How the West was F1
Austin 2014
US Grand Prix
Guest Blog: How F1 has changed, by Ed Gorman
News
Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 19.33.05
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Nov 2013   |  2:22 pm GMT  |  179 comments

Ed Gorman is a writer I respect a lot. He came into F1 at the same time as Lewis Hamilton’s debut and saw F1 from the inside, during a particularly volatile period, with Spygate, the FOTA breakaway threat, Max Mosley and so on, as correspondent for the Times newspaper until 2010.

He ran a successful F1 blog on the Times website (pre paywall) which some of you may have followed.

When he left F1, to take up a prestigious post on the Times Foreign Desk, he had certain expectations about what would become of the sport he had covered so closely for several years and the characters who populate it.

Now, in the first of a series of guest posts for JA on F1, he looks at those expectations and compares them to what has actually happened in the intervening four years. We hope you enjoy it and find it food for thought.

Ed Gorman writes: “For almost four years until the beginning of March 2010 Formula One – its machinations, thrills and scandals – were my lifeblood in my role as Motor Racing Correspondent for The Times.

Then I moved to other roles in the paper and the sport quickly returned to the background as it always had been. Of course I was probably more interested than many in what was going on in and out of the paddock but my day job left little time to watch races or read the coverage in the papers or on the web.

For me it was a clean break from the sport. Now, having left the paper and with some spare time on my hands for the first time in a while I feel like I have come back after being on a desert island for three years. What on earth has been going in that soap opera I used to love so much? That business that masqueraded as a sport run by that wily old fox Bernard Charles Ecclestone – a stand-up comedian I used to speak to almost every other day.

When I left the paddock the following things were happening. (I accept it may seem like an ice age ago to many of you). Toyota had just shocked everyone by walking away and there was much concern about the future in time of recession. Lewis Hamilton had just split with his dad(arguably a very significant moment). Mercedes had just got hold of Brawn GP, Michael Schumacher was about to step back into a car and was even talking about winning more championships and the newly-crowned world champion Jenson Button was about to begin his career at McLaren. (I predicted it would be a disaster and he would be crushed by the weight of Hamilton’s brilliance. I’m not sure if I was quite right about that).


In those days there was no DRS, most of the drivers were still ink-free(though Kimi may have just got that plant motif on his arm), and Jean Todt had barely got his feet under the table at the FIA. At that time, don’t forget, Formula One was as much a story about scandal on and off the track – think anything you like about Max Mosley or the outrage of Flavio Briatore’s scheme to have Nelson Piquet Jnr crash on purpose in Singapore – as it was about racing.

When I left I had some expectations about what might happen but I have also been surprised. To start with the action has returned fairly and squarely to the track. It is so clear to see now, in retrospect, that Mosley was just whipping up one controversy after another to keep his name in the papers at any cost. In his place Todt has operated on the principle of “not responding to news stories.” This is good isn’t it? The focus is back where it belongs on the racing but something has been lost too. After all, the racing can be pretty tedious at times and Max and Bernie always had something else up their sleeve to keep us interested.


So here are a few thoughts from someone who has been watching only out of the corner of an eye. What on earth has been going on at McLaren? This season they are rubbish and they have not been a fighting force by their high standards for the last couple of years. The last championship was, erm, back in 2008 when Lewis just scraped over the line at that incredible final race in Brazil. That was a long time ago. If it was football – and we’re talking Premier League which McLaren aspires to – Martin Whitmarsh may well have been shown the door by now (think Chelsea or Man City for example). He is one of the nicest guys in the sport but you always wonder whether he is tough enough to drive his people to the heights of championship-winning performance. You don’t have to be a bastard – Christian Horner has shown that – but in another field Steve Jobs demonstrated that it helps.

I guess the same questions should be asked of Ferrari. Under the genial and charming leadership of Stefano Domenicali the Scuderia have not managed to win a title since Kimi’s fortuitous victory in ’07. I may be being tough here but when you are not really concentrating you only notice the winners. The old adage about second being the first loser is never more true than in Formula One. Ferrari have the best driver – or possibly the equal best in Fernando – but they never quite have the machinery. Who’s ultimate responsibility is that?


The flip side of all this is the supremacy of Red Bull, a phenomenon which has been the dominant feature in my time away and which now seems to be boring everyone to death. Even other teams and drivers have been complaining. My view is fair play to the Milton Keynes-based squad. Horner, Adrian Newey and Sebastian Vettel have mastered the challenge set for everyone better than the others four years in a row and the rest should be asking themselves some tough questions about why they have failed rather than complaining.

On the driver side Vettel’s mastery has come with some attitude which seems to have driven Mark Webber out of the sport, Ferrari have taken ages to realize that Felipe is no longer the driver he once was, McLaren look to have made the wrong choice for a replacement for Hamilton and Lewis seems to have turned into the paddock’s answer to Zsa Zsa Gabor with his pet dog in tow and lots of other superstar nonsense but no sign of another title. Nico has failed to train on as they say and you wonder whether Jenson has enough fight in his belly to go for another title if he had the car under him capable of delivering it. On the positive side, it is frankly amazing to see Kimi back in full flow – paid or not – and offering his unique style in cockpit voice entertainment. He might be one of the things Ferrari need next year with a real knuckle fight for honours between their drivers in prospect.

Other elements to note include the reasonably positive impact of the changes at Silverstone, the consistently dull qualifying format – especially the interminable first session – and the continuing sterility of many of the new races out East. Bernie did those deals for money. Did he ever expect the locals to start turning up and for the public in those countries to start building a tradition of following the sport? Has he or anyone else made any effort to help that come about? I don’t know but those races look awful on TV. I still love it when we get to a heartland contest. Give me Suzuka or Interlagos any day but not South Korea, China or even Abu Dhabi.


And finally Ross Brawn about whom there is plenty of speculation just now. When I left Ross was a big prospect at Mercedes. He’d just won the title with the most expensive car ever developed – by Honda – and he had a glittering career at Maranello behind him. The view of many was that Brawn was then in a position to boss the sport but it has not happened. Again I don’t have the answers but it seems that his second coming, like that of Michael, has failed to reach the heights of his first.

Featured News
MORE FROM JA ON F1...
Share This:
Posted by:
Category:
179 Comments
  1. EAsh says:

    Ed, the Times column has never been as good as when you were running it. Miss the insight and the human touch. Look forward to reading you here.
    Ed

  2. James says:

    Can’t agree that ‘Vettel’s attitude has driven Mark Webber from the sport’.

    He’s 37, on for his 5th consecutive beating by his teammate and as a Porsche fanatic was offered the chance to lead their Le Mans programme. What was there left for him in F1.

    1. DMyers says:

      I agree. He could easily have gone to Ferrari for a few years is he wanted to, but he said it was time for a new challenge. The current tyre regulations made the sport boring for him, which is fair enough :)

      1. JEZ Playense says:

        Webber could have gone to Ferrari for one season 2013 to help Alonso…

      2. F1 Obsessed says:

        The new tyres have made it boring for everyone, not just Webber ;)

    2. AuraF1 says:

      I’d say Pirelli drove Webber out of F1. He doesn’t like the tyres, hates the racing limitations and just doesn’t seem competitive on them any more. Plus as you say his face lights up when anyone mentions Porsche – I honestly think to Webber switching to sports cars isn’t the ‘demotion’ it is for so many drivers.

      1. J.Danek says:

        “I’d say Pirelli drove Webber out of F1. He doesn’t like the tyres, hates the racing limitations and just doesn’t seem competitive on them any more.” —— this is true, and there’s also the fact, by Webber’s own recent admission, he no longer is capable of motivating himself on a daily basis to endure the brutal physical training required to achieve the fitness level necessary to perform effectively in F1.

        This does not reflect poorly on Webber, who is a consummate professional who is worthy of our respect and admiration. It’s just simple reality…as Mark himself said, he’s not “19 anymore” and both the body and mind tire (even if late-30s is not “old” in general human terms). I repeat, Webber is a great sportsman and I think it would be so apropos if he could win the final GP of the year – even if he has to collude w/ rivals to do so.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        I agree. By most standards he’s still a young man and not even middle aged but I think he lost the hunger after 2010 – that fire was stamped out, although I don’t think it was Vettel who did it, I think that sort of competition got him riled up and made him more effective not less. But just witness the way he talks about the tyres, dismisses everything other than the occasional overtake as boring. Someone pointed out that he’d already admitted Vettel is better, I think on the Bridgestones he had a slim but still fighting chance against his teammate as the degradation and ‘feel’ for the tyres wasn’t as critical and that robbed Seb of his biggest advantage over Webber.

