It was with much excitement that I awaited the return of the F1 season for 2010. It had so much promise with the most competitive field for years. Several teams all very close in term of performance including Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes.
Not only do we have so many top teams, there was also the prospect of seeing four world champions all on the track together (Button, Hamilton, Schumacher and Alonso). Never has an F1 season had so much to offer but as if that wasn't enough there was also the introduction of three new teams to the grid. The addition of Lotus, Virgin and Hispania meant we would have the largest field since 1995!
Things were still looking good during qualifying with the new teams faring better than would be expected. There was also lots of competition at the top with Ferrari looking strong until the Red Bull of Vettel smashed their times. So with a great starting grid there was still everything to race for.
It was when the actual race started that things went downhill. The first few corners had some incidents including the oil burning episode of Mark Webber that saw some turmoil left in his wake. There was also a move by Hamilton on Massa which he didn't manage to stick. But after that there was absolutely nothing to talk of.
Sure after around 15-20 laps they came in to change tyres, but that barely affected the grid. Though the McLaren's of Hamilton and Button did both benefit by gaining a place. But after the pit stop nothing happened except for a couple of retirements from the new teams.
Sadly for Vettel he suffered a mechanical failure with his exhaust which just meant he had to surrender his pole position and cling on to whatever points he could. This was the only small piece of drama in what was otherwise just a procession of cars pretty much from start to finish.
The new rules have basically killed off any tactical manoeuvrability with fuel loads and pit stops. The tyres are too good and last too well negating the need to change them, other than the dictated requirement to use both types. I would think that a set of hard tyres could last the full race distance!
Post race interviews were worrying too with drivers saying they weren't really pushed because they had to manage tyres. This is borne out by the lap times which didn't really drop below 2 minutes despite qualifying times being several seconds faster.
We really don't want this situation at all, the drivers should be out there to race, not nurse their cars around the track!
We need a change to the rules and fast. A minimum of two pit stops would be one way forward but is unlikely to get team approval now the season has started. They couldn't get agreement beforehand!
Another option that wouldn't involve a rule change would be to stop the tyres lasting as long, it would have the same effect as mandating two stops but wouldn't require team approval. This would at least enable the drivers to race the cars to the limit without having to worry so much about tyre wear.
If things stay as they are now you can expect every race this year to follow exactly the same pattern. The top teams will go into Q3 using the super soft for a fast lap time, then be forced to start the race on them. They will then pit at roughly quarter distance for the harder compound which will will then last them to the end of the race.... YAWN....
Fans deserve better than this, it seems that every attempt to make the racing more exciting over the last 3-4 years has had the exact opposite effect!
What is my ultimate solution? Well I have an idea and that's to stop meddling! Remove all the ridiculous rules and regulations (other than those for safety) becuase they just don't work. Set a sensible budget cap and just let the teams produce the best car/driver combination they can for the cash!
Let them develop double/triple diffusers and extra down-force if they can, why not? Let them test mid season if their budget allows, it's up to them how they spend it up to the cap. Stop trying to micro-manage F1 and let the car designers and engineers do the best job they can!