When was F1 at its best? The rose-tinted spectacles problem (Making F1 better)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Did F1 really have a golden era?
Did F1 really have a golden era?

In the golden days of F1 every Grand Prix was a classic, with 20 changes of lead and a photo finish. Dashing drivers would climb from beautiful, sponsor-free cars, light a cigarette and regale the world’s press with quick-witted quips.

Nonsense, of course. It’s easy to write off modern F1 as a pale shadow of its former self, but all too often we are looking at the past through rose-tinted spectacles.

Still, there is much F1 can learn from its past. Which is why we should begin our discussion of how to make F1 better by asking what made F1 great, and what – if anything – is it missing now.

I started watching F1 in 1989 and I always think of those first three years as among the best ever seen in F1. These were the glory days of Prost-vs-Senna-vs-Mansell and I saw some spellbinding races – Hungary ’89, Suzuka ’89, Mexico ’90, Suzuka ’90, Spain ’91 and more.

But I suspect I’m falling victim to the ‘rose-tinted spectacles’ effect when I forget about the less exciting races – the ones where Senna or Prost led all race long and only saw a rival car when they lapped them.

Re-watching race highlights on Youtube makes things worst. A ten-minute race clip can make any race seem exciting – but what happened in the other 110 minutes?

Watch an unedited race from the seventies or eighties and a few things strike you.

First, there were so many retirements. Barely half the field made it to the chequered flag on a good day. Today a failure for one of the top teams is unusual, even at this early stage in the season.

Driver errors were not necessarily more common, but they were more likely to result in a retirement. Cars became stuck on kerbs, bogged down in gravel traps and smashed into walls.

Closer barriers contributed to a greater sense of speed and a more impressive spectacle – as did the showers of sparks from those low-running cars of the early nineties. Modern safety standards may make it impossible to recapture that kind of drama.

Above all, looking at past races you get the sense that everything was much less professional, even as little a 20 years ago. Teams were less well-prepared, more likely to make mistakes.

But they can’t un-learn what they already know any more than we can put a wall around the outside of Eau Rouge. Not all the lessons we learn from the past can be applied to the future.

Over to you

What do you think we can learn from past F1 seasons? Here’s some questions for you discuss in the comments.

When did you start watching F1? Which do you consider were the best seasons you ever saw – and why?

We never see slipstreaming races like those we had at Monza in the fifties and sixties any more. Races where a different leader every lap was common, and a driver knew if he led at the start of the final lap he wouldn’t win a race. Why is that? Would you like to see a return to that kind of racing at some tracks?

In the past F1 cars have lapped circuits in under a minute (at Dijon) and up to ten (at Pescara and the Nurburgring). Now they take a minute and a half, give or take 15 seconds, wherever they go. Why has that variety been lost, and should we bring it back?

The practice of multiple circuits sharing one Grand Prix, which was common in France and Britain for decades, has disappeared everywhere apart from Germany. Is this a good thing?

Why is the Circuit de Catalunya, a track that was lauded as an excellent venue for overtaking when it was added to the calendar in 1991, now condemned for producing boring races?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

This is part of “Making F1 better”, a series of articles looking at ways to improve Formula 1. Fore more information see the introduction: Making F1 better: a discussion series

Making F1 better

218 comments on “When was F1 at its best? The rose-tinted spectacles problem (Making F1 better)”

  1. The first full season I watched was 2003, and funnily enough, that’s also my favourite ever season. :D

    1. It was a good year – but then the seasons before and after it were the worst I’ve ever seen, so perhaps that’s part of the reasons why.

      1. Yeah I agree with that, 2002 and 2004 were very bad indeed so maybe made 2003 look brilliant. Still a good year though.

        1. damonsmedley
          24th April 2010, 14:39

          2002 was my first year and although it is considered a boring year by many, it remains one of my personal favourites and I don’t even support Schumacher! But what I miss dearly is the scream of a V10 going past… I would turn the volume up so loud my hairs would stand on end and tears would form in my eyes, and I was only 8 years old. Now revisiting videos where I can hear that sound makes me sad when I think of the horrible monotonous low-revving drone of the severely rev limited V8s of today. But Bernie keeps changing F1 far too dramatically and in the wrong areas. He only needs to reduce the aero to around the late ’90s levels, which in turn would increase overtaking, improve the FOM telecast and make it more accessible for fans. (And give us HD!)

      2. when your team is wining nothing matters more thats why you liked 89 90 and 91 the rose tinted spectacles maybe that lacked last year because no one said 09 was perfect because it was an unusual season it finished a few months back and we arent kids anymore (some of us) i loved 2000 its stuck on my brain but reviewing maybe it wasnt that good

      3. I started watching in the late 90’s when the Schumi-Hakkinen rivalry was its peak.

    2. Same here, that season made me fall in love with the sport :D

      1. Ummm … so, 1967 as a VERY young wee boy cheering on the dominant Scot (My parents didn’t know GP. They knew countrymen! lol) makes me seem olde?

        Or, the pedal car decked out in Lotus livery and plastic Cosworth? :)

        Roaring around the neighbourhood, I was Stirling, Jimmy and Jackie all in one!



        I was andy.

        Best of them all! LOL

        Cute side story? Like most Scots,
        Jimmy Clark had relatives in Canada.

        One day whilst driving the busiest
        highway in the world, I spotted a well
        dressed man at the side of the road.
        His motor was non groovy-like.

        I pulled over to offer him help.
        Gave the lad a lift to the village next to mine. We got talking and he told me his name was Jimmy Clark. I jokingly asked if he was related to “the” Jimmy Clark.

        Yes he replied. His maw’s uncle.


        Turns out dad’s last name was Clark too!

        And, the lads dad was named Jimmy! (Yeah. I know. What a shock. A Scot named Jimmy).

        The boy was a school teacher on the way to visit his sister for the weekend and we did not have mobiles back then.

        1. 2003 was a very good season then, the race went to the final round of the season in Japan.It was the season that made know Kimi.

        2. J.A. Summers
          29th April 2010, 16:56

          What a great story, gpfan!

    3. I started watching F1 in 1986.
      It was the age of dueling Prost-Senna-Mansell-Piquet-Berger
      It was the picture of the late 80s and early 90s…
      There was an atmosphere a bit special (many today are nostalgic of that period)
      The races were not necessarily more exciting than today. The tempo of the race was slower in my opinion, punctuated by pit stops and overtaking slower cars. Not always big battles !

      I remembered :
      The bravery of the pilots (they had the “balls” to drive in thses conditions with a total lack of security)
      The real rivalry between the drivers, with fair play
      The uncertainty associated with retirement of racing, accidents …
      The many cars…, the golden age of sponsorship (cigarettes, alcohol)

      I stopped watching F1 in the early 2000s, more annoying to me and those who really have hurt the F1 with ultra boring race and to much domination

      Since 2005, the seasons are more interesting fom me, more exciting, wtith a lot of new strong driver – but business and politic are killing the sport.
      I hope that it could change ..

      I Continue to watch F1 and I found the beginning of the season very nice. I’m also on some tracks sometime and I’m never disappointed from the show.

  2. Grace Puddleduck
    23rd April 2010, 16:02

    Barcelona always produces boring races because teams know how to set their cars up perfectly due to the fact they test there every single year.
    Easy fix to this, change the test tracks around evey year, or, test at tracks that dont have F1 races – ala San Marino, Paul Ricard etc.

    1. Totally they shouldn’t be allow to test on race tracks that will be used for racing in that particular year.But the problem this season it was easy for the team to go to Spain as it cost them less money.

      1. J.A. Summers
        29th April 2010, 16:52

        In Spain, you could still go to Valencia or Jérez to test. (Or even Motorland Aragón, but that would probably only offer needless setup worries.)

    2. I was at the UAE race!!

    3. I went to the UAE race!!! Miss ya!!

  3. I think there are two issues here. Firstly there is the issue of more entertaining racing – which is lots of overtaking, not knowing who’s going to win until near the end of the race, and so on. Then there is the issue of what makes a season entertaining – which tends to be a close championship with lots of different people in contention at different stages. For me the two issues are somewhat independent – for example, 2007 will go down in history as one of the closest and most interesting championships of its era, but taken individually the races were largely extremely dull.

    You can control the first factor much more easily than you can the second, at least while keeping something that vaguely adheres to the spirit of F1. The danger with sweeping rule changes is that one team will get a headstart on the rest and dominate, as we saw with Brawn in 2009, Renault in 2005 and McLaren in 1998, to give recent examples. But the rule changes can improve individual races by increasing overtaking opportunities and so on. So for me it’s not so much a question of “Which season was the best?” as a question of “What factors produced the best individual races?”

    1. OK, so, which factors produced the best individual races?

      1. There’s the other problem! The races we tend to remember as being the “best” are the ones with exceptional circumstances – Suzuka 2005, for example, where the race wasn’t decided until the last lap. But if it hadn’t rained on Saturday and mixed up the grid, that race wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting. If every race was decided on the final lap it would cease to be remarkable or interesting.

        That’s not to say that there can’t be improvement in the general quality of racing. But the “rose-tinted specs” effect you mention means that it’s difficult to compare between eras, because it’s only the truly classic races that remain in the memory. And by definition, not every race can be a classic.

        1. … and even if every race could be a “classic” that would make them all a little less special and we’d probably hear complaints of “These races are all just to chaotic.”

        2. And by definition, not every race can be a classic.

          I do think that gets forgotten sometimes. I’m sure even football fans can get bored during nil-nil draws.

          1. J.A. Summers
            29th April 2010, 16:55

            Yes, I do agree. When talking about the “golden era” of F1, we seem to remember that even those years had boring races. To me, it’s not about making every race exciting. Not every race needs to be exciting. On the contrary, boring races make the few exciting ones stand out a lot more. Boring races are part of F1, just like goalless draws are part of football, and no one complains about them, millions of new people start watching football every year, and no one is asking to “improve the show” there.

  4. I’ve enjoyed watching F1 since the mid eighties. I’ve always enjoyed it however, I did turn off for a couple of years in the early 2000’s. Honestly I think for non-Shumacer/Ferrai fans that was the only time that F1 was more ‘boring’ than it is right now.

    1. I reckon F1 was only fun for Schumacher fans in 2002 the way it was only fun for Mansell fans in 1992.

      1. Christian Biddon
        23rd April 2010, 16:30

        My first attended GP was Estoril 1992 where I saw Mansell win not only the race but the championship. I also got to see Senna drive.

        A stunning first live race. :-)

        1. he won the championship at hungary, not at estoril.

        2. Did you see Patrese’s crash? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj7TewU5AVc for those who haven’t seen it)

          1. Thanks KC,never saw that before…Patrese taking a draft from Breger going in to the pits…maybe you could do a post on bad moves in F1.

      2. Praveen Titus
        28th April 2010, 11:23

        You can say that again. In fact if there was an option to cancel a few seasons from the history of the sport, it should be 2002 and 2004, because those seasons were responsible for the creation of the myth that Schumacher is Invincible!

        I’m not interested in sparking an argument here. I’m not discrediting Schumi. Michael Schumacher is one of the greatest drivers of all time – no question about that. But, the fact that he had no realistic competition from anyone made people think he could beat anyone, anytime, anywhere.

        In contrast, Jimmie Johnson, though creating a somewhat Schumacher effect in NASCAR, does not make it boring because there is still the unknown factor in NASCAR – u never know who will win the race. F1 did not have that unpredictability factor in 2002, and to a certain extent in 2004.

        However, Schumi did display some great driving in 2004, fending off Montoya at the start to get the lead at Monza, for example.

        1. The 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, if I counted correctly had 37 points races. If you recall, Jeff Gordon came third in the Championship even though he only won 1 race in the whole season. Mark Martin came second in the series scoring only 5 wins. Jimmie Johnson, the champion, won 7 races. That’s only 18.9% of the races (Sebastien Vettel won 23.5% of the F1 races in 2009 and still came second in the championship). However, Kyle Busch, like Mark Martin, won 5 races in the 2009 NASCAR season, but missed the Chase for the Cup because he didn’t have consistent top 20 or better finishes. Again, Denny Hamlin scored 4 wins, but only finished fifth in the chase because he didn’t have enough Top 20 or better finished. Success in NASCAR is far more about consistent finishes rather than winning. Jimmie Johnson won four consecutive titles during which time plenty of other drivers won races. Since they weren’t able the match he overall consistent top 20 or better finishes, they couldn’t beat him. So what does it matter if you don’t know who will win a NASCAR race? You know Johnson will be within 5 places of whoever does win and will most likely win the championship because of it. My point being that in the grand scheme of the NASCAR season you know who’s probably going to take the title, just like in 2002 and 2004 you knew Schumacher was going to take the title. Drivers winning an odd race in NASCAR is like Ralf Schumacher, David Coulthard, or Montoya winning an race or even getting pole in 2002 or 2004. Eight times out of ten Michael Schumacher had the better race pace and even if the other drivers managed to win a race Michael was still on the podium. So how can you say NASCAR, in context, isn’t as allegedly boring as F1 was in 2002 and 2004?

          1. Praveen Titus
            28th April 2010, 14:22

            I understand your point. Totally agree. But if you leave the grand scheme and talk about NASCAR on a race-by-race basis, it makes you want to see till the end of the race because u never know when something would happen. Who would get a draft to soar to the front of the pack,who would run out of fuel or when a last lap carnage would bring out the pace car and the change the strategy for the drivers? If you watched the race at Talladega, no one knew Kevin Harvick had a chance at that win except at the last lap. In just the previous lap it looked as if Montoya would pull it off!

            But in F1 in 2002 I could know by around lap 10 in almost any race that Schumacher would clinch it. It wasn’t a “race” anymore. Forget the championship situation – not knowing who will win till at least the last 5 laps does make a difference.

          2. I’ve watched all the NASCAR races this season except Texas. Yes, Talledega, and other races were exciting, in and of themselves. Looking at F1, though, it really gets me on the edge of my seat when someone wins, or has a chance of winning because you know it actually means a lot towards the championship. For me, NASCAR does not get me as exciting because wins don’t mean as much. Again, as you said, the finishes this year Talladega and Daytona to name a couple, were exciting, but nowhere near as exciting, for me, as an F1 win or finish. I find when I’m watching a NASCAR race, I’m more concerned as to whether my favorite drivers finish well rather than who won because I feel that it’s more important. For Example, Talledega last year. Jamie MacMurray won the race – meh. However, Jimmie Johnson crashed – that’s exciting. That result had the potential to close up the chase for the cup. So, for me, the excitement in NASCAR is more in whether teams will keep out of trouble and keep their car in tune with the changing track conditions so that they will finish well. I would say the same thing about Formula One if Formula had a similar points system and amount of races.
            Going back to one of the original comments about F1 in 2002 and 2004 being allegedly boring. I personally found it amazing that Schumacher and Ferrari won so Formula One races. I always thought, given to peak level of competition that is Formula One, that it’s just as exciting when a driver or drivers dominate races as it is when the races are close because it is so hard, as we’ve see in the last 3 seasons of F1, to be that dominant. It’s tempting to think that what Schumacher and Ferrari did from 2000 to 2006 was easy, but is unbelievably hard to do that in F1. That’s why Michael Schumacher is considered on of the greats.

