Notebook from Shanghai

IMG_0051The paddock in Shanghai is a triumph of design over function. The architect (a Mr Tilke) liked the idea of having a maze of walkways and bridges around a lake (which was probably required because of the dodgy drainage) with vegetation shrouding as much as possible. The truth is that the design is hopeless for a sport where those involved are trying to interact with one another. In Shanghai one can go through an entire weekend without seeing people you want to see. If you turn up at one hospitality unit, the person you are looking for is always in the other one, or you see them in the distance but can never find them. The good news, so they say, is that when the next Chinese GP contract is negotiated, the Chinese will be asked to make some changes, including putting hospitality units on the back of the existing garages and digging up the centre of the existing “parade ground” paddock and fencing off the units in the back of “the swamp”, in order to create a more efficient working area for the sport.
Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 15.40.59The good news is that there is increasing evidence of a bigger and bigger following for F1 in China, although it is still a price-sensitive market when it comes to selling tickets for the race. The paddock is always quiet in Shanghai and it is generally a VIP-free event. This year, some bright spark at Renault decided to wheel in a heavy-hitter and invited Fan Bing Bing, China’s biggest star. Bing Bing (her family name is Fan) is a singer, actress, fashion icon and producer and she is recognised by that once-reliable source Forbes to be the fourth highest paid actress in the world. She’s big news in China, even if she hasn’t made much of an impact in Neasden. It is good to see Renault playing the celebrity card as this is an obvious way in which F1 can get more engagement with relative ease, as stars usually have something to sell and F1 can provide the conduit to do that, as countless evening talk shows do in countries all over the globe. F1 has singularly failed to grasp the concept.

12976804_1138504832846810_181103276508672250_oFIA President Jean Todt flew in to Shanghai from New York, where he had been addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations, or at least the chairs that are used by them, as pictures (put out, amazingly, by the FIA itself) bore witness to an almost empty room. These things do happen in the world of politics but, when they do, one would expect the spin doctors to only send out pictures that are suitably edited to show the leader looking presidential rather than unpopular. Clearly, Todt has a lot to do in UN circles if he is going to make an impact in road safety. The bad news is that time is short. His current appointment is not a UN role per se, but rather a personal appointment by the current Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and the latter’s term of office finishes this year. Whether the next Secretary General wants Todt to stay on is another matter. The word is that frontrunners include former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. Others being mentioned are UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and former Slovenian President Danilo Turk. The eastern Europeans are in abundance because it has been something of a tradition in recent years to rotate the job around the global regions and Eastern Europe seems to be the place to come from. Whether that happens this time remains to be seen because there is also pressure to nominate a female secretary-general, as all previous eight SGs have been men. Todt will need to convince whoever takes over that he is doing useful work (and not costing the UN any money). There is, of course, also the question of whether his two roles are compatible as some think that the FIA role is an organisation that supports the manufacturers, whereas the road safety gig is in conflict with them. Personally, I think there are enough road safety organisations and I think all FIA money should be spent on the sport, which is where the money comes from. Still, Todt is not alone in taking money out of the sport, the commercial rights holder CVC Capital Partners is still sucking every penny out of the business. Interestingly, I hear that JT and CVC’s Donald Mackenzie got together in New York for a bit of a pow-wow without Bernie Ecclestone being present.

Also popping up in China was Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who was in China for the launch of Jeep production in China at a plant in Guangzhou. That was on Monday and one hopes that the excitement of this event overcame Marchionne’s discomfort at seeing the two Ferraris clonking one another at the start and both dropping down the order. We can only wonder how close they have really got to Mercedes.

In the world of F1 politics it was a quiet weekend. The teams had a meeting to discuss Pirelli’s proposal to have 25 days of tyre testing next year. This seems rather a lot but Pirelli wants to be sure than it does not have any more messy weekends with tyres popping because someone got their sums wrong. It is worth noting that it is looking less and less likely that there will be any form of settlement regarding the 2017 rules by the end of the month because no-one is going to agree on anything. Mercedes’s Toto Wolff has already started to argue (quite rightly) that changing the technical rules in 2017 is not a smart thing to do. Rule changes generally favour the biggest teams while stability tends to result in the convergence of the teams and thus better racing. Speed and noise are really irrelevant because the cars are loud enough and the speeds are still increasing as the new technology is developed. Thus, stability is a better choice than making changes. It would also allow for other manufacturers to have a stable enough rule structure to let them commit to the sport. One can argue that stability would suit Mercedes and that this is the only reason Wolff is putting forward the argument, but the truth is that he’s right. It is stupid to change the rules when we have good racing, a decent field and so on… Obviously some do not want things to be too stable lest more manufacturers appear and thus the power of the commercial rights holder and the FIA will weaken because there will be a stronger alliance between the car manufacturers. We will have to see if that really happens or if a way can be found to divide them. In the interim, former FIA President Max Mosley has told The Times newspaper that Todt needs to have a more confrontational approach if he wants problems to be solved.

