After years of self-inflicted negativity, there seems to be an air of positivity within Formula 1 after a thrilling start to the 2016 season. Rachit Thukral writes.
It’s no secret that Formula 1 has been embroiled in negativity for the past few years. The sport has been criticised (read dragged down) on various grounds - from an all-out Mercedes dominance to secondary aspects such as lack of sound.
Much of the negativity has come from the sport's stakeholders itself, with FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone being one of the most vociferous critics of the new regulations.
However, the start of the 2016 season seems to have introduced a breath of fresh air into the sport. All five races have been thoroughly entertaining, with a marked increase in number of overtakes.
A lot of it is down to the introduction of a third tyre compound by Pirelli, leading to more variance in strategies and on-track performance of cars at different stages of the race.
But perhaps Max Verstappen’s victory in Spain last week was the best thing that could happen to Formula 1.
In a race where both Mercedes drivers crashed out on the opening lap, Verstappen emerged as a shock - yet deserved - winner, earning heaps of plaudit from various quarters.
And it was a memorable moment for Formula 1 too - one that will go down in the history of the sport. 20 years down the line, this race will be revered as a classic - not just because of the end result, but also because of how the race panned out.
Positivity from within the sport
This year leading Formula 1 figures have acknowledged that the racing has genuinely been exciting, with this positivity trickling down to fans.
Indeed, Mercedes’ motorsport chief Toto Wolff went on to say that Formula 1 doesn’t need a regulations overhaul in 2017. While one may argue that Wolff has its own agenda, it’s a valid argument, considering some teams are apprehensive about the impact of increased downforce on overtaking.
But while no can definitely say how racing will be next year, one thing is for sure - drivers will relish faster cars. And positive comments from those that form the very core of the sport will go a long way in changing the sport’s general perception among the fans.
Maintaining the positive outlook
If Formula 1 has to maintain this positive outlook, it must continue to deliver exciting races. Surely, tyre choices will start to converge after a period of time, reducing one variable, but the races can still be enthralling to watch because of other factors.
A lot will depend on the 2017 regulations and how other teams catch up current pacesetters Mercedes. Also, the sports’ stakeholders must try to pull up F1, having dragged it down for several years..
After all, it will bring universal benefits for everyone involved. F1 has been losing its TV audience, which has had a negative impact on teams' sponsorship income. A reversal of the viewership trend, led by better mouth-to-mouth publicity, will help in changing the sponsorship pattern
Moreover, CVC has been trying to sell Formula 1 for a few years now, but their latest selling price has been deemed too high. Only if the sport is considered high enough in the eyes of buyers, only then will someone put pen to paper.
by Rachit Thukral