    2. How can you say that F1 is boring now. The last 3 championships have gone down to the wire.

      1. I dont really think you could say that 2009 went down to the wire, but I agree with your point.

        1. The individual races are boring. The sum of their parts made the championship interesting.

          2008 was a fairly boring year up until the last corner of the last race.

          1. I don’t think as much, similar to previous comments, as a whole the 2008 season i enjoyed, but individual races werent the best. However this year the individual races have been pretty good.

          2. Why? I think that in 2008 there have been much more exciting races than in other years. Of course there where some snoozers (Valencia) but the races at Melbourne, Monaco, Canada, Silverstone, Spa, Monza and Brazil have been great while some others (Turkey, Japan,…) have been reasonably good. Compare this to the almost totally boring races of 2007, a season that was only saved by the tight championship and the last few races.

        2. It’s true that 2009 didn’t go to the wire but Button had a tough fight in Brazil to get his championship & that last couple of laps battle between Webber & Button really highlighted the year showing that the usual front runner Mclaren Ferrari & Renault were taking a back seat.

  5. Started watching in the 70s. Attended the British GP in Mansell’s heyday.

    Race coverage and coverage of the sport is much more intense now. We used to be treated to abbreviated highlight coverage of some races which was frustrating. And of course there was no internet coverage, limited in-car shots and fewer cameras in general. I actually could understand the race a lot better from one spot at the circuit, with no large TV screens to observe and no radio commentary/mobile TV than I could watching on TV. I remember seeing the joy in the Minardi pit when they actually scored a point from my spot at the end of the front straight at Silverstone.
    But some of the most boring seasons were those dominated by the likes of Lotus where two cars would practically be in a separate race from the other teams. I lost interest to a great degree when Shumi dominated because the result was a foregone conclusion. The last three seasons and this one have actually been amongst the best from that perspective, who knew Braun would dominate or if they could hang on for a full season? Who knew the championship could be decided at the last corner of the last race of a season?
    So enjoy it kids! It’s great! Millions spent for your entertainment and you can watch it all for free!

    1. Cheerio- I think F1 hasn’t been boring since alonso took schumachers dominance away. Those 2k to 2004 was a complete snooze! More overtaking would be welcome with open arms of course, but what are you going to do? Take the wings away? I think that would be a great idea actually! More performance commanded by the driver and overtaking! Tell me what’s wrong with that. By the way Bernie, that would significantly cut costs!

      1. >Take the wings away? I think that would be a >great idea actually! More performance >commanded by the driver and overtaking! Tell >me what’s wrong with that.

        Team sponsors wouldn’t be very happy tho’ :)

    2. Well said, Scalextric.
      And, most here don’t
      know what Scalextric
      means! ;)

      Play Station? pffff.

      By the by. We were lucky
      to get the footage you got.

      Were it not for The Indy
      500, I should not have seen
      GP stars live at all.

      Every year of F1 is the best


  6. Closer barriers contributed to a greater sense of speed and a more impressive spectacle

    The Tech-Pro barriers could help with this, I know they have them at newer tracks like Yas Marina. I’m not sure how much run-off they could potentially remove the need for, but perhaps we could wrap them round the Nordschleife! ;)

    1. Now that’s the kind of thinking I like!

      Al though you have got me wondering whether it was a TecPro barrier that Natacha Gachnang crashed into last week. Anyone know?

      1. don’t forget that the teams want to bring down costs, so they wouldn’t be happy to write-off a car, bringuing those berriers closer, just for the show.

    2. Ned Flanders
      23rd April 2010, 16:18

      Are they that safe though? Natacha Gachnang hit them (albeit pretty hard) at Abu Dhabi on Saturday, and she broke her leg. Plus the session had to be postponed for ages while the barriers were prepared

      1. I was watching that session, she went in pretty damn hard nose first, I’m sure the barrier system actually stopped her from receiving worse injuries.

      2. I would take the possibility of having an extended delay, if the nordsclife be put into modern F1 hands.

      3. But would she have been safer in an F1 car or not? I have no idea, because although an F1 can resist incredible impacts, the drivers still has their feet fairly close to the front of the car, so it might only take a minor failure to prove critical.

    3. How much would 26 miles of Tech-Pro cost?!

      I wish they’d put some up at the last corner at Barcelona. Lose that stupid chicane, and give us the old fast, scary corner back. That might improve the races there.

      1. The main reason for not racing at Nordsclife is response times. Granted cars are less likely to catch fire but the threat is still there.

        1. Plus the cars can’t get round all the corners quickly now, they have to creep round the top of at least one of the banked hairpins! :-)

      2. i agree. As long as they keep doing that thing to race tracks, they won’t see me at any of them. I only watch moto gp live, f1, i watch it on tv. Moesley must do a lot to bring f1 to a decent standard. He is on the right path, it seems.

        1. i meant jean todt. Mosley was the one that started the mess.

  7. When did you start watching F1? Which do you consider were the best seasons you ever saw – and why?
    – I started watching in 2000 or 2001, schus dominant era, i remember being bored of him winning all the time, somehow i stuck with it though, which is some going for a 12 year old! But i think 2008 or 09 where the best i have actually seen.

    Shorter sub 1minute tracks.
    -I have no issue with them, if places liek Laguna Seca are ever suggested by fans, another fan will immediately short them down with “its too short” I dont buy it. I want to see mega long 16 mile tracks back, there more issues with them though.

    Alternating tracks
    – Couldn’t care less quiet frankly

    -Its a high speed track, lots of long progressive, quick corners, just the kind of corners that the current days cars, can’t follow in because of the wake.

    Make it better by – Less Wing, Fatter tyres, maybe the low profile will work too, turbo or kers engines, no double diffusers, and allow teams to use things like adjustable rear wings, or fduct stalling device things.

    1. if everbody has f-ducts adjustables and kers ther is no point but if you r mclaren fan thats brilliant

  8. That’s exactly it, in most cases people say their child hood was the best part of their lives because their memeries are vague and only seem to remember the best bits, it’s like that in f1 too, clearly, the best bits of the past seasons are remembered for the overtakes, but surelythere were races where few maneuvers occured, even in that classic period in the 70s and 80s we would have seen our fair shares of Bahrain 2010s.

    Another point is that the invention of the computer seems to have been problematic for the spectator, long ago a huge engine could be enough, brute force would win you a race. Then teams began trying aerodynamic components (lotus high rear spoiler ect) but these could be crude estimates and took a long time to prepare, hand drawn and written mathematic calculations. The computer, as great as it is, has spoiled f1, teams can make adjustments and new components and see acurately ( for the most part) how they will react on a track. The pieces made are so efficient that the front runners cars are now almost equal in terms of downforce/ drag efficiency, and the engine regulations mean that there is not much to be gained by using differant engines so:

    how about regulating the amount of electricity a team can use to stop them using their computers or give them less powerful stock supercomputers to limit their calculations, failing that increase rear tyre sizes, give us V10s and much softer or much harder tyres please.

    1. Adrian Newey still uses a pencil and paper

      1. Yes, He’s also a distant relative of Jesus :)

  9. Geoff Thomas
    23rd April 2010, 16:13

    Interesting series of questions! I started following F1 in the early ‘sixties and the first GP I attended was at Brands Hatch in 1964 and I’ve attended just about every British GP since then…
    And the truth of the matter is that there wasn’t a ‘golden age’ at all – just some formulae were better than others. I miss the sound of a V12 engine and also the mind-blowing speed of the turbo cars in a straight line even if the noise was nothing special. When I watched 1.5-litre cars they were F1 so they were OK if slow by today’s standards. However, in the early ‘sixties they were the biz.
    I certainly don’t miss the tragic fatality rate in the first 20 years I watched the sport and we all owe Jackie Stewart a huge debt of gratitude for his safety stance which so many deplored at the time.
    Truth be known, I’ve enjoyed watching F1 racing in each of the decades I’ve been attending Grands Prix. Wildly different, but always at the cutting edge of technology and with drivers I’ve admired for their skill, personalities and sheer bravado.
    It’s a wonderful sport and although I can understand people not being turned-on by it, I still get up at ungodly hours to watch events unfold. And although I’ve frequently not agreed with him, we should all thank Bernie – and to a degree Max – for creating a sport which receives widespread media coverage. In the 1960s, F1, with the exception of Monaco and the British GP was only covered in depth if someone was killed or seriously injured. Thank god those days are behind us.
    Yes, it’s far, far more professional and vastly more difficult to get into the paddock to see the cars which is a shame. Technology has changed – telemetry didn’t even exist in 1964 – and the circuits are more prone to boring races. But it that means fewer drivers at one with unyielding barriers, then I’m in favour.
    In my time I’ve been to races at Monaco, Monza, Spa, the new Nurburgring, Clermont Ferrand, Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Donington and enjoyed each and every one of them. Here’s to another 30 years – or more – of F1 for me!
    Geoff Thomas (60)

    1. Wow, that is great experience you sum up there.
      So one thing keeping F1 interesting is continuously reinventing itself and changing, giving the teams new challenges to be on top?
      And interesting and controversial figures competing in it to spice things up.

    2. Finally someone older than me. I start to watch F1 in 1972. For those who think 70´s was a gold age: I watched an interview with Emerson Fittipaldi few days ago. What really stroke me was two things. First one fact, through all his F1 career, there was almost two deaths per year. Second one story, he was in a hospital looking after Nick Lauda who had just suffer that horrible crash in Nurburgring (1976) and was practicly dead. The Ferrari chief, by that time, said to him: Horrible isn´t it? By the way, How do you feel about driving a Ferrari?
      My best race was Susuka 89. It was my girl friend´s prom. The organization put a big screen in the middle of the saloon and for two hours I forgot completly my girl friend and watched that race. I lost her. No regrets.

      1. Spoken like a true F1 Fanatic!

      2. Praveen Titus
        28th April 2010, 19:30

        The deaths were really horrendous. Starting from Jochen Rindt, it was a list of great names including, Francois Cevert, Peter Revson, Tom Pryce, Ronnie Peterson. And these were the most horrible and bloody too.

        The Ferrari chief’s (wasn’t it Montezemolo?) comment shows the callous attitude towards driver safety these glorified teams, including Lotus, had at the time. It took someone with guts, like Jackie Stewart, to fight the establishment. But I do like the 70s for aggressive design of the cars, with those tiny front tyres and massive canisters at the rear.

    3. Good luck to you, Geoff.

      30 years at CGP for me.
      4 or 5 at USGP East.
      1 at Silverstone.

      Wish I did Germany (split
      with wife).

      Hope you do another 30 more.

      If ever in Canada, ding me.

      Every year was the best.

      andy (46)

    4. great post geoff, thanks for sharing that :)

  10. I think the ‘Golden Age of F1’ is person dependant, and for many I think that the period people start watching the sport is well remembered. For me that was around ’96/’97/’98, and I look back fondly on that time.

    I think variety in tracks is something that needs to be looked at – how can the sport claim to have the best drivers and cars in the world when, they race on such a limited spectrum of tracks? F1 should broaden it’s horizons – a couple of oval races a year would be interesting, as would a really short, fast track run to something like 100 laps. Going to a longer circuit like the Nordschleife might be a bit out of reach, but I see no reason why F1 can’t go to longer tracks that are still in use – La Sarthe for example – or commission brand new venues which have longer circuits. I like the way that Germany currently rotates it’s GP – it gives me a new appreciation for both the Nurburgring and the Hockenheimring and I think it’s something that more countries could do.

    1. F1 should broaden it’s horizons – a couple of oval races a year would be interesting, as would a really short, fast track run to something like 100 laps. Going to a longer circuit like the Nordschleife might be a bit out of reach, but I see no reason why F1 can’t go to longer tracks that are still in use – La Sarthe for example – or commission brand new venues which have longer circuits.

      All sounds good to me!

    2. I’ll second that. Track variety would be an added test of individual drivers’ particular skills and teams’ particular strengths. Ovals would be cool, but I don’t see it happening – just don’t see the political will for that materializing. Shorter & longer tracks are more feasible I think, though I doubt it’ll happen before someone takes over from Bernie. It would certainly be a way of throwing more variables into the mix without tampering with rules.

      (It’ll never happen, but who wouldn’t want to see what modern F1 cars would look like plying the length of the old Nurburgring?)

    3. Oval races are a horrible idea. Overly dangerous and boring.

    4. The roads that formed the old Spa-Francoshamps are still there. With a bit of effort one could bring the Alsa-Masta back. And it would not be too long of a circuit: less than 14 kms. I still drive those roads thinking the likes of Jim Clark and Fangio drove here (and now, so did I) – up to 2003 you could actually drive the whole old circuit. It would divert from the new one at Les Combes and joint it back at Blanchimont…great stuff.

  11. I started watching F1 full time in 1992 after having become hooked on the sport in late 1991. The seasons which really stand out for me were 94, 96, 98 and 2008.

    1994 stands out because it was a tragic year for F1, it was the first season I watched were politics played a major role, and it was a genuinely exciting race for the title.

    1996 stands out because the cars all looked fantastic, and the thought of a MSC v D Hill battle in which MSC (who I had to concede to my regret was the far better driver) would be taking on Hill in vastly inferior machinery was just a fantastic prospect. The relief on Hill’s face when he finally won the WDC is an image I will never forget, and I had a very big lump I my throat (just like Murray Walker) when he crossed the line to clinch the title in Japan… I actually wept with joy, and I’m not ashamed to admit that!

    1998 was great because the rules shake up spiced up life at the front. McLaren were back, and the Mika MSC battles were epic.

    The MSC era was largely forgettable. While I can appreciate and commend the work that he and the team put in to achieve that level of dominance, very few races stand out. Spa 2000 (classic Mika versus MSC action and France 2004 stands out because of Ferrari’s crazy 4 stop strategy.

    I have to say that the 2008 season was one of the best i ever saw. The Ferrari-McLaren battle was epic, with both sides making mistakes, and the title coming down to the final corner of the final race was the stuff of Hollywood…

    1. I felt the same during the 1996 season, it was fantastic to see Damon win the title that year.

      I got into the sport in 1993 when I was 10 years old and it’s still one of my favourite years, even though I know it was hardly a classic really.

      I loved the look of the Williams that year and the 1994 for one, obviously minus the accident three races into that season. :P

  12. Ned Flanders
    23rd April 2010, 16:26

    I’ve been watching F1 live since 2000, know all the seasons well back to the late 80’s, and have a decent awareness of F1 before that period.

