By any measure the general consensus of Formula 1 commentators, team principals, in fact anybody with any connection to the sport, is that Formula 1 as a sport, as a business, as entertainment, even as an industry, is facing a major crossroads.

In fact that crossroads is clearly in view on the great sat nav of the sports owners Liberty Media and the voice direction is yelling at those whose job it is to actually steer the billion dollar leviathan, in German, Italian, French and English.

For that read Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and then the rest.

No wonder that crossroads is going to be one of the most difficult navigational tasks that the owners of the sport have faced since they took the business on.


The sport is essentially looking for an identity. Is it the leading edge of technology or is it entertainment? Must it be seen to be relevant to any and all new motive systems or should it revert to being the noisy, brash, plain old 'RACING' sport that made it so hugely popular in the first place?

Liberty Media is clearly in a battle as it seeks to make the power units simpler and cheaper but the major manufacturers do not want to follow this path.

So, how technologically advanced should Formula 1 be in order to satisfy the manufacturers, as they try to prove the systems they are developing for their road cars, and at the same time attract the fans?

Do we, the fans, actually care that we are watching advanced technology encapsulated under a cloak of sponsors names? Do we care that the cars driving around in occasional processions have multiple computers on board that are likely capable of contacting alien life in another galaxy and then are so sophisticated that they can then carry on a decent conversation with those aliens?

I think I can safely say "no, we do not care".

Modern systems and motive power developments are evolving too fast to be written into the rules of the sport and at the same time be available to all of the teams, including those not allied to a manufacturer, so if that path is followed to it's logical conclusion, will the sport end up with autonomous cars, piloted from computer consoles around the world and powered solely by electricity generated by solar panels on the vehicle itself?
Sounds stupid and far-fetched I know but where will the end game be? What will we be, or will not be, watching as Formula 1 in 2040?

So, this crossroads, at which the sport is on the very threshold, may well determine what the philosophy of the sport is going to be. While all these committees, technical working groups and advisors sit around thinking about this, they may want to sit back for a few hours and watch a recording of the Australian Supercars event at Adelaide last week.

An allegedly capacity crowd of 300,000 over the weekend were treated to an almost non-stop on-track festival of motorsport culminating each day with some of the best racing one could wish to see with the Supercars providing entertainment, pure racing, excitement, unpredictable outcomes and a level of skill that keeps the fans on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Add to that a venue that demands the highest skill levels from the drivers and you have what Formula 1 so desperately needs. Racing and entertainment all wrapped up in one fascinating bundle.

If I had read these words, my own words, 20 years ago I would have burnt myself at the stake and accused myself of being a sporting heretic. A devotee of open wheel, single seater racing praising 'tin tops' no less! There was nothing more exciting than Formula 1, nothing more entertaining, nothing else worth watching.

Grand Prix racing is still my first love, my main squeeze, but I find that on more and more occasions I tire of the constant fiddling with things that seem to make no difference to the actual on-track performance. The latest being the commissioning of an Emmy award winning composer to come up with the new F1 theme tune. That will certainly drag the fans in.

I know Supercars is called by some a 'one make series' but with the closing convergence of the regulations, Formula 1 is almost at that point now. Different engines from just four manufacturers and each team making their own chassis agreed but within such strict design parameters they all end up following a similar path.

What Supercars has, and demonstrated to such great effect at Adelaide, is close racing all the way through the field. Something that is lacking at the sport's flagship formula.

I admit, I sat through the whole weekend's worth of Supercars racing and was, quite frankly, enthralled. It was just what I want racing to be and just what I so hope that Formula 1 will be once again.

So, technology has it's place and it had it's place in Formula 1 as the sport developed but now, at that crossroads, I think it is time for the sport to abandon the quest for technological advancement and revert to being a racing series, with or without the input and participation of the major car companies who, after all, have only their own balance sheet and interests at heart.

To Liberty Media and the teams I say, take a good, long look at the Supercars series that still has no need for a Hollywood approach to attract the fans but instead relies on stirring the emotions by good old fashioned, head to head competition.

They may have a roof but they also have competition.

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