It’s not you, it’s me . . .

It’s over. We’re officially on a break. It’s gotten to the point where there’s less pain separating than staying together. I never, ever, thought it’d get to this. But what’s going on just makes no sense, seems perfectly conceived to drive us all away, and is shameful and embarrassing. Maybe we’ll get back. But it’s not possible to think of that now. Good bye. Good luck.

No need to rehash the past, but let me just put some of the why’s on “paper” – it’ll make me feel better about this, help ME to put my thoughts in order. Maybe to convince myself that I’m doing the right thing by walking away. It might be a bit disjointed, a bit rambling. Sorry for that. I’m pretty emotional about this.

It started for me in 2008, with my demotion and replacement by someone who not only had never cared for an accident victim of any sort, but had only ever attended two or three races . . . as a spectator. At the time, I was told by the president of the FIA Medical Commission, “We still need your knowledge and experience, though. You’re our life insurance policy.” Can’t be clearer than that, eh? We need to wait a few years for the consequences to play out, but they do, and the price is awful. A grievously injured driver, barely clinging to life, spends three quarters of an hour on soggy roads in a creaking ambulance, before receiving proper care. It still sickens me.

Here’s a scoop: there will soon be published, in an international peer-reviewed journal, a scientific paper demolishing the current system of extrication that has not been changed in over 20 years, despite dramatic advances in this field. The lack of knowledge and experience at the medical lead is so blatant that several Chief Medical Officers of the F1 season are worried that by following existent FIA protocol they are making themselves vulnerable to medico-legal consequences by failing to follow current standards of care. Read that again. This from a sport that purports to be at the leading edge of everything.

I’ve ranted about this before, and stayed faithful to the sport. But there’s more.

The qualifying debacle currently playing out to the shame of all concerned is the proximate cause. Think back – the problem years ago was an empty circuit when meteorologic conditions were such that running wasn’t advantageous. True to F1 form, complication was chosen over simplicity. Rather than a simple rule constraining teams to get their cars out there or be penalised, all manner of contrivances were instituted. Only to wind up with . . . an empty circuit at the end of quals, arguably what should be the most exciting moments of all. I can’t say who gains by this, but I sure know who loses.

What about safety car procedures? I’ve never understood the delta times, never understood keeping the car out there for two or three extra laps so that “lapped cars may unlap themselves” All I know is that under conditions that by definition are some of the most dangerous, when the entire circuit is covered by yellow flags (need I quote again the regulation concerning driving under yellows?) we have guys driving flat out. Remember Fernando’s accident at Brazil? He used the first of his thankfully many lives there . . . under the safety car. And it’s only gotten worse. Once again, why do simple when we can do complicated. And the public (who want racing once the accident has been cleared, not cars unlapping themselves) be damned.

What about grid penalties? These were treated with humour last season, but seriously? Hundreds of places of grid penalties with a grid you can count on two hands and two feet? Who is kidding whom here? Who is mocking whom? I’m sick of being mocked.

What about engine tokens? With a brilliant and potentially transferable technological formula for energy recovery, we institute a byzantine system in a half-assed attempt to control costs. Complicated, when simple would do.

We’re not complicated, we the fans. We just want good racing. We want to see the skill and cleverness and bravery of drivers battling for position. We’ve all known for years that sophisticated aerodynamics makes for incredible cornering speeds, but makes overtaking more and more difficult. Everyone smart and savvy has been clamouring for years for less aero and more mechanical grip. Huge slicks and small wings – and let the drivers do the rest. What do we get? More aero in the next version of the tech regs, and a promised 4 to 5 second fall in lap times. Do any of us care about fast processional laps? That’s what I thought. The sport is not only not listening to us, but like a petulant child it’s thumbing its nose at us. How long must we endure that?

Should I mention tires? And the absurdly complicated allotment system, the engineered degradation “to make the racing more interesting”?

In a way, these are details, but they are telling. More importantly, MUCH more importantly, is what is going on with the circuits. The circuits are where it all plays out. Where we are reminded, season after season, of the glorious history of the sport. Where, depending on the stroke of the architect’s pen, we are either treated to almost two hours of thrills, or relegated to 305 kilometres of boredom. What about the circuits?

They are being strangled. They are being charged money, much too much money, for the privilege of hosting this soon-to-be farcical spectacle. They are signing contracts that guarantee multi-million dollar losses, and this despite often fantastic attendance. They are forced each year to beg, cap in hand, for a pittance to keep functioning, to continue to host a sport where BILLIONS are earned and distributed. And finally, one after another of the temples of this sport are throwing in the towel. Now Monza is under dire threat and may not be on the calendar in 2017. The only places who can meet the current levels of parasitic pricing are those with governments that are either flush with petrodollars (not sustainable anyway in the current market) or flush with corruption.Or both. Bernie and todt getting touchy-feely with Putin was and is an abidingly nauseating spectacle. Who are they kidding? And who is losing out here? Yep – we the fans. I’m sick of it.

todt has proven that, since becoming FIA president, he either has no idea how to make sure his flagship championship flourishes, or just doesn’t care. Either way, his term has been a shameful example of (almost laughably ineffective) self-promotion. Of blatant abdication of his roles and responsibilities. Of cowardly acquiescense to others.

