Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

21st century racing, 19th century attitude // Negative images is the main criteria

Published by Lukeh

It's a bit astonishing that in this day and age it's still quite easy to upset people with new ideas that may not be popular but do have a concept behind them. These events have been commonplace in F1, whether it be more recently from DRS or in the past with regulation changes, and yet over the past few weeks there seems to be this same feeling of unease at the next big Formula to be unveiled by the FIA - Formula E.

The long and short of Formula E is that it's a new single seater series under the jurisdiction of the FIA in which the cars are electric. A fairly simple idea really, and one that had to be embraced at some point with the evolution of engines into those that don't hurt the environment so much and the progress that electric engines are making. However, it's quite frankly becoming a little frustrating that with every new Formula E announcement comes a wave of negativity and unwelcome abuse at something that hasn't actually raced yet.

Not too long ago, we had the news that Formula E would be implementing a unique 'vote-to-pass' system in which viewers have the opportunity to vote on which driver can use a push to pass system. It's a completely different idea and almost brings in a level of 'reality' in the context that the word is now used for reality shows, but it's been looked at in completely the wrong light. For once we have a series willing to embrace the fanbase and looking to make the audience part of the race, only for the wave of detractors to come in and say that it makes the entire race artificial and will turn Formula E into a joke. How can you turn something into a joke that hasn't even debuted yet? Who is to judge how a system works before it's even been tried?

Spreading animosity

Just before writing this up, I had the opportunity to see videos and more information on how the new Formula E cars look on track and how they sound. Guess what? They sound like electric cars. Surprising that, considering their electric engine! Yet once again all I could see was a negative backlash at the fact 'they don't sound right and they don't look right' and all kinds of nonsense that just seemed purposely thrown out there because it's something different and it's not what we're used to.

Di Grassi and Hill talk Formula E
Credit: Formula E Holdings

I understand that the purists out there cry in despair for such an idea but it's almost as if everyone has suddenly decided that Formula E will be replacing F1 in all possibilities, as if there is not an option to actually watch one and not the other but instead bemoan and belittle a series that is actually offering new and, quite frankly, encouraging ideas. The word gimmick has been thrown around like a terrible fish no-one wants to hold, as if gimmicks aren't something that people haven't described for recent entries into the F1 rulebooks. If Formula E is a gimmick for motorsport looking for desperate new ways to entertain then F1 must be the holy bible of all that is gimmicky in the world - it's called ideas and it's sad that people are more willing to demolish their existence before giving them a chance.

It's also frustrating that, for me at least, I feel the need to have to defend a series before people have actually had a chance to give it a go. If you've watched F1 for a number of years and decided enough was enough then you would be quite right to be in that position of writing off the series if it's driven you to the point of despair. However how is something new supposed to succeed and give it a go as a totally viable alternative to the most famous motorsport series in the world if we simply sit here saying it's all a load of rubbish already?

I think what I'm saying here is that people need to get a grip. Rather than mince around my words, just sit back and listen to the stupidity of it all.

It astounds me that people are willing to be so negative with something that offers a nice alternative to Formula 1

As I'm sure you can imagine I'm really looking forward to seeing what we come up with Formula E next year and how the championship turns out. It astounds me that people are willing to be so negative with something that offers a nice alternative to Formula 1 when most of us have spent all year complaining at how bad F1 has got under the supreme reign of Red Bull, only to immediatedly rubbish the new idea on the market to work as an alternative. Of course Formula E could fail, but what's the point in life if people aren't willing to sit down and give it a go? It's an experiment. Imagine where the scientific world would be if it didn't experiment.

The negative, bullish attitude of motorsport fans sometimes is a little sad because I know full well from experience how wonderful the motorsport community is. Whether it be websites that you frequent, or the jovial atmosphere of heading to a motorsport event large or small, it would take a lot for there to be an antagonistic environment but instead a collection of motorheads who all appreciate what they're embracing. This is why it surprises me that when things like this appear, it seems to come with more negativity than positivity.

There are a bunch of new ideas coming in that are probably scary and bizarre to the utter purists out there that think everything shouldn't evolve and instead we should sit on a wave of nostalgia. The sound of the electric engines could well be the sound of the future and, whilst I of course love the sound of a massive Formula 1 engine revving away, it's not like Formula 1 engines are going to be going anywhere any time soon. If you're going to head down to Goodwood over the next few years, you won't hear the sound of these cars only. You'll hear the traditional roar of an engine as well as these. Plus, so what if the series is going to have a vote to pass system? It's nice to actually have some kind of interaction and involvement to try and make poor races more exciting should they come along. It keeps the drivers on the edge too seeing as they could get a boost out of nowhere and the pace of the race could turn around within minutes.

Where is the love?

Further to all this, the news and names coming into the sport have been incredibly exciting and give plenty to look forward to if you're wondering who to support. Alain Prost has already given his support to run a team in Formula E, the considerably huge name of Andretti Racing will be bringing their team over from Indy Car into the paddock too and it makes me all kinds of happy to see the triumphant return of Super Aguri to a mainstream single seater series after their unfortunate departure from F1.

Formula E chassis on display
Credit: Formula E Holdings

I think all of this can be shrunk down to one word - alternative. You have the alternative choice to either watch it or not if you don't like the sound of it. It offers an alternative as to the future of motorsport and where technology is moving in cars and sport. It can become an utterly viable alternative to F1 rather than an absolute replacement for the sport we all know and love. It's an alternative to watch something if we want something new. It's not something to simply write off and rubbish as if it's a pathetic joke when the joke is rather on the naysayers that want to rubbish it now rather than later.

It's absurd to think I can change the mind of so many people and I know that I'll likely get laughed at for suggesting we should all be happy and nice to each other. That's most certainly not my point. What I'm saying is, for once, wouldn't it be nice to simply embrace something that offers a different point of view and spread the good word rather than laugh it off? I can't imagine how much of life I would miss out on if I simply laughed off a new idea because it sounded different and scared me a bit.

Don't let Formula E's new take on single seater motorsport scare you - wait for 2014. Give it a go. Come back to me in a year or two and then I'll listen to the taunts and negativity if you've actually given it a go by then.