Kunal's F1 Blog

Thank You Mclaren

Posted on | December 11, 2014 | 2 Comments

No, I am not thanking them for finally announcing their driver line-up for the 2015 Formula1 Season. Nor am I thanking them for announcing the much logical and sentimental Alonso-Button partnership instead of the mental Alonso-Magnussen partnership, which would force Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula One World Champion, into retirement. I am instead thanking them for creating and maintaining the suspense behind the driver decision. Something that Red Bull Racing didn’t let Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari maintain. And as a Formula1, Ferrari and Vettel fan, I was slightly disappointed. (Read: Drivers Play Musical Chairs)

For a team owner, driver decisions are about business and they should be. After all, they need to run their racing teams as a business and you would rather have the fastest guy (available) in the car who can score points, podiums and wins (not necessarily in that order) or have the driver with the fattest wallet on the grid (yes you, Pastor Maldonado).  And Ron Dennis, who stated that his driver decision will be ‘clinical and emotionless analysis of the options’, did indeed take his time to make this announcement. Oh those bored meetings!

Mclaren announces their 2015 driver line-up: Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button

But this late an announcement has possibly taken precedence over the exciting news of Alonso rejoining forces with his former Woking based employer Mclaren with whom he had more than a tumultuous relationship back in 2007. Funnily enough, Alonso’s departure from Ferrari wasn’t as celebrated (as compared to Massa’s) and now his arrival has been overshadowed by Button’s renewal. So much for being regarded as one of the most complete drivers in Formula1! (Read: Fernando Alonso To Endorse Raymond Suitings)

As for Mclaren-Honda, they possibly have the most experienced driver pair on the grid racing for them next year, but I wonder if this pair will remain long-term with the team given the team’s struggle in the 2014 Formula1 Season. Alonso is desperate for his third World Championship before deciding to call it a day and it has been largely reported (and seems logical) that he will have a performance linked exit clause should Mclaren fail to deliver a winning car to him.

While one shouldn’t go by Mclaren-Honda’s testing form in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, should Mclaren fail in their endeavor (or seem promising enough for 2016), we could see Alonso end his reunion with Mclaren by the end of 2015 and sign up for another team (IF Mercedes and Hamilton are unable to renew) or go race in another series (FIA WEC or FIA Formula E?). And it would be a bit of a shame if one of them most regarded drivers on the grid ends his career with only two World Championship titles!

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have been team mates before!

On the other side of the garage, I believe that Magnussen would need to be brought back for racing duty for the 2016 Formula1 Season which would mean that the 2015 could well be Button’s last (and 16th) year in the sport. After earning much respect for battling hard and fair with Hamilton for three years in Mclaren, the time now is for Button to prove his worth and mettle against the much (or more?) talented Fernando Alonso. Exciting prospects for 2015 already! Thank you Mclaren!

And here’s a link to the Inside Line F1 Podcast’s Facebook Page where some nostalgic pictures of Alonso-Button have been shared. Take a look!

Lewis Hamilton vs. Nico Rosberg – A Formula1 Infographic

Posted on | December 1, 2014 | 2 Comments

The 2014 Formula1 Season will go down in history as the season when Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg fought tooth and nail (without actually using them) for the 2014 Drivers’ Championship. They went from being friends to team-mates to being friends again (or so they claimed!) as the season progressed. (Read: Still Friends, #NoProblem)

In the first half of the season, Lewis Hamilton battled reliability gremlins, a Nico and a Nico-le as he played catch up to Rosberg’s championship lead. However, it was after the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix (their infamous clash!) and the second half of the season where Hamilton struck form to not only overcome the championship deficit (Read: Drive It Like You Stole It), but also take a slender lead as the sport dreaded a not-so-popular result via the farcical double points that were to be awarded at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Read: Abu Double Grand Prix)

Eventually, Lewis Hamilton won the 2014 Formula One Drivers’ Championship while Nico Rosberg, who was re-named to Nico Ros-boo-rg mid-season, ended up winning more hearts for his graciousness in defeat (Read: ROS The Boss). In a battle that ebbed and flowed all season long, here’s a super Formula1 infographic by Spreadex, one of UK’s leading sports spread betting websites, that captures their season long battle with a variety of statistics.

