Cost Cap; DRS; ERS; V6 engines; standardised units; customer cars; testing restrictions. All terms which have been bandied about the Formula 1 paddock over the past few seasons and some have been implemented all in the name of a more cost friendly and greener F1. However it is a facade and PR exercise aimed at misdirection and appeasing a public while clinging onto the Status Quo. Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will talk publicly about reducing spending yet the Strategy group of which all three teams are a part of with McLaren, Williams and Lotus, decided to veto the proposed spending cap.
The Monaco Grand Prix is the ultimate symbol of F1’s Hypocrisy. Justified by its place on the calendar due to how it represents the glitz and glamour of Formula 1, with the principality becoming one of the most prestigious races in world Motorsport, making up part of the unofficial Motorsport “Triple Crown” with the Le Mans 24 hours and Indianapolis 500, a feat only Graham Hill has ever accomplished in winning all three. However, in the modern age where teams talk about limited spending the race is all about wealth and glamour, with the harbour packed with huge yachts from which their owners offer hospitality packages to watch the race which cost upward of £2000.
The Monaco Grand Prix does have historic significance to the F1 calendar but should it hold a place on the current schedule? As F1 looks to new markets and expanding its reach to become a true worldwide sport others of its historic races such as the French GP have fallen off the calendar and others seem under threat on an annual basis, yet the Monaco GP, a race that does not conform to F1’s minimum length standard, never is even hinted at being removed from the race calendar.
Monaco, while one of the most prestigious races in history and whilst the tightness of the circuit and lack of run off areas have provided some classic races and moments at what is regarded as one of the most demanding circuits in the world, has also produced some very dull races for precisely the same reasons. The tight circuit leads to a lack of opportunity for overtaking and no run off areas means that drivers are punished for any errors. Therefore the Monaco GP can, on occasion, turn into something of a procession where without any errors on Sunday the race can effectively be won by gaining pole position in Saturday Qualifying. Does this mean that Monaco should be removed from the F1 calendar in favour of a more economically friendly destination in a new market? The short answer is “No”.
Rather than making half way measures in an attempt to assuage critics of F1 by limiting fuel and stunting development, F1 should embrace what it was and what it should be again: the pinnacle of Motorsport, where both driver and machine are pushed to the limit. Technology is not brought down to the level of the company’s road car: it is pushed further for the benefit of the same said companies’ mainstream vehicles. The eco-friendliness of the cars is another moot point. Restricting the size of the engine or amount of fuel is not going to make huge gains in reducing F1’s carbon footprint. However, the huge entourage which travels to every race and the way that F1 maps the globe could be looked at. Rather than go from Australia to Asia and the Middle East to Europe to Canada to Europe to Asia to USA and Brazil and finally finishing back in the Middle East, have the races in the same region grouped together rather than toing and froing across the globe, moving all the equipment and people required. That would be much more effective than a few gallons of petrol fewer used in the races across the season.
The teams will always try to spend what is necessary to win whatever you make the regulations. In a recent interview Bernie Ecclestone was asked about the closeness in terms of speed of F1 and GP2 in 2014 and as they were cheaper to build why not run GP2 as F1 as they were so close? His response was to point out that if they were to run the GP2 regulations as F1, Ferrari, Red Bull and the other top teams would still invest the hundreds of millions of pounds into research and development to find that extra tenth of a second.
Monaco as a race symbolises what F1 was and fundamentally still is the elite of Motorsport. With uncertain times ahead with Bernie Ecclestone’s trial and whatever the verdict his inevitable retirement, maybe the paddock should stop pretending it’s something it isn’t and get back to what it is good at, what excites the public about Motorsport; one man going wheel to wheel with another; twenty-two elite drivers in twenty-two elite machines battling it out to be the best in the world.
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