F1 better now than 30 years ago – Wolff

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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Start, Estoril, 1984In the round-up: Mercedes’ motorsport director Toto Wolff believe F1 is more entertaining now than during the ‘turbo era’.


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Keeping the Silver Arrows on target (F1)

Toto Wolff: “I watched the final race of the 1984 championship in Portugal recently, and I came into it one third of the way through. These races were much more boring: you couldn’t hear the engines on TV because they were also turbos, and the only overtaking was lapping.”

No plans for Red Bull technical director (Autosport)

“We are not going to appoint a technical director, we don’t need one. Adrian is still going to be very much involved in helping to set a direction.”

Kimi relationship not unusual – Alonso (ESPN)

“Definitely we work a lot together and the meetings are quite long this year because we have a lot of things to sort out after the races.”

More power, less downforce please (The Way It Is)

“Many of us have pleaded with the powers-that-be for years to cut downforce or even experiment with removing wings, so it’s good to see an important step taken in the right direction. I believe more of the same is the right way forward not only for Formula One but all forms of motor racing.”

Formula 1, Vettel regala al papà una Ferrari California (La Gazzetta dello Sport Italian)

Sebastian Vettel has bought his father a Ferrari California.

What is wrong with this picture? (A former F1 doc writes)

“Why do the owner/operators of the “classic” circuits of the season not band together to put an end to the bizarro world of F1 circuit use. You want to use our infrastructure? It will cost you this much, plus a percent of global TV revenues (averaged over a season, to avoid late season races, with their bigger box offices, earning more just by their place in the calendar), plus some portion of the signage at our circuit.”



Comment of the day

Is the F1 calendar nearing its maximum length?

Don’t get me wrong, I love having a long F1 calendar. Heck I wish F1 was on every weekend of the year!

But I really feel for all the people involved in the operation who have to fly to every race. Anything more than 20 races per year is probably too much. The physical and mental toll from such a long time away from home must be very tough on the teams personnel and their families.

The F1 ‘season’ is one of the longest sporting seasons in all of sport, spanning from March until late November. Which gives them a little over three month “off season”. Which is almost no time at all, and even then they’re not really taking a break, as they’re all there working away the whole time.

Yeah, I think 20 races is arguably too much.
Chris (@Tophercheese21)

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On this day in F1

Following their breakthrough victory at Silverstone the previous month, Williams claimed their third win in a row in the Austrian Grand Prix 35 years ago today.

Alan Jones won, while second-placed Gilles Villeneuve and third-placed Jacques Laffite closed on championship leader Jody Scheckter, who finished fourth.

Here’s the start of the race, where Villeneuve briefly headed Jones for three laps:

Image © Williams/LAT

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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64 comments on “F1 better now than 30 years ago – Wolff”

  1. Regarding Tota Wolff’s comments.

    It wasn’t that there wasn’t any overtaking back in 1984 (The overtaking Stats show that there was a lot back then), The problem was more that the TV directors of the time & the more limited number of cameras around the circuits back then didn’t catch any of it & even when they did most of the time it wasn’t showed.

    It was similar with the engine sound, They didn’t place a lot of microphones around the circuits back then & certainly didn’t always place them on the barriers as close to the track as you can get like has been done the past 15 or so years (By FOM at least, We spent a lot of time through 1997 getting Mic placement as close to perfect as we felt we could).

    Coming back to today, I think the one area where FOM taking over the world feed broadcast has improved the coverage is in covering the best racing & capturing & showing more overtaking regardless of where in the field it is taking place.
    If you go back to when it was left to the local broadcasters (Up until 2007) they tended to stick with the front runners, Or in many cases stick to showing local teams/drivers more often which usually led to missing a lot of the best racing & overtaking happening elsewhere in the field.

    There’s also perhaps 3x more trackside cameras today to catch more of whats going on plus In-car cameras on every car (Although only 9 are active at a time) which helps catch some additional stuff.