        It was fun to see Mark enjoying the donut celebrations at Abu Dhabi but I think mentally he’s already sat in that Porsche.

        On the fitness I think he’s a superbly trained athlete and probably fitter than many of his younger rivals but the height disadvantage now means he’s basically starving himself. For a guy who loves adventure racing to have to avoid all carbs just to stay in the right weight class – I imagine that’s not fun. I think that’s what’ll see Jenson retire personally, it’s not just being on a ‘strict’ diet, it’s gotten to where the tall guys are under eating.

      3. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Is that collude or collide…

      4. Jordon191 says:

        I agree, not a ‘demotion’ at all. Webber will be racing with a top-flight international racing team at one of the 3 or 4 most famous races in the world, will be paid more than at least half the drivers in F1, and will be able to eat more like a normal 6-foot tall human being. And he will undoubtedly be having much, much more fun with the racing….we should all be so lucky as to have to endure such a ‘demotion’….!

      5. BogRacer says:

        With you on all points Jordan. In fact, I was having a conversation with another racer/enthusiast recently about the fact sports car racing is arguably the ‘pinnacle of motor racing’ today. The tech is just as high as F1 (if not higher in the P1 class), there are more top pro drivers (“pay drivers” are very much present, but there are dozens of pros to offset them) and even the circuits are better. With new manufacturers coming into the WEC next year and the US sports car series unification, my prime viewing focus is slowly moving towards high-tech tin-tops.
        For whatever it’s worth, I’ve been a lifetime, hardcore F1 follower (and defender). I’ve attended every GP in my country since 1999. However, this pay-driver, worn-Pirelli-ridden series is losing it’s luster even for me.

      6. Richard says:

        Couldn’t agree more. The way the formula is constructed the tyres protect the leading car, and anyone pushing to catch up simply slips back as his tyres degrade. It’s technological trickery that wins the day and Red Bull have done it all so well. Unless you are a winning driver racing in F1 today must be utterly demoralising, becuase without the technical prowess red Bull have shown they don’t stand a chance. Mark Webber undoutably preferred the pre Pirelli era and is a genuine sportsman so we can only wish him well in the future with Porsche.

    3. Allan says:

      BOTH Mark and Seb can be hyper-competitive. However, I think the Porsche opportunity was perfect for Mark, and he realized it. Mark is very good, but he knows that he is one thin slice below the top F1 pilots these days. If he hangs around in F1, he may win one or two races, but it won’t significantly alter his legacy. However, if he takes Porsche back to the top at Le Mans, that would be a real nice addition to his palmares. He could become a new Jacky Ickx in time! Plus, as you mentioned, he is a big P-Car fan and that has to be a draw too…

    4. Rob Newman says:

      Does anyone here think that Mark will openly agree that he is leaving because he couldn’t win the championship because year after year he got thrashed by a kid?

  3. Jock Ulah says:

    Lewis Hamilton + Dog + Celebs = Zsa Zsa Gabor?

    Surely the latter should be ‘Mickey Rourke’?

    1. RodgerT says:

      Well Hamilton hasn’t had any horrible cosmetic surgery yet, and I hope he’s not abusing any substances so I don’t think he can be compared to Mickey Rourke.

      1. Jock Ulah says:

        The dog – focus on the dog.
        Mutual love of canines is key.

        Besides, Rourke probably has a little more ‘street-cred’ than Gabor and that counts for everything these days.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        I think Hamilton had some work done on his accent…a little silicon californication of the vocal chords ;)

      3. NickH says:

        ahh made me laugh

  4. Hendo says:

    Yeah, I think that just about sums it up.

  5. Elie says:

    Nice review.. The one thing that never changes yet constantly surprises (except me) is Raikkonen

    1. Charlie says:

      I’ll second that.

  6. Rayz says:

    Finally, someone else who thinks that qualifying has become stale. Q1 as it currently stands is a complete waste of 20 minutes. 4 drivers are eliminated from qualifying instantly due to machinery limitations, and then the rest fight it out to see who are the two SLOWEST? (unless an unfortunate risk-taker gets caught out by track evolution and/or tyre selection).

    Q2 and Q3 are better spectacles but not by much. The current method of broadcasting Q3 is laughable frankly. We see one driver complete a lap whilst the rest of the drivers deliver their fastest times with scant regard to all bar outstanding sector times mentioned by an overworked commentator trying to keep up. The result is that we see two full laps and then cut to the finishing line to see who has done what time. I recall the also flawed but interesting format back in 2005. Each driver put in one quick lap time and that was it. The full lap was covered as times were set sequentially. Now I’m not suggesting we return to those days as it took too long and weather sometimes made it pot luck. However, we could move to a sequential Q3 whereby the driver who finished 10th in Q2 would be first to set one flying lap and that would be it. The 9th place man would go second and so on. The incentive to be first in Q2 would add extra spice to that session and then in Q3, fans would get to see all 10 laps set by the pole contenders and thus enjoy the brilliance on offer from these super talented guys. For me, it beats the current format.

    Also, in most sports, there is a one off change to the norm to mix the action over the course of a year. ie: FA Cup in soccer (knockout format as opposed to the league). Golf has a matchplay event once a year etc.

    I propose a one off quali session held at a track that is good for overtaking.
    One 10 minute session would take place at the start where drivers set the fastest time possible. This would give us a grid for a Saturday qualifying elimination race. The driver with the fastest time starts first and the slowest last. At the end of each lap, the driver in last is eliminated. This continues until we have a winner, granting that driver pole position for the Sunday race (and perhaps a couple of championship points).
    In terms of timing, the initial 10 minute session coupled with a 20 lap elimination quali race would mean that the total quali session would last max an hour, depending on the track chosen. It would deliver exciting racing action on a Saturday and as a once off, it would potentially mix up the grid and bring in the viewers. On a circuit like Malaysia or China where overtaking is possible, it could really work. As a frequenter of F1 races, I must point out that Saturday attendances need to be increased. The reason they dont match Sundays is two-fold. First, the obvious lack of racing action by the F1 cars. GP2 and GP3 isn’t on every weekend. Second, quali can be very difficult to keep on top of at the track if you are not next to a giant screen. As a result, I think a one off elimination quali could really spice up a race weekend during the season.

    Just a thought of course but I’m delighted someone else is underwhelmed by the current qualifying format. I look forward to hearing what you guys think.

    1. AndyFov says:

      What if Q1 determined whether you start on the left or right side of the track?

      Q2 could sort the even numbers, and Q3 the odd.

      That’s mix things up a bit. :)

      1. Sebee says:

        How about split it into Q1 and Q2.

        Q1 20 minutes – P11 on ward
        Q2 10 or 15 minutes – P1 – P10

        Then there is enough time left for us to see the complete pole lap, uninterrupted, onboard cam, no commentary. Plus, intro 5 minutes to show some highlights from Prac 1, 2, 3, for those who have not seen it.

        Sign me up for that! :-)

      2. Arnie S says:

        Yeah, but you would reduce the commercials by 50% (meaning going from two breaks to on break). I hate commercials, but they are the ones who pay’s for the broadcast

      3. Sebee says:

        Arnie,

        Here at JAonF1 we offer up nothing but solutions!

        Q1 is brought to you by Mobil 1 (cue small logo upper right)

        Q2 brought to you by Renault (again cue small logo upper right)

        Pole Lap brough to you by Rolex.

        I can deal with that personally. You?

    2. J.Danek says:

      “then in Q3, fans would get to see all 10 laps set by the pole contenders and thus enjoy the brilliance on offer from these super talented guys.” ——

      Tough to argue with the idea of our getting to watch ten of these in succession:

      *F1 Hungaroring 2000 David Coulthard McLaren Mercedes MP4/15* | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA2FNpbs3kU

      (and my god doesn’t that car sound amazing?! primal!)

      1. Sebee says:

        So Q1 P11 onwards. Then in Q2, each one that is in top 10 gets a single all or nothing lap with complete focus and feed showing us full lap by that driver, final order determined by that one lap run?

        You mean we could watch all top 10 set their laps fully. Every turn? Every line?

        And this isn’t happening yet why? :-)

      2. Andrew M says:

        It still unfortunately leaves the biggest flaw in one lap qualifying – a rain shower in the last 5 minutes and the fastest drivers are screwed through no fault of their own.

      3. shortsighted says:

        We still have to factor in the fact that the track continues to improve and anyone fortunate enough to do the lap last will have a distinct advantage.

      4. Sebee says:

        That’s life gentlement. Wind changes, it rain sometimes and it’s not always sunshines and rainbows. I think it introduces a changing variable element which is very much real in racing and belongs in F1.