Lewis Hamilton vs. Nico Rosberg - A Formula1 Infographic

Infographic brought to you by Spreadex, leading provider of sports spread betting in the UK.

Click here for the full size image (1600 x 7000 px).

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Drive It Like You Stole It

Posted on | November 26, 2014 | 2 Comments

Lewis Hamilton finally has twin Formula One World Championships to his name (Lewis Hamil-twin!)! By winning the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he finally added the second title to his name, six years after clinching his first. If Rosberg was the hero on the Saturday, Hamilton ensured that he was the act to look out for on the Sunday. His start was possibly the best we’ve seen since a few seasons, so much so that we almost thought he had jumped the lights! He did ‘drive it like he stole it’! (Read: Lewis Hamilton Is Formula One World Champion)

Congratulations to Mercedes too for 16 race victories in a season, a record for the sport, but we must express a slight disappointment towards the 2014 Constructors’ Champions. In a race where double points were being awarded, every other team got their best equipment but for that lone Mercedes powered car of Rosberg. And we know we are not the only ones thinking ‘sabotage’! (Read: Nico And Nicole)

Lewis Hamilton, 2014 Formula One Drivers' Champion (courtesy: Google Images)

We also know that we aren’t the only fans wondering ‘what if’ it was Hamilton’s car that encountered mechanical problems. All hell would’ve broken loose, we bet! Kudos to Rosberg for a splendid fight and a super display of gamesmanship post-race! (Read: ROS The Boss)

Felipe Massa’s drive to the podium deserves credit, much as Bottas’ rise and fourth in the Drivers’ Championship this season. And who’d have thunk that of all the drivers, Alonso would be seeking inspiration from Massa!

Was this Jenson Button’s last Formula1 race ever? We hope not, but if it was, he did help Mclaren keep ahead of Sahara Force India in the Constructors’ Championship. And why is Mclaren taking so long? Dennis indicated a ‘fourth driver’ in a recent interview and we wonder who that could be. Nevertheless, an Alonso – Button pairing would be a delight to watch! (Read: Alonso To Endorse Raymond Suitings)

But we wonder if we were the only ones to notice that Alonso’s ‘farewell’ from Ferrari wasn’t as celebrated (emotionally?) by the team like they did with a Schumacher or even a Massa last season. And they claim that they parted on good terms! (Read: Ferrari, Alonso, Raikkonen And Hulkenberg)

The Ross Brawn to Ferrari rumour has done the rounds at almost every fourth race in the 2014 Formula1 Season. Should that be true, the Vettel – Raikkonen pair would have much to gain from the eight times World Champion! And then we believe the only person missing in this picture would be Jean Todt? (Read: Ross Brawn’s Last Formula1 Season)

And lastly, Rishi and I have decided to take a month’s break from the Inside Line F1 Podcast before resuming by the end of December to bring to you our Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards. We’ve enjoyed presenting our Formula1 podcast to you for the third season in succession; thank you for listening and ‘Keep Racing’!

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome you to choose your platform to listen to the humour that we add to the otherwise serious and complex sport of Formula1. And while our podcast frequency is weekly, come ‘like‘ the Inside Line F1 Podcast on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from the world of Formula1.

If you are an Apple user, you can subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on the iTunes Podcast Store or via our RSS feed (for Android/Windows/Blackberry users).

The Inside Line Formula1 Podcast is produced and hosted by Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah. Follow us on Twitter and on our SoundcloudDailyMotionSpreakerMixCloud and YouTube channels.

Lewis Hamilton Wins The 2014 Formula One World Championship

Posted on | November 23, 2014 | No Comments

Even after winning 10 races in the 2014 Formula1 Season, Hamilton’s chance of winning the 2014 Drivers’ Championship were 50:50 as he arrived at the Yas Marina Circuit for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The threat of Rosberg snatching the title due to the dubious double points system always loomed large and not only did he overcome a charging Rosberg, but also the fears of mechanical issues as he finally clinched his second Drivers’ World Championship. He won his first in 2008. And luckily for Hamilton, Rosberg was the one who suffered mechanical issues in the title-deciding race.

