Journal: What Is Still Exciting about Formula 1?

What Is Still Exciting about Formula 1?

By Shayan Bokaie
February 20, 2015
42 comments

Photography by Afshin Behnia and Josh Clason

By: Shayan Bokaie

Hello Petrolisti!

As the newest member of the Petrolicious crew I wanted to reach out to the community and start some chatter about a topic dear to my heart: Formula 1. 

The Australian Grand Prix is set to kick off in a little less than a month. The most exciting storylines include the renewal of the iconic McLaren-Honda partnership, and 4-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel debuting with Ferrari in the familiar footsteps of his idol, Michael Schumacher.

As a younger fan, I never had the pleasure of watching Ayrton Senna in the wet, or Jackie Stewart earn his title as the King of Monaco, but I have tremendous respect and appreciation for Formula 1’s heritage. As the sport has become tamer and a bit softer over the years, however, I fear I might have missed the golden years of Formula 1. 

So I turn the question to you all: What still excites you about Formula 1? I would love to hear some stories of classic races or seasons that got your blood pumping and anything you’re looking forward to in the upcoming season!

Image Sources: macsmotorcitygarage.comformula1.com

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Angelo
Angelo
7 years ago

The most interesting things about F1 today are: The museums [b]Modena Museo Enzo Ferrari[/b] and [b]Museo Ferrari[/b] Maranello (ex Galleria Ferrari), the restaurants ([b]Il Cavallino[/b] and [b]Montana[/b]) and the shops [b]Shopping Formula 1[/b], [b]Hors Ligne[/b] and [b]Warm Up[/b]. The times, the cars, the tracks and the heroes are all gone.

samir shirazi
samir shirazi
7 years ago

Ayrton Senna, my Hero.
Not only a Champion, he was teacher of humanity

Michael Bartlett
Michael Bartlett
7 years ago

I went to multiple events at Watkins Glen in the ’70’s, went to Adelaide in 1989, and never missed a race. I eagerly tuned into Indianapolis in 2005 and watched the cars withdraw. I turned the race off and haven’t looked back since. Screw them.

Ollie Streek
Ollie Streek
7 years ago

Nothing!

Darin Spyderdog
Darin Spyderdog
7 years ago

last year was freaking awful from just about every angle, but i have faith that F1 will rebound

Kent Rhodes
Kent Rhodes
7 years ago

Aesthetics & sound: Pointy front ends and fat meats in the back punctuated by a raspy, wailing exhaust note. I understand cutting edge technology but it’s like watching a lab rat in carbon fiber freakshow. I mean, really…

Tim Scott
Tim Scott
7 years ago

Petrolicious should track down the former F1 driver, Mike Thackwell for an interview. His insights on life, motor racing and why F1 is struggling are profound. In short, he was a real racer who thrived on the possibility of things going badly wrong, everything else (sponsorships, corporate BS etc) nulled the real enjoyment.

F1 at its pinnacle (1960s-mid 1990s) was about the fine balance between technical development and driver skill. From the mid 1990s, the balance was lost whereby technology overtook driver ability. More rules, do not necessarily make it better, in fact, less regulation could see the rebirth of F1 with some profound changes in powertrain and chassis development. F1 has always been about the ‘interpretation of rules’ and pushing the rule makers. Less rules makes the whole game more interesting.

In the short-term, nullify the aero packages and get the cars moving sideways. Getting drivers to change gears manually would also be novel!

Henrique Almeida
Henrique Almeida
7 years ago

Nothing is exciting in actual F1. The cars dont make noise and people like noise . The rules are strange and the electric devices should be banned. Its dangerous (anyone knows what hapened to F. Alonso last sunday at Montmeló?).

David Wiles
David Wiles
7 years ago

I’ve been an F1 fan since 1961. Even when I say I’ve had enough because of too many deaths, too many politics, ugly cars, too much aero, too much Bernie, too many bizarre rules and rulings, I can’t quit it. The reason is simple. Drama. Who’s going to win the race? Who’s going to win the championship? There have been years when the team championship was a certainty but the driver’s title wasn’t and years where it seemed a particular driver had the title sewn up only to lose it at the last race (Clark in ’63, Hamilton in 2007). The only thing I hate is when one car/driver combination is so dominant (Williams/Mansell ’92, Williams/Prost ’93) that there is no drama. I wish there was less asphalt in the run-off areas, less aero and more mechanical grip, steel brakes and no DRS, but I’ll continue to watch just the same.