      5. Andrew M says:

        I disagree totally, the determining factor in qualifying should be the drivers and teams getting it right, not random chance. At the moment if it rains or if there’s a red flag and you’re caught out you only have yourself to blame. If it rains and you’re stuck in the garage watching it tip down or if the person before you runs wide and sprays gravel all over the track, you’re being punished for doing a fast lap and getting yourself into a favourable position.

        I think the main problem is that most host broadcasters don’t follow the action well enough, and are more interested in giving us pictures of giant illuminated ferris wheels than racing on track.

      6. Sebee says:

        So what you are saying Andrew M is that you care more about fairness of weather in the 2 of 20 races, which would have shuffled things anyway vs. seeing each driver take a lap and having us see each and every lap they took to attempt pole that season? I’m not sure I can agree on that one.

      7. Andrew M says:

        Absolutely :)

      8. Rayz says:

        Yeah good to hear you agree.
        It would leave us in these sort of situation:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMc8qy6U1o0

        Interestingly, its commentary from James Allen himself. This for me is what Q3 should be like. Immense tension, brilliant speed and we get to see and compare the laps.

      9. Rayz says:

        Its a clip of Alonso vs Raikkonen at Monaco, one of the best quali duels I’ve witnessed in F1.

    3. thegeoffro says:

      @Rayz…that is the best proposition to spice up F1 I have seen in a long while. I love F1, but that would make it seriously exciting. Also so jealous you get to see F1 live. Never been to a race. Cant afford it and live to fara away from an event.

    4. Nick says:

      I would like to see old original qualifying, one hour no limitations, off you all go.

      1. Fireman says:

        This would be it. There was less action on the track in the beginning though, as the track got better and better until the end. If I remember correctly, there also limited number of timed laps for each driver.

      2. Racyboy says:

        Yep, you got it…Quali engine,tyres etc…balls to the wall for an hour.

        I do like Rayz’ suggestions. It’d be better than what we have now.

        Maybe awards points to the top three. 3-2-1

      3. Andrew M says:

        It’s just not compatible with modern Formula 1 in the era of saving engines, gearboxes and (ugh) tyres. Given how important fresh rubber is, people would be loath to use up more than 1-2 sets for qualifying unless they were forced to.

        Even back in the 90s there were routinely sessions where nobody would venture out for the first 20-30 minutes, now it would be even worse.

    5. Martin says:

      Some interesting thoughts there. If we are really lucky there will be more variety next year in slower teams and greater uncertainty for Q1.

      Bernie was certainly a fan of having drivers going out and trying to beat each others’ times, as opposed to single run qualifying that we had up to 2005. I remember a comment about single lap qualifying about it testing the commentators in that it was harder for them to add value to what the viewers was seeing for themselves.

      I’m not a fan of the qualifying race idea. I like the way every race is worth the same amount for the championship, even if some mean more to the drivers. It works for a race like the Daytona 500, but that is accepted as a marque event.

      Part of the question should be what result do we want? Do we want the fastest cars at the front all the time, by giving teams multiple chances, or do we want regular random grids? Engine penalties may give us that next year anyway.

      If a driver already has a banker lap, does he push harder the next time. If an error costs you five places, do you strive to gain one?

      Do we want qualifying to be a demonstration of the fastest drivers, the fastest drivers under pressure, a chance to observe each driver individually? We had the case last year in Bahrain where the Force India cars got no coverage. That would be very difficult to do in single lap qualifying. It would guarantee air time for the teams at the back too.

  7. Joel says:

    “Give me Suzuka or Interlagos any day but not South Korea, China or even Abu Dhabi.”

    Oops, I think this was a little harsh. F1 has to follow the money to continue be an elite sport – 3 or 4 years is too early to judge the “east” on f1′s success – it will take a decade or two before you see results or make a judgement. On the other hand, you can remain in Europe and forget the remaining 75% of the world as they get richer and more powerful “slowly”.

    1. Jim:) says:

      True the world

      1. Jim:) says:

        True the rest if the world is catching up fast, but lots of these new car owners seam to have little interest in the sporting side of the car, just the materialistic.

    2. J.Danek says:

      ” F1 has to follow the money to continue be an elite sport ” —- logical fallacy alert…

      F1 “follows the money” because it’s owned and managed to serve the interests of rapacious private equity – witness the unconscionable extraction of wealth from the sport for the benefit of CVC, at the expense of all but the richest 3 teams, whilst other competitors are compelled to sign agreements w/ FOM that are detrimental to their commercial, financial and sporting interests if they’re to continue to race.

      1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Well put sir.

        On the “Give me Suzuka or Interlagos any day but not South Korea, China or even Abu Dhabi”,
        I’d say the Tilke factor with flat boring sections of track is the biggest issue here, more of an issue than a lack of enthusiastic fans.

    3. AlexD says:

      if these races will last a decade or two…..Turkey comes to my mind

    4. Andrew M says:

      China’s been around for 10 years now, and to be fair has had a handful of memorable races (largely due to weather) – 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 were notable in one way or another. It’s hardly a staple of F1 though, and most races look barren. I doubt there would be many tears shed if it left the calendar.

      Abu Dhabi has only had a few years, but it’s had a couple of notable rather than thrilling races, 2010 and 2012. I feel there’s at least promise here.

      South Korea also has only had a few years but has been pretty much a dud so far – an important rather than thrilling wet race in 2010, and I probably couldn’t mention more than what happened in the opening lap over the last 3 years. If it left the calendar never to return I wouldn’t bat an eyelid – frankly I’d welcome it.

      Of course it might be unfair to judge the new tracks as a lot of them have suffered from Vettel-dominance-boredom, maybe if/when the other top teams get their act together and challenge the wunderkind they’ll start to have better races.

  8. Joel says:

    On Raikkonen, I will be surprised if Ed maintained his thoughts 12 months from now. I feel Raikkonen made a big mistake by going to Alonso’s Ferrari. Although, I’m not an Alonso fan, Raikkonen will be exposed in 2014.

    1. J.Danek says:

      “Although, I’m not an Alonso fan, Raikkonen will be exposed in 2014.” —– yes, he’ll be ‘exposed’ to actual scheduled wire transfers and bank drafts and not empty promises and public insults. oh the horror!

      1. JEZ Playense says:

        Exposed? Revealed might be a better word?

        Kimi will definitely force Alonso to be the driver everyone says he is…

        I think Kimi will be at Ferrari after Alonso is gone! Maybe with a second title.

    2. NickH says:

      It is clearly not Alonso’s Ferrari anymore because he didn’t want them to sign Kimi. He is scared already and probably wondering how it’s got to this point in his career, as I reckon when he signed for Ferrari in ’10 he probably hadn’t reckoned in that a few seasons down the line Raikkonen would be sat in the other car

  9. The Spanish Inquisitor says:

    ….Kimi’s fortuitous victory in ’07….

    Fortuitous or not?

    1. AuraF1 says:

      To be honest most WDC wins since Schumacher and until 2011 for Vettel have been fortuitous to a large extent.

  10. Spyros says:

    Some of the comments are a bit unpleasant to read, but still right on the money, IMO.

    Was it 2010 that Toyota left? My goodness… and they still have the 2nd or 3rd best wind tunnel, eh? What’s that all about??

  11. Daniel M says:

    “If it was football – and we’re talking Premier League which McLaren aspires to – Martin Whitmarsh may well have been shown the door by now (think Chelsea or Man City for example)”

    I’m glad it is not football. It is Formula 1. I enjoy watching football occasionally and our very own Premier League does have some great drama both on an off the pitch, but I do not want F1 to become a clone of the knee-jerk hiring and firings that take place in the ‘beautiful game’.

    F1 people are supposed to be some of the smartest in the world, and perhaps this is why they see the benefit in holding onto staff at the top level and giving them a foundation for success. Whilst it is true that second is the ‘first loser’, the inverse of this is that many people seem to forget that there can only be ONE winner!

    The shortcomings of McLaren and Ferrari will not be addressed by sacking those in charge, but by increasing the performance of key personnel throughout the team. The approach that Mercedes took in hiring every team senior team member they could get their hands on seemed bizarre at first, but their performance is improving and perhaps the skill and energy of those in charge is filtering down to the workforce in a less dilute fashion.

    In short, I am sure we can all agree that the creation of an F1 car, and the subsequent competition they are involved in, is a process hundreds of times more complicated than anything in football. The two are night and day, chalk and cheese, united only by the large numbers of people they can both draw in, and the drama they can create. I’m glad they don’t converge in many other ways, and long may it continue.

