forced down

(Featured Image shared under CC license from Artes Max)

Just before the second Formula One Grand Prix of the season, the former F1 driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Stefan Johansson has made clear why the race action at F1 season’s opener Melbourne a couple of weeks ago was rather soporific:

[…] unfortunately, it was just more of the same thing we’ve had for the last few years. And why wouldn’t it be? Nothing has really changed. The cars have even more downforce than they had in 2017 and the formula remains the same, so it’s inevitable that there will be less passing.

He continues outlining that the new restriction of only being able to use three engines per season has already failed its own purpose to cut the costs as increased reliability of the extremely sophisticated Hybrid engines requires the use of expensive materials and this will undoubtedly drive up development costs.

According to Stefan Johansson engineers are the main culprits for technical rules that are not able to guarantee an awesome spectator experience during the race by preventing the drivers from overtaking. He suggests that engineers should not be too involved in the decision making of the technical rules and that the “Awesome Factor” needs to find its way back into F1.

My interest in motorsports and more specifically Formula One relates back to the times when Stefan Johansson was a works driver for the Scuderia Ferrari. Since then there were many years when I did not watch any race because I lost my interest when some team or driver dominated the series continuously. A couple of years ago I turned to GT racing because I like the looks and sounds of racing cars that I spot occasionally on public roads in their road-legal version. Besides the Blancpain GT Series highlighting the 24 Hour of Spa-Francorchamps every summer in the Belgian Ardennes, one of my favourite racing circuits, GT cars race also in the FIA World Endurance Championship together on track with the mesmerising LMP1 and LMP2 prototype racing cars.

Talking about the “Awesome Factor” missing not only in F1 but in motorsport in general, Stefan Johansson explains:

Right now it’s only awesome in the sense that the technology is absolutely amazing, but unless you’re a complete geek no one can appreciate it and you certainly can’t see it when the car is running.

Now this is quite the point why I still like to watch and even attend some motorsport events live on a racing circuit now and then. Not only do I watch motoring races in live streams, I also follow several teams and drivers on social media, read about the main racing series in specialized media and my favourite video games are racing simulations – because the geek in me admires the technology and commitment in this sport.

Regarding GT racing Stefan Johansson is still right when he points out that the Balance of Performance (BoP) in this series is quite an issue too:

There’s only ever one car or team that’s happy and they normally stand on the top of the podium, everybody else feel they’ve been screwed.

He suggests even to get rid of the prototypes and let unrestricted GT cars of every sports or supercars manufacturer driven by the world’s top drivers race at Le Mans. This would indeed be an awesome formula, and potential security issues due to considerable differences in speed between LMP and GTLM cars need not be a subject anymore.