Formula 1 fans are never happy with the present, that’s a fact. Nowdays, people complain about the boredom of the hybrid-era races, nostalgically referring to the 2012 season as one of the best ever. And that’s true: races that year have been unpredictable and exciting most of the times. But even back then ‘fans’ were unimpressed by the sport, recalling the ‘good old Schumacher days’. Needless to say, that’s a loop hole in which many F1 fans have fallen into, dating even back to the ‘70s. Now considered the golden age of the sport, back in the days it has been criticized as well –as ironically reported by magazines of these years. “People say they miss the great epoque of Formula 1, when springs used to fly off the car all of a sudden”, stated one of those articles from an italian newspaper.
The truth is simply that Formula 1 fans are mostly just nostalgic.
“Bring back the f*****g V12s”, shouted out loud Sebastian Vettel after his russian retirement, and he was praised by the crowd for those words. “Just don’t tell him that back in the V12s era Ferrari had three times the number of failures of today”, someone replied. And that’s true!
There’s no doubt about the intense feelings of the V12s’ noise piercing your head and shaking your chest, but beside that, modern power-units are just better on every aspect. They are faster, they are more reliable and they are more efficient.
So, without further ado, let’s get rid of all the memories manipulated by nostalgia and let’s take an actual look on the Formula 1 we are witnessing today.
The fastest cars ever built by mankind are driven during a dramatic generational war. Early 2000s F1 stars feel the huge pressure of an incoming young generation with a massive potential.
Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are the ‘last garrison’ of competitive ‘old’ drivers in competitive cars left, while Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are starving for supremacy, over each other but also over the old guard.
Considering the fact that Lewis Hamilton is a living legend of the sport (and that’s not arguable, he’s just rewriting the history books), Max Verstappen’s statements on how much he’s getting into the #44's brain could go down in history as the first true generational clash of this era.
Moreover, if Max Verstappen has already enstablished himself among the greatests of today, so is doing Charles Leclerc. And there’s a plethora of hungry talented yougsters that have the potential to fire up the battles of the next decade. Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz, George Russell are just some of the names in the Circus and the list gets longer taking a look to the junior categories as well.
Even Giorgio Piola, one of the greatest Formula 1 journalists with almost 820 GPs attendances in his bag, wanted to have a word on that. “The current generation –he told Sky Sport F1 Italy- has nothing to envy to the one of Senna, Prost and Mansell. I personally consider Senna the greatest ever, but Hamilton has the potential to take his place.”
About the racing, many people describe the modern GPs as boring. Still, in particular after the French one, the 2019 season has provided extrimely exciting races, also featuring battles that are going to be remembered forever. I’m thinking in particular about the amazing Leclerc-Verstappen’s duel in Silverstone, which might have been the first glimpse of a future rivalry that could make it to the history books.
Others complain about cars being too easy to drive ‘with all the assists keeping them on track’. Let’s make it clear: if having a bad opinion –for example- on the DRS is fair, talking about ‘assists’ on modern F1 cars is just wrong. Beside the power-steer, no electronic help is allowed. So there’s no traction control and neither ABS, differently from what some think. Current drivers have definetly not to deal with the clutch pedal, gear sticks nor turbo-lag. But the speed has massively increase, requiring super-human reflexes and mental responses, as well as a fit and athletic body.
Difficulty is not gone, it has just changed.
But if all those words can be referred –fully or partially- to a subjective point of view, let’s have a look to the numbers.
Indeed, social networks –beside all the good outcomes- have two major problems: ignorant people could be considered as much as professionals and that a little –but noisy- crowd could appear as massive.
Both are true also about Formula 1, but it’s the second one that is important now: are we sure that the ‘many complaining people’ I’ve been referring to all article long are actually ‘many’?
GPs attendance datas suggest the exact opposite: since 2017 the overall spectators’ trend is just rising. Grandstands are filling more and more year after year, with a record-breaking 4 million fans attending the GPs during the 2018 season. And in 2019 things are getting even better: 10 out of the first 14 races of the season have witnessed an increased number of spectators compared to the previous year, and many of those have even broken their personal attendance records.
On the Internet, a world complitely forgotten by Bernie Ecclestone, Formula 1 is getting more and more popular among the fans thanks to the massive Liberty Media’s dedication.
Why then to spit over such a great spectacle? Why not to focus on the great era we are living, instead of constantly looking back at the past?
Enjoying the moment doesn’t mean to understimate or disrespect the old days, but it’s just about noticing the beauty of what we are watching today.
Formula 1 is healty and alive, and some will just have to deal with it.