DRS has killed my love of F1 and now I’m saying goodbye
27th October 2013, 10:41 at 10:41 am #133811
Ok, so this is a bit personal so please forgive me. I’ve been thinking about writing this post for pretty much all of 2013, but now in the middle of the Indian GP I feel its the right time.
I have basically lost my love for F1 that I’ve had for 22 years.
I think my first memory of F1 was watching the Canadian GP in 1991 (I also seem to remember watching Berger’s crash at Imola live, but not entirely sure). Anyway, I remember Mansell losing drive at the hairpin at Montreal, and my frustration watching the title slip away for him that year – it was dramatic. But it didn’t really matter because I was hooked. I was hooked by the danger involved, Murray Walker’s voice, the sound of the cars and the absolute dedication of drivers such as Senna.
To be honest, that love I never really lost until it started to fade in 2011. Even throughout the Schumacher years, the speed of the cars and the thrill of the unexpected was still there. Since 2011 though, its basically been downhill for my interest.
I think I first recognised I was losing the love when I thought that sleeping through the night and thinking about feeling good in the morning took precedence over getting up for Japanese qualifying. My former self would have been appalled at this, but now its more a ‘well I missed qualifying… meh’.
To sum it up, its not just one thing but a collection of things, with DRS the salty icing on the cake. I realise some people love it, but its not what I fell in love with and I no longer have a connection to F1 like I did. Its a sad feeling to be honest. Here are a list of things I can think of:
* Drivers never go off the track pushing hard.
* Run off areas do not punish drivers at all.
* Apart from the odd occaision (Hulkenberg for example), the art of defensive driving is dead.
* F1 is now a time trial, because everything can be calculated in advance because DRS means that it can be.
* DRS is manufactured overtaking. I would take a Trulli train any day over a DRS pass.
* Tyres mean drivers do not push or are encouraged to sit back 2 seconds (forget about any overtaking like Hamilton on Kimi at Monza 2008… just forget it).
* From a personal point of view, I cannot watch all the races because of Sky in the UK. I watch half of them on streams but its just not the same.
* Team radio telling drivers how to drive, because of advances in telemetry. Drivers are turning into robots. Maybe getting rid of team radio is the answer, but it’s never going to happen.
* The FIA not running any races without DRS after the introduction of degrading tyres and no refuelling.
* The FIA introducing 2 DRS zones at every race like complete non-sensical fools.
* More and more pay drivers because of teams like Red Bull not even attempting to make a version of the RRA to work.
* The quality of the circuits and the poor atmosphere at a lot of races (due to FOM and oil money).
* Too many penalties for next to nothing, meaning drivers are scared to race.
* Half of the race commentary and team radio being about tyres.
* Something I cannot properly explain – A feeling like everytime a DRS flap has been opened, a part of my love for F1 has faded away.
* This: as I write this in the background I hear Button’s engineer team radio: “Don’t worry about being overtaken by Vettel” because it might destroy his tyres.
* Ok, that’s enough!!!
Let me clarify, there well be a number of F1 fans out there that are loving this new style of push to pass F1, and millions of overtakes on straights, and all that stuff. Unfortunately for me though, I don’t and I don’t have a passion for F1 anymore.
So anyway, I’m not going to be watching F1 until 2014 now, so I would like to say goodbye to all you fellow F1fanatics and I’ll see you next year. I’m hoping 2014 will rekindle the love – I really hope it does, although the increase in DRS opening size is not a good start. Anyway, I’m not going to watch any more races and will spend time with my family instead this year.
Congratulations Vettel and many thanks Keith for keeping up the excellent work! See you in 2014.
John.27th October 2013, 11:29 at 11:29 am #243933
I still give F1 a chance but I don’t find it interesting enough to sit through an entire race these days. For me, todays race went something like ‘Vettel into the lead ahead of Massa, Vettel pits and Massa leads, Morse is investigating a murder at Blenheim Palace’.
