Earlier in the year, Formula One announced some suggested changes for the 2017 season. A few of them have already fallen by the wayside, including the return of in-race refuelling. But there was also higher revving, louder engines and making the cars up to six seconds per lap faster…
To get an opinion on all this, I spoke to someone who has followed Formula One for decades – but has never actually seen a race. Not even on television.
Alan Baxter is my father. He has been blind for 47 years, but still follows the sport. And below are his thoughts and opinions on the current state – and future – of F1…
“For someone without sight, it’s important to get as much audio information as possible, not only form the commentators but from the car sounds. For example, tyres squealing. Now I am used to it, I actually prefer the newer, quieter engines.
“It is nice to hear the power from the engines, as we did with the old V8s. But it is also nicer to hear other sounds that make it more dramatic, such as wheels locking up under braking and the turbos in the engines. Also for pit lane reporters, it is nice to be able to hear them without being drowned out constantly by a revving V8.
“It is also easier to hear the drivers communicating over the team radio, which of course has lead to some brilliant conversations.
“Over the last few years we’ve had one team dominating in Formula One. It started with Red Bull but now their reign at the top has ended, it seems to have moved on to Mercedes. In my view, one team dominating the sport isn’t entertaining. We’ve had some good racing, but a much more open season would be more interesting.
“I would like to see funds in the sport split more equally for the teams, to hopefully make it more competitive. Also hopefully this would lower the amount of pay drivers in the sport, who are employed because of their sponsorship rather than skill. I would prefer to see new young talent coming in, like Max Verstappen. And although I would like to see some of the design rules loosened to make the racing more exciting, safety always has to be the priority.
“Suggestion the return of refuelling, in my view, seemed a bit pointless and increased the risk of fire. The last time we had refuelling during races, there were several incidents of drivers going down the pit lane with the fuel hose still attached to the car and mechanics being hurt as a consequence. However it would at least add another option to your strategy, which could liven up races.
“Generally I am happy with the current state of F1, but you can always expect various changes sooner or later – and ultimately, common sense prevails.”
♦ Richard Baxter is a member of the NRF1 Podcast crew. Follow Richard on Twitter @bax_kid