What an interesting turn of events the 2017 British Grand Prix offered! First, Sebastian Vettel’s 20 points lead in the Drivers’ Championship was cut down to a single point. Second, Lewis Hamilton, who pissed off his legion of fans by skipping the F1 live event in London, managed to win their hearts back almost instantly after dominating the proceedings on the Grand Prix weekend.
Mithila Mehta and I have partnered with Firstpost for the 2017 Formula 1 Season and will feature in their Firstpost Pole Position videos all through the season. Basically, we’re now available in text, audio and video!
In the title battle, fans and even Mercedes were waiting for Vettel’s luck to run out at a racing weekend and it did in some manner at Silverstone. Despite losing 19 of his 20 points lead, Vettel’s ‘no need to panic’ response was very champion-like. But that’s also where the truth lies. Given the manner of his points loss, he could’ve lost all 25 and ceded his lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
But Vettel’s championship challenge needs a boost from Ferrari’s in-season car development program. He’s not won since Monaco (May) and scored a podium just once. However for Vettel, this week of back to back races could be summarised as ‘a lap extra in Austria and a lap less in Silverstone’!
While most fans pardoned Lewis Hamilton after his win in Silverstone, I am still annoyed with him. In Silverstone, he did what he does best, but he should’ve turned up in London for the first of its kind F1 live event. Under Ecclestone’s reign, Formula 1 never believed in marketing itself. However, under the new ownership of Liberty Media, the F1 live event was a fantastic marketing effort. If 19 out of the 20 current drivers could make it, I don’t see why Hamilton couldn’t. I also can’t understand why Mercedes couldn’t get him to attend. Although I now hope that Formula 1, Mercedes and Hamilton have spoken about not giving such future events a miss.
But will there be more such F1 live events? I really hope so. Although there are a few questions to ask. Who foots the bill for such a large-scale event? Is it Liberty Media? Is it the local circuit owner / promoter? If it is Liberty Media, they would be careful in not wanting to set a precedent for such events at all markets. If it is the local promoter, do they make enough money to spend on such an extravagant activity?
And the on-ground event isn’t the only cost; running show cars is expensive too, especially for the mid-field teams that have to rent / buy show car engines from manufacturers. I remember from my Force India days how show car programs plans would fall through just because of the cost of running a car for a few minutes! Let’s hope all the stakeholders find an answer to the key questions to ensure that F1 live events become a regular feature for fans world over.
Lastly, I read this interesting question on social media:
What means more: Spending time with 100,000 people who showed up for free, or 140,000 people who spent a fortune to get there?
— Sean Kelly (@virtualstatman) July 16, 2017
In my view, participating in the F1 live event was for the sport and hence a self-less act in comparison to turning up at a racing event which was more for one’s self given the obligation to one’s racing team and more crucially, one’s championship challenge.