The REAL Problem with Formula One
A lot has been said in recent days of the snoozefest that was the Bahrain GP, and rightly so. Much blame has been given out by fans as to why—the narrower front tires, the massive fuel loads, the reconfigured course...
But really, it's too early to say that the changes to the car have hurt the racing. Bahrain may have been a simple fluke, be it caused by the track configuration or some other unforeseen factor.
But rather than focus on what happened on track in Bahrain, I'd like to discuss some about F1 off the track. Specifically, the failure of USF1.
Up until January, indications were that USF1 had good hopes of getting a car on the track, even if it was likely to be a little late. Then things unraveled, and unraveled so fast many of us were left scratching our heads going, "WTF, mate?"
Many reasons for the failure have come about in recent weeks, some indicating that the problem had its roots planted before the announcement of the team was even made.
But ultimately, in the end, only one single factor guaranteed USF1's demise. If things had been different, there's no guarantee the team would have survived, but the chances would have been significantly improved. This same factor could have saved HRT some embarrassment, as well.
The biggest problem with creating a new F1 team is: Formula One requires full-season participation.
Here's the thing: BUILDING a running F1 car is not as costly as we think. It's not cheap, and I won't try to say such, but even most mid-pack NASCAR teams can afford to BUILD an F1 car. The expenses that make F1 difficult come when you have to run and develop the car you built.
One of the factors in NASCAR's big car count is the fact that do not require full-season participation. Same with IndyCars—the IndyCar Series in recent years has matched or exceeded the F1 car count on several occasions thanks to part-time entries.
The thing with a part-time entry is that they're cheaper. A sponsor who is frightened away by the price tag of a full-season F1 entry could be perfectly willing to pony up the smaller amount needed for just a race or two.
Sure, the part-time team almost certainly won't be competitive, but F1's prestige is so high that just proving you can make it to the track and compete at all is only going to increase your prospects at getting a full-time sponsor.
Friday practice at Bahrain was a SHAKEDOWN session for HRT. Adrian Campos even said it would have been best if the team could have skipped the race to help develop the car more before debuting it.
Requiring full-season participation from their new teams makes F1 look elitist to the point of absurdity. It has almost certainly turned away several prospective teams who could have produced reasonable vehicles. If F1 allowed part-time entries, they could find themselves once again in the day of 30+ entries, when pre-qualifying was necessary to weed out the REALLY bad ones.
And how can more entries be a BAD thing? It certainly guarantees you won't have cars running around ten seconds off the pace.
The 13-team limit is absurd.
The full-season requirement is absurd.
Jean Todt, if you're listening, just these little changes could improve F1 so much. Get it done. Now.
F1 needs it a lot more than it needs a US-based team, that's for sure.
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