Podium Finisher
Seeing RasputinLives' thread about the underdog has reminded me of what I miss most about F1, and that's unreliability. I wouldn't want to see every race turned into a lottery, but F1 races don't keep me on the edge of my seat as they used to, and the reason is that the cars are too damned reliable.

I started watching F1 in 1989 (a year that was atypical in terms of having 47 or so drivers over the course of the year), but nonetheless, over the course of 16 races, with points down to 6th, 29 drivers scored points. Apart from the DNPQ no-hopers and the disastrously unlucky Ivan Capelli, every driver who put in a full season scored. And they were able to do so because of reliability issues afflicting the front-runners (check out how Gerhard Berger fared that season). There were routinely races with ten or less finishers, and ten different constructors achieved podiums (even last year, feted as being kerrrrazily mixed up, only saw 7 different cars on the rostrum). Then, there was always a realistic prospect that the cars in the top six weren't able to get to the chequered flag. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather have fantastic wheel-to-wheel racing than a slog-it-out reliability trial, but I yearn for those long ago days when there was a faint but realistic hope that the leader's engine might just turn into a cloud of smoke, allowing the underdog through for a surprise win from time to time... A little piece of my love for F1 dies whenever 20-odd cars finish a race...
Absolutely agree, I remember praying during the years 92 - 94 that any car in front of a Lotus would have an engine pack up in a puff of oil and smoke if it meant seeing Mika or Johhny H on a podium. It never happened of course but it was in all cases likely to and that sort of luck benefited many a driver of the years.

Now, thanks to the engine life rules and for that matter the component life rules, these parts are no longer tuned to 11 and have to survive for several weekends on pain of a race being ruined due to un-scheduled changes. As you said Legs, it has taken away something else that used to be a key part of the F1 experience.
NIcely put Legs and cider_and_toast . I too bemoan the loss of that degree of uncertainty and the emotional roller coaster that was often invovled. Knowing a car had something radical to make it different and fast yet possibly fragile created a tension and mixed expectations. Now, though, we expect the cars to last the race and if there is a technical failure there is just disappointment. Somehow without first having had that extra ingredient of technical interest and suspense the disappointments seem to be worse and more annoying. There's no compensatory intrigue around the journey to perfect a new development or fresh innovation.

We are left with blipvert racing, one pertinent question "can McLaren fix a crap car?" and the rest just tweaking their aero' bits. It is still F1 and sometimes fun but for a tech' head not quite as satisfying as I think it should be. Oh well, 2014 will have some new bits.
With the rules so tight, and especially the engine freeze, there is nothing that can go wrong anymore. All developments are tiny aero pakages, whereas the transmission hasn't changed for a few years. So beacuse there is limited scope to make the cars faster, they make them more reliable.
Reliability is just another dumbing down of the sport for me. I use to love the part of pushing the development of the engines and gear boxes to the absolute limits of development for that last bit of extra performance. That for me was what made F1 special, the pinnacle, Formula 1.

They said the viewers weren’t interested in any of that, but I was. If a new engine had a new cylinder lining material to further reduce friction allowing another 100rpm on top of the staggering 20 thousands plus we already had, that to me was amazing. I use to talk about the engines and technology in F1 all the time now I hardly ever mention the engines, and when I do its usually to either reminisce over the 20,000rpm V10 monsters or to slag off what we have now.

But the casual viewer doesn’t want this (apparently) the casual viewer wants cars that go round and round and round forever, and use crappy flappy wings to let each other by to make it look exciting.
To be honest I think that reliability had already improved to a great extent in the mid-2000s before most of the cost-saving, development restricting regulations arrived. Those 19,000rpm+ V10s hardly ever blew up, actually, and the 2005 McLaren was remarkable precisely because it was unusual for a leading car to be so unreliable.

As with windtunnels and CFD, the science of manufacturing has progressed to the extent that even if teams were pushing things to the limit now, chances are they would usually last the required distance.
Although I admit that lack of reliability does liven things up, I never liked it during my favourite era, as it usually seemed to afflict two of my favourite drivers--Dan Gurney and Chris Amon!
Top Bottom