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Reader's Comments

We have all lost the plot it seems. The manufacturers lost it when they abandoned the original direction for the GPWC (equitable distribution of funds and support for non-manufacturer based teams in a less restricted technology environment). The FIA lost it a long time ago when they started the process of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The minor teams probably lost it when they signed the Concorde Agreement in the first place. Bernie lost it when he went senile and the fans lost it when they started blaming Ferrari for the lack of racing in F1 today.

Now Mad Max has come up with his formula for 2008. At least it will bury the rotting remains of F1 and let us all concentrate on our golf swing on Sundays. The crux of his proposal is to make F1 into a much faster Formula V. Control almost everything in the name of cost reduction and slow the whole thing down in the name of safety. Smaller engines, common ECU�s, common tyres all add up to a circus that is a technology development free zone.

Is there incentive in there for manufacturers to stay involved? No, which is not a bad thing in itself but it does have some implications for innovative development. Will it improve the racing? Yes, but at a level way below the current state of the art equipment level. Will it cut costs out of the business? Definitely, but then Hyundais have always been cheaper than Porsches, albeit slightly less exciting. Will it remain the pinnacle of motor sport? Not for long! Will the Quali-flyer be there to comment on it? Not a chance!

Lets exercise our imaginations and wipe Ferrari out the last few season�s races. Sure you would have ended up with different winners, but would it not have been as a result of a slightly slower procession with results determined almost exclusively by grid positions, car failures and pit stop strategies? Try as I might I can�t seem to remember great racing with lots of position changes on the track between the also-rans behind those nasty red cars.

F1 is processional and has been since mechanical grip ceased to be the thing that kept the cars on the track. At a personal level my passion for F1 15 years ago has waned to a high level of interest today and that decline has followed the course of aerodynamic development. That very element that has been the primary contributor to the cars going faster has killed the thrill of racing. Those same forces that keep the car on the track have reduced (removed?) the opportunity for overtaking, along with tyres that have marbling characteristics that reduce the racing line to one car wide.

No one is seriously looking at this as the cause of F1 losing audiences. Wave a magic wand that takes costs out of the equation and we still have a procession. Cap horsepower at 800 or so and we still have a procession. Remove Ferrari from the paddock and we still have a procession. Keep the procession and we don�t have fans. Remove the fans and we lose Television funding and then the whole thing quietly dies. Maybe Max�s 2008 move is a good thing. At least our kid�s might have a formula that works grow out of the ashes.

Formula Phoenix anyone?

Michael Schumacher kept his record intact at San Marino and despite not starting from pole he really didn�t have to work too hard at it. BAR surprised me and I was wrong in my assumption that Button would not be able to perform in the face of reliability and speed from Williams BMW and Renault. Renault didn�t surprise me and neither did Ralf. McLaren did surprise only in that Kimi managed to finish a whole race, even with a new engine. Barrichello also didn�t surprise me given the roll out from the start. The Ferrari is the fastest car out there but it�s not fast enough to move through the front half of the pack on the track. Had Rubens enjoyed clear air behind Michael he would have comfortably maintained the pace.

I�m now coming around to the opinion that BAR are indeed firmly entrenched as a second tier team behind Ferrari. Montoya is still very fast, just not fast enough. The Renaults cannot be discounted, especially as more power is made available. McLaren must eventually get their act together and Kimi will come back into the fray but not in championship terms. The rest will continue to make up the numbers.

Ralf deserves a special mention. As my regular readers are aware, I�m a huge fan of Ralf and it is really disappointing that all those other drivers with way less talent than he has keep creating incidents that he can�t avoid. It is a huge shame but it appears that Ralf�s negotiations with Sir Frank are not progressing and even Toyota are making short sighted noises about not grabbing him for 2005. I�m sure though that someone will recognise his truly remarkable talent and offer him an appropriate seat next year. Somewhere in the back of the grandstand might be best. If I were Ralf I would be more worried about keeping my seat for the rest of this season than looking at next year.

On to Spain and out with the increasingly flawed crystal ball:

Michael will win, again. San Marino showed that even though others may have cars that are as fast over one lap or even one stint, the Ferrari is a step above the field over a race distance.