A41202813 GMAIL
A41202813 GMAIL
7 years ago
Reply to  David Wiles

Sorry, CLARK Did Not Lose 1963.

GO, 44 !

Jeff Helmbolt
Jeff Helmbolt
7 years ago

Nothing about today’s F1 is exciting. Technology has taken the driver out of the mix.
My wife attended every F1 race at Long Beach from it’s beginning to when Indy cars took over the event. Back in the early to mid 80’s you could get a garage pass that allowed total access to not only the cars but the drivers as well. The only seperating you from the cars being worked on was a small rope attached to 2 poles. The drivers were right there to talk to, sign autographs, or just hang out with. On one occasion Gilles Villeneuve invited myself and my closest friend to share some ice cream bars on top of the Ferrari motor home parked next to the garage. Another time Nikki Lauda was having a heated argument with his engineer. As we stood next to him listening in he stopped and asked my wife what she thought about his argument and wanted her to decide who was right in the matter. That was a no brainer, she said Nikki was right. Where else today would you see both Unser Brothers being dragged out from underneath a Lotus F1 car up on jack stands. Or seeing 4 crates stacked on top of each other containing complete 12 cylinder Matra motors. Or sitting on the pit wall ( a small concrete barrier separating the pits from the masses) and being asked by Colin Chapman if we would like to join him for lunch because he didn’t like to eat alone back at the Lotus motor home. Or asking Dan Gurney for an autograph and being invited back to the hospitality tent at the start finish line. I could go on forever.
No, the golden age of F1 is long gone. Current F1 is to cold, to big money, to full of inflated egos. No personality at all. It was buried with Senna.
Long live the lives and memories of Nikki Lauda, Alan Jones, Gilles Villeneuve, Carlos Reuternamn, John Watson, Colin Chapman, Mario Andretti, and so many others willing to share their time with us common folks, that purchased that ticket, that kept the circus going.

Jeff Helmbolt
Jeff Helmbolt
7 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Helmbolt

Sorry about the terrible grammar. Should read “My wife and I”. Also I was remiss in not mentioning what a great person Chris Pook is and was. He made the whole thing happen. All you had to do was ask Chris and the he would try his damnedest to make it happen.

Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick
7 years ago

I went to my first F1 race in 2008 and I was absolutely amazed at the sound alone…it was nothing like I had ever experienced. I loved it! I’ve been attending a race every year since and when I went last year, the disappointment in the experience felt and not heard immediately…the wow factor was gone…

dave povenski
dave povenski
7 years ago

My first exposure to F1 in person was at Watkins Glen in 1968. We arrived at the campgrounds late Friday night and early Saturday morning we went into town. I had no idea why, but I was told that Ferrari kept their cars at the Chevrolet dealership overnight and in the morning the mechanics fire up the cars and load them on a transporter. Well, the sound of those 3 liter V-12s echoing off the buildings in town was music to my ears. I’ve been a Ferrari fan ever since. And the sound of the Ferrari V-12s, BRM V-12s, Honda V-12 and Cosworth-Ford V-8s echoing off the trees on the back straight (no bus stop chicane in those days) was worth the price of admission. Back then, in the evening, for 10¢ you could walk through the garage that housed all the other teams and watch the mechanics work on the cars and see the cars up close in various states of dis-assembly.

I had a reel to reel tape recorder and I recorded a full tape of the cars going by on the back straight. Back at my dorm, I hooked up my tape recorder to my roommates amplifier, put his speakers in the window, cranked up the volume and listened to those glorious sounds reverberating between our dorm and the cafeteria, 20 feet away. The people on the walkway in between the buildings had no idea what they were hearing or where the sound was coming from. I wish I still had that tape!!

My last year at The Glen was ’74, the year they burned the bus. Crowd control was non-existent.

Finally in the late ’90s, I went to watch the races in Montreal. The 1st few years were great. Our seats were at the north end of the hairpin and we could listen to those screaming V-10s accelerate all the way towards the pit entrance turn. But then traction control was re-introduced in 2001 and we had to listen to those same engines sputter pathetically as they exited the hairpin.

Starting in 2000, we also went to the USGP at Indy, at least the years it was in September. When they ran Montreal and Indy back to back, Montreal was the funner city, so we only went to Canada. At Indy, on Fridays we would go into the grandstands opposite the pits and listen to those magnificent V-10’s turning 19,000 rpm with their sound echoing between the grandstands on both sides of the track. The vibrations of the grandstands from those engines would send chills down my spine.