    Of all the seasons I’ve watched, I’d say 2008 was best. But I think that was simply down to luck- there were lots of safety car affected and/ or wet races in ’08. I think the general process has been for F1 to get more boring

  13. I atarted watching in ’99 having had my interest piqued from Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing on SNES thru Formula 1 and ’97 on PSX. I saw the Aussie races cos they had blanket coverage but only by ’99 did I realise this was something I wanted to stay up late for.

    The circuits have always been the priority for me, either a cause or as a result of the video games. In that way I think ’99 is an odd year for me to start with F1 in that it saw the first of the full Tilkedromes come in with Malaysia.

    I can only look upon the olden golden days as they are presented to me and seeing cars rip around Paddock Bend or flying off Flugplatz is really special. I know safety is more important now than ever and with that as somewhat of a spectre then tracks like the Nordschlieffe cannot be considered. But Keith’s right, even without the Pescara’s and the AVUS’s there used to be such variations in circuits which we don’t see now. This is turning into another Tilke rant but I think it’s telling that I can’t see any rose-tinted views on Tilke races over the last decade and a bit.

    I can’t really say which is the best season I saw as I too drifted around 2002 onwards. I have fond memories of that first season ’99 and of 2008 and 2009 but that can easily be traced to the close championships and my general liking of McLaren (and underdogs).

    I think ideas like using the Outer circuit of Bahrain are a good place to start. Make it a real Desert Dash, a proper reason to go there. Obviously you can have short fast circuits elsewhere, but they don’t. So make Bahrain the one. The races are Grands Prix, they should be special and unique. The should scream BAHRAIN, CHINA, VALENCIA! Not just be an excuse for people to get a tan overlooking the cars or an exercise in selling luxury cars to countries that are yet to have their own luxury car industries.

  14. Ned Flanders
    23rd April 2010, 16:29

    In fact, my last comment has made me think… in the last 10 years, how many great races have there been which weren’t wet, or shaken up by rain affected qualifying or the safety car? I can’t think of many…

    1. The 2002 Australian GP

      1. San Marino 2005. You’re right though, I can’t think of many either!

        1. Ned Flanders
          23rd April 2010, 19:19

          San Marino is a good example. I think Schumacher qualified in the midfield, presumably he made a mistake in qualifying or something, but obviously he was by far the quickest man on race day

        2. Preferred the ’06 one to be honest :-P but both great races.

    2. Can you mention how many great races there have been ever in the history of F1 where nothing out of the ordinary has happened?

      1. Zero, is the answer.

  15. Robert McKay
    23rd April 2010, 16:30

    I’m all for greater variety of tracks.

    Oval is extreme but a couple more Monza/Hockenheim like races, definitely. A few more new circuits designed to be theoretical absolute modern classics would be nice too, as opposed to whacking some floodlights and a hotel in a desert tarmac car park. I don’t believe anyone is actually designing circuits

    I keep banging on about it but less overdesigned circuits with too many corners – if the lap is a bit short, I don’t care, we’ll do more of them. There’s little modern need for chicanes if you are building from scratch…they only ever should have been ways of temporarily slowing down dangerous sections, not a de rigeur design feature of a circuit.

    I’d definitely take the new circuit design monopoly away from Tilke…he might be doing what he can within restrictive regulations, but a bit of variety from others would definitely be nice…ideally from a proper tender process for circuit design, but even 3 different Tilke-type gurus would help that.

    No more street circuits, and drop Valencia. Monaco, yes, keep, definitely. Singapore, needs revised in places, the night race will keep it there.

    I know it is artificial, but I am quite liking the “forced” rain races we are getting or being very likely to get, with Shanghai and Sepang. Wouldn’t want every race to be like that or do that, but this helps.

    And that lot is what I’d do JUST on the circuit design side…there’s so much more :-D

    1. Robert McKay
      23rd April 2010, 16:31

      Meant to say “I don’t believe anyone is actually designing circuits to be classic, challenging, amazing venues…not for F1, anyway”.

    2. I second that. More verity in tracks, length and layout. An oval race would be interesting.

  16. The first race I ever saw was Hungary 2002. From there on, I watched F1 every now and then. But now I’ve seen every race since Hungary 2007.

    My favourite season was 2006, I have seen most races from that season. I loved how Schumacher was playing catch up to Alonso, and how he actually caught him, only to lose out in Japan.

  17. I started watching f1 in 1999 and the first full season that I watched was 2000, when I was 10 years old. I remember the battles between schumacher and hakkinen. I remember when Hakkinen passed schumacher few laps remaining to race finish, but I can’t remember what gp it was. So the most fascinating years were 2000 and 2001. I was Hakkinen’s fan and I really enjoyed his battle with schuey.

  18. I think everybody should stop living in the past, F1 will never return to any era, it’s impossible, it is a sport which advances so quickly in technology, even the thought of it is stupid. My first season that I watched was 1997 in full, but, I don’t have a ‘favourite’ season, each one is different. 2007 saw possibly the closest season ever, 2008 saw a rise of the underdogs, and 2009 was just mayhem. They were all great seasons, but there is no favourite one. I think F1 should be able to be as technically advanced as possible, while keeping a high safety aspect of course.

  19. I agree with R McKay, these Tilke circuits are so boring, there is no character to them what so ever. As long as the fastest cars start at the front and slowest at the back, well then they will always be somewhat predictable. Unless we take away computer designed cars, this is what we are left with, predictable races.

    Get rid of the massive areodynamics and let the drivers drive.

  20. My first full season was 1999, and the first race Spa 1998. Interestingly enough, these also almost qualify for my favourite season and race, respectively. Although Spa 1998 was a thriller of a race, it is clear that the rose-tinted glasses effect is still occurring. Having recently watched the reply of the race, I seriously think that Spa 2008 and Monza 2008 (a similar example, consider that Vettel, just like Hill ten years ago, won in a midfield car) were no worse races.

    Similarly, although 1999 season produced some breathtaking races, some of them were boring. I come to think of it, it is actually good for Formula 1 if we have a mix of more interesting and less interesting GP’s. Why am I in favour of so-called “boring” GP’s? Surely, an opening race in Bahrain this year went a little too far, but “boring” races bring a sense of consistency to the season. Obviously the races such as Albert Park and Shanghai this year were a pleasure to watch, but I believe that F1 wouldn’t do better if all the races in the calendar were of similar calibre. Why not? Because then the result of the race will be too unpredictable, and subsequently the emphasis on the car development and the “technological race” will be diminished. In the situation where every car from top 10 has a realistic shot at the win, lost tenths in the qualifying will lose their utmost significance. The sport will be too bogged in strategy/driver advantage and the technological development (which in my viewpoint, should contribute about 40% of “the show”) will fade in importance. Seriously, I think we will all get bored if we watch 19 Shanghai’s in the row. The championship will be too unpredictable, our discussions regarding the future of the season would be rendered useless, and we will eventually bill the races as essentially “tyre-strategy” dependent.

    That said, don’t get me wrong, I do not need repeats of Bahrain. Perhaps a more-or-less linear race throws a stabilising mix into the championship, but a processional race with virtually no overtaking must be a forgotten concept for Formula 1. We, the fans, do not need it. Below I will expand on my thoughts of which factors would make for closer racing.

    1. Overtaking is a problem for F1. And yet, crucially, I do not want to see drivers overtake all the time. As Jenson Button has recently said, we will all get bored if there’s too much overtaking. Sure enough, we all want to give the attacking guy a chance of an overtake, but we should not forget about the defending guy. What I really want in Formula 1 are race battles, and not people casually passing each other because they’re 5 tenths quicker a lap. Then we’d see an opposite example of processional races. The first few laps will be thrilling, and then, once everyone has put his car in a tidy sequence of drivers ranked from fastest to slowest, we will willingly turn off the TV. More overtaking helps F1, but there should not be too much of it. I think last season had a decent overtaking/lack-of-such balance. This season, especially in the dry, is painfully more tilted towards no overtaking.

    2. Now, the technology. In my previous post, I have defended aero’s significance in F1 and yet considered the easing of the technical regulations to boost design creativity. Another problem that is too pressing for me personally; however, is the endurance of the technology. Keith did well to remark that the previous seasons featured many more retirements that we are used to in recent years. And I am not even talking of eighties. Even the beginning of the “noughties” threw some remarkably non-durable cars onto the field. Personally, I would to see more of such retirements. Random retirements among the top teams especially, will raise marginal unpredictability in the sport, which would yet endanger the front-runners in the case they do build up a healthy points margin. How can we achieve that? Push up the speeds. Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and its cars should be rockets compared to lower series. I do not see the point (other than safety, of course) of limiting speeds in F1. If designers can design faster cars, let them do it. We should not build faster cars at the expense of safety, but I’m sure some meaningless restrictions can be lifted.

    3. Circuits. I am really against venues that year-by-year throw up processional races. Sure enough, let some circuits retain their places in the calendar for 3-4 years just to test them. I’m all for keeping Valencia and Abu Dhabi just to see if they can produce anything exciting. But come on, if Montmelo has had one interesting race in the past 20! years, it has to go. Same goes for Hungaroring. If such places have any historic meaning for F1, redesign them.

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head. Overtaking is necessary, but shouldn’t necessarily be “easy”, although there is something to be said about the races in CART when the ground effect cars ruled. I also fully agree with technolgy being crucial for the following reasons:
      1) relagation forces a team to live with inherent weaknesses in a design for an entire year, which means by 1/4 into the season, they are stuck if they have a major problem with their car. It also requires teams to be more conservative in their approaches to avoid this so their designs won’t be as radical.
      2) Reliability sucks because no one retires. Some of the greatest races were created because someone retired. Lets be honest, Vettel retiring near the end of the Bahrain race was the only thing that made that race just “terrible” instead of “God awful”.
      3) Pushing technology to its limit creates exciting vehicles, exciting racing, and exciting retirements. Alot of the reason for the consistantly increasing budgets was teams having to invest in ridiculously awful ROI research projects to improve their pace by 0.1s/lap. It’s like what STR said about developing an F-duct: “If I have ten euros and am hungry, I would buy two sandwiches instead of three grams of caviar.” This is precisely what tighter regulations produce, HUGE costs to get the same performance that could be had at a cheaper price with more open regulations.

      1. Reliability sucks because no one retires. Some of the greatest races were created because someone retired. Lets be honest, Vettel retiring near the end of the Bahrain race was the only thing that made that race just “terrible” instead of “God awful”.

        But is there any way to encourage people to create less reliable cars?

        I wonder whether the points system could help here. The changes in 2003 and again this year have made finishing in the lower reaches of the top ten much more valuable.

        As a consequence, it’s now more important to make sure you finish a race, rather than make sure you win a race.

        Does this encourage teams to be more conservative when they design their cars? Better to have one that can be expected to finish every race in the points than one that will definitely win races but might not finish all of them?

        To illustrate my point, winning a race used to be worth the same as finishing second in one race and finishing third in another added together. Now a win is worth 75% of that.

        (See: Every F1 points system 1950-2010)

        1. Dropped scores could be a possible solution. I used to think that not being allowed to count results from a certain number of races each season was tremendously silly, but now I can see the value of it.

          Basically if each team knew they had a certain number of “free passes,” they would be able to design cars and formulate strategies that carried greater risk, knowing that a DNF or failure to score wouldn’t be the end of the world.

          1. It’s such a pain when you’re trying to follow the championship at the end of the year though, and trying to remember how high up the field each driver has to finish for it to count.

  21. the golden age or rather classic age for grand prix racing ended in 1959. the cars were beautiful, the racers gentlemen and the parties after a race were even better.

    but its no more f1’s fault that sport got more professional than it is the Wimbledon lawn tennis association.

    i’ve watched f1 racing since 1980 with my father who used to watch it trackside from the beginning (1950) and the kit car naffness of those years used to really annoy that generation. of course now we worry about dirty air, ride heights and 1 weave or 2 but its essentially the same. men moaning about something they know quite alot about to boys who know a bit less.

    its all good and this new era, in my opinion, is potentially a renaissance. enjoy it, and part of that, as always, is saying the past was better.

  22. What we can learn from the past is that standardizing and homologating parts, enforce a minimum life span and introducing rules to artificially spice up the racing, harm the close racing we used to have.

    1. Only because overtaking is difficult. Otherwise, in terms of difference in pace between teams isn’t current F1 among the closest its ever been?

      1. Would overtaking be as difficult though if so many potential areas of development hadn’t been capped? Aero is all there really has been to develop for a while now, and as a result we have the issue of dirty air and limited overtaking.

  23. I started watching F1 before I could speak – my father is a F1 fanatic since the 70’s, so our main father-son thing was sunday morning with pop corn and watching Piquet and Senna making us brazilians really proud. But I have memories and favorites since 1990, and I really think that since then, there is no “golden age”. I remember that the drivers offered more unexpected driving when Mansell, Piquet, Senna and Prost were winning, but I had lots of fun watching Schumacher win with his Benetton; Hill’s title was ‘ok’. Then Villeneuve x Schumacher was great, I really enjoyed that and Frentzen’s run with the big ones. Hakkinen x Schumacher was interesting also. A shame that Raikkonen had such a bad star to him; I really think that if he had more luck in his McLaren days, Schumacher would not be that big of a legend today.
    And thinking back… maybe this year is the most exciting I’ve seen so far. I mean, I loved it when Senna was winning, and I bet the british loved it when Mansell was winning but… from that period, I remember I was really impressed with how many races ended with the leader lapping the 4th place, sometimes even 2nd place would be a lap behind at the end of the race.

  24. I started watching F1 in 1991, but I can’t really say which was my favourite season.

    I think a key factor in making a season as a whole enjoyable is a good championship battle with good rivalries.

    If a season is dominated by one driver, if you are a fan of that driver you don’t mind, but otherwise it can get quite boring. Which is why I liked 1992 with Mansell and Williams but I didn’t enjoy the Schumacher/Ferrari domination of the early 2000s.

    I don’t know about anyone else but when I watch any sport on TV I always become much more involved if there is someone to cheer on.

    I defiantly think that F1 should visit a wide variety of circuits and as I don’t believe in one country permanently having two Grand Prix I think it is a good idea to alternate between circuits if one country has a few good tracks.

  25. I agree with the view that it was always better at some other time than the present. I have watched since 1970 and really not missed a race since then. There have been some good points about the coverage that was available at that time with many incidents only given only in commentary as there were not a 10th of the cameras they have now. I have also been to many races starting in the late 70’s and 80’s and spending 10 years working with one of the team sponsors through the 90’s let me see the changes not only to the track and facilities but also the vast sums of money that was being spent on the sport.
    In every era of F1 there has been competition and rivalry whether it was Stewart, Fitipaldi etc when I started to watch up to today with 4 WDC on the track. Apart from 2 or 3 seasons when 1 car has made a fool of the rest it has mostly always been tight with several drivers in with a good chance of winning. I think one of the main problems is full live coverage, I know this may sound strange but we are all on this site for one reason and that is our passion for the sport. Casual fans who make up vast viewing numbers only want to see 2 hours of non stop action without really knowing what is going on. This makes it difficult for F1 because it now has “improving the show” as key to going forward. Please don’t rubbish this idea and think that I’m saying the sport should be dull but think about it. A 1 hour TV slot with 30 min of racing and most “viewers” would not see the problems. We the true fans will go to the race if possible and watch otherwise. We will also have reason to moan afterwards for all the wrong reasons. We now have all practice covered, full quail and the race. With forums video clips and really all the info you could want in seconds. For me it has never been so good. Sorry for the long winded reply.