“Todt is terrified of being sued,” Mosley said, “but the only thing you can do is to go to litigation and arbitration. Todt is all for peace and compromise but you have to be prepared to risk litigation or you can’t do anything. You have to be prepared to go full steam ahead.”

The latest rumours regarding Sauber suggest that an Alfa Romeo takeover of the Swiss team is pretty unlikely, but that might be worth watching Haas F1 as a Haas-Alfa Romeo pairing would be a good call for both parties, as each seek to boost their sales using the sport. Sauber in the interim is looking to increase its non-F1 engineering consultancy work, in order to create a more solid financial base for the team, as Williams and McLaren have done. Elsewhere, more Italian names have apparently popped up in the Panama Papers, with one suggestion being that the list of people who established offshore companies also includes Flavio Briatore. There is nothing wrong with setting up companies in tax havens, but the Panama Papers will lead to endless numbers of investigations to make sure that these companies were not being used for tax evasion or money-laundering.

Down in Italy, there is some bad blood flowing around Monza at the moment as the Italians try to save their Grand Prix and Bernie Ecclestone plays the game to try to get changes that he wants to see made. It seems that a deal has been reached over money, but Ecclestone wants some improvement in the facilities at Monza and this is the current problem. The regional government of Lomardy has promised to provide cash, but the actual money has yet to turn up. Ecclestone is not the kind of man who accepts “the cheque is in the post” type of argument. So no deal will be done until that cash appears. Things are not helped by political upheaval within SIAS, the operating company of Monza. The shareholders will meet on April 27 to dismiss the current chairman and his CEO. This is a foregone conclusion because SIAS is owned by the Automobile Club of Milano (ACM), and this organisation wants the current people out because they have clearly no understanding about running circuits or negotiating with people like Ecclestone. The ACM also pay 25 percent of the fees required for the race, the rest coming from the Automobile Club d’Italia, which is well-funded by car sales taxes and by successful insurance operations.

IMG_1686If all goes to plan Monza in September will see the first use of TV drones at a Formula 1 event. This is a great idea to create better coverage but there has been some discussion with the FIA over where such machines will be allowed to fly because the federation does not want drones crashing down on to the racing circuit. In Shanghai there was another new idea being tried by the Formula One TV folks with a handheld multi-axis camera stabilization device that allows a cameraman to work at speed, moving with the subject of his filming, without any hint of camera shake. Further new ideas are expected. This is a good sign as it shows that FOM is waking up to the need to create better TV and there is evidence too of more development going on in the world of social media. It is long overdue, but we should celebrate the fact that it is happening, even if the coverage resulting will probably be behind pay-walls.

While all this is going on, there are a lot of people who are beginning to wonder whether Formula 1 should be doing more thinking about the future, in other respects. The car industry’s rush towards electric, connected and autonomous cars is going faster than many people expected and the sport should perhaps be asking itself what happens when self-driving machines take over the roads. Where will Formula 1 be?

The irony is that the F1 cars are the most connected automobiles in the world, with every aspect of the machines being measured and recorded and sent around the globe. I was told that each weekend a top F1 team collects around eight billion data points, that will then be analysed and used by the engineers to improve performance. How ironic would it be if F1 was to miss the revolution that is happening around it?

But we should not worry about F1 becoming irrelevant. Horse racing survives and I rarely see people riding horses on the roads… even in China

82 thoughts on “Notebook from Shanghai

  1. What is becoming the standard notebook these days. Complaints about the circuit, a dig at somebody in power and the usual call for more Twitter and Facebook activity. I’m reminded of the words of Ian Hislop,
    “hacks love social media, it means they can work less”

    1. Why not save your obviously valuable time by not bothering to complain about the notebook. It is full of information if you can manage all the long words.

      1. As a counter to Gly’s negativity, I’d like to thank you for the notebooks.

        They’re very informative in topics I may not be aware of.
        They also provide some good inside to the goings on behind the scenes (e.g. within the paddock, external organisations, etc).