I thought the Pirelli tyres were great at first but they are in fact one of the many elements that are destroying Formula 1.27th October 2013, 11:36 at 11:36 am #243934
I agree with a lot of your points, especially the DRS. I get that more overtaking is perceived as exiting, however with DRS it’s just push the but ton and fly on pass. That’s all to it. I miss the days when someone would get a slipstream, and the defending driver would cover and it would take a few intense laps for the defending driver to crack.
I know a lot of people out there love DRS, and I agree in some (and I mean only some) DRS can liven up a race. However as we saw in India the passing was ridiculously easy. There is just no excitement in a DRS pass in my opinion.27th October 2013, 11:40 at 11:40 am #243935
I have to agree about half the radio and commentary being about tyres. I appreciate that it is probably the most important thing in F1 now, and I’m not sure if that bothers me or not, but the constant talk is the same thing over and over and just bores me.27th October 2013, 11:45 at 11:45 am #243936
Your not a real F1 fan, a real F1 fan still watches every race, no matter how boring! :-)27th October 2013, 11:54 at 11:54 am #243937
That’s your opinion but the great racing in other championships has opened my eyes to how dull and corporate F1 has become.27th October 2013, 12:38 at 12:38 pm #243938
@john-h I’m afraid to say I feel much the same way. I agree with all your points, there really isn’t much more to say.
2014 should be better, though I’m less than confident it will be a turning point in the way that F1 will become exciting once again. And maybe also on a personal level, I am going to miss your well thought through comments.27th October 2013, 13:08 at 1:08 pm #243939
@john-h I feel exactly the same way. It’s been creeping up for the last few years now, and that’s not just due to Vettel’s recent dominance. I’ve been watching since 1994. I watched every qualifying, every race. When BBC started showing the practices, I watched them when I could, and all the pre-and post race build up. And the forum.
When F1 moved to Sky I stopped watching the practice sessions. Ultimately they offer nothing for the fan at home. Cars going round for the sake of it.
Half way through this season, I stopped watching qualifying. Ultimately it’s pointless. You could qualify on pole and have a bad start or first corner crash, and then you’re nowhere. There are no points awarded, and It’s not like I watch the qualifying for any other race series I watch (IndyCar, BTCC, WEC, GT) and that doesn’t spoil my enjoyment of the race.
Since the European season stopped, I’ve stopped watching. Like you, once upon a time I’d be mortified not getting up to watch the qualifying an race live from Japan, in the middle of the night. With the Korean GP I completely forgot it was on and it wasn’t until half way through Sunday that I noticed I’d missed it (even though I’d never planned to watch it).
There are so many issues with the sport in general at the moment. I put it like this elsewhere recently…
“In Formula One you get A-list celebrities driving a car fast, but only when a Z-list celebrity tells them they’re allowed to do so over the radio, under the strict instruction from the wannabe A-list celebrity on the pit wall, who then gets interviewed about it by the TV crew because they’re all under some illusion that what Ross Di Montehorneier has to say matters one jot as to how fast the racing driver out on the circuit goes. But, once again, it does, because they’re not racing drivers in racing cars, they’re robots being controlled what to do because of how the cars have been built and what the regulations say.”
And I’m just not interested in that. As I write this, I’m watching the final round of the French GT Championship for free on their website. I have no idea what the commentators are saying (except “LOEB!!!”), but they’re yelling everything with excitement, the loud, roaring, incredibly pretty cars that look like cars are fractions of a second apart, side-by-side, swapping positions, attacking AND defending, the grandstands are completely packed. And it’s brilliant. Every. Second. Thoroughly brilliant.
I just wonder why anyone would bother watching (and paying through the nose for) what passes for F1 these days when you can watch genuinely brilliant racing like this for free.27th October 2013, 13:22 at 1:22 pm #243940
I agree with everything you have said. I’m young, only 20, but have been watching F1 since I was 7 (my first race was Spa 2000). I started watching during the Schumacher years, and whilst there were boring times, the passion was always there. For the last few years, I’ve got up for every single practice session… Until the last two seasons. All for the reasons you’ve posted, and these:
- Becoming too casual. This is down to the TV presenters and how it’s trying to encompass a wider, less passionate audience. For an F1Fanatic (excuse the ‘pun’) this is difficult to see. The presenters just treat it as another job, not a job presenting F1. There are some good ones still though.
