Posted by Carrot on November 12, 2011 | No Comments
I thought I’d deliberately leave my reaction to the Indian Grand Prix a couple of weeks to fully digest what happened and to gauge the reaction to the race. Both championships are decided so I won’t talk about the on track action or the points standings, instead I’ll go into the race as an event and the track itself.
Firstly we’ll admit that the facilities were excellent. If we compare it to our other most recent Grand Prix in South Korea, the Indian circuit was light years ahead of the Korean track. Everything was finished and there was any overt construction still going on, whereas there’s still unfinished construction at the Korean circuit over year later. So the actual product that the organisers have given the fans and the sport is great, and probably the best new track we’ve seen in the modern age.
The straights are good, the track is wide to allow overtaking… and still we didn’t watch a classic, did we? It’s probably the biggest problem with the race, you can have the world’s best hospitality but if the races are boring then you aren’t going see it on the calender for long. Unless you happen to have at least a double World Champion coming from your country. Spain and Germany I’m looking at you. Any racetrack where you can show up knowing the same amount of nothing as everyone else and have Sebastian Vettel score a Grand Chelem (pole, fastest lap, leading every lap and the win) doesn’t scream instant classic to me. Even with the dominance Vettel’s had this season, it’s still the first time he’s registered this particular achievement.
Yes, the track was dusty so all the width couldn’t be used for overtaking. Did this fact just sneak up on them though? Breaking news! Tracks that haven’t been used before or that have building work nearby are often dusty off line. This is as much a super secret as the fact that F1 cars have four wheels. For the benefit of everyone though, I will now solve this problem and another one at the same time. We’ll bring back third cars and between the end of qualifying and the race we’ll have a two hour session where test and young drivers can go around and clean up the track off line. Not only will it give us the opportunity for move overtaking in the race, it also gives young drivers experience in the cars and there’s no advantage to be gained as the race cars are in parc ferme after qualifying.
The other problems with the Indian race were off track and down to the Indian government. Weeks before there was rumour of a potential boycott due to the government wanting to tax teams while they’re there for their standings money from FOM. This issue still hasn’t been resolved, even after the race. Are the Indian government serious? Do they want to host major sporting events? Or are they intentionally trying to drive away potential races, matches and other events? I’m not saying F1 should get an exemption, I’m saying that if countries around the world are clamouring for races, let’s go somewhere that isn’t going to try and damage the teams that go to put on a show. McLaren and Ferrari aren’t going to be bothered by a legal battle over a tax bill, but teams like HRT and Virgin Racing could be irreparably damaged by this fiasco depending on how it ends. We have a resource restriction agreement, homologated parts and reduced testing to help new and less well funded teams, there’s no reason to expose them to an environment like this.
It’s only been one year and one race, but that’s all we needed to see that Valencia was going to be a boring weekend every time it appeared on the calender. Without some serious work both on and off track, India will be the same. The blame for the off track problems lies with the Indian government, and they need to sort those problems or risk alienating professional sport from their country. The on track problems aren’t the fault of the organisers, they are very clearly with Herman Tilke. Everything he designs seems to be a boring mess with more problems than stand out successes. Let’s get someone, anyone to have a go at a race track instead of him. I can’t see anyone coming up with a worse pit exit than he designed for Korea.