On current form Button should get 3rd behind Rubens but I�m still not totally convinced that Renault won�t come back into a podium place. Juan Pablo has the talent, I�m not sure Williams have the car yet. Even Kimi can�t be discounted if he gets to start somewhere forward of the last row and then manages to see the chequered flag. There�s a lot of �if�s� in there though.

With the level of testing performed by all the teams there Friday will be a non-event. Oh, yes, there won�t be a whole lot of overtaking behind Michael this time either.

The Quali-flyer

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Reader's comments:

Dear Quali, You keep on talking about processional races and the sad thing is that you are SO right. Races are becoming processional. (I am actually not looking forward to Monaco). I would not call it boredom, rather predictable once qualifying is over especially now that reliability no longer plays a major part. 
F1 is on the one hand (ok lets call it boring) boring but on the other hand technically superior. But sitting in front of a TV that does not score many points. I don't want to go on agreeing with everything you said (that would also be boring because there is nothing really to add - you said it all). I just want to relate a nagging thought. Think back to Brazil last year. Bad weather and rain which everybody seems to have been coping with more or less except one spot where there was PLENTY water and resulted in that place resembling a second hand car park. (I thunk about 5 cars came to grief there including the Maestro himself). Now, does it not follow that if you can change track conditions (manually of course) that we might get some excitement back into the races. I know that there will be some danger to be considered and I have not been able to work around that sensibly. But is it not worth taking that avenue and explore it a bit further? Maybe one can from this come up with something, possibly something entirely different from where you started off. I don't really know - just wondering (desperately I might add) - Johan M - South Africa

The Quali-flyer responds:


With my tongue firmly in my cheek I suggested some years ago that we should build gutters around half of every track and flood it. There have been a few (unfortunately very few) exciting dry races in the last ten years. At the same time there have been many exciting wet races. Random flooding of corners would certainly add to the spectacle.

Rain levels the playing field and massively reduces the influence of aerodynamic over mechanical grip. It has an even greater impact on the contribution that the driver makes to the total package. There is no more exciting racing than watching skilled wet weather drivers carving through the pack of those fair weather pilots (often with better cars and bigger ego's). That was especially true in the pre-traction control era.

Yes, processions are boring, unfortunately I can't see any of Max's brilliant plans correcting that.

Formula One is the premier league and an environment of innovation in which some technology filter down to everyday vehicles. These are important reasons for F1 to remain as open as possible. I agree with an emphasis on reliability, (ie this years one engine rule, despite it being a factor that has played into the hands of Ferrari). I do not agree with one make or (control) tyre, but I do like the restriction of tyre change pitstops during the race. Cars will then be forced to run harder rubber compounds, thus slower corner speeds, and less tyre consumption. Cars I would like to see a reduction in wing sizes, to reduce aerodynamics, but this also means a reduction in advertising space as well. unfortunately I don't see that happening. I agree with manual gear shift and clutch for obvious reasons. I agree with engine capacity reduction, but not a standard ecu. I do not agree with lowering minimum weight, in fact (dare I say it) the minimum weight could be increased. as it would broaden acceleration and braking zones on the track, slower corner speeds, cars effectively require more driving from driver creating passing opportunities, and also allows more scope for engineering safety into cars. 
I would like to see qualifying with a combination of a bit of old and a bit of the new. 1st qualifying session to be conducted the old way as open unrestricted laps session with results setting the order for one lap dash in 2nd session as we know it. 
Better TV coverage, in particular camera work, F1 could take a few lessens from Australia's V8 Supercar series, More on-car, in-car cameras. open radio frequencies. increase the focus on to the drivers performing in competition. In Fangio's day we could all see the drivers work the steering wheel and man handle their cars around the race track, today all we can see is a speeding flash and a top of a fixed helmet to resemble a driver with a apparently person in there somewhere - Gary M - Australia

The Quali-flyer responds:


Fancy thinking that having a technology based premier motor sport has any impact on road cars. Seatbelts, monocoque structures, ABS brakes and exotic lubricants and materials etc would have happened anyway, eventually, perhaps.

