In the wake of a race that he conceded was 'the most boring of the year', Jarno Trulli has lamented that the nigh-on bulletproof reliability of modern-day F1 cars and the increasing absence of 'mechanical failure' and unpredictability is contributing towards 'a further loss of appeal' for the sport.
Trulli both qualified and finished 20th in Sunday's European Grand Prix in Valencia for Team Lotus, and the closest the Italian veteran has got to the points this season has been 13th place, as 'perfect' reliability amongst the front-runners has left slim pickings indeed for the grid's midfielders, let alone its tailenders.
Of those considered to be mid-pack contenders, only Scuderia Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari and Force India F1's Adrian Sutil troubled the points-scorers around the harbourside streets of the Spanish city, as for just the fourth time in the sport's six-decade history, every car that started the race also saw the chequered flag.
Trulli fears that the current trend of engineering excellence has rendered the human element 'ever-less important', and that consequently, F1 has become less exciting and risks the desertion of its fans.
“We broke a new, previously unthinkable record in Valencia,” the former Monaco Grand Prix-winner wrote in his regular column for La Repubblica
newspaper. “All 24 cars that started the race got to the finish – no failures, no retirements, no crashes. [Narain] Karthikeyan is the first driver in F1 history to finish 24th. Whether this is a positive or negative record, it depends on the driver and his ambitions. Perhaps I wouldn't like it.
“In any case, this record is a bit paradoxical and has a precise significance; the Valencia race in my opinion has indicated another winner, besides [Sebastian] Vettel as usual. That winner is technology. After having won hands-down, in the last few years, the battle against the human element – ever-less important in F1 – it (technology) has ended up winning the philosophical battle against the unexpected and more generally against the unpredictable, something that in our world is called 'mechanical failure'.
“Between ten and 15 years ago, when I started racing [in F1], a driver knew how he'd start a race, but wouldn't know how he would finish it. In fact, he didn't even know whether he would finish it. Nowadays, instead, reliability has become ordinary – cars have four wheels and are reliable. I can't remember the last time an engine broke down in an F1 race. Constructors have become excellent at quality control, and no detail is left to chance.
“This implies two things; the first is that the chances for a small team to get into the points have sensibly reduced, the second is a further loss of appeal for F1. It's no coincidence that the Valencia race has been the most boring of the year.”