Lewis Hamilton - 2014 Drivers' F1 World Champion (Google Images)

It was evident from pre-season testing that the Mercedes W05 would be the car to beat and that the title fight would be between the two Mercedes drivers. While Rosberg did well to delay Hamilton’s win till the final race of the season, I do wonder why would a driver as talented as Hamilton leave his wins till the last race of the season. He lost the title to Raikkonen in 2007 (Brazil) and only just won it from Massa in 2008 (Brazil). Although I am glad he didn’t do a Vettel a la 2013.

And while I congratulate Lewis Hamilton for his much deserved victory, I would also like to thank him for winning the title. Had Rosberg won the title due to the farcical double points system, the sport’s credibility would’ve been under much questioning. Kudos!

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Abu Double GP

Posted on | November 20, 2014 | No Comments

The much awaited and debated 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is finally upon us. The farcical double points system aside, the Yas Marina Circuit is expected to host a grand finale and a grander fight between the two title protagonists. (Read: Still Friends, #NoProblem)

Will the double points system alter an expected result? In this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we try and answer that very question. Should Rosberg win the 2014 Drivers’ World Championship due to double points, will his win be a credible one? And we pray to the Gods of Motorsport (not Bernie!) to ensure that mechanical gremlins don’t show their ugly face for either driver. (Read: Formula1 Puts Fans First) AND here’s a special: ‘Nico Rosberg Debuts On The Inside Line F1 Podcast‘ (from 2013).

2014 Abu Dhabi GP (Courtesy: Google Images)

While it may seem so, Abu Dhabi won’t be about these two drivers alone. This will be Vettel’s last race with Red Bull Racing as he moves to Ferrari for the 2015 Formula1 Season. Apart from that, this could be the last race for many drivers – Button, Magnussen, Vergne, Kobayashi, Sutil, Gutierrez and Chilton? Tune in as we pay tribute to a few. (Read: Drivers Play Musical Chairs)

On the driver front, some good news from the Bianchi family about him being out of coma and being able to breathe unaided. Let’s hope his recovery is as stable and consistent as his driving! Forza Jules! And of course, Ferrari, Alonso and Vettel finally let our Formula1′s worst kept secret when they announced Alonso’s departure from the Scuderia and Vettel’s arrival. More on this in our next episode! But, here’s an old post where I strongly believed that Alonso had no option but to stay put at Ferrari!

Lastly, Abu Dhabi won’t be about the drivers alone. It will also be about Bernie Ecclestone, the CEO of Formula1. Apart from announcing that the Indian Grand Prix could be back on the calendar in 2016, his statements in the last fortnight are as embarrassing as the circuit attendance figures of Korea. He’s not only redefined the TG of the sport, he’s also proposed different engine unfreeze rules for Ferrari and Renault as they struggle to take the fight to Mercedes. What’s Bernie’s purpose in all of this, we wonder.

And let me take this time to thank our partners on various social media platforms for allowing me to promote our podcasts on their pages and posts shamelessly (yes, like Bernie!) – ‘Die Hard F1 Fan‘, ‘Formula One Forever‘, ‘Addicted To Formula1‘, ‘Formula 1 Fans Worldwide‘, ‘#F1Extra‘ and ‘Motoroctane‘.

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome you to choose your platform to listen to the humour that we add to the otherwise serious and complex sport of Formula1. And while our podcast frequency is weekly, come ‘like‘ the Inside Line F1 Podcast on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from the world of Formula1.

If you are an Apple user, you can subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on the iTunes Podcast Store or via our RSS feed (for Android/Windows/Blackberry users).

The Inside Line Formula1 Podcast is produced and hosted by Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah. Follow us on Twitter and on our SoundcloudDailyMotionSpreakerMixCloud and YouTube channels.

