No. 979
January 16, 2018

About The UjianNasional

Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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FUMES #435

March 5, 2008

Saving F1? Talk is cheap.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

I've made no secret of the fact that I lost serious interest in F1 years ago. Except for a few of the races that I watch from start to finish each season (Monaco, England, Spa - at least when they run it - and Monza), I may tune in to see only the start of a few others, knowing full well that watching the start constitutes seeing the entire race, as the usual suspects from the two top teams then drone on to the finish. The cars leave me cold, too, because they have all of the magnetism and visual appeal of a well-made mechanical pencil.

I can't tell you how many times when I talk to people whom I come across in my travels that I hear this similar refrain: "I don't really care about it anymore." And these comments are inevitably coming from serious, longtime racing freaks too. There's no interest, there's no appeal and there's no romance in F1 for these former fans. Not a good combination.

Yes, of course there still are people who get geeked-up about F1 and go on about the gee-whiz technology and the no-ceiling budgets - blah-blah-blah - but in the end F1 has lapsed into irrelevant racing, and the only thing keeping it going is Bernie Ecclestone's relentless crusade to bring it to new nations that haven't had the pleasure of getting burned-out on his fee structures yet.

Bernie is an easy target of course, but I reserve particular contempt for the manufacturers involved in the sport, because they perpetuate the folly of F1 by continuously supporting the formula without demanding changes that would help turn the sport around once and for all.

After all, why are theses companies in the sport to begin with?

Is it to project their image around the globe as forward thinking, technologically advanced concerns? Yes, I'll buy that, but if they're really that technologically advanced then why aren't they taking a more active and aggressive role in making F1 regulations relevant to what they're researching in their advanced technology labs right now?

The reason why F1 still lags in developing a rules package that makes use of alternative propulsion options is that the manufacturers aren't insisting that it be a part of the rules before they'd be willing to participate. And as long as that remains the case, F1 will continue to operate unimpeded in its own little irrelevant bubble.

Even insiders in F1 acknowledge that the sport is in deep trouble, just ask Flavio Briatore. The races are boring processionals, and the cumulative personalities of the drivers involved don't do much to dissuade people from using the term "robot" drivers.

But if F1 really wanted to actually do something about "fixing" the sport they would immediately embrace an alternative rules package (eligible right along with the current rules package) that would do the following:

1. Limit the ICE (internal combustion engine) on board in size and intake so that it develops no more than 400HP.

2. Allow alternative propulsion devices of any kind to augment the power of the ICE.

3. The "alternative" package machines - while keeping to the minimum weight and open cockpit design of the "traditional" cars - would have more "free" areas in terms of overall dimensions and moveable aerodynamic devices.

How long do you think it would take a manufacturer like Honda to switch over to developing machines for the new "alternative" F1 rules class? I would say about five minutes, if that.

If F1 is ever going to get back on track (and the IRL, too, for that matter), then advanced propulsion systems and the associated technologies involved must be embraced and incorporated into the rules package so that they're allowed to be competitive. We would then see a return of racing machines that actually look different from each other according to the philosophies of the various manufacturers, which would be a revelation in and of itself.

F1 likes to tout that it is the most technologically advanced form of racing in the world, but they haven't lived up to that lofty title in years. I've often said it's time to press the "reset" button for racing and start the march of technological advancement - leading to direct improvements and breakthroughs in our production cars - all over again. F1 has the opportunity to do it, but then again so does the IRL with the rules package it's working on for the 2011 season.

I really don't care which one of these two entities does it first at this point, just as long as someone actually does something besides talk for a change.


Publisher's Note: In our continuing series celebrating the "Golden Era" of American racing history, we thought our readers would enjoy another image from the Ford Racing Archives this week. - PMD

(Ford Racing Archives)
Indianapolis, IN, 1963. As his mechanic warms up his car, Jim Clark (left) prepares to go out for practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.