  26. Juan Pablo Heidfeld
    23rd April 2010, 17:05

    I started watching f1 in 2001 and felt that in many ways the drivers have to try and make it interesting. For instance, the do or die style of Montoya hepled the sport throughout the ‘Schumi-Years’. I am very happy he is doing badly by the way :) . I think Hamilton and Alonso are the two best overtakers currently

  27. Intermeccanica Italia
    23rd April 2010, 17:06

    To get f1 interesting, I think it would have been useful to have a limited amount of fuel. Drivers could decide when and where they would use it. You would likely see a lot of fuel saving and overtaking – tactics and strategy – through out the race.

  28. I first started watching in 1982, and indeed: that spoilt me forever, because I still regard it as the best season ever. My other best seasons would be 83,87,97,01,09.
    I prefer that more than 2 teams can regularly win a race. That makes a season great, because it introduces unpredictability. That’s not the same as saying that all the other seasons were completely boring; as you indicate: a battle between two drivers can develop over a season and makes something interesting or a specific race can have a battle going on which you remember for some time. Not all races are great, but at the start you must not know who is going to win. If pole sitter wins 90% of the time, then the race can be cancelled.
    Over the years I’ve become to hate the idea that technology completely dominates the outcome: F1 is supposed to be where the best drivers are, but how to know which one is the best when they can’t show that on track because one car is 1-2 secs a lap faster. Off course, F1 is technological and therefor the car will determine the outcome and I can understand that a Ron Dennis would like it known that his cars are the best, I’m even interested in the technology behind it all, but at the end of the day when you watch the race that technology is invisible to the eye: we just see people in a procession – a very fast one indeed, but still a procession. This is why I personally favor the resource restrictions and standardization movement, in that it brings back the driver’s skill to the foreground.
    I loved Villeneuve when he came in because he was completely different and made things happen (the move on Schumi in Portugal), the same about Montoya and currently Lewis – pure racers who will make the difference because they take risks to overtake. I don’t want the pitstops back, because everybody waits for their team to win the race for them. Back to basics: cars should be racing on track, not obliged to make a pitstop – that should be the exception.
    I think they’ve gone a bit overboard with changing the tracks in the name of safety; I subscribe to Villeneuve’s point of view that a mistake should hurt, hence more daring tracks with smaller run-off area’s. The mighty Tamburello corner has been completely maimed now and even the new tracks are built with ‘safety’ in mind. I would say that the cars can currently take a lot, by the 90s standards Kubica would never have survived his crash, so I would use more daring tracks.
    But when you mention Brands hatch, Zandvoort, Nurnburgring, Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen or even Le Mans and Bathurst first comment is always that the runoff area’s would be too small. Don’t go off the track then, lift off and let the spectators know who is the most daring and able… Tracks should make it possible for a driver to distinguish himself from the others, currently they’re all alike, there’s hardly any variety. I would love to see Dijon back – simple track, but the scene of the best close racing ever.
    The money also plays a part: Bernie wants organizers to pay for the race, when the track is part of the appeal it’s a definate no-go. For instance: a US GP on the oval at Indy is already not possible because revenues will need to be shared with the track. I was incredibly excited about F1 at Indy, untill I saw the layout with that pussy midfield section. The most gutsy drivers are not in F1 apparently …
    Not all races should have 100+ overtakings, but more close racing and actual possibility of overtaking would already solve a lot. Drivers not able to race each other because ‘the turbulent air from the guy in front’ is extremely disappointing to hear.
    I disagree with road-relevance and technology labs: this has more to do with giving arguments to the sponsors when they have to convice their boardrooms to spend the amounts on F1 they’re spending. F1 needs a correct level of technology, it’s a mechanical sport after all; but I would think the LM series would be more relevant to car manufacturers. Sidenote: they have moved F1 in the direction of endurance racing by limiting the number of engines that can be used during a season; I would favor one per weekend. Developping technology in F1: Williams has developped its hybrid drive for Porsche, but outside F1 (they didn’t use it in F1). So they don’t need F1 to develop something.
    If they would do so, then we would see something like Renault developping their turbo: they blow up for 2 years and get laughed at for doing so, untill it starts to resemble something. In the current climate, that experiment would have finished after one year. So they develop off track and only use it when it has a certain level of reliability, but if it has then it can be fitted directly to road cars as well without needing F1.
    A good car will be sold, whether its manufacturer is in F1 or not. I would never buy a Renault road car, even if they contributed a lot to the sport.
    Part of the F1 appeal is also that it’s the most conveniently televised motorsport: every 2 weeks there’s a race at more or less the same time, easy to follow in the papers because of all the glamour and it only takes 2 hours. Le Mans gets a lot less coverage on the public channels, nor do touring car championships. I think the reason here is that the FIA has successfully tried to lure all the manufacturers into F1 and making sure that no real competition arose. The only rival series are actually indycars, but they have US sponsors and are not globally oriented. If Indycars raced on F1 tracks and serve up a close racing fest, shown on TV every 2 weeks with a global mindset; it would not matter that they are racing custom cars. Bold statement I know, but try to picture it if you will.
    The people element will draw the crowd, not the technology.
    That said, open wheel-open cockpit racing is great because you can see the driver and the exposed wheels make it look fast and dangerous.
    I’ll stop ranting now – thanks for giving me a platform to vent my frustrations, my psychologist says I’m making progress …

    1. Salut Gilles! I think that’s one of the best posts I’ve ever seen on here.

      1. Thanks Icthyes ! You made my day.

  29. whatever seasons the movie “Grand Prix” is represenative of…

    basically the wingless years…

  30. I started watching f1 in 1996, and i personally thought that 97 and 98 were pretty good seasons, but the so called ‘boring modern era’ produced the most exciting seasons in 2007 and 2008.

  31. rob from inverness
    23rd April 2010, 17:17

    The first GP I watched was at Aintree in 1957, the Monza in 1958. Is anyone old enough to beat that. The 1.5 litre formula from 1961 was pathetic – like formula ford cars, really, and I lost interest for a while. In my time, there have been three Great Eras (1) when Clark, Stewart, Rindt and Hill were sharing tarmac. The the 1970s were a lost decade – I mean, Jody Schecter as WDC……But the late 80s with Prost, Mansell, Piquet and Senna was the best – turbo engines, quali specials etc. The Scumaker era was a bore – apart from Damon and Hakkinen, no good drivers to compete. Plus MS was helped to his records by Ferrari Int. Assistance. Thank goodness, we have now moved into another Era of Greats – Hamilton, Alonso, Button ( the new Prost )Kubica. Hopefully, this era will mature well for five years or so.But I’d give anything once again to see Jean Behra oversteering the V 12 Maserati through the Parabolica, a mesmerised little boy amid a crowd of fanatical Italians………

    1. Schumacher was helped to his records by his determination and hard work. Aside from Hakkinen and Alonso, he had to fight against drivers like Alonso, Raikkonen, Villeneuve, Coulthard and Montoya for his wins, so don’t start taking out your hate on Schumacher (not Scumaker, as you put it) just becuase he beat whatever your favourite teams and drivers were.

      And in the 70’s, Lauda, Fittipaldi and Stewart each took 2 titles, and you can’t call Mario Andretti a poor driver, can you?

  32. I’d love to see some track variation. Obviously the chances of getting really long tracks back are slim, as there aren’t really any long ones which are up to safety standards. I’d like to see the Bahrain outer circuit used for a ‘short’ track (short in time, not especially short in distance I guess). Pescara sounds like an incredible challenege. Shame it wouldn’t be practical. Same for the Nurburgring. I also wish the original Hockenheim was in use.

  33. There have been several golden ages, I feel. The early days with Moss, Fangio, Farina, etc; Jackie Stewart’s era; the times of Villeneuve, Pironi, Lauda; the monumental Piquet-Mansell-Senna-Prost saga; and, I sincerely believe, the current one, starting from 2007.

    F1 has learned one thing from its past, and applied it to the present to make it better: big rule changes. In 1998, we saw McLaren come back to the front, Ferrari establish itself as a top team, and Williams decline. In 2009 the effects were even more dramatic, so much so that I wish new teams could have come in then.

    I definitely think we need more variety in the tracks; minute-long laps would be brilliant for close qualifying and mixed-up grids, whereas long circuits could test the drivers and cars over a whole range of areas. And personally, I would love to see a race like the very old days before even F1, going from A to B with no laps (though it would be difficult to reconcile this with F1’s current format)

    I don’t see the need to bring back multiple races per country, and we should cancel one of Spain’s. But we could have extra non-championship races in countries that already have races; instead of testing at Catalunya, it could be the first race of the season, but not of the championship.

    Above all though, the biggest lesson to be learned is the cars. Sure, teams can’t unlearn what they know, but the components can be banned or heavily restricted. At least F1 seems to be getting it right step-by-step, if the banning of refuelling is indeed the first of many steps, but it needs to stop mitigating the changes with gimmicks like the qualifying tyre and two-compounds rule (which I feel could have been managed in much better ways, if they were that necessary, and out of all the possible combinations we’ve ended up with the weakest). The next step is to reduce downforce overall by chopping at the wings.

    In short, F1 needs to look back at all eras, ask “what was the best thing about it?” and see if they can fit into the current F1, or build the future F1 around it. Some of them will be contradictory and choices will have to be made. But when you look at the constant success of football, whose rules have changed so comparatively little over 100 years, you have to wonder why F1 sometimes goes down these paths of change for change’s sake, under the banner of bringing the sport into the future.

    The sport could be improved so much more if we just looked at the past at what worked, what hasn’t, and what isn’t. Regardless of which was the most golden of ages.

    1. There have been several golden ages, I feel. The early days with Moss, Fangio, Farina, etc; Jackie Stewart’s era; the times of Villeneuve, Pironi, Lauda; the monumental Piquet-Mansell-Senna-Prost saga; and, I sincerely believe, the current one, starting from 2007.

      So here’s a thought – are ‘golden eras’ in F1 defined not by cars and technology but by personalities?

      And is personality in short supply in F1 today? Given that we respond to F1 press conferences by counting the number of ‘for sures’ perhaps it is…

      1. Keith,
        I would say that the people element draws the crowds and technology second. When you think of why you watch F1, what is the answer: ‘I want to see how Jenson drubs Lewis’ or ‘I’m wondering how that RB suspension will work’ ? I can’t imagine the second one, all the pre-season talk has been about Lewis vs Jenson, Schumi back, Alonso vs Lewis, etc – not about Ferrari versus Mclaren …
        That said, from a personality perspective you get a mirror of the times we live in: everyhting is pc now, nobody is going to publically call his team members ‘idiots’ and expect to get with it … I can’t even imagine a driver’s strike nowadays. They would be fired on the spot. They do their talking on the track: ALonso is never going to ackowledge he put Massa in his place with his pit entry overtake,even if it was obvious for all to see.
        Sign of the times, I guess.
        But I concur with other posters in that the current field has all the making of a new golden era: alonso-button-hamilton-kubica-rosberg. There’s no hiding on the track !

      2. One more thought: why don’t they broadcast the driver’s briefings: would have loved to see Lewis being grilled and his reaction ..
        Next one will probably be interesting as well.

      3. Not necessarily personalities but the abilities of the drivers themselves. I haven’t put 1997-2000 down because there were only three top drivers competing for the world championship, and one of them in only one of those years.

        But I do think personalities are purposefully kept under tighter wraps. Mind you, Webber seems to get away with a lot of what he says!

  34. Like Keith, I started watching a couple of races in 1989 on TV with my Dad. However, 1990 was my first proper season that I followed slavishly (I was 11 so beer, music and girls didn’t figure into my weekends at that point!). Without putting the rose tinted spectacles on, I can say that several things were markedly different to how things are now.
    1) Cars conked out on a very regular basis! Nigel Mansell seemed to spend a lot of his time walking back to the pits that season. The reliability of cars was nowhere near as accomplished as they are now, but maybe that wasn’t a bad thing?
    2) We now have much better coverage of the weekend. The BBC have really outdone themselves since taking over from ITV. Yet back in 1990, there was no coverage of qualifying and sometimes live broadcasts were interrupted to cover the 3:30 at Chepstow.
    3) There was a greater variety of circuits. Quite frankly most of the new tracks are utterly dire. Picking up on what Robert McKay said, why do we need chicanes in new tracks??? Abu Dhabi had one leading into a hairpin for Christ’s sakes!
    Back to 1990, you had slow tracks like Monaco and at the other end of the spectrum, blindingly quick circuits like Hockenheim and Monza. For a world championship, I believe a good mixture of different challenges to the driver and engineer is essential. Unfortunately, this is not happening at the moment.

    P.S. How Hungary had stayed in the championship for 24 years beggars belief!

  35. I began from 2004, but i have some information on some old races. 2005 was my best season.

  36. I started watching in the mid 60’s as a kid. Hard to say which was a favourite season from all those! I doI remember things like James Hunt at Silverstone losing his airbox and having it basically tied back on,, Jackie Stewart driving through corn higher than his car trying to regain the track, mechanics in tweed jackets smokin a fag trying to borrow a wheel from another team and photographers standing on the track on the
    inside of coppice at the start jumping out of the way of the cars! Things have changed a bit eh?

  37. I’ve been watching F1 since the early 70’s, but I can’t say there was a golden age in my experience. Yes good years and good races, but scattered reasonably evenly. Great drivers help, I always enjoyed watching races with Mansel or Senna in them… even better in the same race! But there were still boring races even then. Hamilton is very much in that mould and it’s great watching him.

    In my opinion they have already made two great steps in improving the current racing. Banning refuelling and more lenient Stewarding. The first means that drivers have finally realised that they have to pass on the track, and the second means that they will be allowed to try it without being penalised. I’m sure we will have some more boring races this year, but I also sure we will have some more entertaining ones, even in the dry! I think this season could be great.

    You don’t even need overtaking for great racing, but you need the possibility of overtaking… Gilles Villeneuve’s win at Jarama in 81 where he kept the pack inches behind him for the whole race, was unbelievable racing, and is one of the greatest races ever.

    Finally you asked “what made F1 great” the answer is simple… Bernie Ecclestone ! …. that should raise some hackles but it’s true!