Inside Line F1 Podcast: ROS The Boss

Posted on | November 13, 2014 | No Comments

Nico Rosberg won the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix, a race he absolutely needed to win to keep his championship hopes alive. But was he the quickest driver on the circuit? The timings sheets from all the sessions do say so. But popular opinions (on social media) believe otherwise, absolutely.

Everyone including Lewis Hamilton was convinced that had it not been for an unexpected spin, the lead of the race would’ve changed hands after the second round of pit stops. Whatever the case, the race was closely fought and most believed that Hamilton’s move on Rosberg was only a matter of time. However, for Rosberg and the sport’s sake, we have yet another World Championship fight that has gone down till the wire.

Nico Rosberg - 2014 Brazilian GP

While Rosberg showed that he was ‘the boss’ on track, Bernie Ecclestone did exactly that off it. After admitting that the sport faced a crisis (severe?) at the 2014 United States Grand Prix and partially accepting the blame for it, he offered polar views at Interlagos. Surprised? I am not! (Read: Blame It On Bernie?)

Ecclestone, known for his ruthless ways of running the sport and negotiating with the teams, refused to offer financial support to the ‘struggling’ mid-field teams and instead blamed them for outspending their bank balance and living outside of their means. The sport has for long lived on ‘more the money, the faster you go’ motto and it is only unfair to blame the teams alone. (Read: Bernie, I Shrunk The Grid)

Formula1 can be a vicious circle. You need to ‘spend’ (and keep spending) to go quicker and even if you do go quicker, money isn’t guaranteed beyond a point if you’re a mid-field team. The guarantees are towards the bigger teams where much of their earnings aren’t performance linked, so even a dream season like Sauber had in 2013 wouldn’t guarantee much incremental earnings.

We’ve discussed and debated the crisis in our earlier podcast and believe even more so now that the sport needs to focus on where they can earn more money and distribute it better rather than try and focus on a cost control exercise. History has shown that Formula1 teams can rarely agree on a common agenda (apart from racing!) and a cost capping exercise would be a waste of time.

On that note, a move back to the V8s is being publicly supported by a few teams, but that would be an absolute waste of time, effort and money, all of which the sport can’t afford at the moment. It is running out of time to reinvent itself and make it more attractive to the new age audiences and new territories it is attracting and money is always in shortage in one of the world’s most richest sports. (Read: Let’s Save Formula1)

And last but not the least, we wonder if Abu Dhabi would be the last race for nearly a half a dozen drivers on the grid. Sutil, Gutierrez, Kobayashi, Chilton, Vergne and maybe a Button or Magnussen? Personally, I would miss Button and Sutil on the grid if they don’t manage to find a cockpit for the 2015 Formula1 Season, but that does seem highly likely. Time to now tune in to the latest episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast.

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome you to choose your platform to listen to the humour that we add to the otherwise serious and complex sport of Formula1. And while our podcast frequency is weekly, come ‘like‘ the Inside Line F1 Podcast on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from the world of Formula1.

If you are an Apple user, you can subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on the iTunes Podcast Store or via our RSS feed (for Android/Windows/Blackberry users).

The Inside Line Formula1 Podcast is produced and hosted by Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah. Follow us on Twitter and on our Soundcloud,DailyMotionSpreakerMixCloud and YouTube channels.

Inside Line F1 Podcast – Blame It On Bernie?

Posted on | November 5, 2014 | No Comments

Has Formula1 shot itself in its foot? In the desire to let the sport remain technically challenging and out-of-reach of the common man (read: exclusive) Formula1 seems to have forgotten two key factors. First, it needs to be and have fun. Second, it needs to be a sustainable business for all stakeholders involved.