So the main attraction for me has always been the sound, and feel, of the high revving, normally aspirated engines.

I used to watch every race on TV, but not anymore. These turbo V-6s sound like flatulent pigs in comparison.

Jeff Helmbolt
Jeff Helmbolt
7 years ago
Reply to  Shayan Bokaie

Here’s what F1 was… It will never be this good again. No ground effects, no electronics, very little aero, no traction control, no stability control, NO NOTHING!! Just raw horsepower and good drivers. And the sound, oh the sound……..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9yhbiPC65U

Bruno Recchia
Bruno Recchia
7 years ago

Hi,

I can at least tell what I like most… Not having 10\% of the pilots dead in car crashes each year. Seeing a GP without fearing the moment when it will all turn into tragedy.
There certainly are too many rules now, all these stop-and-gos, but they were introduced to generate changes on the race, instead of having thos booooring races from the nineties, where the 3 first were more than 1 lap ahead of all the rest, and when we could Watch a full GP without a single battle for a position. But we did have, on the turbo days, at the beginning of the eighties, some extraordinary races… No one ever knew if his engine would make it through to the end of the race, but there were some epic battles.. I still remember hungaroring in 1986, when Piquet took overtook Senna, that was amazing, maybe the most extraordinary overtake EVER… Sometimes, rules and changes can bring excitement. There were some extraordinary races on the last 2 years. But, let’s make it clear, Ecclestone’s “corporate” view of F1 has nothing to do with that. As he said, he’d rather only have 70 and 80 year-old spectators, all being able to buy their rolexes, rather than a bunch of young kids who have no big money to spend. He just does not understand why teams spend their time on social networks, because as he says, kids do not have the means to buy what their sponsors sell !! C’mon, get this guy outta that place…

Noah Spitzer
Noah Spitzer
7 years ago
Reply to  Bruno Recchia

Ahem, the Mercedes’ lapped the last few cars in most races this year.

Stephen Stuart
Stephen Stuart
7 years ago

I thought Graham Hill was the ‘King of Monaco’ with his 5 victories; JYS only won it twice…

PJ Leone
PJ Leone
7 years ago

All the other races on F1 weekend. They’re the most exciting things in F1. They race some old F1 cars around Monaco each year, and that is probably the highlight of the F1 season. I would have said a well executed DRS enabled pass in one of the ‘DRS Zones’, but I’m not clinically insane. :p

Benjamin Shahrabani
Benjamin Shahrabani
7 years ago

Welcome aboard, Shayan!

Paul Steel
Paul Steel
7 years ago

It’s been turned into a corporate led marketing tool for sponsors.
I worked for a company that sponsored a couple of teams over the years and provided some trackside tech, I was invited to Silverstone a few times at F1 weekends to sit with the marketing men and customers who have no interest in Motorsport, they didn’t bother watching any of the other races or qualifying, most people only turned up for the Sunday, sipped free champaign and got as much free stuff as possible.
These were paddock club full weekend tickets that cost £1000’s, at the time I thought what a waste.
It was interesting meeting Eddie Irvine at least, and watching his abrupt, totally uninterested corporate interviews.

Lucas R
Lucas R
7 years ago

I still follow F1 in spite of all the highly invasive electronics and even more restricted reguations because it still gives me the goose bumps every time the five red lights turn off… It´s still the most competitive motor series in the world, even if there are more sofisticated, faster (in raw straightline speed), and louder ones… The whole deal gathers the best drivers in the world and has them driving the most complex cars you´ll ever see flat out where you wouldn´t even dare to ride you bicycle at half-speed. That is how I feel about it, anyway… Start the thrashing now! 🙂

Mark Drosnock
Mark Drosnock
7 years ago
Reply to  Lucas R

except it’s not the best drivers in the world anymore, it’s about who can bring the most sponsorship dollars to the team. And they’re not pushing flat out, they need to conserve tyres and fuel. If they just pushed flat out the whole time they’d destroy the tyres and ruin the pit strategy. I wish it was the best drivers in the world pushing balls out for 60 some laps. I also can’t stand the insane amount of runoff areas, if you run wide or blow through a chicane there is no punishment whatsoever, which is why I still think monaco is the best circuit, because its the only one that really punishes the driver for mistakes. Even if there’s no overtaking, seeing a driver come within a centimeter of the wall for 70 consecutive laps without touching it gives me goosebumps.

