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Is Formula 1 pouring itself down a Netflix drain?

Is Formula 1 pouring itself down a Netflix drain?

Is Formula 1 pouring itself down a Netflix drain?

Hen pecked and chasing new fans from wherever it can find them, is Formula 1 is drifting away from what it’s supposed to be?

I’m a Formula 1 addict, so much so that my doctor says that the frequency I hear all the time, is what I am deaf to. That’s about what the Ferraris and Matras revved to as they screamed past the Kyalami pits when I was a kid. It’s what stuffed my ears and it just goes to show how entrenched I am in F1.

Yet last week I walked away from the Saudi Grand Prix TV broadcast. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that for no good reason. It gets worse. We planned to go to Monza at last in September, but we canned it, going to Le Mans instead. Am I the only one turning F1 off? That bothers me. Why is it happening?

I suppose I can best define the F1 situation by comparing it to what else I am doing right now. Its grappa season and we’re distilling this year’s stock, taking dregs and boiling the most refined, crystal clear alcohol out if them. It goes on oak next and we’ll worry about it in a year or two. It will be perfect by then; always is.

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A characterless regimen of the same old same old

F1 is doing precisely the opposite. It’s taken a concentrated, extreme, and raw thing of ecstasy and glory, and diluted it into a characterless regimen of the same old same old. These days it’s more about convincing Netflix novices and social media initiates that they’re F1 fans. Race officials are complicit in the plot.

Now there’s nothing wrong with growing the fanbase. It’s making F1 huge and it’s very good for business. In fact, it’s probably the main reason I’m writing this right now. But at what cost?

Getting back to my partial deafness. F1 rules were so simple back then. Bring a 3.0-litre car, or similar, and race. Exotic V12s battled garagisti V8s; some even tried a turbine, others six wheels. Television was embryonic, you’d only find a mobile phone on Starship Enterprise and social media was a wet dream. Brutal F1, however, was fantastic. Incredible.

Did you ever hear a V10 Formula 1 car scream?

Roll on through the 90s into the new millennium. Did you ever hear a V10 F1 car scream? Never mind a field of them. We never heard that. Some had to pre-qualify. Then they dumbed it down to V8s. The noise was still good. God forbid, they even allowed girls on the grid. Dominance was part of F1 from the beginning, but it was always raw, spectacular, and honest.

It was well controlled. Unless there was a technical issue, or something truly out of hand, what you saw on track, was what actually happened. There were no grid penalties. Where they qualified was where they started. Today you need a PHD to figure the grid out for yourself. Never mind the race results.

Alas, penalty, sanction, and confusion are now entrenched in Formula 1 lore. So when Fernando Alonso wandered a little left out of his Saudi pit box that hardly fitted his Aston Martin, more fiasco followed. It doused the little spark left for me in that Jeddah race. The last straw. I went to do something else.

I read later that the Alonso debacle raged well into the night. Naturally, it dominated the social media. Like a Lewis Hamilton fart does. Whoopee! Of course, there’s been so much news since. About Fernando, of Max and Sergio, Charles and Fred, and the rest. Most of it fake. It’s all part of that F1 show, you know?

They can’t race for fear of steward sanction

Official overregulation is destroying F1. They can’t race for fear of steward sanction. The little grey men in the tower have become the most important people at a Grand Prix circuit. The stewards and their cronies are bigger than the drivers, the cars, and the teams. They decide it all. Not the racing.

Unlike in Moto GP. The riders are still the gladiators there. Their bikes, the teams, and the racing make for a sublime and incredible show. The officials, the chatter, and rest, are just trivia. They’re there to support the stars. Not steal the glory.

Not so in F1. Everything that once made the F1 show great, seems so secondary now. Not sure how good all that is for the ‘sport’. But it’s great for the ‘show’. For Netflix, the social media, the ratings.

So who cares if the racing’s crap while F1 ratings buzz on stupid decisions? What else matters? Racing has become an alarmingly insignificant facet in a very different modern F1 show. That’s why I turned off. Let’s just pray that we get some real racing back in Australia this weekend.