The first factor can be highly debated for the 2014 Formula1 Season. The season started with cries of the meek engine sounds followed by the unfair double points race at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The pace differential between Mercedes and the rest is down to the superior engineering by the German squad, but I don’t think that the fans would care as much. (Read: Engine No-ise)

Bernie Ecclestone (courtesy: Google Images)

I would pick a Vettel vs. Hamilton vs. Alonso vs. Button vs. Rosberg vs. Ricciardo vs. Raikkonen vs. who ever else any day, but I fail to figure why Formula1 can’t understand that. The show, as we all call it, wouldn’t be under question as much and would certainly have more fans tuning in on Sundays! (Read: Let Us Save Formula1)

Decoding the issues and the solution for the second factor (the business of the sport) is as complex as the hybrid power trains (MGU-what?) used this year, if not more. The costs are easy to put down in an excel sheet, but try estimating the annual earnings of a Formula1 team and you might not get too far with official figures. (Read: Can F1 Survive Without Bernie?)

I won’t waste much time trying to decode this current business model, because I am certain it needs to change. The myopic approach adopted by Bernie Ecclestone in the past decade or so has clearly failed and surprisingly he has accepted his fault. But is there more to his confession? Is he to blame alone? Or are the BIG teams as they call themselves equally responsible? And what about the FIA? When you step back and look at the bigger picture, I wouldn’t blame you if you too thought that there’s a larger nexus involved in Formula1.

Over to our latest episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast – Blame It On Bernie?

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome you to choose your platform to listen to the humour that we add to the otherwise serious and complex sport of Formula1. And while our podcast frequency is weekly, come ‘like‘ the Inside Line F1 Podcast on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from the world of Formula1.

If you are an Apple user, you can subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on the iTunes Podcast Store or via our RSS feed (for Android/Windows/Blackberry users).

The Inside Line Formula1 Podcast is produced and hosted by Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah. Follow us on Twitter and on our Soundcloud, DailyMotionSpreakerMixCloud and YouTube channels.

Inside Line F1 Podcast – Bernie, I Shrunk The Grid

Posted on | October 29, 2014 | No Comments

The last few weeks haven’t been the best for Formula1. Jules Bianchi’s unfortunate crash followed by a farcical inaugural Russian Grand Prix and now the non-participation of Caterham and Marussia in USA and Brazil. Of these, could the sport not have foreseen the Russ-yawn GP debacle and the absence (or near closure) of our back marker teams? (Read: The Race That Wasn’t)

The writing was on the wall. HRT left sometime in 2012 and it was only time before someone followed suit. In my view, Formula1 has ended up focusing on and evolving much too much on the sporting aspect, rather than the business. We are in a stage where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer – a quote I am sure you’ve read on other blogs / websites as well.

Formula One Grid (credit: Google Images)

In this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we discuss if Formula1 is in trouble. Does the pull out of Caterham and Marussia hold good for the sport in any way? The sport needs to focus on where and how all participating teams can earn money rather than go obsessive on where they can’t spend it. And in all of this, the sport does need to get cheaper if it wishes to remain attractive to sponsors / investors in this decade. Three Formula1 teams are up for grabs and most of the known (or obvious) entrepreneurs / billionaire investors haven’t shown interest. (Read: Chevrolet Picked Football Over Racing?)

As Narain Karthikeyan tweeted, the sadness of the loss of two teams will be felt till the first lap of the 2014 United States Grand Prix is run, after that, business will go back to being normal. Apart from the Rosberg vs. Hamilton fight, I hope we have an interesting race in Austin as the sport does need to bring back some excitement after a few grim weeks.

And for karting fans in Mumbai, Smaash opened up a rooftop karting circuit in Lower Parel (Kamala Mills Compound) called the Sky Karting Circuit. A much needed addition to the Indian (and more so Mumbai) karting scene, the circuit is fun, well managed and located in a picturesque view of the Mumbai high rises. A must visit for our listeners!

And while teams are dropping off the grid, new races are being added to the calendar almost every other month. The latest addition being rumoured is a race on ‘The Strip’ of Las Vegas. We wonder if this gives ‘pole position’ a whole new meaning altogether. But Formula1 and Las Vegas do seem to be made for each other. Come tune in to last week’s episode ‘Ocean’s Eleven to Bernie’s Eleven’! Well when we recorded the episode, Bernie did have eleven teams on the grid!

