sensation of the noise emitted by an old fashioned V10 engine leaves viewers harking back to an era when Michael Schumacher and Ferrari drove the masses to tedium and boredom. Back in 2004, many retired superstars such as Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell bemoaned the lack of overtaking and competition, as well as a perception that the electronically-aided cars were less challenging to drive (sound familiar?). However, Prost also spoke of the task he faced in his era of fuel saving and tyre management during the 1980’s, driving heavy turbocharged monsters that broke down with alarming regularity. Prost and Mansell were many who berated the V10 chassis regulations of the time, which allowed refuelling and tyre changes. Michael Schumacher’s ingenious victory at that year’s French Grand Prix illustrated what many saw as farcical, where he won having seized advantage of Magny Cours’ short pitlane to pit four times to achieve the optimum strategy to beat Fernando Alonso’s pole-sitting Renault by 8.329 seconds.

Conincidentally, it set the FIA’s Overtaking Working Group into intense study and action. The regulations derived from its studies led to the narrowing of wings, removal of aero appendages and slick tyres by the advent of 2009. Thanks to the FIA-FOTA dispute, it was an organisation that became discredited and the current Strategy Group now influences a lot of regulations within the sport. It has been subjected to many complaints, particularly from Force India and Sauber who filed reports of its legality to the EU commission, vilifying its lack of concern for fiscal controls for constructors and its manipulation of power between group members. The Strategy Group permits the top five constructors from the previous season’s constructor standings to dictate the organisation’s decisions. In deference to a refusal to learn from the past, it is calling for a return to bigger aero appendages and a return of refuelling despite many statistics proving the introduction of the refuel ban, the much-maligned DRS and heat sensitive Pirelli almost trebling overtaking in the past five years in comparison to the seasons between 2005-09. This was an era where cars struggled to overtake due to pit strategies which attempted to seize of refuelling to move cars up the order through tactical ingenuity rather than wheel-to-wheel action.

Having been a fan of Formula 1 since 2002, Martin Brundle produced a tweet during Tuesday which aptly summed Formula 1’s problems. The number of rule changes causes endless confusion for not just fans, but its participants who are persistently dissatisfied by the sport’s politicking. Tinkering and manipulating rules to fit whims with artificial solutions is clearly not the way to go and it leaves fans nostalgic. Many egregious regulations since 2003 include:

  • One lap qualifying (manipulated into an aggregate system for the early races of 2005)
  • Parc Ferme rules (no tinkering with car’s setup post-qualifying, with aberrations later permitted for reliability and safety)
  • The fuel burn credit system implement for the newly introduced three tier qualifying of 2006. This was abolished when refuelling was banned for 2010.
  • The maximum time for cars returning to the pits during safety car periods, leaving myself and others confused when Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella were disqualified during 2007 Canadian Grand Prix
  • Banning teams from doing a pit-stop “dummy”- where pit crews pretend their car would enter the pits by rushing into pit box positions to fool rival teams
  • The engine freeze on V8s post-2006, which left a lot of its technology obsolete to car manufacturers and eventually led to the much-maligned V6 turbo hybrids
  • The KERS system (which none of the teams had called for), causing the weight limits of cars to be increased and penalise heavier drivers such as Mark Webber plus many more

As a fan of this sport I am at my wits’ end, particularly with older fans that yearn for the 1980’s. Ironically, this was the era infamous for the FISA-FOCA war (a forbearer of the FIA-FOTA dispute), where issues such as prize money, political power, superlicences and various issues set the tone of a poisonous atmosphere of strenuous political turmoil for decades to come within F1. From reading historical websites dedicated to motorsports, the arrivals of car manufacturers during this era such as BMW, Renault, Honda & Alfa Romeo sparked astronomical budget increases, with lower teams such as Tyrrell & Ligier, who were once competitive, to become also-rans who would get lapped five or six times come the end of this decade. In my time as F1 fan, many teams have closed down or sold due to financial issues. Prost, Arrows, HRT & Caterham were liquated due to huge debts, whilst BAR, Jordan and Virgin were sold and re-sold to their current guises of Mercedes, Force India & Manor. In addition, Minardi became Toro Rosso (thanks to Red Bull’s buyout), Jaguar sold what it saw as a sinking ship to Red Bull, Sauber became BMW Sauber, but reverted back to its original guise when the Bavarian giant grew tired of funding its grand project, whilst Toyota admitted defeat after spending billions through a stubborn committee-led management system. It is clear the vested interests of manufacturers cannot commit to unanimity and the FIA needs to set a blueprint upon this criterion:

  • Financial viability through budget constraints
  • Value for money and entertainment for fans
  • Limits upon the political powers of manufacturers and corporations
  • A safety back-up plan when major teams and sponsors flee the sport
  • An agreement to find corporations to commit to investing within independent outfits such as Williams, Haas, Sauber & Manor without jeopardising their futures or threatening to overhaul their management in favour of their brands’ identities
  • A fairer share of TV money between the CVC and constructors (as well as reviewing historical payments to successful teams such as Ferrari)
  • Removal of lengthy, tedious press conferences which pander too heavily towards sponsors
  • A stable, coherent set of regulations easy to understand by all and requiring little tinkering.

I love Formula 1 to pieces, but it is not immune to criticism. My view of its relationship with social media is that whilst has improved, its Twitter and Instagram have become complacent. It needs to explore why fans love their drivers and their teams, where maybe perhaps a “fan-board” on the Formula 1 website with pictures and messages supporting whoever will appear. This would lessen the need to show old videos of races gone past and a cessation of glorifying the sport’s murky and questionable past.