Tag Archives: F1

Why Are F1 Fans So Critical Of IndyCar?

Three days ago, I watched the IndyCar street race through Toronto. I left the couch wondering why more F1 fans don’t watch Indy. Not only do many F1 fans ignore IndyCar as a whole, but they criticize the sport as being boring and talentless.

Will Power at the Toronto IndyCar race

A year ago, I would have done the same. I would have watched two laps of a typical Indy race and mocked the sport. After being a little more open-minded (and somewhat bored), I sat down to watch the Toronto race and found myself deeply enthralled in a fascinating race. I thought to myself, “Many F1 fans appreciate different forms of motorsport, why are they so critical of IndyCar?¬†Of course, there are fans of both series out there. But there seems to be some strange, mysterious disrespect between the two series, so I set out to find reasons as to why this would happen.

IndyCar is potentially an American overload for European fans

First of all, IndyCar is incredibly American in it’s presentation. The fans are American, the announcers are American, and the teams are American as well. I hate to say it, but this could be seen as a problem, mostly from European fans. Unfortunately, the American presenters tend to dumb down the technical aspects of the cars and focus on the spectacle, and are usually very exuberant in doing so. After watching F1 and interacting with European fans and supporters, it is clear to me why Americanized motorsport could be a turn-off.

Although the presentation of the sport is incredibly American, the drivers themselves come from around the world. There are only six American drivers in a field of twenty. Other nationalities include Spanish, Brazilian, Japanese, British, Australian, and several others. In terms of driver diversity, IndyCar is certainly on par with Formula 1.

European drivers such as Dario Franchitti are common in IndyCar

Another frequent complaint concerns the oval racing. IndyCar is criticized as being boring because the cars only turn left. It is very clear as to why F1 fans would find this boring. However, it is unfair to critique oval racers as being talentless. Their throttle inputs and positioning of the car is incredibly skillful and should not go unnoticed. Also, oval racing makes for incredibly close battles up and down the field that can last for dozens of laps, unlike F1 scraps. When racing at 220 miles per hour, the incredible precision used by the drivers during overtaking maneuvers is fantastic to watch.

Incredibly close racing at the Indianapolis 500, the Monaco of IndyCar

Not only can oval racing be exciting, but the road courses in the IndyCar schedule are fantastic to watch. Throughout the season, there are only 5 oval races. The majority of races in IndyCar are now on circuits and street courses. The races are fantastic to watch, and even though the cars are not as fast or sophisticated as F1 cars, the racing is still tight. Motorsport fans should appreciate a good race, no matter how quickly the cars are going.

One can not deny the fact that IndyCars are less technologically advanced than F1 cars. F1 is, and will always be the pinnacle of motorsport. IndyCars chassis are supplied all by one company, and therefore there is no variation in the design aspect from team to team. This is a large negative aspect of F1, as it allows for no in-season development as we have in F1, and no variation in strategy from an aerodynamics point of view. However, similar to the GP2 series, a single manufacturer leads to closer racing and a more competitive field. This should be considered a benefit, no matter what racing series you watch.

Dallara provides a chassis for the whole field, creating exciting, tight racing

The list of ‘problems’ went on and on in my head. But I found that for each argument I made against IndyCar, I found a counter argument in its favor. I understand why F1 fans don’t watch IndyCar; the simple issue of broadcasting often limits motor racing fans from certain series. However, after watching the Toronto race, it was impossible for me to tell why F1 fans can be so critical of IndyCar. The drivers are talented. They go through years of training just like F1 drivers. The racing is extremely close due to a large field and a single supplier. No matter what the series, a fan of motorsports should be able to appreciate a competitive race, rather than criticize everything about it. I’m sure I can’t change whether or not people will watch IndyCar, but I encourage others to watch an IndyCar race in the hopes that they will respect it for what it is: good racing.

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Do Tires Play Too Much of a Role in F1?

Could Sauber win a Grand Prix this year? To answer simply: Yes, they could. However, the question this year should be something along the lines of: Can Sauber hit the Pirelli sweet spot? This year in F1 is so unique in the way that it revolves mostly around the tires. As always in F1, the chassis development does play a massive role in determining the championship. But for the 2012 season, it is more critical than ever to be able to manage tires in their optimum temperature zone.

 

Pirelli tires have arguably become the most critical factor in 2012

 

Take McLaren for example. The 2012 Canadian Grand Prix demonstrated exactly the ‘issue’ of tires playing a dominant role in F1. Lewis Hamilton was setting blistering lap times throughout the whole Grand Prix from start to finish. Jenson Button on the other hand struggled to get any pace at all in his McLaren. Button did miss out on practice on Friday, but this would not cause him to be overlapped by his team mate while running in 16th position in the lower midfield. The problem was the tires; Button was unable to work the tires into their correct operational window, and therefore had no pace at all.

 

Button seems to have lost the edge he had in 2011

The Canadian Grand Prix provides us with an interesting perspective from which we can either criticize or praise the role of tires in F1. In 2011, Jenson Button won the race in what many fans claimed was the best drive of the year. He was in last place at over half-distance, and came through the pack to overtake Sebastian Vettel in the final sector of the race. Some fans were expecting a similar performance from Button in 2012; they expected him to bounce back after wasting away behind the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen in Monaco. The tires squelched what could have been another strong performance from Button in Canada.

 

Should Button be fighting with Kovalainen if he can’t get his tires to work?