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome you to choose your platform to listen to the humour that we add to the otherwise serious and complex sport of Formula1. And while our podcast frequency is weekly, come ‘like‘ the Inside Line F1 Podcast on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from the world of Formula1.

If you are an Apple user, you can subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on the iTunes Podcast Store or via our RSS feed (for Android/Windows/Blackberry users).

The Inside Line Formula1 Podcast is produced and hosted by Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah. Follow us on Twitter and on our SoundcloudSpreakerMixCloud and YouTube channels.

Inside Line F1 Podcast: The Race That Wasn’t

Posted on | October 17, 2014 | No Comments

The 2014 Russian Grand Prix or the Russ-yawn Grand Prix as I called it still lingers on my mind. Missed opportunities for the sport, missed opportunities for Nico Rosberg too? And I think I delivered my point well enough since I had more than a few fans disagree with my views in not so kind words. I guess missed opportunity for those readers to understand my views on the business of Formula1.

In this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Rishi and I tell you why Bernie Ecclestone and Formula1 owe their fans an apology; not that they will! As passionate fans, we believe that no aspect of the sport should be taken lightly and we hope our sincerity and hard work shows in this Formula1 Podcast which we have been bringing to you every week for the last four years or so.

2014 Russian Grand Prix (Courtesy: Google Images)

While Formula1 was in lower gear in Russia, we believe that Hamilton stepped up a gear or two post the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix. His drive was full of confidence and had Rosberg even overtaken him cleanly at the start, I doubt if he would have been able to keep Hamilton away from his second fourth consecutive win of the 2014 Formula1 Season.

Apart from the Mercedes boys, this season will be a talking (and turning) point for Bottas and Ricciardo, both of whom were in mid-field teams and barely scrapped through the points last season. Any learnings for fans from their sudden change of fortunes?

On the point of learning, apart from controversial flag decisions in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, the FIA has done well to make the sport safer and I am sure that lesson from Bianchi’s accident would’ve been learned. But are closed cockpits the solution to the problem?

And lastly, what on earth is cooking between Vettel-Ferrari, Alonso-Mclaren and Mercedes? The curry has gotten spicier since our episode last week and we attempt to solve the puzzle this week too. Tune in!

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome you to choose your platform to listen to the humour that we add to the otherwise serious and complex sport of Formula1. And while our podcast frequency is weekly, come ‘like‘ the Inside Line F1 Podcast on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from the world of Formula1.

If you are an Apple user, you can subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on the iTunes Podcast Store or via our RSS feed (for Android/Windows/Blackberry users).

The Inside Line Formula1 Podcast is produced and hosted by Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah. Follow us on Twitter and on our SoundcloudSpreakerMixCloud and YouTube channels.

2014 Russian Grand Prix: Russ-yawn Grand Prix

Posted on | October 12, 2014 | No Comments

Formula1 is a circus. Wherever ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone decides to pitch his tent, the Formula1 teams, drivers, media and other members of the circus land up to put up a show. Sochi is where Bernie Ecclestone decided to pitch his tent for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix. And not so surprisingly, some 55,000 fans landed up in excitement to witness a sport that is known to put up a ‘show’ which includes one of the world’s fastest and most recognised (and highly paid) drivers go wheel-to-wheel in a bid to win and use some clever tyre strategy along the way.

But what happens when the circus fails to put up a good show? As a spectator and fan, what do you do? Who can you put the blame on? Funnily enough, when it comes to this circus, there’s no one you can blame in particular. You either risk snoozing mid-race, or just go home knowing that there’s going to be no refund. For a fan, and I am one, this is plainly unfair!

