Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

No refuelling equals zero entertainment // Formula One takes a backwards step in 2010

Published by Mr. C

Ever since the FIA unveiled plans to ban refuelling from Formula One back in December 2008, we at Sidepodcast have been dreading the day such plans came to fruition. Today was that day and the result was as bad as we'd been expecting.

Massa being refuelled in the pitlane at the Spanish GP in 2008, otherwise known as the only place to pass in Barcelona.

Make no bones about it, the decision to remove one of the key variables in F1 racing was about money. No doubt those who agreed to the change, will claim that the goal was to improve racing but the truth is, in an era of heavy cost cutting, teams could no longer accept the freight costs for transporting heavy fuel rigs around the world. Neither could Formula One Management be persuaded to shoulder logistics costs, and thus the rigs were deemed inappropriate for the sport.

The change in regulations leaves the sport with a big problem. We know that the speed of modern F1 cars on todays racing circuits makes overtaking difficult, and we know that the aerodynamics of modern chassis contribute to the problem making it almost impossible for cars to pass on track. Attempts to rectify both of this issues has failed spectacularly in recent times, leaving us with dull tracks and fugly cars.

Given the understanding that cars cannot pass on track, and that there is no easy or cheap solution to the problem, why in the world would anyone advocate the removal of the sole variable that might allow for some change of order in the field? You'd have to be completely out of your mind, and yet that is exactly what the teams, the sports rights holder and the governing body all agreed to do. Utter madness.

Formula One provided an awful show this afternoon. There really was nothing to recommend from an entire afternoon of "action". Yes, it was the first race of the year and after a four month hiatus, any racing beats no racing, but can anyone honestly say that the removal of refuelling made for a better race?

Welcome to the new spectacle folks, following people is what we do now

I will concede that changes to the Bahrain circuit didn't help matters, and again those in charge agreeing to such changes have an awful lot to answer for. However, I maintain that if the sport still had refuelling, there may have still been a slim chance that the finishing order on Sunday offered some marked differences from the qualifying order on Saturday. As it was, we had the single failure on the lead car to spice up a desperately dull afternoon. Welcome to the new spectacle folks, following people is what we do now.

To further the point, today's post race BBC forum was all about the desperate situation the sports finds itself in, with McLaren's CEO Martin Whitmarsh suggesting what might be needed now is two mandatory pit stops per race. As if that is somehow going to be the magic bullet to solve all of F1's overtaking problems.

Truth be told somebody made a huge mistake and the sooner they own up to the fact and fix what is broken the better. I'm all for banning refuelling once it has been proven cars can pass on every track on the calendar, but I would much rather passing happened during the pitstops than it not happening at all.

F1 racing in 2010 finds itself in a desperate situation after race number one.