Bernie, a man I love(d) and respect(ed), has apparently lost the plot. Or lost the ability to influence the plot. The man who created the modern sport of F1 can find nothing better to do than to slag off on it publicly. Can anyone remember the last constructive idea he has had, the last time we actually said “Thank God he’s around”? I sure can’t.

His business model, with floats and bonds and all manner of other financial manoeuvring too complicated for someone like me to understand, has created a monster. A monster whose driving force is profit . . . to the detriment of the fans. I’m not one to bemoan the role of money in global sport. Tennis, golf, football, etc are all multibillion dollar enterprises. BUT THEY CONSISTENTLY ACT IN THE INTEREST OF THEIR FANS BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT KEEPS THE DOLLARS COMING IN. Not F1. Soooo not F1. And I for one am sick of yacht-owning, Gulfstream-flying, Maybach-riding preadolescents bickering and yapping while the sport that made them rich burns. And while the fans who made them rich cry.

There you go. I’m out. Maybe if enough of us do the same they’ll realise where the true power is. But I have no intention of trying to start a movement. I just can’t keep investing emotionally in a sport that has no concern, demonstrably none at all, for us.

I’ll continue to follow all my F1 related twitter feeds.I’ll continue to love Lewis and Jenson and Fernando and Max and all of them. Continue to respect and admire their skill and courage. Continue to pray for them to be safe. But I won’t watch. I can’t. Not unless things change.

 

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99 thoughts on “It’s not you, it’s me . . .

  1. In my opinion there’s been a steady decline in Formula 1 (and motorsport in general) that’s been going on for 20 odd years.

    In terms of formula 1 there’s many things that have alienated me and eroded my passion over the years. The dumping of the traditional races with their history, big crowds and atmosphere for the lifeless tilkedromes. The constant tinkering with qualifying and the points system. The move to grooved tires and narrow track ruined the look of the cars and they’ve never got it back. The stagnant engine regulations throughout the 00’s. The steady move to pay TV, DRS, double points and on and on.

    And it’s not just formula 1. Rally probably hit its peak with group B and the 90’s to the early 00’s were great as well. But now it’s a shadow of its former self. Touring cars in the days of the ETCC, the original DTM and super touring was great but now it’s just mostly boring spec cars. Indycar was a genuinely big event before the split. Perhaps sportscars is the only category that’s not gone down the tubes, but even then I don’t think it can hold a candle to the group C days. Christ, even NASCAR looked more interesting back in the day!

    I’ve dug out some old copies Autosport magazines from 20-25 years ago, just to make sure I’m not just imagining it all. I’m not, there’s beautiful machinery and real technical intrigue. We had so much to look forward to and get excited about back then!

    I feel like we’ve been robbed by a bunch of f#cking crooks.

  2. Superb article, I too have been a fan since the heady days of 1976, following the sport on TV whenever the BBC showed a race, I was over the moon when in the early 80’s we started getting regular highlights of every race and then a few years later every race live, eventually I graduated to attending races, my first was the epochal Grand Prix of Europe at Brands Hatch in ’85, our Nige’s first of many wins, I even did a couple of European races over a period of 10 years or so, but then the entry prices started to rise excessively and I stopped going to races as I just couldn’t justify the expense.

    For me this was the beginning of the decline in our beloved sport, along the way we lost some of the heroes I worshipped and I still vividly remember that fateful weekend at Imola in ’94 thankfully it was to be almost some 20 years before the tragedy of Suzuka brought it all back and we realised just how complacent F1 had become with regards to some aspects of safety and welfare of those risking their lives.

    It says it all to me when I look at my bookcase and my collection of Autocourse annuals, I have virtually all of them from 1976 until 2011, but then my interest waned away and I stopped buying them. I still follow the races, but I rarely watch them in full, just dip in and out as and when I can.

    I hope that the powers that be come to their senses and do something to save the sport we love before it self destructs.

  3. Gary,

    Thank you so much for articulating your feelings here as best you could, and thank you for not being a ‘Yes Man’, as we know it cost you a lot. I have been trying to reconcile this issue for several years now. My own father, who instilled in me my love for F1, has no interest in it anymore and it absolutely breaks my heart as that was our ‘shared’ thing. I think I’m at the same stage as you, where the pain of leaving it is less than the pain of experiencing its death throws.

  4. Gary,

    Thank you again for saying what needs to be said.

    I’m sure the time will come when F1 puts its fans first, okay actually second after safety.

    Currently it’s along way from this. In the UK we are losing TV coverage soon, so I will be joining you in turning my back on F1 after 35 years……

    As you say other motorsports actually want fans, such as WEC, BTCC and Formula E.

    Please keep up the great blog, you have lots of fans here!

    Warm regards,

    Andrew

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  6. Hi Gary,

    Great points. It’s heartbreaking to see someone who spearheaded the sport take it apart publicly so mercilessly, and sometimes it does feel like the focus has moved away from those who truly love the sport.