One race engines are as far as I would like to see it go (further actually - nobody designs race engines that won't last a race distance, despite Mercedes best efforts at proving that statement wrong) and while I was against the notion of qualifying engines I really don't like imposing reliability standards. Control tyres will certainly result in slower races. The focus will move from competitive advantage to reliability and longevity, which throttles innovation in compounds and construction.

Reduction in wing sizes is probably not required - pull them down to the body line or increase the body surface area and you have the same impact on aerodynamic assistance. Standard components of any kind, be it tyres, ECU's or fuelling rigs goes against my grain. On that, I sure hope they don't look to Intertechnique (the makers of those marvellously reliable fuelling devices) as the ECU supplier.

I stand by my oft-spoken opinion, qualifying in the Real Race days wasn't broken (neither was the points system) and they should never have 'fixed' it. TV coverage varies from brilliant to bloody awful, perhaps that is one area where standard components (i.e. contract one team who know what they are doing to cover all the races using local feeder supplies) could work!

In Fangio's days we also saw the drivers manhandling the cars around each other, not just the tracks.

The one area where I can't agree with you at all is on vehicle mass. The laws of physics say that heavier cars crash harder, there is no getting around that. The less mass, the less risk to drivers in the event of an accident and safety is one area I'm very reluctant to argue against. To a large extent the reason we don't see today's drivers is that they are cocooned in a safety cell. That's an acceptable compromise to my mind. Innovative design has seen those cocoons become progressively safer in lighter structures every year (so that minimum weight is achieved by carefully located ballast, not structurally), not that road cars have benefited by those design techniques developed in racing either of course. No, road car technology has been driven by cartoons and science fiction movies, not real world racing cars created in an unrestricted technology zone.

I fully support your opinions about Formula Max -1. Let's restrict aerodynamic devices and concentrate on competitive tracks!!!! Large enough to allow overtaking and with a straight long enough to keep the audience packed near the curve at its end. 
One very important thing to note about qualifying is that the Bridgestones take more time (and laps) to achieve the right temperature. At some tracks, like Imola, Barcelona and Monaco, this problem can provide a competitive advantage to the Michelin runners - Andre B - Brazil

The Quali-flyer responds:


You got it right about the tracks and cars.

The pneumatic Frenchman needs to make the most of that qualifying advantage while he can - in 2008 it won't matter. Unfortunately, for this year it appears that will only impact on Michael's chase for Senna's pole position record, the Bridgestone's are good enough to let him win a few more races.

Hey Quali You're right The game is not the same without Mcgilvrey (An Aussie will know), though we live in hope. Bring back wide sticky tyres, big downforce, turbos, maybe some fuelling strategy changes, tracks where you can overtake on, Honda power and ground effect and we might have a formula. 
But for this season I would like to see Bar Honda move slightly forward, Williams make some good gains, Renault to find some power, Mclaren at least get some race pace, Jaguar keep Mark Webber happy and Michael pushed to the limit for the title this year. 
And 2008 will sort itself out. Either way I'll still keep watching - Cooky - Australia

The Quali-flyer responds:


This season I would like to see little engines with 3 year warranties consigned to the scrap heap forever, rear wings dropped a foot closer to the body line, two tyre manufacturers (with non marbling compounds) locked in as a minimum, Bernie and Max committed, anybody mixing it with Michael for the championship and the taxes on booze and cigarettes removed on race days.

Unfortunately I think my best odds are on the last one!

Poor, poor Quali-flyer .. all upset at the state of F-1 now, let alone in 2008. Moseley's statements today must have left you quite disturbed... 
Not all fans blame Ferrari for anything. I blame Frank Williams and Ron Dennis (amongst others) for not being able to field a reasonable car with a reasonable driver (at the same time) for the last several years. I would maintain that had Raikkonen been driving a Williams last year, you would have nothing to complain about.. 
You say when the new changes are instigated you won't be there. I say, 'Did you say that when they took away slicks?' 
You say you can't remember great racing behind the red cars. I say have you forgotten Silverstone 2003 ? I say the start of Imola 2004 brought back classic memories of drivers prepared to do whatever it takes to win. 
You seem to yearn for a time that never existed, grumbling about processions with placing decided by grid position and car failure...I've been watching the 1994 season recently on my trusty DVR, and guess what, throw in your pit stop strategies and nothing has really changed, has it? EXCEPT, sometimes there is a blinder of a race between the leading cars... I think you are just trying to stir the pot a little, get people riled up, do your job, if you will.. 
I must admit I'm quite entertained by you comments regarding R**F, but when you started blustering about 'no overtaking behind the Red cars', I knew it was all just your little joke... Tom H - USA

