Former F1 star David Coulthard has pointed the finger of blame for the 'processional' and sleep-inducing nature of Sunday's 2010 curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir firmly at the controversial 16-year reign of erstwhile FIA President Max Mosley – though he does concede that 'things can only get better'.
Having being billed as one of the most exciting, unpredictable and wide open campaigns in years – with no fewer than four previous world champions on the starting grid and eight drivers potentially in with a shout of lifting the ultimate laurels – the first competitive glimpse of F1 2010 was scarcely an exhilarating one.
After all of the media hype, anticipation and build-up, the race under the baking hot sun of the desert kingdom three days ago rapidly degenerated into what Coulthard described as an anti-climactic and 'desperately underwhelming snoreathon' – and the recently-retired Scot asserts that the responsibility for that falls predominantly at the feet of one man's legacy.
“I hope Max Mosley, watching from his ivory tower after relinquishing his post as president of Formula 1's governing body last autumn, enjoyed the Bahrain Grand Prix,” the 13-time grand prix-winner turned popular BBC F1
pundit wrote in his regular column for British broadsheet the Daily Telegraph
. “Revs limited to 18,000rpm, the ban on in-race refuelling, standardised gearboxes and engines, a single tyre-supplier – all initiatives introduced during his tenure at the FIA, all of which appear to have done little for the show if Bahrain is anything to go on.
“I don't want to sound too melodramatic, as I'm sure that given different conditions – rain at Interlagos, say – the race might well have been the classic we all hoped for...but in truth it was processional, a test of reliability rather than racing.
“The ban on refuelling and the requirement to stop at least once for the second available tyre compound resulted in all the top drivers coming in around the same time; the change to the points system had no noticeable effect on overtaking; and even if the drivers had wanted to overtake they could not because the diffusers – which should have been outlawed last year – create too much downforce for the leading cars and too much turbulence for those following.”
Coulthard went on to echo F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone's argument that 'the teams must take their share of the blame as well' [see separate story – click here
] for having dismissed the suggestion of a mandatory two pit-stop rule over the winter as 'some felt their machines would go easier on the tyres than others' – something the Red Bull Racing consultant slates as 'a prime example of engineers being unable to put aside their competitive instincts for the greater good'. Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Ecclestone has since stressed that 'we cannot change the rules' mid-season [see separate story – click here
Expressing his hope that the boredom of Bahrain will cause the two-stop dissenters to 'start thinking clearly now' as all involved seek to inject some much-needed spice into the sport's soporific spectacle, Coulthard added that one possibility would be for sole tyre-manufacturer Bridgestone to come up with another, faster-degrading compound to mix things up a little bit.
“Naturally, they would not see this as the best advertisement for their company, but I believe that if it was made clear they were creating something bespoke for F1, it would do them no harm,” the 38-year-old contended. “Quite the reverse, in fact; if they can produce two compounds of tyres that can only manage a combined 310km – a full race distance plus a few kilometres – they would be lauded as geniuses.