    1. J.Danek says:

      “The approach that Mercedes took in hiring every team senior team member they could get their hands on seemed bizarre at first, but their performance is improving and perhaps the skill and energy of those in charge is filtering down to the workforce in a less dilute fashion.” —- while understandable, it’s fallacious to assume that correlation is the same thing as causation, something there’s no clear evidence to support in this case.

      1. cosmosxiv says:

        I was merely stating that it is a different approach that coincided with increasingly positive results. Are the two connected? As you say, without a hard look at the nebulous evidence on offer, it would indeed be fallacious to assume so.

      2. J.Danek says:

        “I was merely stating that it is a different approach…” —

        Fair enough, cosmos. Cheers.

    2. AuraF1 says:

      I have nothing against Christian Horner but I’m not entirely convinced the team principal has the biggest impact on a team. Ross Brawn is a far more impressive individual with more charisma, history of success and an ability to control his drivers – but he’s been trounced by ‘Christian Horner’. TBH Christian seems a bit of a wet weekend – he has Adrian Newey in charge of the development team, he has Seb telling him how it’s going to be for the driving side, he has Deitrich telling him how to spend the money and Marko apparently doing ‘something’. I’m not sure how much of the success or failure is purely on the TP.

      Yes leadership is important but these are big corporate outfits now with layers and layers of management and structure and massive egos.

      According to Lewis Whitmarsh was more of a leader to him than Ron, even though Ron looked more of the dictator. McLarens problem is that they were well served by Rons ultra strict structure for a while but they are now too corporate and data driven. They seem to have been stuck into a rut where innovation isn’t always promoted. Where like many big corporations they lose that ability to think fast and change course. Speaking as someone who is a massive McLaren fan and has friends and family who work there – I’m suggesting that Ron was the best and worst thing to happen to them. His legacy provided some awesome advantages – but the culture is too rigid. When it goes right, it’s wonderful they pour resources into it. But when it goes wrong they just don’t react fast enough. That’s more on Ron than Martin. It won’t really be Martins era for a few more years yet.

      1. Richard says:

        I couldn’t agree more about McLaren. I suspect Adrian Newey has much more freedom to pursue his ideas with Red Bull than ever he had at McLaren, and boy has it paid off. Lateral thinking needs a certain amount of freedom to materialise and unfortunate having to fight ones position politically, as in so many companies, is so harmful as it is a waste of time better spent chasing performance in this arena.

      2. Ange says:

        I totally agree! I actually think Christian Horner did once say in an interview that he doesn’t get that much involved with the production on the car and it’s performance because he has complete trust in Adrian Newey. I am not sure if those where the exact words, but that’s what he meant, I think! They allowed Newey complete freedom on the car and I think that’s exactly what he and his team needed to create a fantastic car. That’s their thing and they are bloody good at it!

        I highly doubt he had that sort of freedom at McLaren, firstly, because they’re were other big, not as big as Newey, names, Paddy Lowe and Pat Fry come to mind, that I am sure were too selfish to let Newey do whatever he wanted, and secondly, because Ron Dennis is a bit of a control freak! I have no idea if he wanted to have any word in the development of the car, but I believe he definitely wanted to know everything and the reasons behind any changes etc. Plus, McLaren is run like a City firm and from personal experience, strict corporate like surroundings are not particularly known for encouraging creativity most times!

        Finally just a small question: I have never been to the McLaren technology centre but from the videos I’ve seen where people where in offices, it seemed like the offices are totally black and have no windows? Any ideas if that’s true?

      3. Richard says:

        Ange: No I’ve never been to the McLaren technology centre, but would like to see it. it is in fact Ron Dennis’s idea about the perfect environment for designing race cars, but unfortunately it does not work like that, and one’s environment can work in all sorts of directions. I knew one designer got his best ideas when out walking and climbing mountains! It was Dennis’s pipe dream, and he is definately wholely committed to McLaren and can’t be knocked for that, but it is just one man’s idea of heaven, and I know Martin Whit marsh was against the not inconsiderable spend.

  12. Charlie says:

    Nice to see you writing about F1 again, Ed. I always got the impression that you were the only F1 journalist representing a national newspaper who bothered to actually learn about the sport. British newspapers write about F1 as though their audience simply want to know what order the cars start and finish in. I recall you writing about Free Practice in Spain 2008, and quite rightly spotting which drivers and cars were handling the corners best. The reason I remember that article is because you wrote a glowing assessment of Raikkonen’s driving that day, which – as the world’s biggest Kimi fan – I obviously appreciated. Irrespective, kudos on writing good F1 journalism in a newspaper. I’ve never seen it consistently elsewhere.

  13. Andrew says:

    Football managers? Steve Jobs? Zsa Zsa Gabor?

    Interesting take on the ‘sport’ of F1 (if that’s what you’re into).

    Personally I’m more interested in what’s affecting the actual racing and, in my opinion, there are two major changes that have utterly ruined this in the modern era – Pirelli’s tyres and DRS.

  14. Thank you both for a spot-on counterpoint to much of what we are fed by through today’s news “stories” and speculation. The Times must surely feel the vacuum in their staff.

    Great observation, James, regarding “…the characters who populate…” Keep up the good work and exposing your readers to alternate perspectives as well as the technical and insightful stuff that you provide.

  15. Thread the Needle says:

    He’s writing what most F1 fans are thinking

    For me it hasn’t been a classic year, I believe the tyres still have to much affect on the racing, Bernie asked for them to mix up the racing for sky to get viewers

    Maybe if the tyres were more durable Ferrari and Mercedes could challenge Vettel, it would sincerely be more of a fair fight, and yes I know the tyres are the same for everyone

    1. J.Danek says:

      “He’s writing what most F1 fans are thinking” — correction:

      “He’s writing what *some* F1 fans are thinking”

      1. Paul D says:

        I’d stick with ‘most’ to be honest!

      2. Goob says:

        Very few… actually…

        He is not addressing the fundamental conversion of a racing series into a corporate controlled anti-racing highest bidder wins, and talent is supressed business model.

        I have never seen a 4xWDC that is regularly booed, and a WDC that has no memorable moments – and nothing but the most boring of DRS overfakes…

  16. thomas says:

    Great read, always enjoyed your stuff at the Times Ed. Some harsh but true observations. Wondering if Brawn needs another Todt to be his brilliant best, instead of a nosy Merc board and a million generals.

  17. Joe says:

    Interesting comment about the qualifying being dull. I disagree but it is dull when one guy is usually taking pole. It’s not the fault of the format. My favourite format however was the single-lap one. There were a few editions of that between 2003 and 2005 so the best for me would be 2003. 2005 was ridiculous with the 2nd and most important session being on Sunday morning.

  18. jmv says:

    haha! great! i followed every bit of Gorman during the free-view Times days! and it was good reading! great to see him back! thank you James!

  19. bones says:

    Ask Nigel Roebuck to write something similar between F1 from his times (which is the real F1) and current F1…
    That would be a shocking article for many.
    Personally the 21 st century has been more or less the same,not big changes,plain boring.
    Nice article anyway.

  20. Tim Brailli says:

    James – These points made by Ed are effectively what I posted yesterday ( in the race strategy article . There has to be racing on the track – something to follow during the race and not just waiting to see how the tyres in the last 10 laps last. I despair when the commentators get excited about a driver putting on a set of mediums rather than the options – who gives a **** as it rarely leads to tussels ( sic ) for position lap after lap. You can tell the commentators are bored – if the racing was close and fierce no one would care about the choice of tyres. For all his faults alteast Flavio understood the need for putting on a show ( I am no fan of Flavio btw ).

    I used to get up a 4am to watch the Australian GP and would count the weeks to the start of the new season. I am now so bored with the racing I couldn’t care about missing a race and I know many others who think the same.

    The only time something interesting happens is when something unpredictable happens. Otherwise, the cars all run around the track as per the teams’ computer predictions.

    Stirling Moss gave a great quote recently

    ” in my day after the race we would get out of the car and go and chase women – now the drivers get out of the car and thank Vodafone”

    1. cosmosxiv says:

      Has Stirling been watching NASCAR?! I love the way their drivers get their sponsors names into every interview. It’s almost as much as an art form as the driving!

      1. Tim says:

        I read somewhere that drivers in the US series get special coaching, to ensure they mention the sponsors.

      2. Lee Andrews says:

        Virtually every driver in NASCAR and Indy are pay drivers. They are contractually obliged to thank their sponsors!

      3. Paul D says:

        Sponsors? You mean ‘partners’?!

        Makes me cringe. Can’t stand it either…

        Just reflective of the sport becoming more corporate and commercial. Jo Ramirez said recently he couldn’t stand it and that’s why he left F1.