    1. You don’t even need overtaking for great racing, but you need the possibility of overtaking… Gilles Villeneuve’s win at Jarama in 81 where he kept the pack inches behind him for the whole race, was unbelievable racing, and is one of the greatest races ever.

      Very true. I think it’s important that the debate be about more than just “how can we create more overtaking” – it’s about much more than just cars going past each other.

      Finally you asked “what made F1 great” the answer is simple… Bernie Ecclestone ! …. that should raise some hackles but it’s true!

      Ooh, nice and controversial…

      1. Indeed – my thought exactly, even about Bernie: he has made F1 into the global tv-friendly money-making motorsport it is today.

    2. Bernie has indeed done a lot for the sport and no-one can take that away from him. It’s the direction it’s been going in over the last half-decade that’s a little worrying for fans.

  38. The Question we should all be asking ourselves is what form of Motor sport offers 100% excitement? And how does it do that?

    I am Not joking around when I say that you should seriously consider Professional RC Racing.
    The Lap times are almost always under 20 seconds for every track. This keeps you glued to your seat as it makes every corner so critical, and one mistake will provoke an overtake.
    The Grip generated by these machines is all chassis and fine tuning to 0.1mm on roll centre adjustments and the lot. With very restricting rules on aero. The Sedan Body only allowed one rear wing to a certain dimension. This allows the cars to travel close to each other and maintain grip whilst getting the slightest draft.

    Take a look at this video of the 2008/09 World Championships at one of the best RC Tracks in the world. (until it recently got demolished for a new facility)

    So by making the Formula 1 Cars have more mechanical grip freedom (like ride height adjusters) and less downforce, and shorter tracks we could potentially see some very exciting races.

    1. And which driver on the grid today honed his craft in RC racing?

      I think the biggest problem I have with using RC racing as a model for F1 is they don’t have to worry about driver safety so much. Other than that, it’s an interesting idea…

      1. Actually Hamilton did, before he started karting….

        1. Indeed he did :-)

      2. gotta admit though, that RC race had me buzzing

  39. I went to my first GP in 1980 at the grand old age of 2 at Brands Hatch. I can’t remember too much of that day but what was to follow was a love affair that has never wained.

    My first memories come from the European GP in 1985, also at Brands. I sat with my parents in the little triangular infield at the end of the pits exit. What would health and safety say about that now?! After the race we somehow managed to get into the awning of the Williams team and celebrated Mansell’s first ever win, I have some great photos of my brother and myself sat between our Nige and Rosberg. Also that year I went to the British GP at Siverstone, was also memorable as I met my hero Alian Prost, sneekily navigating my way into his transporter.

    Other highlights include Mansell’s win in 1992 at Siverstone. Never has the Silverstone crowd been so vociferous. Unfortunately it was the last time I was to run down hangar straight to the podium in celebration.

    The Mid 80’s to Early 90’s were definitely a highllight of the past 25 years I have been watching but in my honest opinion I don’t believe I have ever been so excited for F1 races as the last few seasons. A new legendary era has begun.

  40. I raised those same points yesterday commenting on the other post about making F1 better. It’s inevitable that each person will have a different favorite era in F1. I loved the 80s, even though the fuel restriction rules were awful.

    The lack of reliability gave GPs a shadow of unpredictability until the closing moments. Even during the much more predictable 90s, you had races like Canada 91 when Mansell lost a race at the last lap. It didn’t matter if a car was much faster than the others. It could still abandon at the last moment. Of course, that’s something we can’t expect to come back to F1. Reliability is only improving in the future.

    Of course there weren’t millions of overtakings or anything like that in the 80s. Some teams dominated and they were the ones that led the pack. I guess the difference was still in the fact that some cars adapted better to some circuits than others. Nowadays a good car is good doesn’t matter the circuit, with very few exceptions.

    All this post notwithstanding, I’ll paraphrase what a Brazilian F1 journalist has written some time ago, I don’t remember in which blog: “maybe the problem isn’t F1’s, but ours”.

    1. I had forgotten that. You used to watch the end of a race wondering if any of the cars would break down. That suspense is completely gone now and I don’t even know if you can bring it back.

  41. this may be biased, but I think this new era of f1 from 2007 has been pretty golden.

  42. I attended my first F1 GP live in 1955.That was the British GP at Aintree.Stirling Moss won and Fangio was second.
    Since that time, I have watched by whatever means,races from every season.TV coverage was rare, and in some instances the only coverage was on the old Pathe news at the local cinema.
    There was never a “golden age” as such.Probably the sixties with Colin Chapman and Lotus, the Tyrrell with their P34,INNOVATION is what made the racing exciting.The downside, was the truly appalling casualties.
    Today, the regulations are so restrictive,aerodynamics make it almost impossible for the cars to “slipstream” so consequently overtaking suffers, and we end up with boring proccessions.
    But I would never wish to return to days of the drivers risking their lives at each race, just to “improve the show”

  43. @Keith – Was it lewis Hamilton?

    I guess your right about the safety bit.

    With more mechanical grip the driver has more control over the car in all conditions, low speed and high, yes? With aero grip which is the alternative, the driver has more control at high speeds only. In that regards it is safer.

    Shorter tracks could be more dangerous on the other hand, but with the high and increasing level of safety innovations and designs for marshalling and removing cars and designing crash areas I’m sure it will not be much of a problem.

  44. I´ve been watching F1 since 1984 and I always wanted to watch every race from then on.

    I had always the same complaint with my parents and nowadays with my wife (just one TV at home always) regarding how boring those races are (on their opinion) and how much difficulties I had to get my sit in front of the TV.

    But you know I love this sport, it doesn´t matter if races are dull, exciting, drama or whatever just love F1 and why?

    Pilots risking their lives, racing to the edge, high technology, brutal sliding, horse power everywhere, big wheels, big wings, helmet designs, strategies, retirements, press conference, envy between the drivers, their faces, their happinness, their frustation, pole positions, penalties, checkered flag, and so on…

    I love F1 and there is no sense on complaining about the show we have nowadays compared to past years, because for me the show is the same. Love it or hate it, this is what F1 is so special.

    And on these days we are so lucky to have websites like this so we can comment and be more up to date with all F1 issues, in the 80´s and 90´s and specially living in a country with no home drivers it was just watch the race and nothing else.

  45. Man wish my memory was better. But the seasons I enjoyed the most were the closely fought ones.

    I remember the Hill/Villenue fight where Villenue lost his wheel in the final race.

    The schumi Villenue season where our hero schumi became a villian in front of everyone’s eyes by trying to take out Villenue.

    The year of the return of silver arrows. How they were so much quicker (they pretty much or acutally lapped all other cars.) in the first race and to see Schum fight back and make a season out of it.

    Couple of years down when Ferrari finally got it right and Mika made a fight of it. I still remember one race where Mika was catching Schumi and lost it and his car was travelling backwards. I remember Berger’s observation “see how mika is looking at his mirrors and driving the car while going backwards” and he flips the car round and starts chasing schumi again.

    And then the 2008 season was defenitely the best I have ever watched. Last race, last corner is stuff of dreams.

    Don’t know what we will get dished out this year or in future but I for sure will continue to watch F1. It is so totally in my blood now.

  46. Just a further thought, on slipstreaming.

    I’ve just finished watching a download of the first MotoGP race, where the differences in the Yamaha, Ducati, and Honda engines lay in the manufacturers fiddling with them, specifically lowering their power to give them better traction out of the corners.

    The point in mentioning this is that we’ve lost a lot of potential for overtaking (and in Monza, slipstream races) from the engine freeze. We might as well have one single engine, although Renault’s efficiency makes up for its power, so you can argue there’s some room there for difference – except that those things are frozen too. Renault’s efficiency is just a happy feature, not something they were allowed to do because they were down in power, in the name of equalising things.

    Of course, not being able to follow cars through corners has also spoiled slipstreaming, but that’s where reducing aero comes into things.

  47. South Carolina F1
    23rd April 2010, 18:21

    I think it’s easy to say any era is better than another. I began watching F1 in the mid-late 90’s, and it was just fascinating. It was historic, but at times boring, especially once you got into the new millennium with the domination of Ferrari. I wish I could go back and watch the old races from the fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties with the same tension that I had while I watch every new F1 race. Unfortunately, I already know the outcome of many, so it takes a bit away from the excitement of watching a new GP.

  48. I think that the current regulations are largely to blame for the lack of overtaking we see today.
    Everyone can understand and appreciate the safety the new rules bring, but I’m concerned that the “cost saving” aspect of the regulations is hurting the sport more than it’s helping. Things like the proposed budget cap, the engine development freeze and the ban on testing were all conceived by the FIA in an effort to make the sport less costly and consequently more attractive to smaller teams, but I feel this goes against the spirit of F1.
    Another problem is that the FIA has frozen certain aspects of development, and not others (for cost savings and safety) without considering what effect it would have on racing. Even with all the aero restrictions, the teams are finding ways to get back to the downforce levels of 2008 but the engines have not seen the same level of improvement. It seems that the downforce/power ratio is climbing too quickly, which I think is a major contributor to the lack of overtaking.
    Perhaps the FIA needs to be more restrictive on aero side, and allow the teams to go back to using 3.0L V10 engines.

    On another note, if you look at the races we’ve had this year. The only exciting ones were affected by rain.
    Perhaps all our problems would be solved if they installed sprinkler systems around all the tracks that randomly turn on and off.

  49. The first Grand Prix I ever saw on tv was the German Grand Prix of 1994. To see all those cars taken out at the first corner then Verstappens pit stop fire caught my eye and I never looked back! The cars (I think) looked great – fat and wide with big slicks and hard to drive, V8’s V10’s and V12’s made the races sound great too. Rose tinted spectacles probably. Some races even back then were dull as they can be now!

  50. Started following F1 in 1982 loooong ago!

    Possibly the best Season in history, alas, one of the most infamous due to fatalities. Thankfully much has changed in terms of safety.

    Then came the turbos! Wow! 1100 hp in a 500 kg car… you’ll never beat that… but the racing was so, so. Most of victories were related to reliability… thus drivers that knew to keep the machinery alive excelled, Prost, Lauda, Piquet.

    By 1988 the racing part of F1 was almost non-existing, the first pass for the lead happened in Canada… the 6th round of the SEASON!!! not much of excitement in my memories from that year.

    We had to wait till 1990 for the racing to return, and what a season it was…

    After that the pitstops returned in the 94, Senna Died… all changed, The Schumi era… 97 was an epic season, 98 was good, 99 really good, from 2000 to 2006 all is a Red blur…

    I’ve followed one too many GP’s in my life ;) But I love it!!!

  51. Sorry… yes 2007,08,09 and 10 are in my reckoning much better than most seasons in the 80’s and 90’s.

    This will be remembered as a really good era of Formula 1.

    1. Why do you say that?

      2007 and 2008 had great championship conclusions, really exciting. But a lot of the races in those seasons – mainly when it didn’t rain – were awful. The same goes for last year.

      The race ratings on this site speak for themselves:

      Brazil voted best race of 2009, Turkey named worst of a bad bunch

      Valencia was least popular race of 2008

  52. The first magazine i bought was the grand prix of canada 1981. When i was a kid, i remember lauda’s accident somehow, and thinking that he was the bravest man on earth. Now i think, he talks to much, but still great.
    The best years that i saw, without any doubt, were the senna-prost years. The best drivers, in the best cars, hating each other’s guts.
    The things i miss most, are:
    the danger factor it’s gone
    lack of personalities,
    canibalization of the classic race tracks
    Huge run-off areas, where you don’t have speed sensation
    Team press girl, listening to everything the driver says
    I like better,
    the info trough the internet
    25 races in the near future?

  53. Hmm…much has been said about everything. I would like to highlight from a different approach and perspective.
    Is it the singer or the song?
    And then, is it the venue or the crowd?
    Most interestingly, is it the organizer/promoter or the judge?
    To cap it off, is it the equipment or the staff?
    Well it’s all up to you.

  54. I start to see Formula One in 1997 : my favourite F1 season is 1999 , but I have seen also some races of 90’s and 80’s and I see also MotoGp . I have seen the first races in 2010 , and ,yes, they are very exciting , including Bahrain ( that in my opinion is not so boring … ) but the difference between these races and 80’s and 90’s races is the fact that the overtakes are never for the first position : we have seen a lot of overtakes for second -third position , but are few the changes of leading position : in Bahrain vettel and alonso , in australia vettel and button , in malesia only vettel and in china rosberg and button (excluding alonso in the first lap ): WE HAVE NEVER SEEN A DUEL FOR THE LEADING POSITION ! This is in my opinion the radical difference between modern F1 and 80’s F1 !
    P.S. Excuse my mistakes , I’m not English_speaking

    1. Rob Gallagher
      23rd April 2010, 19:40

      We will be even less likely to see a duel for 1st position with new qualifying format now even more so, as the car on pole is now the fastest car on track.

      1. No races have been won from pole position this year.

  55. Rob Gallagher
    23rd April 2010, 19:38

    I’ve been watching F1 since the 2006 hungarian GP, and I’d have to say 2007 and 2008 have been the best years but I’m biased as a McLaren fan and also because I only have 3-4 years of watching F1. I suspect the current F1 is probably better than people make out in regards to the Senna/Mansell/Prost era and I don’t think people like me will ever be able to appreciate how good they really were. I believe the golden age of F1 is probably when you first start watching F1 and it’s a good season. For me the best races have either involved controversy or rain, in 2007 I loved to hate Alonso and was gutted that Hamilton missed out on the title. 2008 had the most exciting races for me with Spa and Brazil offering some real heart pumping stuff. However I found the 2009 races less exciting, most likely due to my favourite team not being at the front, and I think for races to be heart pumping your favourite driver/team needs to be involved in some action.

  56. my first race was the first Hungarian gp. I got addicted ever since. But it wasn’t easy living behind the iron curtain. We only got the random news and some short footage on the tv. Finding f1 stuff was a game :-)
    When whole seasons got broadcasted here it became another story – fans were gathering to watch together and argue. Then the rule changes began and we got the dramas of 07, 08 and 09 so it was all the way cool for me.

    The biggest problem of f1 today is the generation Y. Short attention span. 5 Minutes no action and the race is a bore.

    What can help? Maybe some crazy stuff like have the races restarted every 10 minutes to keep the Y minds buzzing with the start drama :-)

  57. My first weak memories about real F1 are about Senna’s fatal crash at Imola. I was 6 at the time and it really stuck me very hard, although i hadn’t ever seen a race before, because i had an old 8-bit F1 game where Senna was the title character (and the obvious winner of all races until i got some experience). For me he was a sort of hero, and it was so sad to see him pass away.
    By the way, i started watching f1 quite continously during ’95-’96 seasons thanks to my older cousins who were heavy f1 fans. In my opinion, the best seasons i’ve seen probably are 1997, 2003 (the only championship Ferrari fought till the end during their domination era) and 2008, but in this last case i’m probably too influenced by the battle in Interlagos, that was a totally heart-killing race.
    However, for the idea of “the golden era of F1” makes me think about the 80s and the early 90s, i really love those “showers of sparks”, as Keith said.