    I’m an F1 journalist myself, and I just wanted to say how deeply I felt the passion with which you’ve written these words. Both evident and very touching, and it’s so important that whoever next helms the sport needs to share that passion; it’s the only thing that help work in fans’ favour rather than towards other interests.

    Thank you.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to write, Gary. I think you’ve echoed the frustrations and pain that many of us are currently feeling for our beloved sport. I’m finding it very difficult to justify to myself, reasons to continue watching F1, given the fact there are many more appealing alternatives within the world of motorsport.
    It’s always a pleasure to read your unapologetically honest thoughts, it’s a refreshing change to some of the content within the wider media, which gloss over the real issues. I (and I’m sure many others) respect you greatly for that.
    Keep up the good work Sir.

  8. Thank you for taking the time to write, Gary. I think you’ve echoed a lot of the frustrations and pain that many of us feel for our beloved sport at the moment. I personally am finding it hard to justify to myself, a reason to continue following the sport I love, given the quality of others series available.
    I always enjoy reading your unapologetically honest thoughts. It’s a refreshing change from so much that is published in the wider media, and I (like many others I am sure) respect you hugely for that.
    Keep up the good work Sir.

  9. Dear Dr Harstein:

    Wonderful discussion, and yet so sad to see care and safety regressing. I must confess that simply watching the broadcasts, I had no understanding of how badly things have deteriorated. I am very interested in the article you allude to – are you allowed to provide more information?

    Thank you for your continued passion and concern for the well-being of the drivers. At least someone is thinking about them.

    V/R

    Matt

  10. Doc H,
    I am old enough to remember very well the amazing work pioneered by Prof Sid – I am from a medical background as well. I have to say that I was concerned when you took over – Prof Sid was such an icon. You filled his boots so well…….. My first real hiccup in my love affair with F1 was the way you were treated. I have stuck with it over many years of misgivings, but have not been able to justify the cost of a live event for many years now. Living in the UK and not wanting to pay Rupert Murdoch for loads of sports I have no interest in, and not enough time to watch, my live viewing has been limited for a while as well – to my horror, I found myself not even bothering to catch the highlights of most of the races I missed live. Now, it is just too much trouble.

    Like you I will follow the sport on line – here, Jo Saward and James Allen are my goto sights, but as for trying to remember which events I am allowed to see and which weekends I have to keep free, I just shan’t bother. Too much aero, too much artificiality in the tyres, the crazy new qually, the PC drivers, the gradual sanitisation of the circuits – sorry, this is not what I fell for all those years ago…….

    Come back F1 – so many people fell in love with you.

    Philip

  11. Gary, once again you are spot on. I just do not have the vocabulary to state how disappointed and disgusted I am with the current state of F1. I got hooked on FI back in 1976 with the battle between James and Niki. I’ve stuck with it through all the issues and tribulations since, but this year is the final straw. Nobody ‘in power’ can agree on anything, or apparently wants to. Having cocked up the qualifying in Australia, to then state that ‘all teams’ agreed to go back to the previous version, then to swap back again, just proves the complete lack of coherence in this sport. Fans are leaving hand over fist. I’ve never been fortunate enough to go to a live race, I could never afford it. My only option has been to watch the (dwindling) coverage on terrestrial TV. Now that’s to disappear completely I may as well jump before I am pushed. There’s nothing left for me, though like you I wish the very best for the likes of Jenson, Alonso, Daniel and, if he can get back in it, Paul. The weekends won’t be the same but the only constant is change…I’m changing.

  12. Having decided to see how the new season would turn out, it appears that F1 is no longer interested in racing. The lack of drivers at the end of qualifying says it all. That and the posing by Hamilton has put me off. Much better watching WEC or Superbikes.

  13. This is a terrific article. It sums up just what has happened to F1 these past few years. It’s almost like a plastic version of itself. Tyres that degrade so fast that you cannot race at your quickest, quietest engines in history, grid penalties for reliability issues, and an overtake button.

    It is a laughing stock as a sport- but the medical issues you raise are no laughing matter. They need addressing, quickly.

    It needs a clean breakaway to clear the decks and build again IMO but the likelihood of that happening who knows?

    On a side note- would Ferrari be up in arms if Monza lost it’s place on the calendar?

  14. Gary,

    Thanks for this post;. Like your good self, I also wonder what the fuck is going on. This is a sport I have followed for over 30 years, it is one of my true passions, along with music. Back in the day, I was quite entertained by the politics, but it’s gotten a bit silly now…

    I was aware (mostly through your blog) that your, er… ‘replacement’ had little experience in the field, but SERIOUSLY? If I was racing a car and crashed, I would expect that those tasked with my care had some proper EXPERIENCE. I’m about to have a fairly major operation (am anterior cervical discectomy and decompression, thanks for asking =D) and you can be sure that I have been researching the credentials of those that are doing the chiselling. They seem a pretty solid team… But if I had discovered that that the person in charge had not even done the operation before, I would cancel immediately. The risks would just be too high.