- Tyre management. Pirelli got it right in 2011 I feel, and we saw some great races in 2011 (also some boring ones, but still the passion was there). 2012 I think go lucky with the competitiveness of multiple teams. It helped to mask an underlying problem with the tyres and the DRS etc. Tyre management, to the extent that it is like nowadays, is beyond ridiculous. The days of engine management were great, tyre management like this… No, not good.
- F1, in general, is becoming too artificial, and too robotic. On the robotic front, I mean the ridiculous lengths PR people will go to strangle the drivers, rather than letting them speak their minds. Love or hate the responses, it’s better than the PR garbage they are forced to say. On the artificial front, everything just feels… Off. It’s hard to put into words really, but it doesn’t feel F1 – the pinnacle of motor racing, it feels more like F1 – world wide entertainment. There just seems to be a lack of what makes F1… F1.
I will also say that DRS is definitely the biggest contributor, and also a point to the F1 is becoming more casual, to the ‘downfall’ of F1. It’s artificial, it’s boring, it’s a horrible edition with the way it is currently used, and it appeals to the masses because it causes overtaking. I feel that a lot of the people watching F1 now, have only started recently, and love it because they don’t know anything else. They live in a blissful ignorance of the past. I know F1 changes, but for anyone who really enjoys it as a sport, over an entertainment business… It’s all going wrong really.
I will continue to watch the rest of the season, and I have a good feeling for 2014. (also if DRS is removed, that’d be the best thing ever).27th October 2013, 13:35 at 1:35 pm #243941
I have been watching races since 1989 and haven’t miss a single one since 1994.
And I must say, there have been plenty of worse seasons than 2013, in my opinion. I like to see competition, and I also think the DRS’s use has to be changed (I’d give every driver a fixed amount of time he can run it); not everything is OK with the tyres either.
I guess I like the sport side of it more than the technical side, and this is why I rejoice when I see a difference of 2 or 3 tenths between 10+ cars in qualifying, or I look at the live stats and see Bottas in a Williams keeping pace with others around him on old tyres, like today.
People forget fast, F1 didn’t use to be like that at all. In 1994, Schumacher and Senna were qualifying over a second ahead of others. And the level of teams has never been as close, nor the number of potential race winners. There used to be a time not so long ago that maybe 3 or 4 drivers would be able to win a race. Now, if you take Vettel out of the equation, you good make good arguments for Raikkonen, Grosjean, Alonso, Rosberg, Hamilton, and on a good day even Hülkenberg or Massa or one of the Force Indias to challenge for victory.
I do believe a lot can change for the better in F1, but racing has never been so exciting.
In that context, to blame Vettel because he has been a step ahead of the others (including his team mate) should be reverted to really appreciating his achievements, running against a much stronger field than Schumacher ever did, or even Senna & Prost. Simply because the cars are closer matched, and the drivers are pretty much very good.
So I do expect 2014 to spice things up, but I hope Ross Brawn is wrong and we still keep the closeness of the field, where 8 teams can honestly fight for points in a race, and on good days challenge the podium. 2012 was a fine example of that, and I hope it isn’t ruined next year.
Or some will start complaining about how the cars used to run very close in qualifying.
It is not all about the championship. I still get a kick out of Grosjean not going out and being bested by Bottas, or the small difference between Q2 and Q3, the different strategies that make a race a race and not just a sprint, and even the looking after the tyres bit (which was completely blown out of proportions in earlier parts of the season, but is a vital part of F1).
To be able to drive a car fast is one thing. To be able to do so over 300+km in a smart way, that’s true ability. Push push push all the time, that would be boring. To drive so well that your tyres can make it to the push phase, that is a nice quality indeed.
