Returning to the UK from Bahrain, it is clear from a scan through the newspapers that the new style post refuelling F1 has met with almost unanimous disapproval.
Judging from the 300+ comments we have had on Sunday’s story about the lack of show, around 98% of JA on F1 readers agree with the journos on this.
It’s a great shame for the orgamisers in Bahrain, as they put on as good a show as any race I’ve been to. The display of 17 world champions and their cars was breathtaking, something so audacious only a ruler who wanted to make his event stand out from local rivals Abu Dhabi could have dreamed of. And the paddock atmosphere was second to none.
It’s a shame that they added that dull new section to the track as it created a negative which wasn’t necessary and in the race it contributed to the spreading out of the field, which caused the race to be fairly processional.
I don’t think that this race was as bad as people are making out, but what was depressing even for someone as passionate about F1 as me, was the inescapable conclusion that all the races are likely to follow the same monotonous pattern.
And then we have the endless soul searching to find better ways of spicing up the show, like Bernie Ecclestone’s idea of short cuts, which is more at home in a video game. No sport rips itself apart like F1 at a time like this, with team bosses jumping on the bandwagon and calling for change.
There has already been too much change.
The press all seem to agree that the new look F1 is not a winning formula. Richard Williams in the Guardian said, “A sweeping one-two victory for the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in the Bahrain grand prix could not obscure the overall dullness of a contest in which, for the first time since 1993, the drivers were not allowed to refuel their cars.
“Even the new lightning-fast pit stops to change tyres failed to add to the excitement, partly because they were too brief to provoke much in the way of incident.”
And Kevin Eason in The Times said, “Far be it for us to worry you, but it might be wise to dig around in the garden shed and find that old tin of Dulux and splash a bit of it on the living-room wall around the start of the next grand prix in Australia in case you need something to watch if the racing is as dull as it was here in Bahrain.
“Well, perhaps that assessment of the first grand prix of the 2010 season is a bit grim, but it was difficult not to imagine the click of millions of remote controls around the globe as viewers started scouring the channels for an alternative sporting event a little more exciting, such as international conkers from Rutland or celebrity cheeserolling from Amsterdam.”
Oliver Holt, chief sports writer for the Mirror said, “Like everyone else involved with the Bahrain Grand Prix who doesn’t live in Italy or support Ferrari, Button was fighting a sense of anti-climax. The new rules banning refuelling that some had expected would improve the spectacle seemed to have made it worse. The race, frankly, had been a bore, a tedious procession largely devoid of overtaking.”
Meanwhile Jonathan McEvoy in the Mail wrote, “Jenson Button told us that now we would see if he was good enough to win his personal duel against Lewis Hamilton.
“Then again, we thought the Bahrain Grand Prix would provide a blockbuster start to this season of the ages.
“But neither the world champion nor Sunday’s race – if that description does not breach the trade descriptions’ act – lived up to the billing.”
Many of the papers had their number one sports writers out there this weekend because the event had such extraordinary billing, with the comeback of Schumacher and the pairing of Button and Hamilton at McLaren and Massa and Alonso at Ferrari. They felt cheated by what was served up and it doesn’t take much to create a herd mentality.
Ecclestone has spoken to PA Sport today and defended the show, calling for fans and insders to give the new format four races to prove itself,
“I don’t think it (the Bahrain GP) was much different to some of the other races we had last year to be quite honest with you,” he said.
“It wasn’t the sort of race that would excite most people I would suppose.
“But I think we ought to judge these things a little later on. It’s a bit early. We ought to wait until we come back from China.”
Meanwhile the Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy, made a reference to the fact that the race lacked spectacle but went into raptures about the result. The paper eulogises Alonso as “the Messiah”, talks of the “Alonso era” at the team and describes him as the driver who has allowed Ferrari to finally “cut the umbelical cord that tied Ferrari to the Schumacher era. ”