There’s not a single person in the F1 world that doesn’t like coming to Melbourne, I’m sure of it. Maybe those in charge of logistics might disagree, after all, it’s a long way from the factories for all those last minute ‘go faster’ parts to get to the track. But in terms of atmosphere and entertainment for the fans it’s a brilliant way to start the new season.
On Sunday morning the fans were queuing round the block to get in. I’ve never personally seen queues like it at Albert Park and whilst I’m not going to claim that there was a record attendance, I’d like to think that numbers were up on previous years.
Fed a non-stop diet of on track action and noise from the skies, there are plenty of reasons to be queuing from the early morning too. As there will be at Silverstone when you come along in July, there’s plenty of support series racing, Aussie V8’s being the highlight in Melbourne, along with the daily visit from the Royal Australian Air Force. A display so loud that it actually shakes my commentary box. Not just mine either, wherever you stand you feel your rib cage rattling. This year though, thanks to my new Isolate ear plugs I actually managed to get a shot of the plane flying overhead. Previous attempts had failed because a) the plane was going too fast and b) taking a photo whilst trying to stick your fingers in your ears to avoid deafness is a pretty pointless exercise.
Now at this stage, I could make a subtle link from my own personal pointless exercise to the new F1 regulations, which according to some of the tweets I received after the race, you believe to be a total waste of time too.
I fear that this blog might just take on a similar theme to years previous where I implore you all to have patience and a bit of faith in the night, and not get to negative too quickly. Maybe it’s the way of life but I do get the sense that we are all guilty from time to time of over reacting to change and quick to condemn.
I’m well aware that there wasn’t much overtaking in Sunday’s race, trust me I was watching every moment. But Melbourne is a track where overtaking can be tricky enough at the best of times, so let’s not declare the new regulations a total failure just yet.
One race, people, where apparently F1 became a total bore fest. Or where some wish they hadn’t bothered getting out of bed. Or where there was no racing whatsoever, definitely not better than before. So many tweets, so much negativity and whilst you’re all very much entitled to an opinion, shouldn’t we be a little balanced here?
Or should we? Are some of the fans – I understand that not every F1 fan tweets me after the race and that those that do make up a very very small section of the overall audience – right to be jumping up and down and crying foul? The new cars look great, the new big fat rear tyres look absolutely spot on and some of the new liveries are actually a refreshing change from the dullness we’ve been getting used to, and yes I am including the Force India pink in that. Can’t understand why anybody doesn’t like the pink cars? Pink, by the way boys, isn’t just a colour for girls and the most important thing about the change of colour is that it comes with a 5 year sponsorship deal that brings a sizeable sum of money to the team which might help them develop their car and fight the bigger teams more often in the future. So stop complaining about the colour and think about the ramifications behind it.
But I digress and I think it’s important not to now, because despite all my cheery optimism for the new season ahead, I am a little concerned ladies and gentlemen. Concerned because too many drivers think overtaking is impossible, and they’ve been saying this since before the first race. Now it may be a clever ruse by the class of 2017 to find an excuse as to why they didn’t have the best of races, but I don’t think it is.
I was told 2 years ago by a leading technical director from a Formula 1 team that if you wanted to reduce the amount of turbulence behind an F1 car you should make the rear wing taller and nar-rower. Which makes me wonder why we have wings this year that are lower and wider?! I may have been told this information when I was younger but I didn’t listen then, physics didn’t interest me. And I hope that the sport we love hasn’t been guilty of not listening to those that did question some of the regulation changes? Fears were raised that we were heading down a road where letting the aerodynamicists have more influence and freedom would impact in a negative way when it comes to close racing. But hey, the cars are faster now so it doesn’t matter, but it does and this is where I’m going to sound a little bit like a stuck record here, but for the record, and you can quote me on this. I don’t care if there isn’t a single overtake in a Grand Prix, obviously I’d like there to be plenty, but if we don’t get it, we don’t get it. BUT, and this is the key for me, there has to be the potential for lots of overtaking to happen. After which it’s up to the drivers to find a way past or think of an epic way to defend.
Simple yes, if the car behind gets nice and close and can stay nice and close, then you’re going to have the potential for something to happen. If you can’t get within 2 seconds without it affecting the handling and harming your tyres, then you’re not creating much opportunity for the drivers to display their skills.
But as I said, Australia isn’t a great track for overtaking. China can be, it certainly has been in the past and it has a very long straight with a DRS Zone that can be tweaked if needed to help cars get alongside.
So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that after a few races everything will settle down and we can get back to the important issues that all us fans want to talk about. Lewis and his new tattoo/nose piercing, Seb’s beard, why Nicole Kidman felt the need to introduce herself to Kimi? Surely he knew who she was, right? He’d have been told by his PR minder about five seconds before they shook hands!
And one thing, having seen the footage now, that I am convinced about, is that these cars are going to look absolutely mega at Silverstone. A track that will bring out the best of what we have in 2017, a season that I refuse to write off on the evidence of one race and one that after Ferrari’s performance here in Australia, could well be worth the effort.