 

Should tires have such a commanding role in F1? Of course, they should determine race results to an extent; drivers such as Sergio Perez, who manages his tires exceptionally, should be rewarded. In my opinion, the tires this year have gone too far in determining which drivers are winning races. People have referred to this season as a ‘lottery,’ and it seems to me that tires have somewhat negated driving talent. This year, drivers who are able to keep their tires in their optimum temperature window are the ones who win races. We know how skilled Jenson Button is, we saw it in 2011. Now we are seeing him being punished terribly for being unable to find maintain the operational window for his tires.

Drivers such as Perez should be awarded for their tire management skills, but by how much?

Then again, one could argue that tires in F1 are fair as long as each driver has identical tires available to him. It should be the driver’s job to adapt to the tires. Some fans claim that it is a driver’s job to optimize their tire use and strategy in order to be as quick as possible. But in my opinion, the role of tires in F1 has grown too large. Stellar drivers are being relegated to the midfield by failing to work the tires up to temperature, and drivers who happen to be able to turn their tires on are winning races. When one team mate is overlapping the other, the dominance of tires over a Grand Prix has gone too far.

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Is Webber a True Title Contender?

After a sensational win in Monaco, Mark Webber heads to the Canadian Grand Prix just three points off of driver’s championship leader Fernando Alonso, tied for second with his team mate Sebastian Vettel. Vettel dominated the championship last year, overshadowing his team mate in nearly every session of the season. Many thought that Webber would be permanently relegated to number 2 within the Red Bull team, and would not be able to recover from such a difficult season.

Can Webber shed his Number 2 status in 2012?

In 2010, Mark Webber was an extremely competitive driver, winning four races, and just barely lost out on the driver’s championship in the last race of the season. The 2011 Red Bull RB7 seemed to suit Sebastian Vettel’s driving style, while leaving Webber straggling. To be honest, I thought 2011 would be the end of a competitive Mark Webber in F1.

Webber’s 2011 season was far less successful than his 2010 campaign

So far, 2012 has proven my hypothesis incorrect. The numbers themselves give an indication that Webber has bounced back to a level where he can compete with his team mate. Webber has out-qualified Vettel 4-2 in the first six races of the season. Both drivers have one victory to their name, and are currently tied in the standings. Where the figures tell part of the story, observation can fill in the rest. Webber looks more confident in the car. He looks more willing to take the car to the edge. In 2011, his performances seemed consistently lackluster. In 2012, it looks as if Webber has regained some of the shine he had in 2009 and 2010.

Webber claimed his first victory of 2012 in Monaco, his second victory at the track

Whether this strong start to the season is an indication of whether Webber is back in his 2010 form or not, one can be sure that Webber is more comfortable in the car than he was in 2011. We will have to wait a few more races before we can see whether or not Webber is a true title contender, but the first quarter of the season looks promising for the Australian. Whether Red Bull will allow him to challenge Vettel for the title could be the limiting factor for Webber throughout the season.

 

 

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Will F1 Work in America?

This year, we will see Formula 1 make a return to the United States in the Austin Grand Prix in November. Over the past decade, Formula 1 has expanded to many new places, mostly in developing countries. F1 will return to the United States for the first time in 2007, meaning that the sport has been absent for five years now. With a race in New Jersey planned for the 2013 season, the reaction from the viewers in the United States, and also around the world, is critical.

F1 will return to the US for the first time in 5 years

Many new races, such as Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, have been criticized heavily by Formula 1 fans as boring tracks designed specifically to make money for the F1 franchise. Whether this is true or not, many F1 fans prefer the classic European tracks such as Monza, Spa, and Silverstone. The fact that Spa will now alternate with a French GP every year has made several fans upset, and many fans asking for Formula 1 to return to its European roots. Will the new races in the United States be a further digression from the classical European F1, or will the United States provide exciting races that attract both international and domestic approval?

Races such as Bahrain have been criticized for being boring

I spent last night watching the Sao Paolo 300 Indycar race. It was the first Indycar race I was able to watch this season (I live in India and usually do not get the opportunity to watch American races). I was curious to see the race firstly because it was a street race, and also because I wanted to see how Rubens Barrichello was coping with his debut season in the Indycar season. I was happy to see that Rubens finished in 10th position, and was running up in 5th at one point during the race; he looked quite competitive.

Rubens looked to be adapting well to a completely new series

The more important factor here, however, is the racing. It was great. I was somewhat confused and naive at points as I know nothing about the teams, drivers, or strategies. Despite this, the racing was close, exciting, and left me wondering why I didn’t spent more time following the Indycar series.

The Sao Paolo 300 provided thrilling racing

Watching this race made me think -Will F1 work in the United States? If American motorsports fans already have their own “F1” to watch, why should they be interested in attending an F1 race. There are two sides to the coin on this question. A pessimistic opinion would claim that American fans should have no interest in F1 since they already have their own super-competitive series to watch, and know nothing about the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, and Vettel, and therefore will have no interest. A more positive outlook would say that American fans are curious to witness the “pinnacle of motorsport” for themselves, and will be hooked if the races are exciting.

If Austin provides an exciting race, they can gain a huge following for F1

There is a motorsport following in America, there really is. European fans often criticize Americans of watching cars go around in circles for hours, a feat that many claim takes no skill at all. Many European fans have never watched a Nascar or Indycar race, and haven’t noticed that the racing is always close, always rough, and always thrilling, even if the cars are driving around one ring. I hope that the American population will be open to the F1 races coming to Texas and to New Jersey, and I am sure that if they see an F1 race in person, they are incredibly likely to follow the sport for good. I encourage anyone who has never watched an Indycar or Nascar race (especially a circuit race such as Infineon) to do the same. True fans of racing will love both series.

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