        Also, I have a question, if i may ask.
        With the requested changes to Monza, are they just TV drone related, general maintenance to facilities, or something new?

      2. I speak as I find.

        Try re-reading what you have written, the pattern is there. There is nothing wrong with your journalism when you make the effort. I’m a subscriber to GP+ and enjoy it but the blog is getting repetitive and tedious.

        1. You seem be the only person who is saying that, but if that is your opinion, that is your opinion. If you are right, I suppose the best thing is to shut down the blog so that you don’t get bored. I will leave the explanations to the citizen journalists who have never been in an F1 paddock and know nothing of the sport.

          1. Has it occurred to you that I’m “the only person saying that” because people who no longer enjoy your writing on this blog are voting with their feet and simply no longer reading it never mind sharing their views ?

            It is silly to suggest shutting down the blog, I never said that. Let me state again the point I am making, your quality of writing on the GP+ newsletter is superb, I look forward to reading it after every Grand Prix and it is head and shoulders above the vast majority of so called F1 journalism. Your writing here in the ‘notebook’ series is repetitive and dare I say somewhat dull as every time it says more or less the same:

            i) The circuit is poor
            ii) Either BE or JT are making a mess of something
            iii) The sport needs more social media

          1. With you Steve.
            He speaks as he finds…wonder why he bothers to find?
            Oh wait, he’s short on people to speak to….

          2. The notebook is excellent. I love to see that green leather book appear on the blog – the insights into what happens behind the scenes is fascinating to me; the insight into an aspect of the F1 weekend we don’t get to see is compelling.

        2. We are reading – at no cost to us – Joe’s blog, which contains his personal reminiscences and observations about what’s going on in the F1 paddock. A blog is a personal webpage, not an official outlet. Since it’s effectively Joe’s own ‘diary’ that he kindly shares with us, he can hold any opinion he wants – especially when his views are based on insider knowledge and first-hand observation.

          If we buy a magazine with articles and news reports, we enter some kind of minor contractual arrangement by paying for it – but when we are allowed to read (fascinating and thought-provoking) personal observations for free, we can have no grounds for complaint if we happen to hold a different opinion!

          If we do hold different views, we can either stop reading (if it’s as consistently tedious as claimed) or express our thoughts – which Joe kindly allows us to do – with reasons for our disagreement.

          But it doesn’t add much to the debate to rush in and insult the author for not working enough, after he’s just done two cross-continental flights, published GP+ and several other articles in other outlets in the last 48 hours, and STILL found time to share his thoughts with us!

          1. Well written and spot on.
            I would suggest Glyn troll somewhere else he thinks he can impress people with his idiocy.

    2. Perhaps you would be inclined to point out which of those points is incorrect or inaccurate, using your unrivalled knowledge and experience of the F1 paddock?

    3. In the interest of maintaining balance, I agree with you.

      I think it’s called First World Problems!

      I’m reluctant to criticize Mr S., firstly because he does a good job that no one else is doing and secondly for all the camp followers that are all to keen to jump down your throat at the first sign of dissent. It’s all a bit predicable.

      I have been studying something called Cognitive Dissonance recently, it’s very interesting.

  2. 433k average viewers for the Sky F1 coverage in China. Shows there is a huge appetite for paid TV in the UK… Or not!

    1. ……and the price is rising. I received an email today advising of another price rise for my uk sky subscription.

      1. You can get a SkySports day pass on NowTV for £6.99. So, the 10 races not on Channel 4 cost £69.90 a year to watch, rather than 10x as much for a year’s subscription.

  3. “But we should not worry about F1 becoming irrelevant. Horse racing survives and I rarely see people riding horses on the roads”

    Exactly. And this is evidence the argument that F1 need be “relevant” to the automobile industry is fallacious. Technical relevance to the automobile industry is only necessary if you want automobile OEMs to operate F1 teams and/or build engines. Neither of these is necessary for F1 to be an entertaining sport.

    1. Interesting point. I would argue that the links are needed to keep the technology interesting. People don’t watch old nags trotting about, they want the to see the sleekest thoroughbreds.

      1. Horse racing or as those in the know call it, racing, is paid for by mostly extremely wealthy individuals hoping to find a nag with bonkability plus, of course, gambling. Unfortunately, though I’m sure Newey is working on it, no one has come up with a way to procreate an F1 car
        Formula 1 is paid for by the manufacturers and therefore what they want has to be relevant and not fellatious.

        1. “fellatious” nice pun.