Again. It can be much better. But it has been worse, and I still watched every damn race.27th October 2013, 13:36 at 1:36 pm #243942
They’re keeping DRS as, since they R&D’d it for a small cost, they might as well, and that small cost trumps changing the aero significantly (when the rule changes kick in and everything has to be relearned slightly anyway) back towards ground effect and cars being able to follow each other without losing aero performance behind another car’s wake. A shame. But does a larger DRS opening actually make the effect worse? I thought it would minimise it. When the DRS started, the larger DRS openings were counter-productive, but that was when it could be used on all straights.
The FIA also seem quite prevalent in your post, with tracks, racing, penalties, rules….
Driver quality will go up when the mid-lower teams are financially secure. Lotus’ current predicament – Hulkenberg, or Maldonado and £30m. If they do things right and secure 2nd in the constructors, they could bag an extra $20m or something and hire Hulkenberg anyway. This and circuits are all FOM/CVC’s profit motive doing.
I can see where you are coming from, and IMO, the longer you have watched F1, I think the quicker you will tire of the current formula/racing. I saw some of the 1989 Japanese GP on Sky recently, and it was an eye opener! I’ve only been watching since 96/97, and basically a lack of passing/action was endemic from 1998 onwards. I did lose interest in the mid 2000′s, but that was part lack of coverage (pre-BBC era) and part being an adolescent and interested in other things. I can remember missing seeing Vettel’s win at Monza as there was no online streaming capability in 2008! I was watching via the split times and telemetry on F1.com!
May I add I am becoming more interested in junior level racing, as there is generally more battling going on and less aero wake. Although in GP2 it’s mainly down to tyre strategy. GP3 got rid of tyre strategy after 1 race this year.27th October 2013, 13:44 at 1:44 pm #243943
First of all John, thanks for a considered post. I think many people are falling out with F1 at the moment because, simply, that air of unpredictability has gone away for the time being, and unpredictability brings great sporting drama. However for example in the Schumacher years it did not bring great racing, which was the time I took a break for a few years. At that time however, my issue with F1 was refuelling, which created a similar problem to DRS in that cars did not want to pass “properly” which led to in my opinion, the kind of time trial you are talking about with todays races.
In a sport like football, for example, there are boring matches however the show will always take care of itself because the game is so simple. Drama unfolds year on year and this is why it is a global phenomenon, it’s a relatively uncontrolled environment. To take another example of a show, a music concert for example. There are a great deal of technical and very boring things behind the scenes to make something that collectively drops the jaws of 10,000 people happen. The question is, how much of the “behind the scenes” stuff do you reveal, and in the case of the best shows it’s “not much.” I think F1 needs to think about this in terms of how it is broadcast, which is a big part in creating the entertainment that we all enjoy to varying degrees.
I am starting to genuinely dislike team radio in the race broadcast. Unless it either informs or entertains the audience, it shouldn’t be there. At the moment it seems to be more of an interruption than an insight, which then feeds the commentators talking about tyres and strategy rather than the racing that’s happening in front of them. My question to FOM and all those who now control the TV broadcasting would be, do we genuinely need this? Does it add anything to the story of this race? Hearing Jenson talking about understeer doesn’t particularly help my understanding of the race, nor does “Box, box torque map one and box.” We can see that the boy is in the pit lane already, and I sure as hell don’t care what message you are sending him about his torque map.
I have long held the belief that this desire for more (more overtakes, more data, more team radio, more tweets, more everything) could be more harmful than it first appears, more does not always mean good. In trying to appeal to a modern, technology obsessed mass audience, I think certain less interesting parts of the sport have been left open for all to see, and it’s harming “the show” because the focus and flow of the main event is broken up way too often. Imagine if Murray Walker was in a flowing line of commentary and then had to stop because the pit wall called a driver about a change in wind direction?! STOP IT! Let the pit lane reporters do their job and actually report on the stream of relatively uninteresting chatter. Yes from time to time you get gold, like Kimi today, but by and large what you hear doesn’t add to the story of the race. In fact I can imagine for newer viewers it’s actually trickier to follow than if there was no team radio at all.