        Even the official press conferences which James does where he’s obviously asked to read out the full team names during the introductions e.g. ‘Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team’ or ‘Infiniti Red Bull Racing’.

        All makes me feel like I’m in my boardroom on a teleconference rather than watching part of the sport I love.

  21. Andrew C says:

    That about perfectly sums it all up I think. Well said Ed.

    1. shortsighted says:

      I fully enjoy the article with a lot of interesting observations. I hope more of Ed’s writings will appear here or elsewhere.

  22. German Samurai says:

    Don’t understand the shot at Rosberg. He’s more than held his own against his team leader Hamilton. Hamilton is touted by many as the fastest on the grid.

    Ross Brawn is a bit overrated if you ask me. People talk about this partnership with Schumacher, but Brawn at Benetton and Ferrari never gave Schumacher the best car on the grid until 2001!! I always laughed about how people would be in awe of Brawn’s tactical prowess on the pit wall, where he’d tell Schumacher to bang in 7 consecutive qualifying laps during a race in order to make a fuel strategy work. Aggressive strategies only work if you have someone of Schumacher’s talent piloting the car.

    Ferrari aren’t that bad. Since the summer break everyone has looked bad against the Red Bull, but Ferrari had their chances prior to that. Even the most biased Ferrari fan has to admit that for the first five rounds Ferrari was the class of the field. Up until the summer break Red Bull was only the quickest car at Bahrain and Montreal. On balance the Ferrari was a better car than the Red Bull up until around Germany, but Vettel still managed to build a decent gap on Alonso. Ferrari then decided to buy Kimi and dedicate its resources to 2014.

    1. Me says:

      “Aggressive strategies only work if you have someone of Schumacher’s talent piloting the car.”

      Or, the best car…

      1. C Lin says:

        But but Massa said Alonso is better than Schumacher.

        Ok I go stand at the corner.

      2. German Samurai says:

        Schumacher had the best car at Hungary 98???

      3. James Allen says:

        As I remember it, the Ferrari and McLaren were very closely matched

      4. German Samurai says:

        Over the season or in that particular race? Both McLarens qualified on the front row. IMO the 98 McLaren was up there with the 92 Williams, 96 Williams and 2011 Red Bull in terms of Newey’s cars.

      5. Paul D says:

        I’d say no. I remember qualifying on the Saturday when the Mclaren looked on rails and Schumacher had the Ferrari actually hopping round the corners!

    2. Bryce says:

      The Bulls were pretty quick at Sepang

      1. German Samurai says:

        Sure, but the Ferrari was slightly better. Even Massa managed to qualify second. Red Bull and Mercedes really struggled with tyres at the end of the race. Alonso would have cruised to victory, but he made an error that put him out of the race.

      2. Martin says:

        Alonso thought he might have been able to win, but Massa was nowhere suffering from bad graining of the tyres, and he doubted Alonso’s claims. Qualifying was due to being on the right tyres as the track dried, not speed. China suggested that Alonso may have had a chance of winning in Malaysia as Massa was not able to get the tyres to last as well there or in Spain.

        The Ferrari was never on the same qualifying pace as the Red Bulls, Mercedes and usually the Lotus, so it was about finding the sweet spot with set up and strategy. Having to pass several cars to get clear air makes it difficult.

      3. Yago says:

        Listen to Martin, he summed it up perfectly. He described the situation exactly as it was, I agree on every word. I sugest that instead of sticking to biased opinions, you listen and learn from people like Martin, who are (in addition to James Allen) who put this blog at the highest level in the F1 world.

      4. German Samurai says:

        Sure, Massa was nowhere but Massa has been nowhere in races for several seasons. I don’t think you can use him as much of a yardstick. He has three podiums in three seasons.

        Both Mercedes and Red Bull were hard on their tyres early in the season, both teams tyres were very marginal by the end of the race. Remember too that Mercedes wasn’t as strong a team early on as they were after their secret test. Massa was only 25 seconds behind the leader. In the race following Malaysia, Massa finished 40 seconds off of Alonso.

        It’s only my opinion but Ferrari was the car to beat at Malaysia. Alonso was really confident about his chances after practice which is rare. He usually talks down his equipment.

        Any way, my original point stands if you want to say Red Bull was quickest in Malaysia. Up until Spa the Red Bull was only quickest at Sepang (because you insist), Bahrain and Montreal. Even at Montreal Alonso had great race pace but couldn’t challenge for the win since he bottled qualifying.

        Also, I’m not sure if it’s so much Ferrari lacking qualifying pace but having one very poor driver and one driver who has been a relatively poor qualifier throughout his career (unless he’s had a large car advantage like at the start of 05 and 06).

        Vettel in a Ferrari since 2010 would have more than 2 dry poles that’s for sure (in my opinion of course).

    3. Tim says:

      @GermanSamurai
      Even the most biased Ferrari fan has to admit that for the first five rounds Ferrari was the class of the field…

      Let me guess, and this is just a shot in the dark you understand – are you a fan of SV ?

      1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        His nickname is German Samurai. Sounds much like a Pro-Vettel Anti-Alonso guy. He also forgot the fact that from Monaco onwards the Ferrari has been the 3rd or 4th fastest car and still Alonso is probably going to be 2nd in the world championship.
        I would say even the most biased Anti-Alonso fan has to admit that, but…

  23. Andrew Carter says:

    For the most part I couldn’t agree more, particularly in regards to the new eastern tracks. It doesn’t matter how much Eddie Jordan talks up the Yas Marina circuit, it’s still shit.

  24. Richard says:

    Sounds a bit glib to me while commenting on the various luminaries there are in the sport, actually says very little about the sport itself particularly how is has degenerated into a tyre strategy and conservation exercise which has served to sideline otherwise great teams that are not able to pull the necessary design/engineering no how together to be able to compete. F1 has moved too far into the entertainment field rather than concentrating on what really matters. – Can they race!

    1. Me says:

      “degenerated into a tyre strategy and conservation exercise which has served to sideline otherwise great teams”

      Once great doesn’t equate to always great, just ask Williams.

      1. Richard says:

        Indeed it doesn’t but the formula is a contest in a contest, in a contest, very convoluted, and unless teams can make it all work. there’s no chance. Yes Williams need investment with a genius thrown in.

      2. Me says:

        Personally, I’d like to see someone who’s never won before, Sauber or Force India and dominate for a few years, just to shake it all up again like Red Bull have and not to have the big teams winning it all the time like they used to, where was the fun in that?

      3. Richard says:

        Me: Don’t be misled into thinking that Red Bull is a small team. Their budget is a sizable afair comparable to any of the “large” teams so they can employ the right people. Beyond that it requires specialist knowledge, expertise, and experience to design a successful F1 car today.
        The likes of Sauber/ Force India don’t have that sort of substance. The bottom line is I like to see proper genuine racing not something that has been manufactured for the spectacle.

    2. Goob says:

      100% correct…

      Driving to deltas is boring.

      DRS overfakes are fake and boring.

      The only interesting part left in F1 is the Q3 quali – that is the time when the drivers can push to the car to the limit…

      F1 is to sterile now – it really has no relation to its past glory.

  25. Simmo says:

    What an extremely interesting read! Loved it all!!

    “The rest should be asking themselves some tough questions about why they have failed rather than complaining.”

    I loved this bit, although I think they will be behind closed doors!

    “On the driver side Vettel’s mastery has come with some attitude which seems to have driven Mark Webber out of the sport”

    I don’t think this is exactly right. Webber had the option to stay (if I am correctly informed), but chose to leave because of his age and performance, and because he had a good offer with Porsche.

    “Ferrari have taken ages to realize that Felipe is no longer the driver he once was”

    I HIGHLY doubt they didn’t know this, as most of what they say will be PR talk. Of course they knew that he wasn’t that good, but they kept him because he was playing the team game required.

    “McLaren look to have made the wrong choice for a replacement for Hamilton”

    Don’t count Perez out too soon! It’s been a difficult season, with a poor car which isn’t so much to his liking, but he needs a chance to improve.

    “The consistently dull qualifying format”

    It’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be, and more often than not qualifying is more exciting than the race!

    Other than that, brilliant piece!

  26. Dmitry says:

    Can’t agree more.

    Especially about Lewis Hamilton and those “East” races… they are boring to death even without Championships being over.