    Are the drivers not concerned about the current state of affairs? I would be. As I understand it, Prof Watkins helped you build your experience to facilitate a proper changeover, but when he died (RIP Sid), it almost seemed like those in the FIA (or FOM, or whomever it is that makes these decisions) were very keen to erase… not his knowledge, but his influence on the sport. I can believe that he was a thorn in many peoples’ sides; but due to his historic importance, no-one dared oust him. But now that he is gone, the sport seems rather less concerned about such serious matters.

    I find it utterly extraordinary that, in this day and age, the sport is able to whitewash the Bianchi incident and effectively blame the driver for doing exactly what a driver is going to do (i.e. going as fast as possible – RACE DRIVER – DUH!!) while never addressing the ACTUAL RULE and subsequent technical directives that allowed the accident to happen in the first place, during a race that should already have been stopped… How the hell did they get away with that? Is the FIA report available to the public? I would be very interested to read it, but (like all the finance and governance stuff that REALLY should be entirely transparent in a modern sport) I suspect that the brief summary that was made public is all I’m ever likely to see…Can’t help but wonder why this is the case.

    I never thought I’d say this, but I think I really have fallen out of love with Formula 1. Not because of the tech reg tweaks or because it’s boring (which it isn’t, in my opinion)and not loud enough or whatever. It’s more about a young man dying and the way that those entrusted with the duty of his care not only failed to honour that obligation, they seemingly twisted it around to get off scott-free. He followed Charlie’s directive and died as a result. This, to me, would be reason enough to have a closer look, but no-one does. I can’t even begin to imagine how Jules’ family must feel about this…

    The farce over qualifying (along with other bullshit issues) seem, to me, to be distraction tactics to divert our attention from a much bigger picture, No other sport is allowed to function the way F1 does, And I think it’s about time a few questions got answered. It’s getting WAY beyond shooting itself in the foot, it’s more like cutting a foot off with a spoon. Truly ridiculous.

    Gary, I really hope I’ve interpreted the title of your post wrongly, as it could imply that you’re going to stop writing this blog. I don’t THINK this is the case, but if it is, please reconsider. I find your writing refreshing, and truly admirable in as much as you don’t pull any punches and you call it as you see it. This is rare in ANY situation, and although I know you get a bit of flak from time to time, I really do respect the fact that you poke your head above the parapet… There are many other points you raise in this post that I have a strong opinion on, but I think I’ve ranted long enough for the moment. Suffice it to say that I agree with all you say…

    Thanks as always, big respect and all that

    Ned

  15. At what point do medical authorities advise practising medics not to work at GPs,
    Professional bodies (here in uk) are judge and jury in misconduct cases
    ( out with the criminal prosecutions).
    If extrication procedures are so far behind the BMA uk surely have a duty of care to warn current circuit staff that there wide open to claims.

    • A fascinating point, and one that will have to be carefully considered. I’m not sure we’re quite there yet, but given the current speed of change in extrication and spinal protection strategies, and the total lack of evolution of the FIA’s practices, we might not be far. Thanks for taking the time to share this thoughtful and important comment!

  16. A guy sends his draft for a novel to a publisher. It’s about Grand Prix racing. It starts with a French fellow with interesting affiliations during World War 2 as the head of the FIA. It then goes to the son of a British Fascist leader during WW2 unseating said collaborator and contriving, with an Englishman who came up via selling used motor bikes, to annex the organising body and sell the commercial rights to F1 to said Englishman for 100 years without any tendering process and for less than the price of NASCAR commercial rights for a couple of years.
    Along the way, France loses its Grand Prix, Germany, Belgium and Britain come close and are berated and threatened over and over and Monza, of all places, is threatened with extinction while the Commercial Rights holder blithely tosses out such gems as: “I don’t think we have to have Monza or an Italian Grand Prix. Somebody once told me a funny thing that you couldn’t have Formula One without a race in France. But we do.”
    On and on, more of less following the path we’ve seen over the last 20 years right up the last couple of weeks, with the qualifying debacle and Britain, with more of F1 in terms of businesses and fans than anywhere, being told it cannot view F1 quite soon without further lining the pockets of a pay TV channel whose owner is, ahem, not universally popular.
    The would-be novelist rings the publisher for a response. “Quite an interesting and complex storyline, ” says the publisher, “Personally, I quite like it. But unfortunately we won’t be publishing it. See… our readers wouldn’t go for it. Way too far fetched. Couldn’t happen in the real world. May I make a suggestion? Bit of a rewrite here and there and we’d be happy to look at is as a science fiction novel.”

  17. Gary,
    Thanks for your usual excellent blog and you’ve been superb in educating me in the rudimentary best ways of keeping a brain and body working to the best of it’s abilities and as an epileptic and long time Motor Racing enthusiast the least I can do is write back to you to say Thanks and to provide some “Hope” as life does go “in waves”.

