F1 technical experts have offered some reasons behind the lack of spectacle in the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir at the weekend – claiming that 'the cars are not good racing cars, the formula is badly-designed' and, most damningly of all, that 'the will to please the public really isn't there'.
After the current season was billed as one of the most wide open, unpredictable and exciting in years, the curtain-raising outing around the Bahrain International Circuit in the desert kingdom on Sunday was subsequently widely panned by drivers, teams and fans alike as verging on the soporific in its lack of action.
One the usual opening lap shenanigans were all done-and-dusted, the grand prix degenerated into a largely processional affair, with the top eight starters the top eight finishers – and in a very similar order. The new ban on refuelling has been blamed for shifting the onus from on-track aggression and overtaking zeal towards tyre management and fuel conservation – and therefore making for a 'boring' afternoon's so-called entertainment. Others, however, point to a rather deeper, more heavily-ingrained fault.
“The root cause is that the cars are not good racing cars,” opined former Jaguar Racing team principal and FIA technical consultant Tony Purnell, who before leaving his post earlier this year, was one of the lynchpins of ex-FIA President Max Mosley's failed bid to impose a £40 million budget cap upon all teams in the top flight.
“The formula is badly-designed, [and] the will to please the public really isn't there. The sad thing is that there are solutions, but no-one is really brave enough or forceful enough or probably convinced enough that they will do anything about it. When they look at the politics of change they all just groan and say, 'Well, I don't want to fight that battle'.”
Those sentiments are broadly echoed by erstwhile BRM and Lotus engineering guru and fellow long-time FIA technical consultant as well as President of the FIA Safety Commission, Peter Wright – a man who contends that things will have to get even worse before they get better.
“It's like climate change,” Wright is quoted as having said by The Associated Press
. “It's got to be bad before it can get better. It's got to get bad enough for people to actually have the real will to do things that they wouldn't normally do.”
However, Carlos Gracia, the famously outspoken president of the Spanish motor racing federation and an FIA Vice-President for Sport, backs the argument of both F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and respected BBC F1
commentator Martin Brundle that it is still far too early to accurately judge the success or failure of the new rules [see separate story – click here
“It's clear that Fernando [Alonso]'s overtaking of [Felipe] Massa [in Bahrain] was spectacular,” he told Diario AS
, “and he was planning an attack [on Sebastian Vettel] in the closing laps. Pedro [de la Rosa] also gave us a show with [Sauber team-mate Kamui] Kobayashi. You cannot assess regulations with a single race.”