  27. cometeF1 says:

    Interesting view of F1 and overall a realistic one. Ed, you would have offended a few fans here, with your frank assessment of this or that driver. I am looking forward to read the reactions. I am not sure team leaders have as strong a following here, so that should be safe. I will be looking forward to your next guest post for one.
    I don’t know if it was your idea James, but it is a good one. I like how this site evolves. Other the 3 seasons or so since I have been aware of JA.F1, it has brought me a wider, fuller F1 enjoyment. If not the best, it is there with the best. Thank you for this great site James. Marc

    1. James Allen says:

      Thank you , that’s good to hear

      1. J.Danek says:

        Thank you for publishing at least this previous comment (defending Mosely & criticizing Gorman’s attack on him), amongst several others.

        I thoroughly enjoy JAoF1 site and your commentary during GP weekends and other F1 events, but I find it extremely frustrating when others who don’t necessarily share your commitment to objectivity can distort the historical record and confuse some very, very important issues affecting the sport.

        Keep up the good work, James.

    2. J.Danek says:

      “Interesting view of F1 and overall a realistic one.” —- yes, except for the personal attack on Max Mosley and failure to even mention the former FIA president’s honourable effort to control costs (something more relevant than ever now, as not even Räikkönen’s team is able to meet their contractual obligations to the driver).

      IRONIC that this comes a day AFTER Mosley won a judgment in France against Google for their role in “whipping up one controversy after another to keep his name in the papers at any cost.”

      French court orders Google to block Mosley ‘orgy photos’

      6 November 2013

      “Google, the world’s top search engine, has been ordered by a French court to remove links to images of ex-motorsport boss Max Mosley with prostitutes.”

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24840320

      1. Joel says:

        Do you think if I could save some of those orgy pics (while they are still in Google) that I could auction them off 50 years from now? :)
        Just kidding. In this internet era, a lot of people who did not know about this orgy now are aware…

  28. John M says:

    Good review.

    I’d add to it that I feel F1 is bordering on the too-contrived side lately. The tires have become way too fragile, in my opinion. Six laps on a tire? C’mon. And, the DRS is just not exciting to me. It’s definitely too phoney for me. Let the good passers make their mark without artificial aids.

    I still love F1, but I wish it’d move back away from the more contrived elements that have crept in over the last few years.

    1. J.Danek says:

      “I’d add to it that I feel F1 is bordering on the too-contrived side lately. ”

      Too contrived and too expensive given the quality of the show (or lack thereof!).

    2. David H says:

      DRS too boring?

      Aero efficiency killed slipstreaming, all DRS has done is return the possibility of overtaking that slipstreaming used to allow.

      As for KERS press to pass has been around for a long time giving drivers control at a variable which represents a valuable road car tech is what F1 should always represent.

    3. Me says:

      Blame it all on the casual/instant entertainment fan…

  29. nicolas nogaret says:

    I don’t think anyone who knew expected ross to boss the sport after he had used the deep pockets of honda to win a double championship

    he spent the championship year cutting the team to a no more than midfield budget and who can be surprised with what happened as a result

    and although he sold out to mercedes it was a couple of years before they started to give him the budget to push for the top , and results are now starting to follow

  30. MISTER says:

    James, I am completely surprised that this Ed Gorman which you so highly think of, but unfortunately I never heard of him, has not mentioned the word that’s on everybody’s lips for the past 3 years…TYRES.

    That is what changed Formula 1 more than anything in the past 3 years. Changed it for the worst in my view. Conserve, save and drive to the end of the race is not racing. Formula 1 is not the pinnacle of the sport anymore when a driver in the most expensive and fast car ever build cannot push it to the limit for more than 1 lap over a weekend.

    I would rather follow the touring cars which bounce and slide of kerbs in pursuit of ultimate pace than watch an F1 car drive to the limit permited by a tyre. Surely F1 has stepped in the wrong direction in its aim of promoting more overtakes.

    Yes, there are more overtakes than previous years, but they either happen by pitting earlier or later, or between cars on different strategies with drivers who don’t bother defending. That’s not what I call an overtake.

    1. J.Danek says:

      “I would rather follow the touring cars which bounce and slide of kerbs in pursuit of ultimate pace than watch an F1 car drive to the limit permited by a tyre. Surely F1 has stepped in the wrong direction in its aim of promoting more overtakes.” —– well, at least you don’t unfairly blame this on the tyre supplier, Pirelli, who are just building to a spec established by FOM, FIA and agreed to by the teams (some of whom, nevertheless, resorted to distasteful political machinations when their technical and design failings were exposed and their suffocating dominance of the sport momentarily abated…).

      1. Joel says:

        Danek, I agree with your point on unfairly blaming Pirelli on what is FOM, FIA’s request for cheese tyres.
        However, if I were a representative of a tyre company and was asked to be built a BS of a tyre in return for TV exposure, I would NOT have thought of walking out right then. What were Pirelli thinking? Are they so desperate? I can only think of other nonsense that could go behind the screens at Pirelli – are they manufacturing tyres that would wear off early that customers come back for a new set soon?

    2. Just a bloke says:

      “I would rather follow the touring cars which bounce and slide of kerbs in pursuit of ultimate pace than watch an F1 car drive to the limit permited by a tyre. ”

      just don’t get Jonathon Palmer on the the topic exceeding the kerbs !!!

      As an F1 Fan since the early 80′s Derek Warwick in a Toleman anybody, I am really turned off by the quality of the racing. Love the purity of the technology but for racing give me BTCC anytime.

    3. Me says:

      “That is what changed Formula 1 more than anything in the past 3 years. Changed it for the worst in my view. Conserve, save and drive to the end of the race is not racing.”

      Go and watch a few races from the 80′s, tyre and fuel conservation were very big issues.

    4. Rockman says:

      I just changed the tyres on my car over the weekend, and the store rep kept trying to offer me Pirelli’s.
      Out of priniciple I didnt not want anything to do with them, so went with another brand.

  31. John Wainwright says:

    Really enjoyed reading this. A fresh perspective on the sport. Thank you Ed. Look forwards to more guest blogs James….not that I don’t enjoy your writings!

  32. Olivier says:

    Instead of being upset by Red Bull, we should be disappointed by Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren for not being able to mount/sustain a title challenge despite their vast financial resources. It’s the fourth year in a row now.

    The big teams need a budget cap for their own good: Restraint unlocks Change.

    1. J.Danek says:

      “The big teams need a budget cap for their own good: Restraint unlocks Change.” —— I’m sorry, but this reasoning is fallacious. The big teams don’t need a budget cap for their own good: in the zero-sum game world of F1, perceived success is all that matters, hence why Red Bull will continue to pour money into team(s) at any cost as long as those costs are less than the media exposure value returned. They’d spend a billion euros per year if it would return them 2 billion in exposure.

      The reason the SPORT needs a budget cap is to maintain SOME semblance of open competition so fans don’t become so bored and disillusioned by Red Bull’s suffocating dominance that they switch off F1 coverage and go outside and play w/ their dogs (or their kids). Unrestrained spending by already-successful well-funded big teams allows them to maintain their dominant position and capture the lion’s share of the prize money and sponsorship revenue, at the expense of less lavishly-financed teams that have no realistic hope of winning because of the massive disparity in wealth.

      It was RBR that subverted the Resource Restriction Agreement in 2010 and destroyed FOTA in order to secure preferential terms from FOM and leverage the CRH’s dominant near-monopolistic position. F1 will be in front of the EU’s competition commission soon enough…

      1. James Allen says:

        You are not an ordinary punter…

      2. J.Danek says:

        But only b/c I’ve had the opportunity to educate myself by following your work and that of some of your colleagues. Thank you!

      3. Me says:

        “The reason the SPORT needs a budget cap is to maintain SOME semblance of open competition so fans don’t become so bored and disillusioned by Red Bull’s suffocating dominance that they switch off F1 coverage and go outside and play w/ their dogs (or their kids). ”

        The only reason people are bored and disillusioned is because it’s not Hamilton winning, you can bet your life these boards would be overflowing with praise if he won 4 dominant championships in a row.

      4. KRB says:

        I don’t think so. If Hamilton was winning as easily as Vettel is winning now, it would lose its appeal just as quickly.

        The reason I watch sport is not to witness a fait-accompli, or as near to one as you can get. That is down to the current car performance gap, the amazing reliability we have at the end of the V8 era, and the driver skill of Vettel. It’s to the point that if Vettel does not have any race-affecting incident (mech failure, or collision/contact), then he’s going to win each and every time.

        Next year even if one or two teams are way ahead of the rest, there should be the element of unreliability brought back into the sport, in a significant measure, to provide the necessary tension that any good race needs, to hold your interest. 2011 and 2013 have been walkover seasons, and the less of those the better. 2009 was a walkover half-season, and even then it was hard to build the tension (perhaps if the McLaren had stayed a dog that year, RBR could’ve been right on Brawn’s tail at the end, but we’ll never know).