    I started as small boy in 1960 leaning over the inside of Woodcote watching Jim Clark (yes the classic photo) and it wasn’t till later at a BOAC 6hr in 67 that I became hooked followed later when I had some Money to buy Motoring News and later still the magazines but I was always fascinated by the technology – Can-Am with the Chaparrals and then the Lotus’s and F1’s and 917’s and Carbon Fibre …… You get my drift – The drivers were hero’s who managed to tame these beasts but they were still approachable – most were a laugh ……. Except Niki who was just plain serious, Austrian and clinically fast. Racing was good, there were a lot of deaths and injuries but Niki’s injuries in 76 were horrifically graphic and this couldn’t be allowed on TV and his injuries along with other deaths stopped the Sport forgetting the terrible toll it was inflicting and Gilles loss in 82 was so painful that I along with many others were shocked to the core – The TV audience was really switching off now, therefore Jackie Stewart really did then start to make a big difference on improvements after that.

    Now, Politically about this time we had something as bad if not worse than today – Mr Jean Marie Balestre was truly a Frenchman out of the FIA School of Idiots, (which you also seem to know well) throwing his weight around and making everybody’s life a total pain.Even today the hairs on the back of my neck go up at the thought of how he brought the Sport into disrepute. When he was succeeded there was huge sigh of relief that he was gone. I realise now that the current regime of the Bernie, CVC and Jean circus is similar although more damaging because it upsets a huge percentage of the core fans of the Sport. Balestre upset far fewer as fewer knew about the Politics. BUT we’re getting the TV audience switching off now as they can find better things to do with their lives than pay huge amounts of money to watch a boring and cynical theft of their hard earned cash.

    Presumably the scientific paper to be published soon was also what was mentioned by yourself concerning Phillippe Bianchi a few months ago. This I expect may be a low point for the Sport as Phillippe may or may not go forward with painful litigation (not for himself but to improve the health of future racers.) We await it and your analysis.

    Gary, I can only look forward that someone may invite you to a WEC race (or other races) to see how much Sportsmanship , Camaraderie, fun, competition, is still alive and well these days, where my most vivid memory of last year was the Audi and Porsche swapping places about 6 times a lap for 20 laps at Silverstone with Dr Ullrich smiling like a Cheshire cat and loving every minute of it – Brilliant fun. I actually think the skills of the drivers exceed the F1 Guys as there is so much close and dramatic overtaking it literally takes your breath away. I would invite you myself but I’m 12k miles away.

    Please let me reiterate – things will get Politically better – when I don’t know (personally, I’ve been sticking pins in dolls for about 10 years now but that has not made any difference)
    Lets face it any sensible Manufacturer would be looking to build something outside of the Concorde Agreement in 2020. Maybe a Breakaway Manufacturers group not named F1 but something different will form to bring some levity, organisation, control, sanity, Sportsmanship and financial propriety back into the mix for the Teams and the circuits. (Hopefully)

    So enjoy your gardening leave – I really hope you find some interesting things to do. Thanks for everything and I look forward to your next blog.
    Rick

  18. To your comments Dr. Hartstein, I say “AMEN”… the entire absurd circus has gotten completely out of hand….

  19. Your post is ironic in that I came to the same decision after the Australian debacle. I was able to attend my only F1 race in Austin when they still had the noisy motors. I am completely baffled over the decision to stay with the same qualifying system. It’s like the wizard of oz with the great oz behind the curtain. Or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid “who are those guys”? I was a karting series director and race director when my son was racing go karts and I would have been drumed out of my positions if I acted like the fia does. But I do thank you for your insight, its trully been a pleasure to read your posts.

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  21. Alors Gary, maintenant que vous avez rompu avec la F1, vous êtes un cœur à prendre ? Puis-je vous conseiller de bloguer sur le curling? C’est moins glamour, il y’a moins d’argent, c’est moins télégénique mais c’est assez sympa!

  22. I totaly agree to what you have and have promised to find something more that gives me some pleasure that I have some control over, my wife was also a F1 fan but she was starting to get bored , so therefore distracting me on to other things she wanted done, the last straw was the aussie qualy she could not get her head round it. I am just pissed off with all of it now, I always thought that the engineering would control the race’s but it all down to the fxxking tyres.
    Rant over

  23. It seems that a lot of people (me included) feel that the sport is letting them down.

    We can’t all just blame Bernie and Jean Todt. After all, Bernie is just an employee (he needs to provide ever increasing profits for CVC et Al), and Jean only accounts for 33% of the vote.

    We the fans have all of the power, and perhaps we should have a coordinated effort to exert that power? A strike, I say. I pledge o join you Gary, in abstaining from watching the next few grand prix. Let’s see if we can ruffle a few feathers. Anyone else?

  24. To sum it up perfectly this week the GPDA wrote a letter saying what’s wrong with the ‘sport’ and Bernie wrote a letter back saying he agreed (in the same week he negotiated f1 off terrestial tv and said they were sticking with the awful quali format for bahrain) and publicly backed Pirelli ,even though many drivers and fans want 2 tyre suppliers…

  25. Gary,
    you are my spokesman in this matter, I see a lot of amateur errors in governance of the sport, but it is paradox that my first live experience with GP will be this year after 25 years of following. More and more I am appreciate Formula E with very fresh approach to their audience (free stream on youtube) high relevant applications of electric power to ordinary transport (I see no fossil fuel combustion engine in the future) and fan involvement. More fun is in MOTO2 or LMP classes. The rules in F1 are half-assed hybrid idea is great but not allowing proper development race is its Achilles heel. I am sorry but F1 is no longer pinnacle of motorsport. FE is becoming very quickly very high-tech and fun!
    Thank you for your contributions and hindsight, pleas do not leave completely your ideas are refreshing for a lot of fans. Good Luck

  26. I love that someone, other than myself, makes a point of not capitalising the names of those who we don’t like/respect as a little insult!

