F1 season review: 10 things we’d like to see next year

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarFriday, November 9th, 2007


An awful lot has been said and written about the 2007 Formula One season, and not much of it has been very positive. While it’s been a fantastic few months in many respects, there’s also been far too much that we’d rather forget about.

So, rather than dwelling on feuding team-mates, the trashing of reputations among drivers and team principals alike, the alleged behind-the-scenes fisticuffs, the legalities of flexible floors or cooled fuel, and exactly what it was that Nigel Stepney said to Mike Coughlan, let’s accentuate the positives.

Here’s some things that we think would be good for the sport in 2008. And, sure enough, it will need them after the year it’s just had:

  1. Consistency. All we ask is for the ability to believe that the rules are being applied with a modicum of fairness. This season the suspension of disbelief required has been just too great – with Ferrari’s illegal floor and the BMW and Williams fuel irregularities escaping unpunished while McLaren get a £50 million fine for behaviour that’s arguably rife in F1. Do we have an agenda? Yes, of course we do – look at the masthead, we’re a blog about British motorsport. It doesn’t say “Italiani sul palo,” “Deutsche auf Polen” or “Suomalaiset puolalaisella” up top. Even so, we’re not asking for special treatment for Lewis Hamilton, David Coulthard, Jenson Button or anyone else. Just a bit of consistency in the application of the rules, please.
  2. A new FIA president. We think that this season has demonstrated quite painfully how Max Mosley is doing the sport more harm than good. His public pronouncements have become more and more vitriolic until you could barely believe he was saying such things on the record. The resulting impression is that he’s allowing personal animosity to cloud his judgement and putting his own agenda before the good of the sport. And all this at a time when F1 is benefiting from a huge post-Schumacher resurgence of interest. Spanish fans are turning up in their droves to see Alonso, Brits flocking to F1 to follow Hamilton. A three-way title race that went down to the wire meant a spotlight was turned on the sport – and what did it shine on? Mosley saying things like this: “I would have taken all the points away from Hamilton and Alonso… I’m slightly disappointed because when history comes to be written and all the emotions are gone they will say, ‘Hang on a minute, we just don’t know what happened and would Raikkonen or Massa have won had it not been for this information?'” What’s more important – the future of the sport, or Mosley’s place in history? Time for him to step down – and to actually go, this time.
  3. For Lewis Hamilton to avoid second-season wobble. We worry about next season. How many second albums are a great disappointment? How many second novels do you wish you’d never read? After his brilliant debut season Lewis is older, wiser and undoubtedly just that little bit more cynical about motor racing. We really hope he’s going to be able to put the experience to good use – after all, if he’s done this well after playing racing games with younger brother Nic, what will he be capable of now he’s got a proper knowledge of all the circuits? Let’s just hope that he’s able to keep a wise head on those young shoulders, and that next season goes as we hope it will.
  4. The return of Jim Rosenthal. Please, Jim. Please return to ITV’s commentary team. We’re begging you. Admittedly, Steve Rider is an extremely talented man. It takes a lot of talent to make top-tier motorsport sound about as exciting as reading off the back of a cereal packet. You must be getting bored with asking the same questions of Amir Khan and Joe Calzaghe after they’ve knocked the living daylights out of some other poor sod. Never mind football. You know, deep down in your heart, that motor racing needs you back very badly indeed…
  5. For Jenson Button to come back onto the radar. Jense’s trip from golden boy of British motorsport to an also-ran who rarely even scores points has been a particularly rapid and brutal one. We think the comparisons with Tim Henman are uncalled for – because he’s an excellent driver, as he’d be able to demonstrate once more if he had a half-decent car to work with again. Will he get that at Honda? We have to say that, under the present management, we are doubtful. Let’s hope he gets a better offer in the current round of musical seats. Of course, McLaren would be too much to hope for, but it’s what we’d like to see.
  6. For DC to leave unlucky 13 behind. Who would have thought, during those grim 2004 races for McLaren, that the Flying Scotsman would still be driving an F1 car in 2008? We’re delighted – and we hope that the potential the Red Bull car was starting to show towards the end of this season (don’t mention the reliability) mean that he’ll be able to win his 14th race. This is a big ask, we know – but he’s on record as saying he’d hate to retire on 13 wins. Here’s hoping…
  7. A decent drive for Rubens Barrichello. Rubinho has always been a favourite of ours, largely because his public persona is so cheerful and easygoing. We used to hate the way he had to play second fiddle to Michael Schumacher at Ferrari and we really hoped that, like David Coulthard, he would come into his own when freed from the shackles of a big team and experience a really happy last couple of years of his career in Formula One. Well, that’s not the way 2007 played out for him at Honda. We have our fingers crossed for him in 2008.
  8. For Super Aguri to hang on in there. Everybody loves an underdog. And maybe there’s just slightly too large a hole in our lives since the departure of the much-mourned Minardi from the back row of the grid. But who would have thought that the outfit set up to be the B-team of a Japanese mega-corporation, and to occupy valuable pit-lane real-estate to the exclusion of other Japanese mega-corporations would turn out like this? We couldn’t help cheering every time that Davidson and Sato left Button and Barrichello staring up their exhaust pipes, despite our high regard for those two drivers. And surely F1 is a more entertaining place for the presence of the aforementioned Sato? Now he has a car that can’t get him into quite so much trouble…
  9. A team to have the courage to try out a woman driver. Danica Patrick. Katherine Legge. Sarah Fisher. Natasha Firman. Susie Stoddart. Laleh Seddigh. They’re out there, in open-wheel and tin-top series, as well as starting to get testing invites for some national teams in A1GP. In fact, female drivers seem to get a lot more acceptance in America and elsewhere in the world than they ever will in conservative, European-dominated Formula One. It might be a cliché that women have to excel while men just have to be good enough – but when you see some of the things going on towards the back of the F1 grid it starts to look mighty appropriate.
  10. And finally… how about a reversal of the alarming trend that sees good-looking Latin men (step forward G Fisichella and arguably J Trulli too) in danger of being replaced by geeky boys in glasses. (Do we mean young Bourdel? Or are we talking about his doppelganger Vettais? We’re just not sure.)

