Has F1 hit rock bottom?


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Here's a "happy" article from the Orlando Sentinel (written by an Associated Press journo) which claims that without Schumacher's return F1 was on it's knees:


F1 has had some supposed bad news with the withdrawal of Honda, BMW and Toyota and Renault selling off its team but do we really think F1 was at the bottom? Honda won 1 race, as did BMW. Toyota, despite the millions thrown at the team, didn't win a single race. Renault won two Championships but then lost their star driver and their way. The teams which kept winning were those with history and an understanding of the sport rather than those using it as a vehicle for publicity. Mercedes needed McLaren and Ross Brawn brilliance to win anything.

I have concerns that Mercedes, either through their own team or those which they power, will start to dominate F1 but as long as they keep supplying engines to other teams there will competition. That said, I can't believe Ferrari will simply sit back and let Mercedes take all the laurels and Red Bull have their "ace in the hole" with Adrian Newey.

Schumie's return has certainly increased the amount of publicity F1 has received but I don't believe true F1 fans are that ecstatic about his comeback. Fernando Alonso may not be as charismatic as Schumacher but most motor racing fans respect his driving abilities. Lewis Hamilton has become a superstar over night, Jenson Button has won the respect of many for his Championship win last season after so many years in the doldrums and Sebastien Vettel (depsite his awful grin) appears to be the real deal. Kimi has gone but was he really that up for the fight? Massa has won the hearts of many with his rise performances at Ferrari.

There are 4 news teams this season who may or may not be competitive, the main unknown being the Cosworth engine. Other teams are queueing up for a place on the grid and you have to assume they knew where the funding for a forray into F1 would come from so there isn't a shortage of sponsors it would appear.

So, do we agree that without Schumacher F1 was about to reach a new low?
Personally, I thnk that F1 is on an upward trajectory now that Max, RD and Flab are gone. I must admit, however, that Alonso has a fair amount of gall making rude comments about Schumi, when he (Alonso) has been hip deep in the 2 biggest scandals to hit F1- Crashgate and Spygate. Those two events make all of Schumi's trangressions pale to insignificance.
Agree with you on Teflonso¹ siffert_fan. I think Schumacher's return is what puts F1 on its knees; the implication that the sport needs an aging old star to provide any excitement² is incredibly damaging. Its not what sport is all about. The old generation must pass, and a new generation should take its place³. I don't think F1 has been at rock bottom, I think F1 has been at a high. Spygate and Crashgate have been unfortunate incidents, but the purge of Briatore will always be a good thing?; if only Ecclestone had followed him out of the door.

We have a new generation now, a new generation equally as capable as Schumacher when it comes to lying to stewards?, cheating?, but not as good at choking the life out of the competition.

F1 may be on its knees, but only if Schumacher is competitive.

¹Thankyou, Martin Brundle
²because of course Schumi was so exciting in 2004
³Please note, Fabio Capello
?Not sure that Ron Dennis is the same, he was a counterweight to di Montezemelo's sabre rattling (hence Spygate)
?Schumi, Monaco 2006. Caught, no punishment. Lewis, Australia 2008. Caught DSQ. One in a Ferrari, one in a McLaren. Guess which?!
?Yes, Fernando, you!
In terms of the grand vision of those in high places they could argue that the sport has hit rock bottom. Why? Because it's the view of Bernie that the sport should be swimming in as much cash as possible and that cash can only come from the big manufacturers prepared to chuck money at every problem. This is why he was behind the "softly softly" approach with Renault.

From a fan point of view things are completely different and this is perhaps where Mercs "all German" approach is quite clever. Toyota, BMW and Honda were always going to struggle to build up a fan base. Where as Merc will have almost every German F1 fan and a lot of Germans who wouldn't normally watch F1 on their side now. Merc need F1 a whole lot more than F1 does. Will he still be a force to be reckoned with is the question that every one wants answered.

From my point of view F1 hit rock bottom in the early 00's when Ferrari were winning everything. From the moment that Jean Todt failed to understand just why people were so upset about the team orders scandel in Austria that was it for me.