          No relevance, no manufacturers. I’m not sure whether the loss of the pools of money they bring would be a good or bad thing. I suppose Red Bull and Ferrari would still have pots of money but the rest would struggle which would be bad but if there were a lot less money available, the rules could be relaxed which would be good. A bit of conundrum for the rule makers. For the promoters, it’s easier as the more money there is in the sport, the more they can take out. It just makes it harder for them to keep control.

      2. Air races use turbo-prop aircraft as opposed to jet fighters which makes the races more interesting to watch as the balance between man and machine is better weighted. Not having the likes of Northrop-Grumman, Lockheed-Martin or Sukhoi does not impair the technological marvel.

        The aircraft used are incredibly acrobatic and manoeverable yet can be run on probably 1% of the budget of the latest 5th gen jet fighter aircraft.

        While F1 should be about pushing the boundaries, it would be more akin to a true sporting contest without manufacturer interests and a greater onus on the driver.

        1. I’m pretty sure those turbo-props are still manufactured by a lot of clever individuals with fairly close links to a large OEM.

          1. Thanks for the clarification SteveH – you’re spot on, the engine is normally aspirated with fuel injection, my bad however reinforces my original point about racing appeal not tied to the latest tech (although I’m not suggesting F1 should shun tech either, just move its focus from electronic to mechanical engineering).

            optimaximal – the planes are manufactured by the likes of Zivko, MX Aircraft and, previously, Corvus Aircraft. None of which have any strong ties with larger aircraft manufacturers that I could discern (am happy to be proven wrong on this point).

      3. Funnily enough though to continue with that analogy, people do seem to want to watch old nags in motorsport. Outside of F1, classic racing has grown hugely in the last ten years and people love and appreciate the old nags these days. After a rocky start, the Silverstone classic is now huge as is good wood’s revival, the events in germany and le mans classic etc etc.

  4. Great – the same day that I, a responsible owner of what the media now loves to call a “drone” and told I can’t fly it this week because I’m within five miles of where Obama will have tea and biscuits with the queen – I learn that when I’m in the grandstand at Monza I need to worry about a TV one dropping on my head!

    Here in the uk it’s ILLEGAL to operate a drone close to people and we have the media whipping up a frenzy over one getting too close to an airliner, and FOM TV think it’s a great idea to put some in close proximity to F1 cars and 100,000+ spectators…?

    What could possibly go wrong? 😦

      1. Can you imagine the chaos at Silverstone TV drones would cause
        World’s busiest heleport right behind Hanger Straight and Stowe

    1. I was going to say “probably not much”, but then I remembered this.

      Thing is, they would need battery packs the size of a small car to last the race, unless they have a fleet of battery packs.

      1. Perhaps they should have spare drones that they could switch the camera into half way through the race? Then in season three they could allow different manufacturers to develop their own battery packs, before deciding that this would cost too much and keep all the drones to a single specification. Nice. All my idea, honest.

    2. What you can do with a drone and what a commercial operator with all the CAA paperwork can do are two very different things.

    3. I went to see the Muse gig at the O2 on friday night. Their latest album is called Drones and as such they had 8 drones about the size of a beach ball (a metre in diameter) covered with lights and cameras flying around about 6 foot above the tens of thousands crowd, all throughout the gig. I see no reason why they couldn’t have some flying about during the GP above the track and the pitlane. They don’t need to be heavy or enormous.

      1. Agreed Daniel.
        Here to stay, changing the way we view the world. As with any technology that has some potential to redress the imbalance that suits the status quo we will see reactionary backlash.

        Hopefully anyone fretting over radio control quad/hex copters is spending more time fretting over drones that carry military payloads than those filming sporting activities.

        How were Matt and the boys? On top of their game as usual I suspect.

        1. Adam: I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the biggest bands in the world at festivals, stadiums and gigs and the Muse gig I saw on friday night was in the top five.
          They went to such lengths to involve the audience and to make the show spectacular. £65 very well spent. It’s not often I go to a gig and think ‘that was worth the ticket price’. Something that F1 could do well to learn from.

          Search Youtube for some of the audience recordings, some great stuff available to watch.

  5. Joe,
    More F1 gold in the Notebook. If I’m allowed to parody a Ferraro Rochet add; ‘ Monsieur, with these F1 Notebooks you are spoiling us…..’

      1. You should never feed trolls, Joe. They can only exist if you feed them. Leave to starve and they soon wander off to new pastures.