        We need those last race showdowns. 2010 was great, with 4 drivers theoretically in with a chance at the title (I’ll blame Hamilton for not making it even better, as it would’ve been if he’d just collected the points at Monza and/or Singapore that year). 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012 are what we want more of. I would love to have another last race with 3+ drivers still in the mix!

      5. Goob says:

        It’s not about Hamilton – its the fact there is no racing on the table.

        I supported Michael Shcumacher and Nigel Mansell before him – they were amazing to watch, but I got equal enjoyment out of their competitors because there was always an element of pushing to the limit…

        The aero and mechanical grip were at the correct ratio – and the driver talent was highly visible.

      6. Dai Dactic says:

        The ‘budget cap’ is just a red-herring – structurally, F1 needs to be dragged into the 21st century.

        Cost control might make the competition more ‘fair’ but it certainly wouldn’t offset the inevitable slide into sporting irrelevance and the fans’ indifference.

        The real issue is that the formula is ossified and lagging behind LMP1/WEC regarding real innovation.

        A lop-sided focus on aerodynamics is no substitute for hybrids and ‘Garage 56’ experimentation.

      7. KRB says:

        What’s CRH? Sorry if it should be obvious, but I’ve missed it.

      8. James Allen says:

        Commercial Rights Holder

  33. unF1nnished business says:

    Interesting perspective when one steps away from the sport. I like the comparison of Whitmarsh and Football managers’ in football after so many years of unsuccessful results.

  34. Alexis says:

    “After all, the racing can be pretty tedious at times”

    Gave up reading The Times since every race ‘report’ was just a whinge criticising the sport for being boring. Kevin Eason was the worst.

  35. Bart says:

    Thanks, James!
    “the continuing sterility of many of the new races out East. [...] but those races look awful on TV”
    I am with Ed Gorman on this one. I love F1 but it’s getting more and more boring, it tastes like a pint diluted with water.

  36. james a says:

    Great read and alot of what he says is true ! Just wish bernie would ask for my opinion how to improve the “show” . Id simply say stop messing around with these stupid tyres , get shot of the daft drs and kers and please for the love of god stop going to these tracks with massive runoffs , rubbish crowds and have no heritage whats so ever . And if i really could have my way id bring back refueling but perhaps im been a little greedy now

    1. Jonathan says:

      I agree this is a good read… but I totally disagree with your comments.

      I get really fed up with people banging on and on about the tyres. It is reliability that has made F1 boring. It is reliability that has allowed the requirement to make engines and gearboxes last several races. It is this requirement that has made the drivers race to a lap delta time. It is paddle shift gear changes that have created the ability to be reliable. It is only because everything else is so reliable that we have little else to blame for boring races but the tyres. Refuelling only hid what was already happening with tyres.

      If the cars were only a little less reliable vettel would not be celebrating 4 titles.

      Before paddle shift gearboxes it only took one mistimed gearchange to rev an engine to oblivion. A mistimed gearchange made overtaking so much more likely.

      1. james a says:

        It carnt be because of paddle shift gear boxes , havent they had them since 92 , 93 ? And weve had a hell of alot good races since then . It just seems wrong that drives are having to drive to delta times so much and im sure that because of how sensitive the tyres are and not reliabilty. Hopefully its just a phrase were going threw , a meen its only a year and half ago since we had 7 different race winners at the start of the season.

      2. Me says:

        Damn straight, longer braking distances and manual gear boxes, that used to sort out the drivers.

  37. Scott says:

    Good review Ed.

    I particularly agree about the focus now being on the racing. Jean Todt has not run around creating havoc for sheer fun of it, which I personally really like. You sometimes wonder who are the central figures behind successful setups. The Ferrari era may have been Jean Todt more than other likely culprits.

  38. Richard in Aus says:

    I think the biggest change since 2010 (and the real elephant in the room) is the complete aversion to being involved in F1 by the major car manufacturers. The business case just doesn’t stack up any more.

    I think it comes down to the fact that mainstream manufactures have worked out that the best way to sell cars is not through racing. And while I’m a huge fan of F1, people my age (25) dont buy cars based on a car race.

    When you look at the state of carsales here ín Aus(I know tiny compared to the rest of the world, but interesting still) Toyota and Mazda are pretty much killing everyone else, and Hyundai/Kia are rising quickly. These companies have no involvement in car racing, but sell cars based on good marketing and no nonsense reliability. The sad fact is that most people who are interested in cars want whitegoods on wheels and these companies are servicing that demand.

    Meanwhile Honda – who have descended into a joke here in Aus (and I used to be a fanboy) are about to spend a shedload on F1 in an effort to sell more cars. HERE’S A TIP – Spend money developing cars people want to buy and you might not keep getting outsold by Kia!

    1. james a says:

      Totally agree . Look at enstone , 3rd or 4th best constuctor at the moment and they carnt afford to pay there driver . Renault have got the right idea , got out and just supply engines to is it 4 teams ? Genius

  39. Torchwood Five says:

    Some good notes. Cannot understand the Nico observation, as we have two, Rosberg and Hulkenberg, and I do not know which one you mean.

    Interesting view on Max Mosley.

  40. Ant says:

    A tad too bitchy for me. Comparing a driver to Zsa Zsa Gabor is disrespectful, especially from a journalist whose main claim to F1 fame is that he covered the sport for “almost four years”. It makes me wonder about the culture of F1 journalists if this is seen as acceptable thinking, let alone writing.

    With regards to quali, I disagree that it’s boring. For me it’s become the highlight of increasingly boring weekends. The drivers can thrash the cars in a way they can’t when they’re preserving tyres during the race. We get more surprises and thrills, even in Q1, than we do during races. Maybe if you watch quali ‘straight’, with no live timing and no tyre info and no understanding of how they’re placing the cars on the circuit, you’ll have little understanding of what’s happening and that may make it dull.

  41. kfzmeister says:

    “Ferrari have the best driver – or possibly the equal best in Fernando – but they never quite have the machinery.”
    Worth reading just for this.

    1. Omniprescient says:

      2010 and 2012 were lost at the last grands prix. The machinery was there then.

      1. Anil Parmar says:

        Through maximising machinery and taking advantage of others mistakes, particularly RB in 2010.

      2. KRB says:

        Only b/c it was dragged there, by the driver! Don’t get me wrong, both times the Ferrari wasn’t a dog of a car (2010 more of a decent challenger than 2012), but both times it was clearly the inferior car.

      3. Omniprescient says:

        So we both agree that driver could just drag it more a bit further… Ferrari had a good car in 2012 as well, and they developed it well into early 2013. I think the drivers made the ultimate difference.

  42. Solace says:

    Whatever Lewis Hamilton does in his free time to relax himself and enjoying it with his pets should be none of our concern. The funny thing here is Lewis chats with his fans, shares his life with his fans but people who don’t care about him always find a way to bring his name in the matter, into discussions or to grab attention.
    Lewis this, lewis that. Why do you bother? You don’t think he won’t win again, then leave him alone and simply put don’t talk about him.
    Wish we could have more insight in the life of Vettel instead. It’s the media who’s obsessed with Lewis.

    1. Solace says:

      typo: Read * you think he won’t win again…

  43. MR says:

    Well said and put J.Danek. The link between RB and BE becomes even more suspicious.

  44. Janis1207 says:

    Unfortunately, this is what a typical casual F1 viewer seems to think these days.
    Scandals, celebrities, bored to death in 30 minutes if there are no crashes or overtaking for the lead.
    Sad, really.

  45. Andrei says:

    Just to point out, the last title Ferrari won, was in 2008, or the WCC doesn’t count as a title?

  46. Marcus Turner says:

    Bring back Ed Gorman! Always reported the true story with insight and honesty and never worried about who he might be upsetting. A fascinating read and I just hope he shares a few more of his thoughts on this site or others.

    1. James Allen says:

      He will, don’t worry, right here!

  47. Femi AKins says:

    When Lewis sacked his Dad something happened. For those who have read his biography and I don’t particularly recommend it, Mark Hughes makes it clear Lewis had the potential to be a tearaway but his Dad reined him in big time.

    With his Dad gone, I believe those traits are now fully manifested. Devastatingly quick but very easily distracted by things

    For non high performing sports men and just for want of a better word – common men and women, its okay to take time to grow up and become a rounded individual.

    However, for Formula 1 drivers etc, the career span is so short that by the time you find yourself your career is finished or your chances are gone.

    Anyway, I’m a big fan so I wish him the best.

    If Benz deliver the car next year and he doesn’t do it then questions will really be asked.