As for the forthcoming season. Is F1 at rock bottom. Not in my humble opinion (for the very little that that is worth). There is the question of Schuey, Alonso in a Ferrari, Button v Hamilton, Where exactly will Vettel feature?? How will the new guys do. There are so many questions and for once, aside from the loss of re-fuelling there will be no rule changes to worry about. Bring it on.
Well, sorry guys but I stopped reading the article once it became evident that it was just another attempt to put anti-schumacherism into words.

One positive is that in 2010 we will double the number of drivers on the grid who have been WDC when not driving a WCC car. Oh, and will everyone stop holding Alonso up as being the apogee of drivers and individuals. He could definitely be considered the luckiest driver in F1, a title often afforded to Schumacher and Hamilton, simply by virtue of being found innocent.

But examples of team order being held against MS - haven't they heard about Singapore 2008, fundamentally that started as team orders driving a dangerous cheat.

MS's tactics to stop his main competitor, I think Hamilton may have reference to a little pit incident that he might feel should be in that category.

I think 2009 has had plenty of pain/controversy, but the action has been mixing things up again. 2010 could easily have the same level of action, but sans Max Mosely - we could be hitting the '80s level of entertainment if we're lucky, and we'll have Hamilton in an established team, Alonso in a big budget team, Schumacher in the WCC team and Bernie backing Vettel... does he know something we don't? So we have four drivers (five/six if you include the lower profile Massa and Button) in four diferrent teams.

If F1 has hit rock bottom, there's a hell of a chance we'll see the biggest "dead man's bounce" in the history of the sport!
The 2010 season already had all the makings of the best F1 season since 1994 imho. With Fernando joining Felipe at Ferrari, Jenson joining Lewis at McLaren, Nico joining the current constructors champions and Sebastian in a Newey designed Red Bull. With relative stability in the rules everything was in place for an awesome season of racing. Anyone who thought that it could be anything other than compelling veiwing is several bricks short of a full load! anyone who thought it could not get any better, was right on the money! But WRONG! Schumacher rejoining the show in a very quick car was just inconceivable, and yet conceived it was. The guy who wrote that article (I haven't read it by the way) must be an absolute freakin' twat! :crazy:
an absolute freakin' twit!

Thanks to a small speck of dirt on my lap top screen, I very nearly had to mod that part of your post !!!


Having now read the article in question, I see what the author is driving at (pun intended) but it's a bit wide of the mark. The press have made a great deal of fuss over Schueys comeback where as I get the feeling that most fans are curious to see how he gets on but were already looking forward to 2010 on so many other areas. To say Schuey has come back to save F1 is frankly silly (unless of course, you are Bernie Ecclestone)
Although I haven't read the article (I know... But hey, we do have lives to live! ) , I was already at the conclusion that F1 needed new blood, but someone 40 or over doesn't constitute new!*

There are several reasons to be happy about the shoe maker making a reappearance in F1, just as there are plenty for ruing it. As they are well documented, I won't go through them now. :snacks:

Suffice to say, I'm not a fan and, ergo, I won't be too perturbed if the shoe maker hits his "rock bottom". :D

But, as I'm not one to wish ill of anyone, really, I just wish him not to run anyone off the road, park in front of anyone, or any other such ill luck... :)

And as a conclusion, I don't think F1 needs him any more than he needs F1...

*The bright young things among you might have realised that I hit 40 in February this year, but it would be really sporting of you to keep schtum about it! OK?!
AP must be a very boring place to work, is all I can say on that particular subject.

Anyway, F1, no, it hasn't hit rock bottom - although I did feel we were nearing it during Valencia and Suzuka 2009 - and I don't think it will.. yet.

It seems to me a lot of hope is being placed upon the era of no-refueling [but then so were 2009's aero regs], and part of me wishes that by ushering in a new era, we didn't really need Schumacher, some of the old guard along with Max, Flav, Dennis and Ecclestone (you could perhaps add LdM and Todt - although JT looks better than expected). Once that old guard is gone, I feel that as a collective, FOTA is the way forward, even if at the moment the changes made are seemingly ineffectual or slow.