10 responses to “F1 season review: 10 things we’d like to see next year”:

  1. Keith Says:

    November 9th, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    The return of Rosenthal? You are kidding right? He never liked F1 and admitted as much when he left. Rider’s not great but at least he knows the sport.

    I don’t think Barrichello has done anything this year to justify him staying in F1 (or the year before that, or the year before that…)

    But I do think it’s time for Mosley to step aside. I don’t think anyone can hande that kind of job effectively for 16 straight years.

    As for consistency, you’ve hit the nail on the head there. Where was the penalty for Sato and the Super Aguris cutting the first corner at Monaco?

  2. Andy Says:

    November 9th, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Keith, we treasure the memory of the behind-the-scenes footage from a Grand Prix held during a (soccer) World Cup where Rubinho is the sole Brazilian in a room full of England fans – and then Brazil scores. Heads in hands everywhere and this little Brazilian in the background leaping around like a gazelle on speed. There’s not enough nice guys around as it is to be happy at the prospect of his career ending on a low note.

    The main reason we preferred Rosenthal to Rider is the level of knowledge they bring out of the expert summarisers. Rider will make a moron-level comment along the lines of “it’s raining, will that cause them problems?” and whichever ex-driver he’s talking to then has to explain stuff we already know. Rosenthal used to pitch his initial question at a much higher level, working on the assumption that his audience had a basic level of understanding of the sport, and as a result we learned stuff we didn’t already know from the reply he got. That’s our impression, anyway.

  3. Free Bet Man Says:

    November 9th, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    A woman driver? Now that would be interesting, in the post-modern World we live in perhaps it’s time to open up to the possibility of having a female behind the wheel of an F1 car?
    I think courage is the right choice of word though for this particular issue, I can’t see any team stepping up to the plate and risking a lot of money on something which has never been tried before and I doubt the FIA would be too keen on spending time putting it through any kind of vote!

  4. F1 in the blogs 46: Making 2008 better — F1 blog from F1Fanatic Says:

    November 10th, 2007 at 8:01 am

    […] 10 things we’d like to see next year […]

  5. Andrew Says:

    November 10th, 2007 at 10:23 am

    I agree, it is about time F1 got some women into the sport. It is hard to inspire the next generation without good rolemodels in this one.

    I would also be very interested to see what a high profile woman driver would bring to the racecraft. It’s possible that a different perspective on racing might bring interesting changes in driving style.

  6. Alex Andronov Says:

    November 10th, 2007 at 11:09 am

    In fact Free Bet Man, it is something that has been done before… I think there have been 6 female drivers in F1, mainly a while back, and they have never really had the support that they would have now. I think the most that any of them have scored is half a point. But it has happened before, and it could easily happen again.

  7. ljh Says:

    November 10th, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Here’s a comment from that noted defender of women’s rights David Coulthard, reported in The Guardian in 2006:

    “I’m a great believer that [women should] have an equal opportunity to race,” he said, “There’s no reason at all why they shouldn’t race with men. There’s no physical or reaction reason. More men get into it, because more boys get into it. My sister was naturally a better driver than I was, though.”

    Jenson Button’s comments, by contrast, are so risible that I actually feel embarrassed for him.

    On reflection I think the breakthrough might be if a woman was able to compete well in GP2. And I’m not sure there’s anyone around at the moment that’s obviously going to make that transition. Also it gives the impression of being a particularly laddish series.

    Perhaps American motorsport really is the answer…

    That Guardian article in full: http://shopping.guardian.co.uk/motoring/story/0,,1820652,00.html

  8. Free Bet Man Says:

    November 10th, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    I didn’t realise that Alex, if it was the case that there would be greater support for the female drivers today, why are there none on the grid at present? Do you think it has something to do with their ability?
    And Andrew, I agree with you, perhaps seeing what Women can do on a racetrack would lead to different approaches to racing, it is well known that Women are more expressive than Men and perhaps this would lead to even more attractive racing than we see at present?

  9. sam Says:

    November 13th, 2007 at 1:53 am

    A woman driver in F1? Wow.. why not say something else very PC and sappy, like:

    “End World Hunger”
    “Bring Peace to All”

    Those are actually more likely to happen.

  10. Andy Says:

    November 13th, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Which, if it were true, would be a pretty poor reflection on motor sport. Happily it’s not – and it gets less true every year as the proportion of sappiness increases at the expense of pointless sneering.

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