Saturday, January 8, 2011

"You watch Formula One? You elitist..."

So back from my hiatus, might as well start with a bang. Ready for some blasphemy?

It's pretty well known that I've been a Formula One fan for, long enough to matter; I remember the day's when nobody watched F1 because we all knew Schumacher would just win.. so since '04? Those were the days when it the sport was really evolving, from a men and machines being pushed to the edge of insanity, to a political battleground.

Unfortunately, as every season progresses, the latter becomes more and more prevalent over the former. Why? Well, if you ask me a lot of it has to do with this rich asshole:

Yes, Bernie Ecclestone, head of the FOM, yes that is a real picture of him (no it's not) holding a the world encrusted with gold in his hands.. damn elitist.

After the 2009 season, I stopped watching Formula One because, it kinda started to suck. The FIA really turned the tables on the teams, changing all kinds-o-regulations and such. Perhaps coincidently, or maybe not, Both Honda and Toyota pulled their F1 teams of the grid because it was just too much money.

Two of the biggest automotive manufacturers in the world, both with incredibly rich & successful motorsport histories pulled out because it was too much money. What the hell?

It's well known that F1 is the most expensive sport in the the world, with billions and billions of dollars poured into the sport every season. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? In my opinion, its great in the sense that it is also the most prestigious form of motorsport and it's the pinnacle of racing and "automotive" technology; but its not so great in the sense that a lot of the money spent doesn't go to those things. 

I don't know exact numbers, but from what I understand more money goes into just politics then anything. It's not just the teams, its the everyone involved in the sport. Here is a number I do know, the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang cost the owners $45.7 million dollars, U.S. Dollars. In fact, just to be registered as a potential Grand Prix circuit costs upwards of $5 million. Consequently, most track cant front the cost, in fact Spa-Francorchamps might not be back on the F1 calendar after 2011 due to a $9 million debt. China and Turkey are in the same boat.

Where does all this money go? It shouldn't cost that much to host a race?

On top of that, according to some 2003 numbers, F1 teams spent a whopping  $2,141,100,000. with the top teams spending more then 11 times the lower teams. Interesting isn't it. To me it seems like it's just a competition to who can spend the most money thereby winning the most races; even former FIA President agrees.

Like I mentioned earlier, this is great because teams are spending a lot of that on research and development which trickles down to their production vehicle, right? Maybe not, teams are pumping millions and millions of dollars into technology that will probably never make it onto any road-going vehicle. Think about it, how many cars are going to have engines that rev to 19000 RPM, and $40,000 steering wheels? On top of that millions of dollars are spent on running model shops and huge wind-tunnels 24/7. All of that provides for fascinating things like the F-duct, wing stalling, deflecting front wings.. etc. But nobody besides an engineer cares, the average race fan just wants to watch some good racing. wind-tunnels and multi-million dollar budgets don't effect viewing pleasure.

With all that money, I have often times found myself far more fascinated by more grassroots racing. ALMS, Rolex, SCCA, they have all managed to steer clear of all the bullshit. Without all that, it's still some of the most exciting racing in the world if you ask me.
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Chris said...

ryan, all that stuff is what makes f1 different from all the other series. Its why f1 attracts a different crowd than say, nascar or indy. Its because it is expensive and sophisticated.

Ryan said...

True enough, I can't argue with that because I have no problem with innovation; which is F1's strong suit. However, when it is to the point that half of the teams can't afford to stay anywhere near competitive, I have a problem. To me, it seems like it's not a competition of driver's and constructors, its a competition of who can spend the most money.

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