There's also the thorny issue of whether or not they actually work. Everyone watching F1 will be hopeful, but nobody really knows what to expect. See 2005 - the one tyre for a race rule hardly lasted a long time, did it? And if the refueling regulations don't work out the way we want them to, will they change them? Or will they feel content to let F1 continue in the midsts of confusion? Surely the sport cannot continue changing it's rules every year if it wants to attract casual fans and keep hardcore fans onboard? But if the rules don't work, will they actually do something about it?

I feel things in 2009 could've been done better to implement the supposed aerodynamic reductions. Was it, for example, a political decision to allow the DDD? In future these kinds of decisions need to be sealed under lock and key before the season begins to avoid embarrassment and the mire of legal battles, and perhaps more importantly, decisions need to be made for the right reasons. And by that I mean the sporting reasons and ideals that should underly what is, in theory, exactly that - a sport.

It's obvious to say that too much of this past decade has been dominated by political battles between teams themselves, and between the FIA and teams, that the modern F1 should get away from that. I fear that it won't.

The current F1 needs to get back that sense of heroism and the idolisation of drivers - these guys are driving at speeds up to what, 210, 220 mph? And yet they can't do something as elementary as following another car. And it's at that point that F1 needs to ask itself - and the fans - what it wants to be. Does it want to be the absolute pinnacle of motorsport, embracing new green technologies to promote the concerns about the environment? Or does it want to be a mass-market sport, or "product", like the NFL or Champions League Football, designed for the casual viewer with his popcorn? Does it want to promote sheer excellence at the possible expense of enjoyment for the fans? Or does it want to "dumb" itself down to get a sense of fun in the sport?

It's a crucial question in my eyes, with regards to the future of the sport and one that is currently unanswered. Take a look at some of the past week's [roughly] news and quotes ;

Luca di Montezemolo said:
We cannot accept huge gaps between drivers and the press and public ... And we need to overtake!

Which lends itself to a forward thinking, somewhat progressive thought process that shows a desire to entertain and to bring the fans closer to the sport, right? Or you may perceive this as a load of conditioned air, depending on your leanings.

And yet..

Luca di Montezemolo said:
I can accept if some manufacturers have left the sport but I think F1 at the beginning of the 2000s has been the best in terms of the public and spectators, with new venues and promotion and investment from the car manufacturers.

Doesn't this show quite the opposite in some ways? The cynic in me says that LdM remembers fondly the early 2000's, they weren't a bad time for Ferrari, after all. But did they offer affordable tickets, good racing with exciting new circuits? I'm not sure, and perhaps someone who's been watching further back could say.

I heard someone on the radio the other day say that sport should be competition, not exhibition. Too much of F1 as I feel it is exhibition. Granted, we have the competition in the closeness of the cars, in terms of their outright pace. But during a race, they cannot truly compete. And that's no fun!

So you see already, in one person, we seemingly have confusion about what F1 wants and needs to be. And we have yet more confusion here in Todt's comments ;

Jean Todt said:
I am convinced that we absolutely must reflect the environment with new technologies ... We must adapt to our time ... [Concerning the financial climate] The F1 teams are sometimes blind and do not realise what is happening in the world ... But the cost-saving measures already taken are not sufficient. I am against limiting regulatory budgets, but if we want to perpetuate F1, it takes a real awareness and fundamental decisions.

So again, Todt is seemingly confused about what he wants F1 to be. Green? Check. Cheap? Check. Green AND cheap? Well, I'd like to see how the "awareness" can help accomplish that.

Returning from a slight tangent, I don't believe F1 is at rock bottom. But it's feet are getting dirty, and in the short term, we have something very exciting to look forward to next year, provided we have that level of competition in terms of field spread. The next ingredient is to find a way of letting the drivers compete.

wow long post. chest vented!
Anyone fancy taking this up with AP journo who wrote the article as the Orlando Sentinel kindly put his e-mail address at the bottom of the article. After all we've had higher profile journalists than an AP hack responding to our discussions before...
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