    1. @gt-racer, Agree entirely, I can’t fault Bernie here even if we do have many of my pet peeves remaining;
      1. Cutting back to a driver trudging back to the pits. Seriously ! thats the most exciting thing happening ? OK if he’s had a crash we want to see him get out and walk away but after that it’s a non event.
      2. Frequent pictures of LOCAL celebrities/sheiks/politicians. Ok before or after the race, but during?
      3. Possibly gone now, race coverage ending as the winner crosses the line, the last 1/2 lap of racing between the other 20(+ -) cars apparently unimportant.

      1. PS of course Toto was going to say the racing is better for the official F1 site.

      2. I’m not even sure why they cut to the celebrities & stuff in the pits now as its something FOM never used to do, During races at least.
        I’m also not a big fan of the CGI stuff they have been placing on/around the tracks the past year although we did look at stuff like that as far back as 1997 (Go look for the blank green ad boards around the tracks that year).

        As good as the FOM coverage is now compared to the local broadcasters who used to handle the world feed, Its sometimes hard watching when you remember just how much better FOM were in the past.
        The F1 Digital+ coverage was as close to perfect as your going to get, From 1999-2002 especially & the early stages of FOM taking over the world feed from 2004 were just as good.

        It seems however that recently they have started to get a bit complacent & the quality has declined, Although I still think there better than the local broadcasters were & as races like Germany showed there’s still some of the old F1 Digital+ quality magic there.

        I think they need to go back to basics a bit, Focus on what they have always done well & scale back some of the non-racing related bits of coverage.
        A lot of the same people are there, Including Eddie Baker who was the mastermind behind so many of the coverage innovations through the F1 Digital+ era & he basically ran the whole operation (Hence why many called the FOM TV ‘tent’ Bakerville).

      3. What, no Rowan Atkinson @hohum? Surely not.

        1. @john-h, Hmm, was that at Silverstone ? If so I guess he does qualify as local but he is also an international celeb, owns some nice cars too.

      4. petebaldwin (@)
        12th August 2014, 15:46

        @hohum – Nothing annoys me more….

        A battle is developing throughout the race and it looks like it’s going to be played out in the final few laps! He’s been closing in on him on fresher tyres. 2s difference. Next lap 1s away. Final lap 0.5s! Will he get him? Looks like he’s lining up a move!!

        Oh right…. no we’re going to watch Rosberg cross the line and celebrate. Now let’s look at the Mercedes mechanics celebrating. How about an onboard from Nico with Paddy Lowe congratulating him? Yeah that’d be good…

        Cool – right let’s watch the others cross the line.

        1. @prtebaldwin, exactly, thanks for expressing it so well, I’m hopeful that this complaint has been noted since it was last mentioned as we did not see team RBR jumping up and down wetting themselves with excitement at Budapest but cut quickly back to the race after DanR crossed the line.
          (the cynic in me wonders if the camera team were down at the MB-AMG pit-wall out of habit)

          1. @petebaldwyn. above.

          2. @petebaldwin. how many times can I screw this up.

    2. Well it does make a lot of sense when you put it that way, but what I find interesting is that Toto was able to watch a full race from 30 years ago, do they broadcast them regularly in Europe? Where I live that’s completely unheard of.

      1. @mantresx There are a couple broadcasters in Europe who do show the older races.

        Sky UK/Italy/Germany all show classic races, Sky Germany have been doing so for over a decade. In the UK Sky show a classic Gp a night either a full race or highlights (1996 Japanese Gp tomorrow, The showed the 1981 Las Vegas Gp in full not long ago).

        There are also other broadcasters who do similar.

        1. For anyone interested, FOM own/have all the F1 footage from 1981-today.

          Anything before then it owned by whoever shot the footage although FOM have brought at least access to some of the Pre-81 stuff.

          I’d expect to see more archive stuff popping up as FOM are now Digitizing the archive & are making it more available to broadcasters. Sky in the UK will have a new show later this month which will feature some of the never before seen footage thats been sitting in the FOM archive, Be interesting to see exactly what that material is.