    1. the first death it’s always shocking. It gives a new perspective of the sport. You think, this guys risk more than i thought. It happened to me when villeneuve died at zolder in 1982. I was 15 at the time. And when a few races later, rene arnoux had a big crash at zandvort, at the tarzan corner, i was scared that he might end up like the canadian.
      I don’t want drivers to die, but i want the possibility to be there.

  58. Youtube as amplified the rose tinting. People can access the best moments of the best races from their first years of watching and find evidence that F1 has been in decline since.

    I began watching about 22 years ago. I remember the Senna-Prost battles, I remember the anticipation of seeing the novel, creative designs of Barnard and Newey appear every year—born as much of instinct as arithmetic. Seeing a F641 in person a couple years ago gave me chills I can’t get seeing the superior machines of today.

    I also remember the let down of getting up at 5 on a Sunday morning to see two cars put 4 seconds on the field in qualifying and then proceed to lap all but 2 other cars, or, rather, the half that did not retire first. I remember loads of rich-dad pay-drivers cluttering the track. These ills have been banished. The overall quality of cars and drivers has never been better.

    What makes the most exciting season is not the prevalence of passing, or the closenes of performance in the races. It is a clear evolution of relative performance over the year. The inflection point where one team overtakes another, vindicating the relentless work of the engineers back home, is a brilliant moment. The races before and after this point, where you have brilliant drivers transcending a lagging car to match a superior machine, or pushing a declining design against the tide, are what we know as the great performances. And the duels occuring at this point are the most rewarding because we experience a truly pitched battle joined on both sides by driver and engineer, the properly equal protagonists in F1.

  59. horsepower matters…. the cars were difficult to drive and exciting to watch…

    watch michael in 96 at monaco, its awesome..

    and now the plan is go down even further, to 670 hp…

    i wish beyond a star, they’d go back to 1000+ …

    nascar is at 840, indy at 800…. F1 is the pinnacle, and now teenagers can look good at it

    1. email FOTA at


      and ask for more HORSEPOWER and whatever else you want….



    2. i agree. these cars, everybody can drive them fast. I remember in the 80’s, only the best few drivers were able to get all out of them. I hope jean todt put some sense into the lack of power in f1.

    3. I agree, the engines should be open and the aero restricted, not the other way around. Speeds will be easier to keep under control because speed through engines takes a lot longer to gain, as more powerful engines tend to have a phase of blowing up a lot at first. Also, with less aero cornering speeds, the real danger in F1, will be reduced and take a lot longer to claw back.

      And then there’s always the option of adding drag-creating devices that give no aero advantage, if speeds are getting too high in a straight line.

  60. I have been interested in F1 since the 70’s when TV coverage was pretty grim and, while safety has rightly improved and the speeds are mind-blowing, there was something about the cars which made them more viewer-involving.
    Also in earlier times, drivers were often characters whose sense of humour and personality showed through, rather than the modern-day celebrity company men “earning” more than footballers.
    It’s all swung towards big business rather than smaller teams putting their brains together and building a car from engineering calculations and gut feelings rather than computers and wind tunnels and, of course, perhaps rather loose interpretation of the few rules that existed.

  61. People won’t want to hear this, but I really think that Mosley was onto something with the cost cap, and customer drive trains. Adoption of the cost cap would have really improved races, because it would have been possible to loosen development regulations, and then it would be down to teams ingenuity to get the most out of their budget through limited developments rather than aero all the time.
    The year with the most different winners for F1 was 1982 and that entire era worked particularly well because the smaller teams could still compete with the manufacturers because their mastery of ground effect allowed them to have different advantages to the power of the Turbo cars. I think if the Manufacturers today were allowed a slightly higher budget, but restricted more in Aero terms, then more manufacturers would come to the sport, as the developments would be more transferable to their road cars. The small teams would perhaps have more basic technology, but greater aero freedom, maybe even ground effect again. Perhaps then, we would have some of the manufacturer approved insanity of Group B rallying (but not the fatalities) but with the smaller teams able to run up with them.
    I realise that some restrictions have always been part of F1 (it is a Formula for a reason), and these are good for keeping the field safe and reasonably close together. Another area in which they have been good is in the way that they can force drivers to manage the car to win, adding another element. That’s another reason why 2005 was a good season, with the right tire management playing a big role, and the turbo era was exciting because of the need to avoid running out of fuel. The current tire regulations don’t help in this respect, as they don’t give the option of sprinting and stopping more often, or going more slowly, a contributing factor in many of the great Mansell/ Prost/ Senna races, and allowed drivers to really race even when one car was much faster than the other. The fuel issue could be used in future to force manufacturers to develop with the environment in mind.
    That’s my analysis for what it’s worth of the technological aspects of F1 that have made the most difference to the racing over the years. Obviously good and varied tracks are still important (Can we have Mexico back please?) but I think these steps alone could make a major difference. It would certainly be a shame to waste the talents of what is arguably one of F1’s best crops of drivers in years (and with a higher overall standard than ever before) by squandering the opportunity for great racing that we could have now.

  62. Jackie Stewart at Nurburgring


    the challenge of an F1 driver was never greater…

    these days… teenagers are driving cars with very little horsepower compared to the 70’s and 80’s…

    oh well

    1. more excellence:

      i’d give anything to see f1 return to the nordschliffe

    2. compared with the 80’s not the seventies.
      During the seventies the cars had no more than 550 horse power. But they were dangerous, because of the fire, and lack of protection in the case of an accident. What to me, makes them a much more challenging thing. During the 80’s the threat of fire was almost gone, but those beasts were imposible to drive fast, for second class drivers. Now a guy like alguersuari comes straight from f3, and he is not far off the pace. You tell me what era was better. I say the turbo years. The most challenging to drive, and still the danger was a factor.

  63. i understand the phrase, but why ‘rose tinted spectacles’? because it softens the image? ha.

  64. I’ll paraphrase a recent Joe Saward article: “people tend to idealize f1 of the past when in reality it was half assed and amateur”.

    With any sport, as soon as we determine a certain era to be “golden” we completely invalidate the present state of the sport.

    1. sounds a lot like every other sport. although, i kind of like the half-assery. it adds a human element to what should be a very clinical process.

  65. I’ve been watching F1 since 1994 – first on and off, but more and more because of the entrance of Jos Verstappen.

    To me, it’s still the same era. I mean we still have Rubens Barichello, Jarno Trulli, Pedro de La Rosa and Michael Schumacher.

    And I still love it!

  66. Tom Hitchings
    23rd April 2010, 22:32

    I’ve been watching since 1994.

    Best seasons were 1998, 2000, 2007 and 2008.

  67. Personally the 60’s Clark, G Hill, Stewart, Brabham a lot of class and skill involved, the danger was also through the roof.

    But that could be biased in somebody else’s eyes since Im British :p

    2000-05: for me being a schumacher fan was “boring” because in those days you pritty much expected schumacher and Ferrari to win it all. In the end even Ferrari fans stopped watching it because it was just so obvious who was going to win that year.

    Then Alonso came round…..then Lewis and Vettel came to play and now Mercedes are back here ready to resume service from the 50’s, who do we thank for the sport that is today?

    How often do you get a 1 point WDC decider 2 years straight, and with the 2010 season looking like a possible 6-8 drivers could win the title. It’s like saying the english football league has Chelsea down to Everton to win the league, has that ever happend? I think we should be very happy and “proud” on how the motorsport has turned out.

  68. 1970 -1975 when they turned from cigarshapes to aerodynamic shapes

  69. Putting my balls on the line here:

    To me its very debatable to whether I deem F1 a sport anymore. For it to be a sport I feel the human input and skill has a much greater influence on results than F1 currently does. The only other sport I can think of that is like this (off the cuff, Im sure theres a few more) is Americas Cup, and that isn’t exactly held in high regards these days.

    For it to be a sport, natural skill will prevail. Thats not to say we need a generic car, the end result would be A1GP, and that was crap. My point is I think the sport has evolved so far (too far) with technology that many aspects of the sport that emphasised the natual abilities of drivers are now a thing of the past.

    Im talking gear shifts, tyres and braking most of all. Sure people will complain about aerodynamics, but the difference in aerodynamics between some of the top teams is only a matter of a few tenths, maybe half a second at some courses. 15-20 years ago those few tenths was deemed close.

    Gear shifts – technology has eliminated the human aspect. Now its click a button and hey presto, you’re in the next gear. If back in this “golden ara” someone made a error changing gears, they got passed – thats one aspect of passing which is a thing of the past.

    Tyres – Im all for a tyre war. To me for this “sport” to be the pinnicle you need the leaders in the respective automotive industries. However once again technology has gone to far. Tyre companies (as it was evident when Michelin was in F1 also) are in search of the absolute most grip. Fair enough, thats their job. But I feel this is gone too far when at most courses there is only 1 racing line. That has been the case for years but I mean now if you go off the racing line you are met with marbles. If you want passing, give them somewhere to pass. These tyres are being pushed so much to their limit that the rubbish it leaves behind compromises the remainder of the course. Thats why side by side racing has become a thing of the past as a driver knows at some corners at some course if he goes offline, game over. Thats why Dijon 79 is always referred back to, simply as it will never happen again. That sort of racing just isn’t possible these days.

    Braking – Im am so sick of these ultra efficient brakes. Once again, technology has gone too far (spotting the link here). Basically as a driver you find your braking point and thats it, theres next to no scope for debate on that. The reason, these brakes are so utterly efficient that they perform so consistently and this is the most absolute latest point to brake. This point really hit me when Martin Brundle said that any Tom, Dick or Harry would be close to or there abouts on par with F1 braking after a bit of practise as you pick a braking point and apply pressure really. Due to these ultra efficent brakes now the human aspect of braking has gone. How many passes were made in this “golden era” due to outbraking? Theres a big difference between the outbraking of today, and the outbraking of the previous era. Outbraking today is where the faster car gets along side the other car, has the inside line and maybe brakes a metre later than the person they are passing. Thats todays outbraking. Outbraking of the golden era was “I have the balls to keep going until that person in front of me brakes, and when he brakes I’ll brake a few metre of 2 after him”. What on earth made Jo Siffert so popular? That simply isn’t possible these days as in a complimentary putdown – the brakes are too good these days.

    The only other thing that bugs me is the sport is effectively a “european gentlemens club”. Of the 24 drivers, only 6 are from outside Britain/European. To me that eliminates the “best drivers in the world” label. Europe may hold he best drivers, but that cannot be proven. He from a certain country or he with the deepest pocket, prevails. 20-30 years ago if someone was winning as much as Will Power has lately he would be hounded, talked up, or scouted as back then the motorsport ladder was one of natural progression – the best rose to the top. To me the fact that there is no rush to get that driver on form indicates that the human input into driver an F1 has declined. More emphasis now is put on what sponsors they bring in, their effect they have on TV viewing and what financial aspect do they bring to the team. No sport in the world picks its atheletes on this, so how is F1 still deemed a sport?

    Now I know we have had a good season thus far but lets be realistic here – the only round so far that hasn’t been affected by rain is quiet possibly one of the worst races I’ve seen in the 13 years I’ve watched the sport live (try handling school/university/and now work when the sport is live at 12am Monday morning). That race found me doing to things:

    a) sleeping, a first
    b) questioning what on earth I was doing watching this

    The other races have been good, but I don’t think we can continually rely on mother nature in order to have a good race. If that whats we need to have a good race, well then I feel there is something fundamentally wrong with this “sport”, among the abovementioned.

    Guys, just like you all I’m a racing nut. If its got an engine, tyres and goes around a track I want to see it. At the same time though is this the best that is on offer to the world in motorsport? How many potential fans were turned away after seeing Bahrain? In Europe F1 still has a massive ongoing presence and is always mentioned. Outside of it though – the general public doesn’t care. For a sport that is usually mentioned in the same sentance as Soccer and the Olympics this one lacks. To rememdy this F1 must produce a package that makes the population want to watch it out of general interest. Dear I say it but Nascar gets a massive viewing each week, and its not that crash hot – but they do deliver a good package to its people.

    Theres no magic cure, as there is no 1 issue.

    1. Amazing comment, agree with the whole post. Should make it to the comment of the day.

  70. I started watching in 1994, and as the first year I watched , it’ll always stick out as an excellent year … DQ’s close tile fight, and offcourse the death of Senna and Ratzenberger…. But some of my fondest F1 memories come from the Schumacher vs Hakinnen years. But what’s probably my favorite season is 2007, with Kimi taking the title in the last two races after facing a huge deficit, and lewis ending in the pitlane graveltrap will always stick out in my memories.

    So yes, nostalgia is great, and things were always better in the pas, and I’sorry I mist the great years of prost vs senna vs mansell ( i was born in 79) But some of the best years of F1 I’ve witnessed have been the last couple of years…

  71. I started my career in 2000 but became addicted to F1 since 2003.So far I think that 2007 & 2008 were the best season ever.Even in 2003 we saw some great racing.One of the key issue I think for stopping overtaking is that the car is designed to depend more on aerodynamic grip other than mechanical grip.Just look at the race in China & Australia.2008 Chinese GP saw one of the boring race of the season but whenever the grip level lowered (06,07,09,10) the race became entertaining.

    The track designed also plays a major role, it’s hard to overtake on high downforce circuit like Valencia, Barcelona, Turkey where we get overtaking in Spa, Silverstone which is in low downforce configuration.

  72. First of all, I completely agree with the idea that there really was no “golden era”. Still, I find it intoxicating to read or hear about a time in motor racing when Formula 1 raced on the Nordschleife and sponsor-logo-sparse cars were still a general phenomenon.

    Regarding the questions:

    I didn’t start watching Grand Prixs until late 1993, but got introduced to racing a few years earlier, by the first incarnation of Germany’s DTM.

    I find it very difficult to name one favourite season, exactly because there is always a number of unexciting races in between. Looking back right now, I would say that the seasons of 2005 and, certainly, the beginning of 2007 excited me the most. 2005 showed the promise of different drivers challenging for the titles in a new era past the many successes of Michael Schumacher — and 2007 seemed like the first opportunity for that to come to fruition.

    Tracks, to me, could be a large factor in making the sport more interesting again. I’ve done my soapbox bit a few times now on this site alone… I consider it a serious mistake that track diversity has been narrowed down to this extent. I’m not an optimistic dreamer wanting to see a regular Grand Prix race on the old Nurburgring, but circuits that would vary some more in terms of track length, that would rely on some revamped aerodynamics (in terms of the wake-turbulence issue), some of them ditching those slow-corner complexes in favour of some fast sweeps, more pronounced elevations and the like should be possible, especially under modern safety standards, which have been improved drastically compared to the Grand Prix races of the 1970s or 1980s.

