Bernie and Max, Are You Listening?

raam shanker@raam_s13Contributor IMarch 21, 2009

KITZBUEHEL, AUSTRIA - JANUARY 24: Bernie Ecclestone waves the finish flag at 'Kitz Charity Race' during Hahnenkamm Race weekend on January 24, 2009 in Kitzbuehel, Austria. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

We’re on the threshold of the 2009 season. We’ve all seen the new cars, which are the result of a new set of rule changes. Shorter and higher rear wings, wider and lower front wings, reintroduction of slicks (tyres without grooves) and regenerative breaking.

Rule changes and what do they mean? The way it was perceived, rule changes due to Ferrari’s dominance were first introduced as people saw F1 as boring because no one could beat Ferrari.

This meant diminishing interest in the sport and hence loss of Revenue for Bernie and Max. Let’s face it, that’s the truth. 2005 saw Schumacher and Ferrari overpowered by Renault and McLaren.

It was mentioned somewhere that Bernie said, “Only Schumacher winning is bad, but Schumacher not winning is worse”, Bernie may have said that, he may not. That statement however holds a lot of truth.

However does the logic behind the action hold any sense? It is true we need a level playing field, we need to see dog fights and we need races going down to the wire. Are we right in telling a team to down the bar to let other teams play catch-up?

By cutting  costs, and enforcing rule changes, they effectively told Ferrari, mediocrity is the name of the game, others aren’t as good as you’re so you have to be as bad as the others to have some form of uniformity.

Then I believe Bernie and Max had another genius idea, change rules aimed at cutting costs! Now why would they do that and spoil the exclusivity of Formula One?

If they aim to cut costs, they can encourage more teams to participate, which means more money for themselves and maybe more people seeing the races worldwide. Apparently they want the sport to be more accessible to other less rich teams and make it a level playing field.

Now let me talk about what I do not want to see and what I’d like to see.

I don’t want to see the playing field bulldozed in the name of levelling by introducing cost cutting, engine freezes, hampering aerodynamic development and monopolisation of equipment supply.

Ever since Karl Benz made the first working petrol engine, based on the Otto cycle, they’ve evolved and become more and more refined, thanks to technological development. Most automotive manufacturers have a sporting history, where they build and test their engines and refine them to perfection.

No place other than a sporting arena offers the engines a tougher testing ground for performance, reliability, efficiency and effectiveness. Engine freezes inhibit technological advancement.

Aerodynamics have played a key role in making race cars go faster, whilst making road cars go more efficient in terms of fuel consumption, tyre wear and component life.

Yes, it’s understandable that the exact shape or profile of an F1 car cannot be used on a road car; however, the underlying physics and mathematics can be incorporated into alternate designs for road cars.

By monopolising equipment supply again, they’re limiting ideas for growth and development. More heads put together, with an assurance of reward will work better than one head.

Now the section on what I want to see. Before you read this, I want to ask you this question: “Would we have seen monocoque designs and carbon fibre composites in F1 if we’d had “rules” back then”? Now that you’ve read the question, please think about it for around 10 seconds.

If Bernie and Max are so obsessed about cutting costs, they should cap drivers’ wages. This will not only stop teams splurging on top drivers but will actually level the playing field by giving not-so-good teams an opportunity to lure the good drivers. I’d like to see technological development being encouraged with regard to engines.

I will not be surprised if we saw diesel engines with a percentage of bio-diesels replacing petrol engines, maybe five years down the line. One way to do this is by making rules which will ensure teams declassify their research after two seasons from when we’ve seen something new, something innovative.

As far as equipment supply goes, it’d be wise to see a consortium of suppliers putting their heads together and inventing new gizmos and gadgets. If I am not asking for too much, it would be healthy to have an opinion poll asking audience to vote on proposed rule changes.

With the technological alternatives available, like Internet, phoning, texting, this should not be too much of an ask. This will be good for the sport, the suppliers, the viewers and everyone. You listening, Bernie and Max?

As usual feedback, criticism and discussion always welcome as long as we do not offend others’ opinions and views. There is enough mess in the world as it is, let’s keep it peaceful and healthy on here.