The F1 circus reconvened in Barcelona today, as 2017 testing fired back into life. The first week of pre-season testing offered a few clues with regards to the pecking order, yet this week promises to reveal far more as teams begin to show their hands by testing the true performance of their package.
Today was a tale of winners a losers. Ferrari, Williams and Red Bull all enjoyed excellent outings, while McLaren and Honda’s relationship has taken another sour turn, with the partnership now under “maximum” strain.
Here’s FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED on day five of pre-season testing…
Wowzers. Liberty have dropped their first bombshell in F1, as the group have ousted Bernie Ecclestone from his role as CEO of the sport.
The 86-year-old has been the sport’s circus-master since 1978, taking F1 into the modern era and turning a largely European audience into a global audience and in turn, building one of the world’s most recognisable brands.
Bernie’s influence on F1 has been hugely positive. Those that suggest that the current state of play and negativity within the paddock is Bernie’s doing are undoubtedly missing the bigger picture.
F1’s political war over qualifying looks set to be resolved, as the governing body seem poised to return to the 2015 format. Fans, media and the teams have been lobbying to scrap the much maligned elimination qualifying format after two hugely unsuccessful sessions in Australia and Bahrain. Despite two weeks of political gridlock, common sense has prevailed and it seems that Saturday’s will once again end in a crescendo.
After a month where a political power play has seen F1 qualifying beaten from pillar to post, it seems that a return to the popular 2015 format is now a prospect off the negotiating table. Instead, Sunday’s meeting of F1’s bigwigs saw a new aggregate qualifying proposition formulated as an alternative to the much maligned elimination format.
While it is yet to be voted upon, it has already added yet more fuel to F1’s latest controversy, with Sebastian Vettel stating “It’s a good idea if you want random things to happen, but Formula 1 should be about racing. It’s a s*** idea.”
Sustainability. Defined as the ability or capacity for something to be maintained, featuring an element of futurity. Having started in 1950, F1 has proved to be a sustainable concept for years, yet the GPDA’s shocking letter, directed at the sport’s governing body, has highlighted the questions beginning to emerge in regards to sustainability. Former F1 driver Bruno Senna has backed the letter and himself questioned how the sport, in its current state, can be considered as future-proof.
Just one day after the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) released a damning statement in regards to the political structure of the sport, F1 has found itself hamstrung once again. Following an anti-climatic and uninspiring qualifying session in Australia – which debuted the brand new for 2016 elimination format – teams, fans and drivers have lobbied for a change back to the 2015 rules. However, a lack of unanimity has stopped such a change from happening.
F1 is left with egg on its face once again, as Bahrain will play host to a decidedly below par qualifying event.
F1 is adept at shooting itself in the foot. Following a 2015 season admittedly lacking in intrigue, the winter has been filled by discussions regarding how to improve the sport. The F1 Commission unanimously voted for a new elimination qualifying format three weeks before the start of the season in an attempt to spice up the action on a Sunday.
With today’s qualifying session being the debut for this new idea, it is evident that a rethink is required. Missing a crescendo, void of surprises and short of laps, calling it a shambles would not be too far from the truth.