When Formula 1 Finally ‘Woke’ Up
A ‘woke’ Formula 1 is finally embracing equality in all forms of the sport. Akaash Bhadra makes his debut on my blog with this thoughtful post.
The 21st century is quite an eye opening era to be alive in. Starting from being culturally “woke” to understanding the importance of Equality, this era has really pushed the boundaries of mankind’s (or womankind’s ?) preconceived cultural notions. As this age of information changes how we see each other in the society, it’s bound to bleed into the things we love. Now, sports in general is loved by many if not all. Sports comes in different variations and types (much like us humans) and the basic principle or the essence of it is competition. The point of competition between participants (team or individual) on a common platform gives us the thrill that we as participants or as supporters, have a chance to prove the others why we are better on sheer merit and hard work.
But as ideal as it may sound, it doesn’t always seem to be so. Most of the major sports teams from any discipline are at the top of their leagues simply because they have the funds to procure the best possible resources. This involvement of money, as necessary as it may be, tends to become one of the biggest factors of success. This somehow goes against the very notion of sports and it doesn’t allow the participants to rise up who are trying to win solely on hard work and merit. Formula 1 was no different from this, unfortunately. But the 21st Century (and Liberty Media) have proactively brought in changes that would make Formula 1 a gleaming example for the other sports to see (*cough* football). So, let us see what these changes are and why we as fans should be supporting these experimental changes with all our hearts.
Formula 1, till 2021, worked on the idea that the winners will be rewarded and the teams coming at the bottom of the table will be “punished”. The winning team, let’s say the Constructors’ Champion, win the bulk of the cash prize while the teams coming behind get progressively less. Now you might argue, “Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?” Ideally, you might be right. But there is more to this than meets the eye. This problem has been going on for decades. Unfortunately, it’s been most prominent in the last decade. The sport has literally turned into the world of the haves and the have nots. The cost of being a front runner is something that most teams cannot bear to afford. To shed more light on this, let us take a live example. Last year, Williams had a budget of around $150 million. They ended up last in the constructors.
But in that same year, constructor winners Mercedes had to spend a whopping $450 million to earn the title. This clearly depicts that revenue brings in development and resources, which in turn, translates to a faster car. What makes this example more eye opening is that Williams is not new to this sport. It has a huge history with Formula 1 and has also won 9 constructor championships in the past. But due to a systematic lack of funding over the years, Williams have become back runners post 2005. The reason for this is not that the boys and girls at Williams aren’t working to their bones, but rather the lack of funding is what helped them go down the order. Furthermore, the idea of the “fastest starts first” doesn’t really help the situation either. But will all these problems being pointed out, me as a fan, am still proud of this Motorsport. The reason being Formula 1 is bringing in drastic measures to level the playing fields from 2022 onward.
Liberty Media had understood that Formula 1 was slowly polarizing and predictability was becoming a disease in this sport. Cars not being able to follow each other, teams with bigger revenues winning and the cost of development were few of the key reasons for this. Thankfully an army of technical and non-technical changes are being paraded in for the 2022 season. Strict budget caps, ground effect cars and progressive CFD time limits are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a plethora of rule changes from the FIA that will come in effect in an attempt to proactively tackle this issue. The best part about this is that the teams are in full support of these changes brought forward which is making it easier for the rule changes to take effect. This sort of agreement between teams, owners and governing organisations truly suggests that the sport in whole, knows their fans and know the very essence of why Formula 1 is the greatest Motorsport series on earth!
Furthermore, Liberty Media is already trying to tinker with the Qualifying session by having a Sprint Race to decide the grid for the main Sunday Grand Prix this year. How much would it actually help the entire scenario is unknown but the fans, drivers and the teams are really excited to see proactive changes to the traditional race week setup. McLaren’s Zak Brown has also put forward the idea of anonymous voting for teams on issues so that the bigger teams are unable to pressure on their customer teams into voting on their interests. These sort of changes being brought from within the sport truly makes me a proud fan.
So, to put things into perspective, Formula 1 is very “woke” and is keeping up quite nicely with the 21st century. The people inside the sport are actively trying change the sport from its traditional outlook to this modern approach. The only request I make to the readers is that, even though you may not want to move away from the traditional Formula 1 structure, we have to support our Sport in their attempts to keep it relevant. If we don’t, we may end just like the Minardis, Arrows and the HRTs’ of Formula 1, nonexistent.
Akaash Bhadra is an amateur Motorsport journalist aiming to spark the fire of Formula 1 in the reader’s heart.