    Alternating circuits could become a necessity some time soon anyway, as more and more destinations are added to the calendar. If one particular country had an interesting track to hold and event, though, I wouldn’t consider it necessary to switch around every year only to do so.

    Catalunya is a complex thing, in my opinion. It was a new track at the time, obviously, so the teams didn’t know too much about it in advance – now, there’s arguably no other circuit in the world the F1 teams know that well. Also, one has to consider that the gaps between individual cars usually were much larger at the time, so there probably was enough of a speed differential between the cars to promote overtaking – whereas in recent years, the competition has become much closer and the cars’ aerodynamics have become refined to a degree where following closely through those many long, downforce-reliant corners that layout offers has to be considered extremely difficult. This is not an extremely recent development, either. I remember reading frantic articles about what could be done to promote more overtaking about the 1995 and 1998 races…

  73. MouseNightshirt
    24th April 2010, 2:15

    Crazy to see all the different dates we joined the F1 bandwagon.

    My first live grand prix was Suzuka 1996. I was 9 at the time, must’ve been the hype at the time. 1997 was the first season I watched in entirety, haven’t really missed out much since!

    Thinking about it, it was the Formula 1 games for the PlayStation that sparked my initial interest. Fantastic games.

    And in all this time, I’ve only ever made it to one grand prix – Malaysia 1999, but that was a given; my uncle just happened to be head of security so I got a free all access pass! Shame I was too young to really appreciate it!

  74. I think we are in a golden age right now. The sport is as GLOBAL as ever. The fans have much more access to the practice/quali/race, and the internet has helped a lot.

    Also, the cars are as fast as ever, and are going to keep getting faster. Drivers and machine are being pushed to the limits (although they always have been). The drivers look more competitive and blood thirsty now too.

  75. Where did my post go? That took me 45 minutes

    1. Before you “submit comment” always save it on wordpad or Microsoft word so that if it is not posted you can past & post it again.

    2. Not sure why it didn’t appear straight away but it’s up now. Sorry about that Hamish.

      1. Cheers mate, no issues. I was somewhat proud of it, hence the concern.

        Post of the day material I believe……

  76. The first year that I actually followed an F1 season was 2007, and my first live GP was Melbourne, where Kimi won. But I have done my research into the history of F1 in the intervening years, and I have come to the conclusion that despite all the debate going on here, there was no “Golden Era” of F1 and there never will be – in much the same way that there is no “Greatest Driver”.
    Every era of F1, which takes up about a decade or so, had its own flavour. The 1950s were the age of burly drivers manhandling their cars around dangerous circuits; the 1960s saw the cars become lower to the ground, and different breeds of driver emerged; the 1970s saw the age of experimentation, with aerodynamics, slick tyres, and ground effects; the 1980s had the turbo era, where in qualifying trim cars would barely last a lap before their engines exploded; the 1990s was an extremely eventful period, with the explosion of driver aids, the banning of them, the death of Senna, the cars morphing into their most recent form, and the rise of Michael Schumacher; the 2000s were more “refined” in the approach to racing, but were also rife with politics, scandals, and high-profile cheating, and then the first form of the current regulations; and here we are in 2010, poised on the verge of a new decade. The rules and politics have at least a bit of stability, the sport is expanding into new countries (whether or not that’s a bad thing I’ll leave to you to decide), we have new teams on the grid and a championship that still has people guessing where everyone’s at.

    Every era, even this one, has stuff going for it. We need to take off these rose-tinted spectacles and see that one’s favourite era is but one of many fantastic periods in the history of F1. We are lucky to have a sport that has been so rich and diverse over the course of time.

  77. Started watching F1 only in 2001.

    My favorite season till now is 2008.

  78. I think anything before the active-suspension and traction control era was the best. It truly came down to the last touch an engineer had on a car. There was no additional control after it left the garage. Ultimately, the driver had the final touch on the steering wheel, gas, and brake. Even the bodies of the cars up to the early ’90’s, had no barge boards, vanes, and appendages stuck on them. Plus we had more tracks that flowed in their layout. The Tilke venues are lacking in that quality. Maybe there could be active water sprinklers at all tracks to wet it down in case it doesn’t rain.

  79. I started watching F1 in 2008 but I have also watched the whole 2005 season by downloading the races.
    In the last 3 years, I havent missed even 1 race.
    Funnily , I dint even miss FUJI 2008 when I was on my honeymoon :).
    I think if someone truly likes something, he tends to oversee the boring aspects of that very thing.
    I think its the drivers who make a race exiting rather than the circumstances. Drivers like Alo, Ham, Schumi, Kimi just need a car and they ll race with it. They might not overtake or win a race but they ll make that race watchable.
    Tracks should be made more wide, engine penalties should be removed, tyre restrictions should be removed, the tracks should have more straights than turns (like Monza), innovative solutions(apart from aero) like F-duct, KERS, mass dampners should be allowed.

  80. I know it has propably been posted already, but I think the major problem, especially in combination with rose-tinted glasses, is that we lack characters which made the boring races of the past look more interesting. Because, for example, who cared if the last race was boring – the attention was in those times on Piquet calling Mansell’s wife fugly and other stuff like that. Characters would solve at least a little bit of the problem, and I don’t mean Pretend-To-Have-Character-By-Not-Having-Character-At-All-Räikkönen-style, I’m thinking about the top drivers throwing insults at each other, I’m thinking about midfield drivers saying that they would be World Champion in the right car, I’m thinking about telling your team (if it’s justified) that is has done BS (“Blah-Blah-Blah” – you know who) and I’m thinking about loveable losers fighting for success

    That would help to make F1 a bit more interesting, for me at least

  81. The major difference has been the development of semi-automatic gearboxes allied to carbofibre brakes.
    In the sixties and seventies, the majority of overtaking took place under acceleration out of corners usually due to missed gearchanges; something that rarely happens today.
    This is allied to the very short braking zones due to carbon brakes and aero have made the margins needed for an overtaking move very fine indeed.
    Grand prix racing however should have technical excellence and winning should involve strategy as well as raw speed-otherwise you might as well stick to watching GP2!

    1. In the sixties and seventies, the majority of overtaking took place under acceleration out of corners usually due to missed gearchanges; something that rarely happens today.

      But by the late eighties, just before semi-auto ‘boxes came in, you hardly ever saw drivers make mistakes like that.

      And with so many people driving automatics or semi-automatics on the road now, would going back to manual gearboxes be too much of a step backwards technologically?

      1. Definitely not-but it explains the type of races we see today-my first live Grand prix was the British GP in 1971!
        The visceral live spectacle of modern Formula 1 cars is quite different to the experience on TV.
        Watching cars brake from 360kph to 100kph before the Prima variante at Monza with the engines changing from 7th to 2-3rd gear is spine tingling as is the first howl of engines echoing around Monte Carlo coming out of the station or the smell of a Ferrari climbing Beaux Rivage under full throttle.
        It’s not possible to have an exciting race every time, the boring ones make the classics events to savour!

  82. 1983, 84, 85, 86…
    Prost, Senna, Piquet, Lauda, Mansell, Rosberg all together on track.
    Turbo cars were so powerful and difficult to drive.
    The tracks were Paul Ricard, Brands Hatch, Hockenheim, Imola, Kyalami, Long Beach…

  83. 1979 Arnoux Vs Gilles Villeneuve.
    Undisputed best F1Race ever and best year for me…but if I look at those cars now what catches my attention are the shoulders of the drivers almost sticking out of the cockpit…it must have been pure madness stepping into one of those rockets on wheels…
    I still remember watching standing in front of the TV during those famous laps.
    When is the last time that any one of us stepped out of the chair to watch few similar laps?
    We cannot turn back the clock, return to a very unsafe F1 for us to enjoy it on TV but we can get rid of the aero efficiency and I am sure we do not have to hope for rain to get a good race.

    1. I was on my feet for the last laps of the 2008 Belgian GP, Räikkönen and Hamilton jousting for position on track, with the world championship at stake was truly thrilling. It wasn’t exactly normal circumstances, but then I’m not sure it would be half as exciting if that had been normal.

      1. but that got a little bit spoilt by the Stewards interfering afterwards.

    2. Indeed, in 30 years, I haven’t seem anything like that ever since.
      But I think that there hasn’t been any other driver like G.Villeneuve since. Remember the 1981 Canadian GP (search for “Gilles Villeneuve driving blind” on YouTube)…
      Also, there was something truly exciting about the turbo & ground effects cars, but they were just too dangerous. Villeneuve’s death actually brought that era to an end.
      Though the turbo lived on to see the production of the MP4/4 & a 2 man racing season : exciting car, boring season.
      I guess that if you’re an F1 fan, it is in part because you like exciting cars.
      I cannot say that I find the current cars very “exciting”, although when Buemi looses 2 front wheels at the same time, that too is quite unique.

  84. I started going to local motor races at Killarney in Cape Town in the late 60s. In those days we had the Cape Grand Prix and I saw Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor race in Cooper-Climaxes with the early high-mounted front and rear wings. They looked like biplanes.

    The Mansell-Senna-Prost years were the best. Hakkinen-Schumacher would have been epic if Mika had better luck. But truth to tell I’ve been an on-and-off fan. These days the important thing is to make F1 a good TV spectacle. (I bought my first ever TV to watch the Japanese GP twelve years ago because I didn’t want to stay over at my sister’s place and watch on her TV again. I sold my TV during the boring Schumacher years when live F1 went to satellite here. Now I ‘watch’ on Live Timing and Keiths’s Live Blog)

    Apart from exciting dices and wheel-to-wheel racing, we need INFORMATION. That means graphics and commentary to explain what is going on — who’s winning, who’s dicing, who’s in trouble, who will have to pit, who’s beating his rival. I think the TV graphics are quite poor. Martin Brundle’s commentary is excellent — he obviously knows what he’s talking about. The others, not so much.

    And the visual spectacle could be improved. More crowd shots, reaction shots, grid girls, celebrities, pit crews etc during the boring bits. We want the experience as if we were there! We wouldn’t just watch cars circulating.

    Also the car and driver combos should be instantly recognisable. I confuse McLaren and Mercedes and I have to peer to make out who the driver is. Colour them vivid but tasteful. Make soft/hard tyres more distinguishable. And can we get infra-red to see whose tyres are at the correct temp?

    And the circuits… the only races I make a point of watching on TV are Monaco and Spa. The rest are very meh. Bahrain this year was about as exciting as erectile dysfunction.

    And unfortunately the drivers have become as boring as the tracks. They’re like accountants now. The winner is he who makes fewest mistakes, not he who has the biggest balls.

  85. I started watching F1 in 1989. I was only 7 but I remember very clearly being completely blown away by Senna’s charge at Suzuka, his tangle with Prost and his winning the race. I decided then and there, at 7 years of age, that Senna was the best.

    I’ve since then been able to get hold of full, unedited races from 1984 onwards have taken the opportunity to watch the early 90s races of my youth again.

    I have to say, the best F1 seasons in my mind have to be 1989, 1990 and 1991. I was actually at the amazing Silverstone race in 1990 and saw Prost uncharacteristically come charging through and actually overtake people on track. Prost was very impressive in 1990. The Senna Mansell fight in 1991 was fabulous too. Senna’s famous press conference at the end of 1991 prety much sums up what makes a good F1 season.

    From 1992 onwards, things started getting increasingly silly with world class drivers arguing over money and team mates rather that just racing. By the middle of 1994, we were left with no quality drivers at all in F1 anymore. Added to that came refueling, grooved tyres and all kinds of rubbish which turned F1 into an insult to itself. F1 has improved slightly recently, coinciding with the arrival of the new generation of drivers Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel etc and Button finally getting a decent car.

    With all these valid technical concerns surrounding F1 nowadays, we shouldn’t forget the influence of drivers and their personalities on the sport. It was so mesmerizing to see Senna, Prost and Mansell give their absolute all, every last bit of their physical and mental abilities to beat each other. Overtaking, crashing in races, punch ups at the side of the track, mind games in the pit lane, collapses on the podium: all signs that it was a battle right to the end. Today’s younger drivers, often supported, even owned by one team and company from very early in their careers, seem to lack that raw, undomesticated hunger for victory, the strong, uncivilized personalities we saw in the past. It’s like watching corporate competition.

    On the technical side, the ban on refueling has certainly been a huge leap in the right direction. All the racing I watched while growing up was refueling free. The tactics in races were between classical one stoppers and early stoppers or now stoppers getting ahead and desperatly trying to keep the others off at the end of races. We’re starting to see that again this season. Get rid of the silly 2 tyre rule and we should be fine.

    On a more long term view, we definitely have to reduce the dependancy on aerodynamics. I’m one of the followers of the “maximum aero disturbance” rule but its implementation will be tricky. We also need to defreeze engines. I’m not a fan of turbos though. The end of the turbo era was just silly with fuel consumption management and pop off valves. F1 was reborn in 1989 with the return of 100% atmospheric.

  86. Hoping not to bore with a couple observations and a question:

    Assume for argument’s sake that we have the less than ideal scenario of the same cars/tracks/regulations as we do at the moment. Keep on ad hoc regulating year after year, keep adding real racers to the stewards’ box and keep the history of the sport going in the same direction. Alonso is right – Formula 1 is about technology.

    But surely, it is about technology applied to RACING cars, not demo cars.
    As someone here recently and rightly pointed out, cars passing back and forth lap after lap soon becomes routine, unless it’s a real duel. Overtaking, on the other hand: who really would have preferred the season so far without Hamilton’s or Alonso’s driving? The interest-meter would plummet.

    Once and for all, let it be repeated: one cannot and should not count on rain. Fun when it happens, but a different kind of fun, surely.

    Thus, my question is, sorry if I’m repeating myself and I won’t keep harping on this point:
    Aside from the usual barrier of the top teams objecting, what is truly wrong with this equation:
    (qualifying for first race + reverse grid based on championship standings thereafter) = (overtaking + racing + close championship fights + gives good drivers in weaker cars a chance, thus balancing car vs. driver focus and rewarding a balance of car qualities as well as a balance of driver abilities + I could go on…)

    To paraphrase Marx, “if that’s an equation then I’m not a mathematician” –
    Enjoying the site, the way it’s run, and the calm, erudite posters!

    Would really like to hear some debate on this, unless it’s just uninteresting…

  87. I have been watching a bit longer than 21 yr but would have to agree that somewhat line sailing it is periods of immense excitement followed at time by boring racing.
    Going even further back there was something to be said for a classic four wheel drive on skinney tires or seeing a car go airborne over the crest of a hill on the road.
    TV has made it possible to see the races within races so some of the more processional races are less tedious.
    What F1 needs is so stability and less acrynony. What purpose is served by Moslely striking out at Montezemelo from retirement or taking shots an Ari? We don’t believe for one minute that Flav being the control freak he is did not know about crashgate.
    We need to say good bye to these guys and get new blood at the top.
    BE will ruin F1 as he pursues the all mighty buck. I want to see new tracks too but not at the expense of Spa, Monaco and Silverstone. I don’t see Bahrain as an exciting track in any way and Malaysia lacks something. Turkey is just that a Turkey and India will be much the same.
    F1 for the average fan is too expensive to attend hence it will never achieve the crowds that BE would like and NASCAR can get when the economy is in good shape. The product in F1 is superior to NASCAR but it is not worth the cost of a ticket when it comes down to it.
    Kill the goose that laid the golden egg seems lost on BE.