    Great piece, I’ve been an avid supporter of McLaren and F1 for 17 years now (I even have their logo tattooed on me [McLaren not F1]) but every week it seems I’m flabbergasted by yet another pointless/stupid/arrogant/terrible [delete as appropriate] rule being introduced at the eleventh hour.

    All this tinkering and bickering is doing for me is making me love Formula E more and more. Here is a series where technical innovation for the good of the public (via road cars/safety) and the environment is attracting big tech and automobile companies, where the cars don’t rely on heavy aero so the drivers can race wheel-to-wheel, where the sport is about the drivers AND the fans, where social engagement and developing a sport that is accessible to many (by being cheap to attend and in locations that are easy to get too) are the ethos that guide every decision.

    Alejandro Agag has done a great job, my only worry for this series is that it is still under the FIA umbrella!

    F1 has so much to learn from a sport that is less than 2 years old but is getting most things spot on. I keep hoping that F1 will wake up from this bad dream and sort itself out but I just can’t see it happening anymore!

    Formula One… more like Formula Done

  27. Thanks for this post, Gary… I admire your forthright comments and agree that, over the years, the sport has become focussed on things other than the sport… here’s hoping that something changes soon. I’ve been a fan for nearly 40 years and still tune in (as much as I can in Canada…)… but the real excitement has gone…

  28. I have been a fan of F1 for over 20 years but over the past few years have fallen out of love with the sport.
    It’s clear F1 has problem both engaging with the public (fans) and behind the scenes, with the politics slowly ruining the sport.

    Paramount is the safety of drivers, spectators, track officials and pit crew – there is no room for politics when it comes to safety. Yes the sport is much safer than that fateful weekend in 1994. Fernando’s accident last weekend was testament to that, however the loss of Jules last year proves that the sport cannot take it’s eye off the ball.

    In 1994 the sport was thrown into crisis following the deaths of Roland and Ayrton – it went through a period of self examination with Max and Sid Watkins working with others to make the sport safer which has undoubtedly saved lives. However there is no room for complacency and in a money rich sport there is no reason to not have maximum safety for all involved utilising the experience of experts such as yourself.

    I have read several times in utter disbelief how you Gary were treated and the lack of experience your replacement had. I often wonder what the great Sid Watkins views were on this was.

    The spectacle of F1 has gone, the fixes are a shambles. F1 is a highly technical sport, yet the rule makers cannot predict the effect a change in the qualifying format will have – am I missing something?

    We had the GPDA fan survey last year, have the rule makers listened to the fans? – only time will tell.

    Last weeks race was the first in over 20 years where I didn’t really care if I knew the result before watching the highlights. Why? because the sport has become dull.

    Yes there is still some excitement with the young guns joining the sport, watching their progress, but the excitement is generally in the mid field. I still have my favourites and Mclaren’s bad 2015 season has at least given me interest of seeing Jenson, Fernando and the team trying get the car back to the top end of the field.

    It’s easy to get nostalgic, thinking back to the days of Nigel Mansell and Ayrton racing wheel to wheel but there was a buzz and anticipation of an exciting race weekend back then.

    I haven’t divorced myself completely from F1, yes I will pick up the odd live race when Bernie allows me to, other than that it’s the highlights on terrestrial TV. I see a trial separation not too far off unless things change for the better.

    I continue to enjoy the blog and your insight Gary, thank you.

    Best wishes,
    Andy

  29. I totally agree with you, Gary. F1, as I known and loved it, is dead. But I’ll keep watching it anyway because it’s in my DNA. Cursing the ones destroying it, of course, but I can’t imagine my life without that sport.
    I hope soon or later some team will rebel to the system and start to organize their own “F1”. And, of course, I hope you’ll keep posting your thoughts here, as I’ll be missing you much more than old F1 memories. :\

  30. Gary,

    Its a shame to read this article but I feel i have came to a similar conclusion with F1. As a 19 year old I
    should be interacting with F1 more but I’m getting more cut off. I’m getting too negative about the sport and absorbed into politics. The turning point for me was Bianchi’s accident in 2014. I feared something bad would happen around that weekend but as ever we wait until something major happens to take action.

