Communication is a word that comes from the Latin verb “commūnicāre”, which means “to share”. If there is an idea worth sharing, one shares it with other people. One communicates.
It strikes me that some of the folks who are involved in Formula 1 communication did not study Latin, and appear to believe that when the word Communication is stuck on their office door, it is a licence to sit around, doing their toenails, trimming their nose hair and drinking coffee, or simply gazing into space doing something called “strategic thinking”, which is really just a way to impress your boss while doing absolutely nothing. These people are fortunate in that the people employing them also have no idea about either Latin or communication…
Don’t get me wrong, there are some PR professionals working in F1, having proactive ideas and sending out good messages, although at the lower levels there are far too many of them who are simply gatekeepers to the stars, playing defence for the man with the ball…
There is no centralised communication in this messed up sport. The race promoters do their own thing, the series promoter does not seem to think it is his job to promote and the international federation sits in an ivory tower and does not seem to think that the sport matters, which is odd when one looks at the financials. The sport pays the bills for all the FIA ballrooms and canapés. It might be useful to treat it with some more respect.
The problem is that the people calling the shots know more about cabals and canapés than they do about vehicles and more specifically F1 cars. So there is a total vacuum in FIA and FOM communication about the sport. It is left to others to do – with no cheque in the post from either organisation.
Apart from a few bonkers hillbillies out there, the world believes, for one reason or another, that efficiency is a good thing. If we cannot find another way to stop ruining this world, we can at least slow down the process by which we destroy it. It is only logical to try to save this spec of dust to which we cling, the only known place where the human being can survive.
The world is filled with fabulous inventions but you have only to visit a place like Shanghai to know that pollution is not a good thing. Restricting what cars can do is deemed by some to be an affront to freedom. Everyone should be allowed to drive their fast cars all over the place, pumping out pollution, running over pretty flowers and killing rabbits wherever they go. That is what freedom is, yee ha! I would argue that perhaps freedom is better defined as being able to breathe clean air, and have our grandchildren do the same.
And this is what F1 is trying to help, in its own sweet way, while also providing spectacle and keeping thousands of people employed. Circuses and bread, just what the people want.
So what was the message that came out of Shanghai at the weekend? It was not the most exciting race in F1 history, but then that happens from time to time – and always has done.
What was most significant, if you ask me, was that if some idiot with the chequered flag had not waved it a lap too early, Lewis Hamilton’s race time over 56 laps in Shanghai would have been 1h36m52.810s. Compare that to last year and the year before and you will see that the race took about 26 seconds longer than it did in 2013 and 2012. Not even half a minute. In percentage terms, therefore, there was a loss of less than half a percent in terms of performance. In contrast, this result was achieved using around 33 percent less fuel.
Now that is what I call getting a better bang for your buck. And I’m willing to bet that by the end of the year the gap will have closed more and, perhaps, the races will be run even faster than they were 12 months ago.
Even more impressive was the fact that there were only two mechanical retirements this year, which is the same as last year, which gives one an idea of the reliability of the new cars and the professionalism of the people who build them. These folk really are the top guns of the automotive world.
So who has highlighted these statistics? Who has told the world that F1 is doing a brilliant job for them? If no-one says this stuff how can the sport to sell the success of its new engine formula? That leaves the way open for the naysayers and the vested interests to promote their negative messages about the sport.
One can forgive FOM for not bothering. Their sole interest and motivation is to work like hamsters on wheels making money for men in suits, who wave carrots at them.
But one cannot forgive the FIA for creating a better formula and then doing nothing about it. It is plain stupid. I cannot find a better term to sum it up, although if I was being more efficient I would probably just type ‘dim’.