  88. Nutritional
    25th April 2010, 6:45

    I started to seriously watch F1 in 2001, though I had been interested in it before that. My favorite season was 2006 because I saw it as a battle on the titans between Alonso and Schumacher. However, I think the tire war dilluted interefered too much.

    I have to say that I don’t like the Tilke tracks. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing Monza without chicanes or a course like Reims. I think Paul Dijon-Prenois, from what I’ve seen of it, having never watched a race there except DTM, looks far more interesting than a Tilke track. Fuji Speedway as it was in the 80’s and earlier, without the new additions and the previous chicanes would be interesting. It would also be nice to see Brands Hatch hold a grand prix again. I really, really, really, hate what they did to Hockenheim. I’d also take the A1-Ring over a Tilke track anytime.

    I don’t think having tracks with various laps times means anything. What is meaningful it was happens during those various laps times, with goes back to moaning about Tilke tracks.

    I think having different tracks rotate their respective nation’s grand prix is interesting, but missing the bigger problem. Formula One management has become concerned with commericialism, globalization, and apparently making sure the Championship is ligitamitly a “World Championship.” If they were concerned with how challenging and exciting the circuits were rather than how pretty and comfortable they were, they only nations holding races outside of Europe would probably be Australia, Canada, Japan, and Singapore. The rest of the nations have dull Tilke tracks. Those will give Tilke credit for the straights in China. At least that’s something.

    Circuit de Catalunya boring? Well that depends on what one defines as boring. I guess some people may define a driver dominating the race at the track boring. I thought drivers dominating a field made up of the best teams, technology and drivers in the world was just as exciting the drivers passing each other. I thought that was part of what F1 was about and part of what making it so very riveting.

  89. “In the golden days of F1 every Grand Prix was a classic, with 20 changes of lead and a photo finish. Dashing drivers would climb from beautiful, sponsor-free cars, light a cigarette and regale the world’s press with quick-witted quips.”

    That line just made my day!

  90. The only time I’ve ever found F1 boring was when Shuntmaker won what seemed like every bloody race for 5 years (’00-’04).

    There has been and will continue to be dull races in every single season. We all remember the classic individual races, but ultimately a ‘classic’ season usually means a championship that goes to the last race. Hence ’07 and ’08 are often pulled up as good years.

    My first season was 1991. For me 1994 was the most dramatic season I’ve seen in F1 – still watch the season review every now and then. (the other 2 f1 season reviews I have are ’95 and ’96, so thats probably my rose tinted golden era)

    I’d like to see the re-introduction of WIDE slicks, stick shift gearboxes and foot operated clutch pedals. I’d like no radio communications with the pits, except in an emergency and for pit stops. Also get rid of the horrific sharkfins and high noses. The cars are just ugly these days.

    And some less corporate drivers blabbering on about how great ‘the guys’ and ‘the team’ have done. For sure.

  91. F1 was never better than the last three laps of the 1979 French GP at Dijon.

  92. 1984 was my first full season and 1988 my favourite one, yes I know but being a McLaren/Senna/Prost fan what would you expect?

  93. I particularly remember watching Senna and Mansell who always had me glued to the TV. That’s also about the time when I began to increasingly feel incredible admiration (and envy lol) for Ron Dennis and Frank Williams…

  94. The biggest draw for me is the fact that you never know what you are going to get with F1, whether the race is going to be boring or fantastic. One thing is for sure, I do my level best not to miss one because if I were the odds are that it will be a classic and then I will be pissed off!
    I started watching F1 at a very early age, probably in 1984 or 1985. I remember seeing Senna’s 1984 Monaco performance and that one driver I always remembered was Keke Rosberg. My two favourite drivers have always been Aryton Senna and Mika Hakkinen, so I guess that makes me a McLaren fan although I do respect Ferrari for what they have achieved but not for always how they have achieved it.
    At the moment I am impartial. There is no one driver I root for, but plenty I admire. I think the current era is showing alot of promise and potential to return to a more favoured style of racing. One of my biggest bug bears in recent years has been the sports tendency to impose penalties on such benign things, which in my opinion stiffles good racing drivers from performing at my best. I certainly saw us lose Juan Montoya to NASCAR, something I thought was a great waste because the guy was obviously extremely talented and a man that speaks his mind.
    I was never a fan of the corporate side of F1, which has always existed in F1 like many other sports, but certainly cloaked itself over F1 in the last decade or so. I think that era has waned a little, and I am happy it has.
    The biggest difference between now and the olden days is the engines. I would love it if they still ran V10’s or even the monstrous V12’s, even to the current rulings which limit the number of engines a team can use in a season. I think that years ago, with the cars producing so much horsepower, they were too fast for the circuits they were using.
    I am sure that that fact alone paid a huge part in many of the fatal and near fatal accidents we have witnessed over the past twenty or thirty years. The cars also are much stronger than they were, proven by Robert Kubica’s 2007 crash at Montreal. That really impressed me, that not only that Kubica was not killed, but that he sustained such light injuries.
    During the turbo era, inwhich drivers were practically disappearing up their own backsides, the circuits were far more hemmed in and dangerous. I think the modern, Tilkedrome circuits could safely handle F1 cars with as much power as they had running turbos, and I think the drivers would love it too. The run off areas now are huge, with better barriers and just better alround facilities.
    My favourite era was always the 1980’s, with so many champions racing in F1, drivers who had won or were destined to win multiple championships.

  95. First season watched was 1997 when Jacques Villeneuve won in only his second season. However the most memorable years were the subsequent few during which Mika Hakkinen had great battles with Michael Schumacher with my all time favourite being Spa’00 when Hakkinen pulled out that outrages overtaking move on Schumacher out of Eau Rouge down the Kemmel Straight! Best overtaking move ever!

  96. I started watching in 1974. But not all races were on TV back then. Most of the time I foolowed in newspapers and car magazines. I bought German magazines for that because they had the best pictures.

    I always find that F1 is about Ferrari against the rest of the world. It still is. What I enjoyed about the earliy days is that is was possible to come up with something and make it. Like turbo, six-wheels, skirts. Looking back I think the teams were so unprofessional and naieve.

    F1 will be OK as long as we don’t fiddle too much with it. Simple rules should do the trick and prevent everybody to jump to the stewards to decide a race.

    Funny enough I did not care for Senna or Prost much. But every year in F1 is fascinating on its own.

  97. Three things that would improve the spectacle for free:

    – Allow doughnuts after the race
    – Allow the drivers to carry flags after winning
    – Allow them to go nuts and chuck their gloves into the crowd or whatever.

    1. And make them use their tyres to the extreme on friday and saturday after qualifying to give the visitors something to watch.

    2. Since the gloves likely would be filled with tungsten ballast (with the weigh-in in mind) your last suggestion might prove unreasonably dangerous.

  98. I actually starded watching open wheel racing with CART on Eurosport in 1993. After seeing some races and hearing comments about Mansell jumping from F1 into CART and mixing in with the best for racewins and the championship i tried Formula 1.

    I really liked seeing thes beautiful cars just hugging the tarmac with their active suspension.
    It got me interested in the technical side of the sport as well, you could see the difference between raw power of these robust CART cars in comparison with the ulitmate finesse of the fragile F1 cars speed in corners and their acceleration and braking all the time being only mm above the track.
    And i started being a fan of this German guy, some Micheal Schumacher in the Benneton. I loved seeing him beating Senna and Prost and I think he would have won in 1994 even without the sport losing Senna.
    After some of his tactics i starded getting behind Villeneuve, whom i had seen as an increadibly good rookie in CART before. Schumacher lost my support due to his rude behaviour on track.
    After that i must say i got a liking of following the back markers, as up front there was not a lot to do with only Schumi in the mix.

  99. Some very interesting comments…
    I have been following since the late ’70’s. I say following because the races were not on regular TV and the magazines covered races two months past!

    My favorite drivers are Lauda & Prost and after many years disliking Schuey….now I’m a great fan! This guy just LOVES the sport. also a big fan of Vettel.

    If I could change F1 I’d mandate Steel brake rotors, a true manual gearbox/clutch and unlimited engine modifications. I’d vary the tracks to be different in length, and type. However, I think despite all it’s splendor the Monaco parade would have to go.

    Drivers should actually DRIVE the car. A manual gearshift and clutch not only leaves some doubt under pressure it also tells which man looks after his equipment…much like using steel brake rotors. Of course that sets up the smooth drivers versus the “point and stab” style of driving…great to watch.

    I heard it sugggested that front and rear wing design could be made “spec” for all teams, and all the wee “stick on” bits (except mirrors) should be removed from the chassis…..schools out on that IMHO as I agree it is a technology game, but it’s a thought.

    Reverse grids will not work as etiquette would have the back markers getting out of the way as the hot shoes pass…current qualifying sometimes holds as much drama as a race itself, so I’m not a fan of grid by point standings. I like the current qualifying system.

    With all the interest in new teams I would like to see a “feeder” or qualifying series aka F1(B) at the same tracks on the same weekends with the same rules. must be totally independent teams. Bottom two finishing teams each season would be relegated down and top two teams promoted. This gets more rubber on the road and better prepares teams entering “the F1 show” to hit the road running. AND…more racing for the fans!

    1. The idea of GP2 was, that it would be as close to F1 as you can get without the extra cost for each team having to build their onw car.

      But precisely because of that the jump from GP2 to F1 is enormous for each organisation.

      I like the idea of it though.

      You are right about Schumacher, kudos to him for mixing it with the young hot shoes like Vettel and Hamilton as well as having another try at beating Alonso.

  100. I am a bit late to join in the conversation (holidays in the Caribbean, and even if I did miss F1 Fanatics, I had other things to do really).

    I have been watching Formula 1 since 1993. Formula one was the sunday morning ritual with my father (I grew up in Guadeloupe, French West Indies and as such, European races were in the morning) and now that I live in Paris I carry on by watching mostly the morning and early morning races and mostly Highlights of European races as sunday afternoons are not moments to spend in front of the TV, even if it is F1. As such, I’d like them to stop pushing for European times at all races as, frankly, I would rather have them run in the morning or at night.

    My favorite years were 1998, 2007,2008 and 2009. I enjoyed the Alonso years too but as I am a McLaren fan (i liked the white and orange design at the time and stuck with them for no really thought about reason)suddenly seeing them win was most enjoyable.
    I think my love of F1 as grown thanks to GP2 game on PC so Geoff Crammond is to thank much more than Bernie. And since 2007 I am constantly amazed by Hamilton and as races are becoming tighter, the better it becomes to follow.

    As for the previous debate high up in the comments about droping the three worst results (for instance) to reduce the impact of DNF, it is usually the case in all around boeys boat races.It cost me a podium in Hobie Cat world championships but hey, it was the rules. Generally, it is not any more difficult to follow than football league tables with teams who are one or two matchs behind and so have a potential of being higher up the standings. I don’t think it would be a good idea though. It’s just that it is possible and quite simple. (If all football fans in the world can understand a similar reading of tables, I believe F1 fans can to).

  101. 1995 was my first full season watching it. i think it was one of the best years for many reasons – tense title battle, a fair amount of overtaking, popular wins (alesi) and so on.
    but of course, all that applies to practically every season since. 1997 or 1998 was just about the best title fight, in terms of tension in the air (the races tended to be a bit predictable though).
    i think the last weak season was 2005, but that produced some great races. every year since then has been nothing short of enthralling.
    does the show really need improving??

  102. i only started watching F1 full season in 2000 after watching the 1st ever malaysian GP in 1999 n i still want 2 thank dr mahathir 4 bringing this F1 spectacle 2 south east asia 4 the 1st time ever. if not, i dont think i ever have the chance 2 even know about the F1 glory in the 80s n early 90s. after watching all the highlight reel of the past, i personally think the 80s (minus season 80 n 87) is the best racing season ever from piquet 2 prost with the mix of mansell n senna plus other unknowns that won a race or 2 b4). s 4 the 90s, 90-91 n 98-99 is my personal favorite. s 4 2000s, love 00, 03, 05, 06. i dont like racing from 07 onwards despite close finish because of no more overtaking n the beginning of politics ruining the sport 2 shambles. damm!

    1. No more overtaking? Compared with late 90s? Have you seen a GP lately????

      Beginning of Politics? Compared with FOCA/FISA war and drivers on strike?

  103. Very interesting how many people have a different favourite era/season, often the time they first started watching. And your first Grand Prix ‘live’ will always be special. And people don’t always remember too accurately. Rose tinted indeed!

    The races these days are well intense and the drivers fight like never before. Senna/Mansell side by side down the straight at Barcelona in ’91? Yeah? Button and Hamilton did that, as close BUT THROUGH CORNERS in Turkey this year (2010)! Button/Brawn winning all the first half season races in 2009? Almost identical to Mansell’s 1992 early dominance. All those ‘pay’ drivers bulking out the fields in the mid-nineties would make the likes of Di Grassi, Bruno Senna and Yamamoto today seem like world title material!

    Unpredictable results in the 1980s? Don’t make me laugh, the Mclaren ‘steamroller’ diminance in 1984? Prost’s inevitable 1985 championship win of 1985 against the unreliable Ferrari car? The supreme 86 and 87 seasons had many of the same winner of each Grand Prix one year to the next! 1988, with Prost/Senna Mclarens winning every race but one, and only then because Senna made a mistake lapping a backmarker when holding a massive lead? And I remember James Hunt commentating that we’re finally going to see a head-to-head battle between the two McLaren’s which for one reason or another we’ve been denied so far. How long had Senna and Prost been together at McLaren at this point? Only a year and a half…. (1989)

    No, F1’s as good as ever. Maybe it depends on ourselves watching, how we are.

    I started watching F1 properly in 1980, so images and memories of Laffite in the Ligier, Jones/Williams and Piquet/Brabham do it for me. But I’ll not pretend they were always wheel to wheel and characters all. Though they were seriously inspiring and 1986 would be my personal favourite season. Yes, those were the times that F1 saw me through difficult school years! Yet letters in Autosport slagged it off even then, just as today. For me 2002 was one of the most dull seasons ever, yet someone earlier in this thread cites it as their favourite, which kind of proves my point about it being personal to ourselves.

    There are a loud number of F1 ‘fans’ who are nothing more than ignorant ‘I didn’t get what I wanted’ whinging gits! Its as good as ever! Just enjoy it for what it is!

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