  6. For the first time ever I saw a link on F1 site text coverage to replay of Ferrari/Ferrari collision only 20 laps.
    And they gave access to drivers performance charts and data for free!
    With actual tires type and for how many laps this tire has been used.

    Live comments page on F1 has live information update on gaps between drivers since last year, which is also a really useful data, but it has no
    promotion from FIA.

  7. Chock full of great info as usual.

    My only argument is that FOM has usually provided great coverage, hampered only by ‘a word from the top’ and their training of riggers and set up people to be camera pointers instead of qualified camera operators.

    Adding gizmos, whiz bang effects and specialty items to a world feed has its perils such as binding up local broadcasts/announcers and having to force in elements because “we paid for them we have to use them.” One only has to look at the awful implementation of the ‘virtual advertising’ of the last couple years, who’s look was rather ’70s Green Screen.

    1. I think it was a GP2 or GP3 support race where a green-liveried car ran across one of the virtual ‘Rolex’ adverts. Was amusing watching 4 wheels and the disembodied head of a driver for a few seconds…

    2. They certainly aren’t “camera pointers” All the film crew was on my flight from Heathrow to Montreal last year and had a very interesting chat with a lot of them, although I felt for the guy that was sat next to me 🙂 Watching a guy covering turn 1 & 2 was fascinating.

      What I also learnt is it’s the same guys in the helicopter every race. I did also ask if they could help out to improve the directing of BTCC coverage, but that’s going OT…

  8. Joe- what do you think of Vettel’s discourse to Kvyat about the opening race “incident”? Is Vettel just a sore loser, really worried about safety…I can’t imagine he has to defend himself against Marchione- or maybe he dies…would love your insight. Cheers!

    1. Dissing Kvyat before going to Sochi could be counter-productive. I can picture him beiing hauled off to a seekrit bunker below the airport for a little chat with Putin and his cat.

    2. Mark,
      I wonder that Vettel still has a superiority complex over Kvyat, a throwback from their respective times at red Bull and Torro Rosso when Kyvat had to play the subordinate to the senior team leader for career purposes.
      Was very impressed at his response to his dressing down though!!

  9. “The car industry’s rush towards electric, connected and autonomous cars is going faster than many people expected and the sport should perhaps be asking itself what happens when self-driving machines take over the roads. Where will Formula 1 be?”

    Personally, I think that in a world of automated, driverless cars, that F1 would have its sense of exclusivity and danger restored. And potentially become more popular than ever, as people watch and admire what they cant do themselves.

    1. I agree, karting, track cars, classic racers etc. will find a bigger niche as a leisure activity as autonomous nannying cars take over. If that reality is true, F1 can become more focused on being what it wants to be and less on being relevant to road car manufacturers. I think normally aspirated V12 petrol engines would become more alien and wonderful in an electrified automotive world, and a simplified formula could allow greater stability of the rules and even closer racing. Looking forward to seeing how formula e and roborace develop.

      Thanks for the blog Joe!

  10. Horse racing is in many ways a vehicle for betting, F1 is not. Furthermore, mankind’s link with horses goes back to the dawn of civilization. It’s deeply rooted into many cultures, and a passion for horses will always be present.

    I think interest in F1 is quite strongly correlated to a general interest in cars. Speaking from my own limited experience, the sorts of people who are big F1 fans are also people who are passionate about cars in a more general sense. Therefore I think F1 is at risk of losing a huge amount of its appeal should we ever reach a point where cars are things that people no longer care about. Actually, I think this is already slowly happening.

  11. Joe you mention a lot about the Fia selling themselves out and giving up control. Read on another blog that this was actually because of the Eu…the same eu we are currently hoping do something to distribute revenue. Is this true? In which case seems the Fia coming back to having a focus on f1 seems unlikely!

    1. Different time line. The EU investigation that insisted on separate roles for the FIA and FOM was about 15 years ago. They insisted that FIA be the rule maker and not be in cahoots with the commercial rights holder. That has eroded to the point where now the FIA, FOM and the teams are all involved in the rule making process and the FIA receive money from FOM for their compliance in this scheme. The EU will look to remove this scheme if they do anything, which is strangely what would suit the creator Bernie, who created this monster he can no longer control

  12. Apart from a few hiccups, I think F1’s recent social media are decent, even if these measures were taken way too late. One last bit missing IMO, which is the possibility for embedding social media content. I think it would improve engagement hugely especially through news portals and blogs and also boost the follower base of the official channels.