Noah Spitzer
Noah Spitzer
7 years ago
Reply to  Mark Drosnock

Although I agree with you about most things you said, the part about drivers not being punished for mistakes doesn’t bother me as much. I don’t watch the racing to see death and injuries. The part that really annoys me are the regulations on restricting speed. The worst part are the DRS and ERS regulations. The basic rule is that when you are a certain distance behind another car, you can press a button that will modify the aerodynamics of the car and allow you to gain speed and overtake the car in front of you. This is so unfair to the front car, as he is at a major disadvantage in terms of speed. The car behind already has the advantage of a slipstream, due to the laws of physics, which can’t be avoided. The front car can avoid this somewhat by preventing the other car from driving directly in its slipstream. The DRS simply gives the behind car an unavoidable burst of speed, closing the distance, and could allow an overtake maneuver. This wouldn’t be a problem if all cars could use it, but they can’t, due to regulations. Also, this causes cars caught in a placement battle to increase distance between the rest of the grid. For example, the 1st and 2nd place cars are constantly switching places, they can use DRS, and have a higher average speed than the rest of the cars. Basically what i’m saying is, if you give a button to increase speed, allow all cars to use it when they want to (the driver will deactivate it for cornering), or just not implement it at all.

Sanne de la Haye
Sanne de la Haye
7 years ago

On one hand F1 is far too overregulated, on the other there are loads of on track fights. The downside is that it is mostly artificial because of drs and tires. It should be more free, just a fuellimit for the weekend, not on the flow, ridiculous horsepower. Quick grippy tires, and i would lIke ground effect cars, low drag (that way drs can be ditched And it will come down to skills again), fuelstops. Soort of 80’s turbo era 2.0 🙂 The noise is not such an issue for me although i love high reving v10 And v12, but a v6 turbo is way more efficiënt and thats what racing should be about, efficiency to be quickest

Martin James
Martin James
7 years ago

” Le Noise ” ! Absolutely . The best analogy I’ve been able to come up with when it comes to the ‘ sound ‘ of the current F1 cars is ;

Flatulating Doodle Bugs … as in the WWII Doodle Bugs

dave povenski
dave povenski
7 years ago

I like the idea of a fuel limit for the weekend, but I’d go the other way on car/tire design. Flat bottom cars with much smaller wings front and rear and harder tires. That would really emphasize driving skiils. And something has to be done to make the engines sound better.

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa
7 years ago

Nothing at all… It’s so boring and ‘corporativized’ that they should test the autonomous cars there, ditch the pit stop crews and place some robots to change tyres (witth the careful guarantee that every team should have the same type of robot, of corse…) and let them run on their own, using some drones with cameras to film the so called race and transmit it to the sports channels…

Martin James
Martin James
7 years ago

As a ‘ Boomer ‘ who’s been following F1 since 1964 … spent many an hour in ‘ The Bog ‘ at Watkins Glen .. traveled side by side and behind the scenes with a friend/associate who was one of F1’s best photographers … not to mention being [ thru connections ] a bit of an F1 insider etc etc etc ..

…..When it comes to what excites me about todays overly homogenized cars / irrelevant technology that prevents rather than enhances racing / scripted results / spectacle over sport / can’t get within a 100 yards of much of anything regardless of the $$$ spent / over priced / corporate controlled dreck currently posing as Formula One … I’ll have to say

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING !

Racing ? There is none . Characters and individuals ? Long since gone . Sport ? What sport ? Cutting edge technology ? More like the pretense of technology hiding behind a smoke screen of deception [ read Gordon Murray’s comments lately about the ‘ new ‘ F1’s so called ‘ technology ‘ ]

Hell … the weekly scripted controversies coming from F1 are more interesting than watching todays F1 races . In truth … watching 6-8 hours of bicycle racing coverage with them going all of what … 25 mph is infinitely more exciting than watching todays F1 cars at 150 mph and above for all of 90 minutes

A prime example of what F1’s become being last weeks FIA decisions . Completely ignoring any changes to the sport that might bring back the rapidly waning audiences [ both TV and live ] not to mention the diminishing sponsorship pool as well as no new manufactures even considering entering the sport .. along with the fact that two teams are dead and gone [ Caterham & Marussia ] with several more on the ropes [ including Force India , Lotus and Sauber ] .. and three considering taking their leave …. Yet they do decide to ban all helmet paint scheme changes for the drivers …. claiming thats significant and will improve things

Suffice it to say as I’ve stated on a couple of F1 only sites …

Formula One is on the verge of becoming the automotive equivalent of Polo . Totally irrelevant .. for those of extreme wealth only … a hobby sport for those More Money than Brains individuals … and the few addled English aristocracy left that still think the game has meaning

Do I have more to say on this subject ? Damn right I do ! But in light of the limitations of space here I’ll refrain … though I may chose to respond to any comments about my rant … maybe

In conclusion to my moment of Soap Box . Yes son [ no insult intended ] …. you missed out on the best … and are stuck with the ” Brave New World ” .. of …. corporate Virtual F1 ….

