According to one of the longest-serving and most influential F1 journalists of all time, the great Gilles Villeneuve would have "hated" the sport today. Five races into his new formula one career, Manor rookie Roberto Merhi said recently that, unlike the other category he races in - Formula Renault 3.5 - competing at the pinnacle of motor sport is mostly about saving tyres and fuel.
"That is something I really don't like to hear," Nigel Roebuck, who for decades has attended and written about grands prix for the most illustrious publications, told Spain's El Confidencial newspaper in an interview.
"Until very recently, any manufacturer wanted its tyres to be the best and most durable they could possibly be. And now? Really I don't understand it," he said. "I don't blame Pirelli, but I am surprised that they are trying to sell you and I tyres for our cars with this philosophy. It seems now that 'poor' tyres are very deliberately made to benefit 'the show'."
Bernie Ecclestone ordered and still enjoys the 'Pirelli philosophy', but it would not have worked for an iconic driver like Gilles Villeneuve, who was always on opposite lock and pushing beyond the limits of his car. "He would have hated it," Roebuck agrees. "What we have today was not his idea of competition. Caring about the tyres, watching the fuel levels ... Jesus!"
It seems now that many influential F1 figures have recognised the need for change, but much of the power is now in the hands of the so-called Strategy Group. It was formed after Ecclestone successfully broke up the teams alliance FOTA and offered key voting power to top teams like Ferrari and Red Bull.
"Insiders get the impression that they don't care at all about Sauber, Lotus, Force India," said Roebuck. "There are two things wrong with F1 today," he continued. "CVC is possibly the worst thing that ever happened to formula one, as so much money is not put back in. That's the first thing. And second, the top teams are not interested in helping the others. The business has become very selfish and we could end up with only five teams on the grid," Roebuck warned. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
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