Perhaps the solution is to give the broadcasters control over what radio is used and when, so they can at least miss out the unimportant bits, and then feed the parts in that they need, when they need it and the commentary flow wouldn’t be lost. Not only that, sometimes a bit of guesswork from the commentary team is sometimes one of the most entertaining parts of the show, something which right now is impossible under the tidal wave of data and team radio.27th October 2013, 13:51 at 1:51 pm #243944
@magon4 I do agree, and Bottas did well today. I thought Williams’ pace would’ve been worse today. 2009 was close as only the aero was changing, tyres same for everyone and engines frozen. 2014 will see both aero and engines change, and any gap between engines will come into play massively. We could see 3/4 teams suddenly fall behind or soar to the front, tied to their engine. This is a big chance for Caterham and Marussia, as they could jump the poorer teams of the bad engine if they get their car right and get a good engine. It’s dangerous for someone like Williams, who will be the 4th Mercedes team next year, as Force India import technology from McLaren to keep ahead of them, so if Mercedes have a stinker (say the engine is too powerful for the tyres), Williams could literally be the worst team on the grid. Same for Caterham with Renault or Marussia with Ferrari. But despite historical turbo success for Renault and Ferrari, it remains to be seen who develops the best engine for next year (and Honda for 2015).
Tyres should be better next year, as they won’t be relied upon to provide as much show, and particularly as Pirelli have been thrown under the bus, and that’s not what they got into F1 to get. McLaren will do a tyre test with a 2011 car in December to help them probably make more durable tyres for next year (a chance for Kevin Magnussen to do some running?). Maybe Lotus would do the same with Valsecchi, if they get some investment, or if Maldonado joins and offers to do so to get some running in the 2011 Renault.
Imagine the overtakes and closeness if we still had Ground Effect and then now Turbos! GE developed for another 30 years, or maybe even just since 15 years ago (with the advances in computer simulation).
May I add, that the close championships of 2007/2008, 2010 and 2012 were great, 2011 and 2013 less so. Maybe if RB did not spend $100m more than the other teams each year then we could get more 10/12s and less 11/13s. Plenty of great years since I have watched, including 97, 99-01, 03, 05-10, 12 and early 13. Really only 96, 98, 02, 04 and parts of 06, 11 and late 13 have seen dominant periods, usually down to spending more for a car or tyre advantage. Williams, McLaren, Ferrari, Renault and now Red Bull. Honda’s double diffuser is a possible candidate, but the whole 09 season was a turn up for the books.27th October 2013, 14:21 at 2:21 pm #243945
@john-h I find myself in a very similar situation. I’ve been an F1 Fanatic since 1998, but I agree that since 2011 everything has gone downhill and I’m losing my passion and enjoyment of the sport. For me DRS is very much the culprit. There is no such thing as defending anymore – the driver behind can just breeze past and that is hugely detrimental to the racing. In fact, not taking anything away from the fantastic job Vettel and Red Bull are doing at the moment, but I’m sure they wouldn’t be able to dominate in quite the same way if it wasn’t for DRS giving easy passes to the front of the field. Today is a great example – Vettel should have found himself in the pack and having to fight to overtake cars to make his strategy work (and I’ve no dobubt that he would have been able to do this). Instead, he found that he could press the button, open the flap, and breeze through without a fight, leaving no question as to whether his strategy would pay off at all. And that’s what has been taken away and is sorely missing from the sport right now – the uncertainty and the tension. These days you just know that if the faster guy is behind, he can get within a second and open the DRS to get through.
Some of the most exciting moments I remember have been when the pass was not actually completed, such as Imola 2005 between Schumacher and Alonso. There was tension, uncertainty, excitement, but no pass. DRS has taken away the first three of those things and left us with the pass, but there is no satisfaction in that for me because of it’s inevitability.
I’m also in the minority of people that miss refueling, again for this reason. I am quite happy to not see who is genuinely fastest in qualifying as long as it provides an interesting race and I used to love that about the refueling era. Again, there was the uncertainty, the not knowing who would prevail. That said, this tension also existed in 2010 and I really enjoyed the 2010 season even without the refueling. Therefore, for me that something went missing in 2011 and it hasn’t been there since and I have to believe that DRS is the root of the problem.27th October 2013, 14:37 at 2:37 pm #243946
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