State of F1: 2016 pre-season

Nice looking car. Won't win

Nice looking car. Won't win

We head into the 2016 season with a tangible lack of excitement and the general consensus is that that the general consensus will remain the same, Ferrari are closer to Mercedes, but not by enough. McLaren will be better, but not by enough and Sauber will be Sauber, which is not enough.

It’s a good time to step back and take a look at the increasing mess that F1 has gotten itself into again, or rather how unbelievably F1 has gone from rock bottom to a negative bedrock that was previously undiscovered. 

In a kind of shocking (but actually very normal for F1) development most of the talk leading into the 2016 season has been about how great 2017 will be with the not-so-subtle message that hey, even we know 2016 will be a bit shit, but bear with us we’re trying to fix it, how about stumping up £200 for a ticket for a race and another £40 for a burger and an embarrassing turquoise cap? And by the way, at least McLaren and Renault are shitting off this year to concentrate on next year, probably Sauber too, £6 a pint thanks. 

Instead F1 has fixed what is only marginally cracked (with perhaps a chip on the side that you can’t see) and they have gone and overhauled qualifying into some confusing (to us, the teams will have the best strategies sorted by next week and it’ll just be another mystifying mystery solved by big data) scenario where all the cars are pedalling round the boating lake and are called in when their time is up.

And now the drivers can pick from a wider variety of tyres, this might spice up racing but will probably just lead to frustrating races where someone who should be able to go for the lead can’t because they’re on the wrong tyre – almost as fun to watch as when a driver reels in the leader neer the end of the race but without enough laps to actually do anything about it. 

But shitting all over itself is something F1 is formidable at, perhaps not surprising given the age of its CEO.. Not only are the super duper new engines a focal point of discontent and quietness but now a whole year has been sacrificed for the goodies that await us in 2017.

Only hold that thought too, the 5-7 seconds a lap quicker that was promised ages ago has been bandied about by the teams and other invested parties only to realise that no one can really agree on it and actually leaving the technical specifications up to the competitors is like letting Turkey's vote on festive abattoir laws. Add to this that the bruised Pirelli company (a less successful calendar) have piped up and said that making the cars that much quicker will screw the tyres so can you go a bit slower please and we’re basically going to enter 2017 with the proviso that the next rule change in circa 2020 will be when this sport really gets going! Yeah, a tenner for a sausage rolls.

So how to solve this? It’s simple, F1 needs to stop washing its dirty laundry in public, in fact it needs to stop doing everything in public. I propose that F1 goes behind closed doors for a year, let them all get on with it without the glaring eye of the media and armchair twitterlariat. Instead they should conduct a non-championship championship season. Go to all the tracks, do all the testing but with no one looking.

Perhaps the best way to do this is to go behind some kind of paywall so only fanatics and idiots will pay to see millionaires running about. Then after a few years of that enough interest will have died down and so few people will give a shit that the sport can float itself on the stock market, all the cars will be powered by Argos Elizabeth Duke watches and sBernie can do what the fuck he likes, like the good old days, when it was shit. So what’s the solution?