Thursday, 25 September 2008
Singapore will become the first country in the 58 year history of the Formula 1 to have a Grand Prix after dark. Yes, 20 F1 drivers will hurtle under flood lights from one concrete banking to another at close to 200 mph. Initially designed to please European TV audiences by holding a night time race, the gimmick has turned into the greatest leap forward for the flagging sport. But will it revive interest in a sport declining in popularity?
Formula 1 has been bogged down in technicalities that are difficult for novice audiences to follow. Who cares if its a 2.4 litre naturally aspirated engine with V8 configuration or a 3.0 litre V10? A ban on variable intake trumpets or bargeboards, sidepods or rare diffusers. I subscribe to two car magzines and even I can't keep up with the rules, or care to.
What I do care about is that there is lots of overtaking (like Moto GP), which there isn't currently. I do care that Formula 1 cars are capable of going from zero to 100mph and back to zero in under 5 seconds. That under deceleration drivers can experience forces of up to 5.5 g. It does impress me that the down force generated by the cars at 150mph can make them drive upside down on the roof of a tunnel without falling. With so much capabilities at their disposal, its a pity those running the sport don't get on with the business of racing instead of getting obsessed by tyre changes or switching around qualifying rules.
Its not looking any better either. With its cutting edge image and a global TV audience of 300m, it seems every emerging market wants a part of the action. This means money will keep getting pumped into the sport and those who run the sport will feel no pressure to improve the spectacle of the sport. In recent years Bahrain, Shanghai, Istanbul and Singapore have moved onto the race calender and Abu Dhabi and Delhi are next.