    Your decision is very tough for most who follow you to take seen as you always talk sense. Hope 2016 treats you well buddy

  31. Doctor Hartstein, Chapeau ! All what you say is so totally conform with my thoughts that I have to congratulate you being able to put this in writing. I was hoping that 2016 would be the start of something new, something updated in a good way but after the Qualifying ridicule and the teams finaly united to go back we hear Force India and Bernie to give it a “chance”. They are out of their minds those greedy selfish people. I hope that thousands of thousand people either quit like you and me or raise their voice. In these unsafe times there are more important issues to fight than being mocked by a sport. Impeach todt, impeach Bernie . You can read in CVC’s and Delta Topco’s books that they made 11 billion dollars for their shareholders since 2006. Thay’s why they give a shit about the fans. The fans dont bring them money, TV and the circuits do and unless the circuit owners refuse to pay and the viewers drop so much that there is no more interest for TV to buy the rights nothing will change, but then it is too late because F1 will be dead 4-ever.

  32. Spot on assessment Gary, although it feels more like a bereavement than a breakup. We’ve all lost something that used to be a highlight of our lives.

  33. I’m roughly your age Gary and try as best I can not to be a grumpy old man, praising everything ‘we’ did and nothing ‘they’ do now, but in the case of F1 agree, it’s a busted flush.
    Can’t stand the politics, the egos and some of the puerile drivers who think they’re pop stars instead of drivers … and no, I can’t remember the last time I sat down to watch an entire GP.
    Because at heart I love what F1 once was, I sneak a peek at the reports on each race, watch older races on YouTube, constantly wonder how Michael is doing and read articles about F1 in the hope to see something which might augur well for the future of the sport … But everything and everyone seems to be heading off in the wrong direction.
    I’ve just booked myself to go, for the third time, to the Monaco HIstorique meeting in May. That, and some of the events at Goodwood, are the only way I can have a ‘live’ motorsports fix which is enjoyable, relaxed and above all, affordable.
    See you on the other side!!

      • Merci pour cette information, j’avais meme pas fait attention. Une vrai honte mais aussi un coup de LVMH contre Mumm car proprietaire de Chandon.

      • The start of the decline was surely when the cars stopped sounding like what F1 cars SHOULD sound like … And started to sound like a bunch of pussy cats going round the circuits.
        They’ve being playing catch up ever since …. And because the sport is run by men with about as much charisma and charm as Attila the Hun, have got absolutely nowhere … Fast!
        The sport is run by Bernie Ecclestone … It always was and still is.
        Lay the blame for where we are now on him … Fairly and squarely. Not on the rag tag bunch of self interested oafs that stand in his (rather small) shadow.
        The only ray of hope in the otherwise bleak scene we see in F1 these days is the stellar arrival of Gene Haas … Give the whole shebang over to an American showman to run and we’ll see an improvement so fast and so effective, we’ll all have forgotten about what’s going on now in no time.
        And tell the drivers that if they aren’t seen falling out of a bar somewhere exotic on a regular basis with 3 blondes on their arm, they’ll have their wages docked! 😀

  34. You’ve put a few thoughts of mine into words. I watched the opening race more out of habit than with any real enthusiasm. In relation to MotoGP, Indycar, WEC, Formula E, the crown F1 once had has slipped and is now badly tarnished. It is a mess, a deepening one, but I cringe at the thought at what will happen when Bernie finally goes, the sh*t storm that will unleash will be a pleasure to walk away from.

  35. Gary, this sums it up all so well. We the fans still have a choice and we can choose to vote with our remote – that’ll hit them where it hurts.

    I still think about Jules and how that was all so preventable, some say he should have slowed under yellows. Had it been dry I would agree but that argument just doesn’t wash in the conditions the drivers faced that day. There was some gross negligence by those in charge who it seems will never face the tough questions they should.

    My question to you Gary though is whether an air transfer would have helped Jules or were his injuries such that his fate was sealed? I’m no expert but I understand time is always of the essence

    • Obviously impossible to say how a proper evac would have affected outcome. That said: 1) the FIA’s own written regulations concerning helicopter availability were not followed, and 2) with a dramatically severe head injury, no expert witness on earth would or could make a case that 20 minute evac time vs. 40 minute is clinically neutral. These facts together, for me, mean that the fia is culpable. Of course, I’m not a lawyer, but clearly it is the fact that I said this that spooked them . . . and where there’s smoke there’s fire.

  36. After thirty years of fanatically following this one time Jewel in the crown, I’m almost done. I’m hoping Bernie has some ulterior motive, and that todt will be dethroned as FIA president, and the CEOs of Fiat, Mercedes Benz, Renault, and Honda start to flex their muscle, and change can begin. I also know that in five days time it is April the first….. It is ten minutes to midnight gentlemen..

  37. Agree that Todt has been invisible/ineffective,&that ousting Max Mosley was stupid-his parentage&private life had no bearing whatsoever on his ability&experience.Still love F1,but axing core European races that”the brand”is sold off the back of is gutting.I’d rather go to Le Mans frankly-the new cars are bloodless.An F1 race should be a visceral,thrilling experience-can’t say that’s really the case now.

  38. I was interested (and dismayed) to read about the deficiencies in the extrication system currently employed in F1. Extrication does not seem to have been mentioned in the reported discussions relating to the proposed ‘halo’ system. I would be interested to know whether such systems would hinder medical teams’ access to injured drivers or their ability to extract them. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated Gary.

  39. Hi Gary,

    Forty minutes in the back of a van! With a head injury is not duty of care.

    The head of any organisation including the FIA is potentially making it self-culpable to corporate manslaughter, as the organisation is not full filling its legal duties of ensuring duty of care of either drivers, team members or the volunteer officials – putting “motorsport is dangerous “on the back of a ticket is not a get out clause, nor saying, green flag to chequered is our level of responsibility.

    I believe under the current regime, CMO are risking their individual registration, because of the lack of clinical development that is specific to motorsport, many of the doctors that attend motorsport events are very competent and often clinical leads within their own specialist fields; however, put them at the side of a race track or in the back of an ambulance; these environments and often the equipment around them is unfamiliar territory; as for when the circus rolls into town, so does the equipment on loan, for the coast of putting a sponsor’s name on a board at reception and a couple of tickets for reps.
    The circuits are crippled and rely on medical companies loaning state of the art equipment and then the medical speciality doctors and nurses providing their time for free. Free…. I am sorry, but the catering not free…. The people that sell the merchandise, don’t do it for free…

    The law states – a duty owed to a person who, by reason of being a person within subsection (2), is someone for whose safety the organization is responsible.

    To think that should anyone become injured or die at a race circuit and the medical team not be held under scrutiny in this present day is naive and should have their bumps read.

    This year in the UK we have seen the first NHS trust being accused of corporate manslaughter since the charge was introduced in 2008. Two Doctors, anaesthetist, and consultant anaesthetist failed to ensure a patient safely came round from surgery.

    The prosecution claimed if one or both doctors were found to be grossly negligent then the trust could be said to have employed someone it knew or should have known was not suitably qualified or trained for their role. You can see, what I am getting at here….

    As a majority of race teams are UK companies, the law is law and should a team member be injured when working offsite from the factory, the company that employs them has to demonstrate duty of care was in place.

    all the best
    Steve

  40. The hosting of a GP has stretched beyond just the profits of the events, it’s now into grants and funding from the hosts government.

    I used to feel the Grand Prix occupied a world built on glamour and high tech, something the common man could watch and admire, but now with the move to engine restrictions and subscription TV only, it’s lost it’s magic. Without streaming and free-to-air, it’s not going to appeal to the young and the future.

    And that’s not even considering the on-track “action”, for such speed and danger, it’s action density is on a par with a cricket test match.

  41. +1.
    F1 is dying, or already dead and just kicking.
    Thankfully i am old enough to have good memories as far back as the 60’s.

  42. Gary,
    You’ve been nothing but a guiding light in the darkness that the FIA has become. You should be proud. I’ve been reading your posts since day one and your knowledge and forthrightness has been uber refreshing…to most of us; fuck the rest because they are blinded with greed.
    I was so looking forward to your commentary this season and I’m crushed to hear your decision. But, I know it’s a decision that’s weighed heavily….and, my hope is that the fans, organizers, and teams will eventually become so disenfranchised like you, that drastic measures will be taken and the money grubbing scum that make up the FIA will be ousted like the terrorists they are.
    Good luck my friend, and thanks for everything.

    • Still a fan; there’s WEC, there’s Formula E, there’s lots of racing in the USA. And this doesn’t mean I’ll shut up . . . lord knows that’s not an easy thing for me to do!

      • I’m glad to hear it, Gary. IMSA/Tudor is going to be amazing this season and I look forward to your commentary. Keep fighting the fight!

  43. In total agreement Gary. At the opening GP when we were told that the promoters wanted the qualifying change? Not the fans who pay far too much for the ticket that prop up the uber rich Bernie and co. I have loved this “sport” for over 30 years but found myself thinking at the opening race that another boring season is coming, what a shame.
    I have never understood why circuits pay to host a race. If I wanted to have a race weekend at Silverstone for my mates and I, they would charge me to use their facilities, or perhaps I should try the Bernie model when I go there and tell them to pay me to use their facilities. . And by the way you can only make money to cover the cost by selling tickets and hotdogs. Simple maths then starts to dictate unrealistic ticket prices.
    I think forcing Max Mosely out was a bad idea all those years back. He did have some great ideas for F1, I see nothing from Jon Todt apart from another person getting rich off the fans

    Thanks for your honest opinions Gary don’t give up, I look forward to this blog

    Andy

    • I agree. As a fully fledged member of the tifosi, I used to look up to Jean Todt. Respected him in a way I never could the flamboyant Flavio or the cold hearted Ron.

      But something has changed since he became the FIA’s head honcho. I don’t know what it is – he seems to have lost any spark, he never smiles, he prioritises the wrong things… All I can think is that he’s out of his depth.

      Max might have had some kinky nights in Soho, but he loved motorsport, recognised F1 as its premier offering, and generally did a good job in my view. I have always said that, but when held up against Todt it’s even easier to see that the sport misses Max.

      But who could Todt’s successor be?

  44. It’s no longer of interest to me after some thirty to forty years as an avid follower, they, the powers that be will wake up one day, and put the fans before the Bucks (who am I kidding) but it will be way too late. The wealthy of the sport just want to increase their bank balances further. Much like Robin Hood, but they’ve got the concept the wrong way around, he robbed the rich to help the poor……..

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