        2. @gt-racer Oh thanks mate, I didn’t know that.
          Well that’s something good about Sky then, but I guess there’s a fee for every “classic” race they show.
          It’s just too bad that everyone with a subscription has to pay for it even if they are not going to watch it.

    3. Interesting how Toto watches part of one grand prix from 30 years ago and comes to these conclusions.

      As a fan and observer of F1 since the 1960s I hesitate to put one era over another. Rather, each era is different with its own good and bad. Part of the fascination comes from watching the evolution of F1 from one era to the next as it takes place.

      Each time frame has its stars and memorable moments. As fans we can’t help but compare the different aspects of one era to another, the past to the present and the future, it’s human nature. But, can we really say that F1 now is for sure better than it was 30 years ago? That’s very subjective and there is no quantifiable way to judge it objectively.

      I can say I’m still enjoying the racing in F1 now. Things could always bet better, but even that is subjective. ;-)

      1. you’re the man. Everybody¿s bitching about “the good old days” ,and yet, you remind me of a song from Luis Alberto Spinetta: “even though they force me, they’lle never hear me say that any time, for being past is better.. only tomorrow is best”

    4. The ’84 race watched today is also completely missing the tension that we would have all been experiencing upon turning on the tv back then.

  2. I bet Toto is saying that just because his team is in the lead.

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      12th August 2014, 3:59

      Well I tend to agree with Wolff.
      The Racing this season has been, for the most part, very very good.

      There’s been a couple of less exciting races (Malaysia, possibly China) but they’ve been mostly pretty good :)

      But it’s the same reason you see Luca Di Montezemolo coming out every 2 weeks with new comments as to why this “New Formula One” is terrible. But he’s only saying it because the Ferrari is (yet again) a complete mess.
      I’d guarantee that if Ferrari were winning, then he’d be praising F1.

      1. Possibly?! That was one of the worst races in years!

      2. Ha you make me laugh! The only good races so far this year have been Montreal and …. I can’t think of any others.
        I guess it depends on your version of a good race, but to me a good race is one where you are literally yelling at the tv and waking everyone up. So far this year that has only happened once this year, Montreal, the rest of the races I have been either yawning all through and only looking up at the tv when it sounds like Hammy and Britney sound like they are about to either crash into each other or complain about something. But most of the time I have been surfing the net on my Tablet while “watching” the race.
        Every time I sit down to watch a race I get excited and look forward to it, but then after the first five laps they all settle into their usual routines and I start drifting and yawning. That to me is NOT entertainment. To me, it is all about entertainment, if I have to time to think or worry about everyday life, then it is not entertainment. Maybe it is the directors fault for not showing the action, or maybe it is new rules, maybe it is me, I don’t know. All I know is that I love F1 because I respect the drivers for risking their lives to entertain us, and I think that the cars are fascinating, but the racing itself is boring this year. I don’t want to have to wait through 55 laps to see Rosberg and Hamilton fight for 5 or six laps. I don’t care that they are always winning, but I would much prefer to see them fighting for the whole race, that to me would be entertainment. If they are not fighting then show the next two, I don’t even care if it is the back markers like Marussia or Caterham, I just want to see heart pounding action from flag to flag.
        That is my rant…

        1. I just want to see heart pounding action from flag to flag.

          Do any forms of motorsport actually provide this?

          1. You are probably right. My expectations are too high. If races were heart pounding from flag to flag then that means there would likely be a large amount of driver fatalities, and that is not what anyone wants.

          2. Yes, watch a few MotoGP races. Places can be exchanged two or three times per lap, even with the front runners!


        2. @irejag, yours is a pretty extreme case but I understand, I blame the tyres and pitstops, the tyres deter drivers from pressuring the driver in front and the pit stops allow (require actually) the teams to place their drivers in an uncontested part of the track. These so-called entertainment fixes actually make the racing less exciting but to drop them would be to admit that the Emperor really is naked.

          1. @HoHum
            I agree that part of the problem is the tyres and pit stops. I also feel that there are a number of other factors, but for me Tyres are the biggest.
            I used to be highly against this idea, but if they insist on continuing to use the current generation of tires, they should shorten the races and treat F1 as a “sprint” race so that the drivers can push from start to finish and actually challenge the car in front without worrying about losing grip before the end of the race.
            My other issue with the current generation and many previous generations is the amount of marbles that build up on tracks. I think that it contributes to a fear of attacking the car in front. What I mean by that is, they fear leaving the racing line or going wide into a corner to make a pass because they don’t want to pick up any of the marbles on their tires and lose control. I am not a scientist or a tire expert, but there must be a way to avoid such massive amounts of tire marbles.
            I will stop here because I could go on forever with a lot of the issues that I have with F1 right now.

  3. All hale Gordon Kirby. Bernie also got sucked into the Nascar model which is nothing more than plundering a brand for short term profit.

    1. And a great comment from Gary Hartstein. Between Kirby and Hartstein we have the problem behind the problems of F1, 1 entity controlling the series determined to plunder the profits regardless of the consequences.

    2. By advocating a complete reversal in technology to force F1 back to the late 1970’s to early 1980’s?

      Incidentally, isn’t it odd that he leaves out the fact that the downforce levels produced by the ground effect cars of the late 1970’s to early 1980’s were quite considerable? Similarly, the power output of the turbo cars of the 1980’s meant that the cars were running with relatively large angles of attack – engineers of the time have indicated that the cars of the late turbo era produced as much downforce, if not more, than the ground effect era, but with a considerably larger drag penalty.

  4. Sebastian Vettel has bought his father a Ferrari California.

    Does that mean he’ll join Ferrari next season?

    1. Gazzetta report “In 1995, Michael Schumacher was seen roaming the streets of Monaco at the wheel of a F355. And we know how that turned out.”

      This is brilliant for the silly season.

      And yes, I know I’m almost absurd.

      1. @kingshark who wouldn’t? The F355 was an epic beast !

        Seems rather absurd. But then, I remember in 2006, before the announcement, Kimi had received a custom bike he had bought, and there were pictures of him riding it outside his house. And on the garage, there was an Enzo, I think.

        That brought a lot of comments in the shape of: “he’s definetly going to Ferrari after MSC retires”. And he did :P

        1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
          12th August 2014, 16:44

          Hamilton has just bought a LaFerrari…

        2. By that logic, Button should be driving for Ferrari as he owned a Ferrari Enzo and a Ferrari 512 BB (whilst his father happened to own a Ferrari 550).

    2. It wasn’t a new one anyway.

      1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        12th August 2014, 16:42

        I seem to recall Lewis buying his father a Carrera GT within a year or two of his F1 debut while, as a 4 times champion, Vettel buys his father a used California! What a cheapskate, probably sends tippex-ed out fan mail for birthday cards to his family.

        1. Seem to remember Lulus’ dad crashing it as well within a few weeks

  5. People will not get up early, or stay up late, to watch a race if this is not felt viscerally to be a EUROPEAN series.

    It literally makes me sick to read that kind of thing. Doesnt F1 crown WORLD champions? Hasnt it ever since the beginning been a WORLD series, going through all of Americas, Asia and even Africa? Saying F1 should be an european series is completely ridiculous.

    1. That is definitely an overstatement but don’t dismiss the rest of the article just because of a little parochialism.

    2. yes, because some of the greatest drivers were europeans with such an incredible passion, like Senna, Fittipaldi or Fangio, right?

      1. Or Brabham, Jones, McLaren, Hulme, Amon, Phill Hill, Dan Gurney etc. etc.

  6. Wow, what a start from Gilles, he almost did win the race in the 1st corner, back in the boring old days.

    1. @hohum
      Villeneuve as always rocketing away in the starts, Alain Prost said that he couldn’t understand why Gilles had always lightening starts, he thought that maybe he knew a trick !!!
      +1 Yeah the old boring old days, tell that to Toto !!!

  7. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    12th August 2014, 4:00

    Thanks for the COTD Keith!
    Haven’t had the honour of that in a long while :)

    1. @tophercheese21 Congrats on the COTD, but don’t worry so much for the people that have to fly around, they’re not working against their will or living in appalling conditions, some senior personnel even fly first class!
      It’s the families that get the worst part though, specially when they have to do those 3-4 weeks in a row at the end of the year, Skype is not good enough for that long.

    2. 20 races per year can be done by one set of people, and by adding 1 race to the calendar at a time, you are just stretching that existing set of people a bit further. If we had 40 races a year, the teams could hire a second set of staff and rotate which members of the team went to each GP.

      1. but, costs costs costs. If F1 were healthy this would be a good idea, but in this state it would set up for a disaster

  8. I think that Wolff is basically right. If we were taken back in time to 1980s and had to rate those races, we would probably give most races 4/10.

    That said, I think that every F1 era has been beautiful in its own way. The powers that be should not try to repeat the past but they also should not try to make every second of every race mega exciting.

    1. @girts I do agree. I think that the 1980s was a golden era of drivers but not necessarily for the racing. Perhaps the best aspect was the unpredictability with only a dozen cars finishing most races.

      I see a lot of people talk about the ‘glorious 80s’ yet I don’t get the hype when watching the majority of old races. Saying that, I loved the late 90s era when growing up, and if I watch one of those races now I think it’s pretty dull too. So perhaps it’s a bit more of a sentimental thing.

      I am absolutely loving Formula One 2014, I believe that over the last 4 and a half seasons we have had some phenomenal racing and some excellent championship bouts, despite each of the titles being won by the same driver and team combination, even if some of it is artificial, but F1 is slowly getting the balance right as we have seen this year already.

      1. I agree entirely, F1 (as much as I loved it for the Engineering and Bravery of the drivers) was not much of a spectacle as far as racing was concerned. Week in week out we used to hear the cries and moans of fans and casual observers alike who wanted the sport to do something about the lack of overtaking. Since the 2009 rule changes we have had far better racing than at any point in the previous 20-30 years. Yes one can throw up the odd race that is now considered a ‘classic’ because someone actually did manage some overtaking but the bulk of the races then were what would be considered nowadays a ‘borefest’.

      2. @craig-o, @girts, @asanator, Part of what’s missing when you watch old races is the suspense (why we don’t want to know who won before we watch), not just who won, but who crashed out, who had an engine blowup, which engine gained more power or overcame its reliability problems, which young driver is performing above expectation, etc.

        1. @hohum I don’t really understand your comment. I had the suspense back then as I do now. The wheel to wheel action was just not as good or rather occurred too infrequently compared to recent seasons and that was despite bigger performance differentials between cars. The lack of on track overtaking was a constant complaint and quite frankly most races were dull. I loved them all the same though ;)

          1. @Asanator, I should have said……..”when you watch old races now“, I meant that these things are missing when people watch video of old races. I don’t know what you call old because I think of “lack of on track overtaking as a recent (since re-fuelling began) complaint, go to the roundup and watch the 89 HungarianGP clip to see what I mean.

  9. OMG that must mean Vettel wants to drive for Ferrari!??!? Otherwise he would have bought him a can of Red Bul!???!

    1. Or who knows, an Infinity Q50 ..like the one he helped design as “Director of Performance” ? Of course there may be no such stipulation that any and all vehicles he decides to purchase while under contract to IRB must be Infinity brand vehicles… that would be silly!

  10. Lewisham Milton
    12th August 2014, 8:54

    If only there’d been double points eh Toto? And you didn’t even watch the start. Everybody loves a standing start, that’s why we must have more of them.

  11. Kenneth Ntulume
    12th August 2014, 11:56

    Me thinks, its worrying for an F1 executive of a leading team.
    To have, to make a case for F1 in relation to races 30 years ago…..This is a huge problem…..

  12. Is anyone participating in the Vettel helmet competition?

    1. imgur. com /kZ64mBF

  13. When will the FIA convert Monza to normal highway?

  14. Wonder what Toto’s colleague and fellow director thinks of his comments – the man who became 1984 World Champion, by the closest margin ever, at that race?

Comments are closed.