    Disabling the embedding may be a legal necessity but it is still a sign of the lack of understanding of the way this whole thing works. I hope some influence may be applied to the decision makers, whoever they may be. 🙂

    As for connectivity and driverless cars, I’m really looking forward to see what will evolve from the concept of Roborate. I like the fact that it is really, completely different, much more like a geek experiment on wheels than traditional racing. I think it is great to see motorsport getting diversified into this direction even if nothing compares to seeing a field of genius maniacs chasing each other in high tech rockets. 🙂

  13. The car specs for autonomous racing are well under way and include some surprises in the weight and overall dimensions (all much larger than I had expected) However it looks likely that they will be restricted to racing between concrete barriers like the disappointing Formula E series. Obviously a predefined track limit is required to be sensed by the cars, however a greater imagination could have led to beacons posted around the track from which the cars would calculate their position and the track layout would be pre programmed. There have been autonomous off road military vehicle tests and competitions in the USA for many years, these over open rough terrain, desert etc so the technology is not new. The interesting part is how to race, it will be a software engineer’s challenge series, there is only one constructor, it is a one make series.
    The major problem is spectator safety, since the speeds reached are expected to be far in excess of F1’s and oh, its all electric.

  14. Will Ford Buy Fiat Chrysler?

    Fiat Seeks Buyer.

    Ford

    Ford (NYSE:F) could make a bid for Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) after Fiat’s failed attempt to reach a deal with General Motors (NYSE:GM). Other bidders could include Toyota (NYSE:TM) and Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAY). Among the automobile investment opportunities, Fiat Chrysler spin-off Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) has been a favorite short.

    1. No Ford don’t have the money and why would they buy FCA? FCA have a collection of brands that are in need of serious updating and re-design to meet today’s standards. Marchionne has been trying to find a development partner to share costs, but he is the poor relation, looking for a hand out. VW have quite enough of their own problems without taking on FCA’s. Toyota are just recovering from earthquake damage which stopped production at mos of it’s home sites so are a tad pre-occupied. The Chinese may be FCA’s only salvation. Failing that Marchionne must shut down several brands and concentrate on improving maybe three main marques in different but complimentary sectors of the market.

        1. Having to restrict Dealer self registrations to retain profit. OK looking at re-investing in Russia but I am sure the wont be buying bits of FCA.

  15. “A Triumph of Design Over Function”

    Hasn’t Tilke’s company trademarked that phrase? You are treading on thin legal ice here, Joe… 🙂

  16. So how about 3 car teams with the third car being autonomous; the teams have to write their own software to optimise the autonomous 3rd car and that car can score points for the constructor.

  17. I have an observation from Sunday. I watched most of the China F1 and the Long Beach Indycar races. I was struck at how sterile the production of the television program for the F1 race was. The Long Beach race was a dull procession however the television production seemed so much better and easier to take.
    I don’t understand how a cheap Indycar race has way better production value. Am I wrong or does the television feed for F1 need a lot of help.

  18. “The paddock in Shanghai is a triumph of design over function.”

    I was thinking a similar thing from a spectator’s point of view. The last time I attended the Canadian GP I picked the grandstand on the exit side of the hairpin, just up the back straight. I figured I’d be able to see the cars braking for the turn then accelerating back up the straight. It seemed like a great location until I got there and found a grove of trees obscured the entire corner from my view. Nowhere, it should be noted, were those trees indicated on the web page on which you based your seat selection. Unbelievably frustrating.

    As far as Shanghai is concerned, turns 1,2, 3 and 4 are, together, one of the more interesting passages in F1. And yet if you paid serious dollars for a seat in the left side of the main grandstand you had a pretty good chance of having most or all of your view of these turns completely obstructed by a massive structure that could have been located pretty much anyplace on the course and whose only (locational) purpose is to hold up one of those (tremendously ugly–one man’s opinion) elliptical cross-members.

    Classic. In a very bad way.

  19. So Toto Wollf says that the 2017 rule changes are no longer required because the racing with the current formula has finally come good.

    Hmmm…. the 2017 rules wouldn’t have improved the racing anyway. But what they would have done is significantly improve the visual aesthetic of the cars – something which is a must – and made them more spectacular.

    What the new formula MUST do – whenever it comes in – is to allow cars to follow each other far more effectively, increase the mechanical grip and improve the natural inherent ability of cars to RACE.

  20. The Steadicam – a 40 year old invention that F1 is just trialing now. I think it probably says something to the rather insular nature of the sport…

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