Somewhere near the bottom of the ‘Things to Fix with F1′ list, beneath ‘overtaking’, ‘distribution of income’ and ‘fuel burn-off in qualifying’, is the dearth of Formula One action on the Friday of a race weekend.
130,000 Spaniards are at the Circuit de Catalunya to watch Fernando Alonso this weekend. So far, he’s done just 18 laps. On his last visit to the Catalunya on April 13th for testing, with no crowd, he did 106. Where is the sense in that?
The decline in Friday action began in 2004 when the FIA required teams to use one engine per race. It became worse with the advent of two-race engines last year. The move to entirely new 2.4-litre V8 specification engines for this season has made teams even more conservative with their running outside of the Grand Prix itself.
In session one this morning, race drivers completed a total of 42 laps – less than two per driver. Even taking into account the damp conditions at the beginning of the session, the fact that some teams have third drivers, and how well they all know the circuit, that is an appalling disservice to the fans.
Four years ago in the same session the same number of drivers did 744 laps between them – almost 34 each. For the fans at the track side forced to pay excessively high ticket prices year-on-year, Formula One is looking like worse and worse value for money.