The Quali-flyer responds:


Moi? Jokes? Nope - deadly serious. F1's stuffed and aerodynamics, The FIA, Bernie and cross your heart bra's are responsible. I haven't forgotten Silverstone (my post-race comments support your assertion that it was a great race) and I also haven't forgotten almost every wet race in the last 10 years.

'94 was certainly well into the era of the aerodynamic focus, and the loss of wheel to wheel racing as the norm. Go back into the '70's and '80's and you have more on-track passing by near equal cars in a single race than we see today in a season. Check out some of the Prost v Senna races in the late 80's and that was at a time when mechanical grip had already been overtaken by aerodynamics as the primary reasons the cars stayed out of orbit. At least then aerodynamics was only slightly more important in the total equation. Check out what happens when a modern car loses a rear wing or even a nose cone if you want to see the relativity today.

Did I threaten to bail out with the death of slicks? No, but I did cry out in the wilderness that reducing mechanical grip wasn't the answer then either. And I lost a little more of my passion. Yup, you are right, I feel sorry for me too.

And there still won't be much overtaking on Sunday (unless it rains and moves the focus back onto those four round black things)!

Maybe we shouldn't perceive Formula One to be about racing anymore? Maybe the spectacle would improve if the drivers spent the whole weekend just with a multi-stage- "Fastest-Lap-Contest". Like Qualifying had been in the past. Then we wouldn't have to worry about whether there are one or two overtaking moves to be seen during the weekend or if there is no pass at all. This would also leave current backmarkers like Minardi with a chance of winning again - just crank your engine up to 25000 rpm, it only has to last one lap!?! 
The true problem indeed is the loss of mechanical grip and the turbulences caused by way too tricky aerodynamics. One just needs to watch the videos of Arnoux/Villeneuve and the likes - it's easy to be seen that they had a lot more mechanical grip to play with. Which separates the great from the good. Which is what we all want to see again. Which would, besides, even be ... racing ;-) - PutAllGuysInFerraris - Germany

The Quali-flyer responds:

Hi again,

Fastest lap competition? Yep, that sounds like Q1 as we practice it today. Unfortunately Q1 is as boring as watching the grass grow on Sato and Massa's racing lines. Now if we got back to the old Real Races that used to happen on Saturdays as you suggest then I might go along with that. At least it would be closer to racing than the current rules promote on Sundays.

Unfortunately I believe that Paul's chargers would still sit around the back of the pack, if they can't stay the distance till Saturday without blowing those Cosworths now I can't see them getting to 17,000 rev's let alone 25.

RE: Formula Phoenix...I could not agree more! I have maintained for a long time that F1 needs to be made more interesting. Suggestions like no automation in the car - i.e. a round steering wheel with four spokes (no buttons or switches), a manual gearchange, a foot operated manual clutch, no launch control, no computerised handling, suspension etc. Keep the automation for the DESIGN of the cars, and limit the aero aspects. Do not use computers to enhance their track performance. Then we might have true racing. 
Another idea, not totally original, but that might improve the racing, is to ban joint fuel AND tyre stops - make a pit stop tyre change OR fuel, but not both. Where nose-changes and other stops would fit would need to be sorted of course. 
RE: Spain crystal ball...Sadly I think the article is more or less dead right! - Andy L - Belgium

The Quali-flyer responds:


Thanks for the comments.

I must admit I don't have the answers on lifting the excitement without killing the freedom. Removal of driver aids is certainly high on my list of desirables. Aerodynamic interference with other cars and tyre marbles would seem to be areas where relatively easy solutions are possible. I fail to see why a combination of technology and real racing are impossible to achieve.

While I understand where you are coming from with pit stops that won't really impact on on-track racing, where the excitement used to be. Some other commentators are applauding Max for his efforts, Formula Super V doesn't cut it for me, even if it is cheap.

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