We are proud to have Marco Gadola, Professor at Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department of the Brescia University, to show us how things would look if he ran the whole sport of Formula 1. Marco has been a race engineer and technical director in various racing teams and championships, mainly in endurance and single-seaters; he’s also a member of the FIA GT Commission.
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From artificial degradation to true sport?
Although I am an engineer, and I have been a trackside engineer for 20+ years by now, at the moment I can only see Formula 1 as a triumph of technology and politics over the sport. It is far too complicated for the fans – tyre management is kept above all. Everything is quite artificial and definitely seems a bit fake. Most of all, the sport is pretty far away from people. Formula 1 is becoming a niche sector where you need to know what a DRS, a KERS, an ERS are. So far so good, but only if you are an engineer or at least a technology enthusiast, not the average spectator who watches sports on Sundays, and not the young fan-to-be in particular, who is probably more focused on social media, hip music, and outdoor living.
I would like to see this high-end racing getting back to a more popular form of motorsport, where engines scream, where tyres are not the limit requiring most of the focus, where small teams can still be competitive against giants.
People at the FIA and Pirelli have been quite brilliant at building interest around what some call (or used to call) “artificial degradation”. However, I would rather prefer to see drivers pushing to the limits from the start to the chequered flag, and show their capability to use the car and tyres at 110%.
What I have in mind is the sheer competitiveness of Moto3 races, where talent and bravery are what you need to emerge. Alright, it is impossible to take the epic battles and frantic overtaking from motorcycle racing to the world of four wheels, but I am still dreaming of a Formula 1 where overtaking is based on driving skills, the capability of braking to the very last meter in this case, and not on the number of wind tunnel hours that the team can afford. Not to speak about questionable rules about self-disciplined restrictions on CFD simulation time etc. Technology battles where big manufacturers challenge each other on developing the future of road car mobility should be left to other forms of racing – for instance, endurance or Le Mans. The 24 hours of Le Mans is the most fascinating race in the world and it is ok for it to remain a niche event, but Formula 1 should certainly be different!
Moving forward by looking back
In other words, I would like to see this high-end racing getting back to a more popular form of motorsport, where engines scream, where tyres are not the limit requiring most of the focus, where small teams can still be competitive against giants. I would like to see talented drivers emerge because they have won a lot during their “road to Formula 1” years, and not because they have large cash reservoirs. What happened to the last GP2 championship winners (or nearly winners) Valsecchi, Filippi, Leimer, Palmer? What’s wrong with them and why aren’t they racing in Formula 1 now instead of becoming sad commentators for the various TV broadcasting companies?
Once again we should look at the USA, and especially at how NASCAR and Indycar championships are governed: less technology, less budget, more show, more entertainment, and definitely more involvement. People should be able to walk in the Formula 1 paddock, and, of course, not pay a fortune for tickets. Also, I do agree with Claire Williams when she suggested to postpone the start to late afternoon and to remain faithful to old traditional and glorious circuits like the Nürburgring, Monza and the likes, at least in good old Europe…