Wheels turn in Formula one. Well duh! Formula One is cyclical is probably a more apt description. For all the technological change and swinging doors, the halls of F1 will always be as politically charged as it is now electric. A circa-2007 Flavio Briatore may not have indulged in smarmy conference finger-pointing if he had the smallest inkling about his future on the peripheral of the sport (well okay, maybe not), as his story says much about the snakes and ladders environment of motor-sport’s top level.
Silverstone 2013 in my opinion was a darker day for Formula One than Indianapolis 2005 for one simple reason; while the fans in North America paid for F1’s political manoeuvring, a modicum of concern was a least being directed towards driver safety. At Silverstone, against Pirelli’s recommendations, drivers were put at risk (by virtue of incorrectly-fitted tyres and questionable pressure settings) essentially to force a change in tyre construction – and in so doing – favor some teams over others.
And so the wheel has turned. With the realistic prospect of a 50% retirement rate in Melbourne on the cards, the Renault-powered teams of Caterham, Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing find them facing a conceivable mountain of points to climb – if Mercedes’ pre-season form is anything to go by. Nico Rosberg’s day two lap haul for the three-pointed star was nearly three-times that of Caterham’s, Toro Rosso’s and Red Bull Racing’s combined accrual and made Kamui Kobayashi’s 54 lap miracle look like a marathon.
As such, Toto Wolff’s comments that F1 should take note of its fan’s backlash over double points are telling.
“I think obviously the shitstorm we got afterwards was something not expected” said Wolff, as he probably now recognizes any initial advantage gained over Adrian Newey should be protected at all costs. Double points during the final three races (traditional Red Bull territory) is the last thing Mercedes needs – if initial form is a precursor of what’s to come.
Inversely, Red Bull could now find themselves having to support the novelty points-scoring concept to stay in the title hunt – and an about-face on their original reaction to the proposal.
A more appropriate move would be to award double points for at the calendar’s more prestigious or challenging races such as Monaco or Spa. Regrettably this isn’t the case and we find ourselves in another scenario where a novel rule change has become used for a political advantage.
Hardly surprising though, now that Bernie’s ludicrous double-points concept just might become the saving grace of a potentially ludicrous Formula One season.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic