Monday, 23 May 2011

Why Formula 1 needs non-championship Grand Prix races?

Not long before the Spanish Grand Prix I went through some older F1 footage to see those mythical races people keep talking about. I came to the conclusion that it is not that difficult to extract awesome scenes from selected races of several decades-worth TV screenings. In fact, everything seemed just the same as nowadays, except the thrill of the possibility of drivers getting killed during races. Actions, moves, wheel-on-wheel battles. That is what you see from YouTube videos and that is what you will remember of recent races twenty years into the future.

Either way, something is missing indeed I had great fun to watch, and I'm not talking about teams, cars, drivers. What is missing are races. Almost for fun. For no consequences. We lack a pitiful amount of non-championship Grand Prix races, that were left to die with the 1983 Race of Champions.

Not long ago I managed to exchange tweets with Peter D. Windsor about this, and almost no surprisingly we share virtually the same opinion:

P: 44 years ago today Lorenzo Bandini crashed at Monaco. I was there. "L'accident a la chicane!" He passed on 3 days later. Very sad. #f1 G: @PeterDWindsor You were there in 1967? That was a great year. One of the best years of the sport. A simulator, GP Legends is based on it. P: @geehalen That year I also saw the Daily Express Trophy at Silverstone (Mike Parkes) and the Oulton Park Spring Cup (Jack Brabham). #f1 G: @PeterDWindsor I do sorry there are no non-championship GPs these days. There could be Olympic races, for example. P: @geehalen Yes, it would be nice again to have non-champ races. Special venues and charities, etc, etc. Some guest drivers.. #f1 G: @PeterDWindsor Definitely there's room and need for special races at e.g. classic tracks or streets. They don't need to be 300km long either

That basically sums up one aspect of the importance of non- champ races, but Keith Collantine came up with another ingenious solution on the f1-fanatic website:

A three-day, non-championship race weekend could include all the testing time teams need on Friday and Saturday, followed by qualifying and a race on Sunday.
There would be other benefits such as allowing them to test changes to racing rules outside of the championship: such as getting rid of the ‘use both tyres’ rule or changes to the Drag Reduction System.
Resurrecting non-championship race could allow teams to give testing opportunities for young drivers but also participate in a competitive event which will offer far more opportunities for promotion than a dreary eight-hour test.
It would be F1′s equivalent of a ‘friendly’ football match.

What a brilliant idea! F1 is trying hard to get messages through, recently supporting green solutions by downsizing and going hybrid. So, by being socially relevant, the event could be used as a means of fundraising for any matters in the world. Also, as a double feature, test restrictions that have been causing serious headaches for all teams so far, 'simulating' a whole race weekend may support more relevant data than a week of testing.

Current series of Race of Champions is rooted in and heavily influenced by rallying with F1 cars making a guest appearance as a part of the show. Why not making it serious and turning it into more than a gala-event?

In fact, where have all the during-race fun from F1 races gone?

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