    My thoughts is all

  48. Elie says:

    With the sun failing on Bernie Ecclestones time in F1 . I’m hoping there is a real chance that new leadership will redress the balance of teams, rules and economic alignment into the sporting codes. Maybe Im being too optimistic but surely we cannot have Red Bull continue to dominate and effectively support 2 teams out of the 11.
    When teams who had been in the sport 50 years are struggling for top 3.

    It’s very easy to say Ferrari and Mclaren should do better – but when you can throw unlimited resources into a sport that preys/ or prays on it– well guess what– your a pretty safe bet at success when you can have a junior programme in your No2 team. You can buy the worlds best designer and say – here do what you want, you can throw 20 of the best engineers at designing something that will make you go faster.

    Until we have a level playing field we can’t waste our time saying what a terrific job Red Bull are doing. We can only congratulate teams like FI, Lotus , Sauber for being even in The same ball park!. & We can only do that with new leadership driven by sporting equity and not by personal wealth and individual idealism, historic status.

    1. tim says:

      You’re right of course, it is very easy to say Ferrari and Mclaren should do better, but you can’t dismiss it in such a cavalier manner. They have the 2 biggest budgets in the paddock for 2013 and yet they’ve been falling down stairs to one degree or another all season long. Money can level the playing field somewhat but it’s no substitute for the right people in the right positions. That’s been a major difference between RB and the others.

      1. Goob says:

        Reset the aero, mechanical grip and engine power ratio to pre 1990 levels, and the cars will be able to race effectively…

        Great drivers will be able to push to the limit, and make weaker cars competitive…

        It would be a world of fun.

        Alas, driving to deltas works better for certain corporations.

  49. Sebee says:

    Hey,

    If a person representing a corporate entity like a Team, with authority to make legal commitments suddenly gets a personal signing bonuses for contracts they commit the team to – is that not a litttle conflict of interest? Would you dismiss such an individual from your company for accepting such a personal signing bonus?

    http://www.planetf1.com/news/3213/9014167/Bernie-Paid-Bosses-To-Sign-Agreement

    1. KRB says:

      Personal signing bonus … must you be so verbose Sebee? It’s a KICKBACK!!!

      Ok, a one-time kickback, but still a kickback.

      The answers Bernie gave were so him, that’s for sure.

      1. Sebee says:

        You say tomato, I say tomato…

        It’s all semantics. Let’s not get all specific about it. :-)

        Lets say I don’t even care what you call it. It’s the clear conflict of interest that I care about. If you look at the names, Bernie was quick to choose bosses who owned teams. He didn’t admit to paying bosses who answered to corporations like Rahal or Pollock . Simply smaller ones that then forced the hand of the other ones. I guess Bernie’s negotiating magic is finally here for us to see. And here I was thinking he was a negotiations Jedi only to find out he simply buttered the bread.

        Daddy always told me, if you want to enjoy hot dogs don’t ask how they are made.

  50. ManOnWheels says:

    I beg to differ with a lot of commentators.
    I think this article is just a usual rant and it seems the author has really lost his grip on Formula 1; what an appalling article that was.
    Domenicali and Whitmarsh are too friendly to form a winning team? That is a rubbish theory and he should know better. Ross Brawn is said to be one of the nicest guys around and he certainly knows what it takes – he achieved it several times and his team is currently runner up in the championship, what does it mean, he “failed to reach the heights of his first”? What the hell is this guy smoking?
    Felipe, the driver who is “no longer the driver who he was” has been outqualifying Alonso in the last races, now that he’s left off the hook – and hadn’t it been for some “problems” i.e. odd strategy decisions, he’d certainly scored better than he had.
    Oh, and please spare me with this “dull qualifying format” nonsense, does this guy even remember how it was when it was the fuel load that determined the qualifying pace or when we had the Friday and Saturday qualifying and no one would be on the track for half an hour or even a whole rainy friday? Now we get the excitement who will be lose out in the first round (apart from the 4 obvious candidates), who will make it to the last round and who will take pole – and it’s now down to the car and the driver, not fuel strategy. Qualifying has never been better.

    He says: “I don’t know but those races look awful on TV.” and this is something that I agree with, but it’s not only the race tracks fault, it’s also a result of the camera technology that stabilizes on board cameras to a point where it gets to look like a video game, instead of a rough ride on a cannonball.
    It’s also result of cameras following cars with such a smooth zoom that you lose the feeling of how fast these cars are going. Remember the early 90, where TV cameras were operated with a pretty limited focal length, mounted at merely fixed points? Where you could see the cars storming towards and away from the camera?
    And I do remember the refuelling days, where lap times, pit stop times and overtaking maneuvers were down to fuel strategy and you often could have switched off the TV without missing a lot, after the last pit stop, when positions were taken – now that was dull.
    We are certainly living in an exciting area of Formula 1 and the only thing that spoils it sometimes is DRS-zones being too long once in a while and some tracks that look like a parking lot.
    No, thanks, I don’t want to read this guy again.

  51. Sebee says:

    OH SNAP!

    You mean 2007 Ferrari WDC/WCC is ill gotten? Well twist me an ice cream cone and throw some prinkels on it!

    >
    Meanwhile, in another case of F1′s past being dredged up in 2013, former Ferrari team manager Nigel Stepney this week claimed the Italian team knowingly cheated in order to win the opening grand prix of 2007.

    The Briton, who was a leading figure in that year’s infamous ‘spygate’ scandal, told Racecar Engineering that the car driven to victory by Kimi Raikkonen had an illegal moveable floor.

    “I like to try to win on a fair basis but when I was there I disagreed with something that was going on within Ferrari,” revealed Stepney, who now runs the sports car team JRM Racing.

  52. leslie D'Amico says:

    Finally, a guy who gets it!!! Sorry James and all your supporters, Ed Gorman figured out this sport in 4 short years…just sayin’

  53. Valentino from montreal says:

    I stopped taking this guy seriously after I read :
    ” Ferrari have the best driver ” …

  54. Stephen Taylor says:

    Bring back aggregate timing for races that red flagged then restarted!

  55. AB says:

    I remember your blog, Ed. You used to get hammered by Spanish visitors for perceived Hamilton bias during the 2007 season. This is, briefly, what has happened to The Times since the hey days of your blog. Rather than pursuing an ad-funded model to sustain its online presence, The Times decided to erect a pay wall, only allowing paying subscribers to view the online edition of the paper. In that time, the paper has disappeared as a daily source of news, discussion and debate. It’s voice is now mute. In contrast, The Guardian, who decided to stick with an ad funded model along with a strong investment in rigorous investigative journalism has seen its brand go global. One could argue that recent moves by Jeff Bezoz (Amazon) and Pierre Omidyar (eBay) into news is a direct result of the success of The Guardian’s financial model. So while Rusbridger gets all the headlines and plaudits for putting his paper at the heart of the global conversation, The Times sinks further into irrelevance.

  56. SteveS says:

    That was trite and superficial. Really, we need the FIA to have more scandals in order to create more of a soap opera in F1? Really, F1 is “boring” now .. unlike in some mythical “good old days”?

    Let’s be honest here, Monaco, the Nürburgring, and the Hungaroring are as bad and as boring as as new track in the Far East and worse than many of them.

  57. Rudy says:

    I’ m gonna be brutally honest towards this piece written by Gorman:
    All the stuff is simply a very shallow brief. This is ok for an occasional newspaper reader. For a specialised blog it gives nothing. This would be ok for a guy who suddenly wakes up from a 4-year-long comma and put up to speed in 240 secs. And even then it’s still short on what has happened truly.
    The headline is catchy but for us, JA on F1 frequent readers, not up to the level we are used to by James.
    At the most it is a 3 over 10 on what has been going on around F1.
    Up the writing mate!

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s an intro piece

      More to come

      1. ManOnWheels says:

        You’ve got me scared, officially.
        I sincerely hope that this “more to come” is less polemic and higher quality.

      2. Goob says:

        I find the lack of criticism of F1, from all F1 journalists to be the most concerning problem.

        There is no feedback loop to improve the sport.

        It feels like F1 journalists are thrown too many sweeteners… just look at the way every article has been attempting to make Vettel appear a worthy champ… which driver needed that before? Non.

  58. JohnBt says:

    James, there’s not much said about 2014 I’ve noticed. I am really hoping we can talk more about 2014 and not too much dwelling of the past to keep F1 floating. I know history is important but new and fresh news is too. Thanks.

  59. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    2013 – We realised that Webber really is a No.2 driver….

    1. PJ says:

      Certainly Webber Car’s reliability has been number 2 in 2013.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Top Tags
SEARCH News
JA ON F1 In association with...
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer