Everyone knows Williams’ position on customer cars – we think it goes completely against the DNA of our sport.
Claire Williams, 2014 Monaco Grand Prix
Customer cars was brought in to the discussion. I personally don’t think it’s the right path to go, it’s against the DNA of F1 I think.
Eric Boullier, 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix
The regulations and the agreements do provide that, if the grid is less than 20 cars, then participating teams will race a third car. That’s something everybody signed up to as well. I hope it never comes to that. As I said, I think the DNA of Formula One should be preserved.
Vijay Mallya, 2014 Singapore Grand Prix
Formula One has a DNA and a race like Monza, I guess they’re extremely important.
Marco Mattiacci, 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix
Noise of a Formula One car is part of the DNA of Formula One.
Christian Horner, 2013 Indian Grand Prix
Whether the question F1 faces is how to reverse its worrying decline in viewing figures, how to control costs to ensure a healthy grid of competitors, or any of the other challenges it faces, those in positions of power within the sport are rightly concerned about preserving the essential character of the sport.
But is it possible to define what is “the DNA of Formula One”? After all, some of these aspects which are being claimed as intrinsic to F1 have not always been so.
Three-car teams, for example, were last seen as recently as 1985, when Renault ran a trio of cars at the end of the season. Customer cars were legal in F1 for decades, and it is ironic that of all teams Williams should take such a strong line against bringing them back, as they first entered the sport using a customer Brabham chassis in 1969.
These are important matters and it should be possible to answer questions about them definitively. For example, the number of cars a team may enter inevitably has a profound effect on its chances of success compared to its rivals.
Whether that number should be kept at two or changed to three or more matters less than the fact that this should never be in doubt to begin with. How many cars a team has should be an indisputable part of F1’s DNA in exactly the same way we know the number of players on a football team.
Now more than ever, those running Formula One must decide once and for all what it is supposed to be.
The story of Formula One in the Bernie Ecclestone era has been about how every aspect of the sport has been moulded to create a spectacle for television. And changes like Safety Cars instead of red flags and late start times at eastern rounds to suit European TV schedules did not necessarily come at a great cost to the sport.
But in recent years the concessions to the television audience have grown increasingly unacceptable. This year’s double points season finale is the most blatant example of Ecclestone’s desperation to shore up viewing figures violating F1’s sporting integrity, and the impassioned backlash it provoked from fans should have come as no surprise to anyone.
This is why it is time for the FIA, in its role as F1’s regulator, to declare what it expects from its premier championship. Should F1 be a fusion of the sporting challenge of driving high-performance racing cars and the engineering challenge of designing them? Or a made-for-TV sport-themed entertainment product chiefly intended as a branding exercise for blue-chip companies?
The best way to decide that would be to ask current fans why they started watching F1 in the first place, instead of guessing what new fans might want from it.
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