Yes, this isn’t a movie or a scripted sporting show (a la WWE) where you can control the proceedings or the outcome (err, at least that’s we think), but this is also a sport where each team and their suppliers (Pirelli in this case) employ and use effectively very high tech simulation systems and spend millions of dollars in doing so. I am surprised how Formula1 with all its technological advancements can land up at a new circuit, in front of new fans without knowing how their ‘show’ could turn out to be. I feel sorry for Russian fans who paid money (and a lot of that!) only to be subjected to such a boring race. (Read: Let Us Save Formula1)

Would the simulations have not shown that tyre degradation would’ve been low and that Pirelli should’ve brought softer tyres in order to avoid a snore fest? If the answer to that is negative (and I will check with my sources in the sport), couldn’t the FIA or FOM or whichever body give a car to Pirelli to pre-check their tyre allocations for this racing weekend? Sebastian Vettel drove on the circuit a few weeks ago for a promotion in an Infiniti sedan. What a waste! I’d have rather shipped one of the older racing cars from the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team and performed a thorough tyre assessment. For those crying out foul (mainly Vettel bashers!), Pirelli has test drivers they could’ve used!

Nico Rosberg - the only entertainment of the 2014 Russian GP

Are Pirelli directly, to blame? I wouldn’t know. But increasingly and even more so in the 2014 Formula1 Season, it is either Pirelli, the Safety Car or Nico Rosberg that has added entertainment to an otherwise drab show. Yes, I am also not forgetting the brilliance of Ricciardo, Bottas and the rise of Williams and Sahara Force India’s streak of competitiveness at the start of the season. But none of these factors are consistent to the ‘show’ (this season), testimony to my claim here is Rosberg’s opening lap lock-up was possibly the only excitement of the race and then the cry over Pirelli’s botched tyre allocation. And for those who wish, I would rate Grosjean’s tapping of Sutil as a 1 out of 4 in terms of entertainment and the Stewards have already rated the Frechman’s move from a sporting perspective.

Formula1 is expanding rapidly to newer territories and while it is doing so, it is doing little for the new audiences. These new fans represent markets that aren’t traditional strongholds for Formula1 and today’s race was the worst possible advertisement for the sport in Russia. These fans aren’t purists of the sport (like I am) who would sit through the snore fest and understand why the race isn’t exciting enough for me to watch. I would guess that India and Korea faced a similar story in their own ways. (Read: Formula1 Needs To Market Better To Newer Audiences)

As the race promoter, I have little option. I am expected to cough up millions of dollars to buy the rights to host an official Formula1 Grand Prix in my country, state or county. Once I have rights, I am expected to setup a world class racing circuit with state of art Paddock facilities for the teams to come and set up tent and go racing. But after I have done that, there’s no guarantee on the quality of the race. Should the race be a snore fest, like it was today, I wouldn’t know who to go and complain to and who is actually accountable. Is it the FIA, the FOM, the teams, the suppliers, the drivers, who? Is winning the ‘best promoter’ trophy at the end of the season enough to help sustain the sport and its audiences for my GP?

Given that I am footing the bill for the sport and its extravagance in my country, state or county, I think I deserve to know who I can go and speak to ensure that the ‘show’ is as expected by my consumers (circuit attendees). And what’s worse is that my ‘hosting fee’ and contract might be skewed in favour of FOM so much so that most of my circuit earnings would be parted with irrespective of how ‘bad’ the show would turn out to be. And yes, all of this ultimately affects circuit attendance which impacts direct revenue streams like gate receipts, circuit advertising, etc.

Formula1 is in a state of monopoly. And FOM is milking this monopoly well. We’ve seen circuits dropped left, right and centre in the last few years (India, Valencia, Korea, etc.) only to make way for newer markets. If these new markets aren’t catered to like any marketer would do so, I wonder what the sport would do once its these markets either ignore them (due to no guarantee over the show) or reach a stage of stagnancy (not many countries or governments can afford a multi-million dollar hosting fees and infrastructure costs!). And I would be surprised if the brains that run the sport are unable to foresee this situation already. (Read: Will Formula1 Survive Without Bernie?)

Strangely, the Indian Grand Prix was dropped to make way for the 2014 Russian Grand Prix. While there were business factors involved entirely in this decision, I do believe that the inaugural edition of the Indian GP offered a better spectacle than Russia! (Read: Ecclestone Check Mates The Indian GP)

And last but not the least, it is very early day to say so, but I wonder if Formula1 will offer a chance to Formula E to take up the tag of the world’s most exciting motor-racing series; fastest, maybe not!

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