F1 engineers and designers are some of the smartest people at the pinnacle of motorsport. Certainly they are the best educated (most drivers leave school long before university) and when they speak they are impressively articulate about the increasingly complex technicalities for which they are responsible. But somehow, when they got together with the equally clever people who run the teams and the sport, their collective brainwaves intended by the F1 Strategy Group to ‘improve the show’ contrived to make a 2014 version of F1 that provoked ridicule from all and sundry, including the drivers.
“Ugly” cars, with “bizarre” noses, that are “too slow” – tyres that are “too hard” - new hybrid ‘power units’ (engines) that sound “dull” and whose unreliability made a “total farce” of early testing – a “crazy” and “absurd” rule to award double points in the last race – these are some of the negative comments (made by the likes of Vettel, Alonso, Massa) that in the past would have led to punishment by the FIA. (When Jacques Villeneuve dared to call a new rule “shit” he was threatened with suspension ‘for bringing the sport into disrepute’.)
To those critics who claim the ‘half-baked’ ideas incorporated in the radical rule changes are a classic case of the old kitchen proverb that ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ apologists for the 2014 makeover respond with another culinary quote: ‘You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.’
And for those purists who still think the modern rulemakers have egg on their face and that they've cooked up a silly souffle (from the French word 'soufflier' which means 'to blow up') that fans will find hard to swallow, another far-thinking theory is offered by the sport’s longterm chief cook and bottlewasher.
According to Bernie Ecclestone: “Everybody thinks the good old days were the best, don’t they. That's because as you get older you like to think the old days were the good old days. But I don’t think that way. I think each era has got its own special thing. Years ago you’d buy a pair of shorts and some plimsoles and you’d run a marathon. Nowadays you need high-tech running shoes and uniforms with sponsors’ names on them. To play tennis you need high-tech racquets. The same with golf and other sports. So this is something that’s inevitable. It’s not better or worse, just a change.”