Sorry .. wish I could changes things … for you and I both …. because in all honesty I’ve been in love with F1 for decades .. but this is the F1 world we’re stuck with … and absolutely nothing gives anyone on the inside looking out even a modicum of hope that things’ll ever change for the better

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt
7 years ago
Reply to  Martin James

Well said MJ!

Martin James
Martin James
7 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Salt

Molto grazie …. though I did forget to mention those boring as watching paint dry Tilke ‘ designed ‘ [ and I use that word loosely ] tracks most of which are located in countries under despotic rule in my rant

Kevin Harper
Kevin Harper
7 years ago
Reply to  Martin James

I wish I could add more, but Martin states it well. It is boring and has been for some time. I am an engineer but the engineering in F1 is not that exciting anymore either.
As far as racing I would rather go see, or better yet participate in a chump or lemons race than watch any of the current top line professional series. It is much more entertaining.

Daniel
Daniel
7 years ago
Reply to  Martin James

You probably didn’t watch any race in the past couple of years. No racing? Have you watched silverstone last year? Spa? Canada? Of course not. So stop talking about it. I wasn’t around in the sixties but I have watched many races from that time and I didn’t see how the “racing” you are reffering to was more or less present. There were a lot less overtakes in any race of that time compared to what happened at belgium last year. And I’m not even counting DRS overtakes.

Yes, there were less regulations. In the counterpart, driver deaths happened every once in a while. Every more-or-less serious crash could be career or life ending. I’m sure this is not what 99\% of fans want to see.

I’m not sure what you mean by “pretense technology”. Today, cars roll over at 200 kph, are shattered into pieces and in most cases the drivers just walk away fine. That, is technology that matters.

Barry Ickx
Barry Ickx
7 years ago
Reply to  Martin James

Painful truth. You can see how exciting F1 is these days by the face of the reigning champion the day he won the championship. It was just a small grin and then some red carpet appearances with Roscoe his dog. Where are those days of white knuckle track fights? Those days in which celebration came at least with 25 champagne bottles and a lot of partying? Those days are gone because today everyone has the feeling that there is nothing to celebrate really. We have no more Sennas or James Hunts because of F1 politics. Of course we don’t want anyone getting hurt let alone dying in the sport, but we want the sport back, we want more Piquet overtaking Senna like in Hungary 1986 rather than this Play Station-like game in which the most exciting moment was when two teammates collided so we could see some on-track fighting while the rest of the pack struggled to keep the pace of the last decade. As for the request of exciting moments here is a microscopic sample of F1 used to be:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_Hbuydy9LI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwLEE420v20
Enjoy!

Anne Kromhout
Anne Kromhout
7 years ago

Formula 1 is over regulated at the moment.
I love the idea of letting engineers go mental to create the ultimate car. That’s what brought us Formula 1 cars such as the Lotus 79. Lotus 25, Sharknose Ferrari and the Brabham BT55.
Sure we’re in a different era and I understand why there are regulations regarding the power unit and drivetrain but imho it’s putting a limiting factor on innovation.

JB21
JB21
7 years ago

I still get pretty excited about the chassis and engine technology. That’s really about it. Stupid rules, overbearing regulations, artificial overtaking, scripted soap opera, what’s next, theme songs for the drivers? Something has been lost somewhere, I find myself unable to get excited about it. I remember the first time I heard an F1 car back in a days when I was 6 or 7. I take it back, I didn’t actually hear it initially so much, I felt it, was more like it. And I knew that those machines were something else. And we all knew that those people who drove them were special.

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt
7 years ago

What excites me about Formula 1?
The whole thing really, the close racing, the overtaking, the sound, the…oh wait! Formula 1? Silly me, I was thinking about Moto GP.
Nothing at all excites me about Formula 1. Sorry.

Louis Devineau
Louis Devineau
7 years ago

The racing, quite simply. Some people complain that Formula 1 doesn’t have any overtakes; those people haven’t watched the 2014 season.