Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Two many 1's - F1 vs A1 !!

The latest form of an old sport has commenced. This novel idea is christened A1 Grand Prix. The A1 idea tries to take into consideration, the so-called cons of Formula 1 and market it as their plusses. Surely it makes sense to me. The motor sport has now become a country’s affair like any other major sport like cricket and I like that.

In F1, fans like me (Don’t mistake, I still will) used to side with conglomerates and our favourite car makers. One Indian in the field and our eyes were on him throughout, though keeping in mind you favourite team (surely that will not be Jordan). If just one Indian there, renewed our interest in the sport and got the people oblivious to it, watch the sport. Imagine the interest generated, if Team India was in the race. This is where A1 comes into picture. A1 gets the patriotic fever into play. Now, the fans can cheer for their country and blame the driver for his bad driving..;-).

The F1 cars need car-loads (pun intended) of dough to maintain and improve. No doubt, they are mechanical and technological marvel, fastest machines on land. This is something truly admirable but it is a race of mechanical and technical brilliance, combined with skill and aggressiveness of the driver. An understanding of basics of automobiles would increase the audiences’ interest manifold. But not many are interested in the nitty-gritty.
A1 cars on the other hand are equalised technologically and will not be as fast as F1 cars. They will need barely a tenth of the money spent on F1. This is the race of drivers, of the human skill and bravery as the official site puts it. I am sure, there will be more car-flips, crashes and it will be fun to watch. (Oh what a saddist..lol)

F1 is only for an advantage for huge conglomerates. Developing the cars or sponsoring them made, already popular companies like Ferrari, McLaren, Renault etc. a very active player in the world market. And if team XYZ are the winning team, that’s the sweetest part of the cake and XYZ is bound to get the lion’s share in the automobile market.
On the other hand, A1 is about a medium for national and international brands to endorse themselves on a global scale. This is great for brands like MRF, JK Tyres etc. to compete with Bridgestone, Michelin and Pirelli. Likewise the other sponsoring brands can vie for their place across the world.

While our F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan finished fifteenth in his Jordan in the Brazilian GP, Alonso won the first ever championship for Renault, making himself the youngest driver ever to win the GP on 25th September. Narain has reasons to lose – Not a great car and he is a rookie among experts.

Karun Chandok, our A1 driver flipped his car and ended coming 25th in 25 contestants race. He was fifteenth in the qualifiers (called Sprint Race in A1). Excellent start I must say ;-). I wish Chandok luck and hope he wins because he has no reasons to lose in A1 – all cars are the same and most of the drivers are rookies. So he better gear up!!

On the whole, I think the idea is good and we get to watch three high-speed, high-octane, adrenaline pumping grand prix (s / es….whatever the plural is) - F1, A1 and Superbikes.

See you soon. Vrooooom….

Update: My first blog to feature in Desipundit. Thanks Desipundit for the honour.


Varkey said...

Even though all the drivers are not rookies , for one Jos Verstappen of Nederland was a F1 driver. karun als has been doing his rounds in the British Formula-3 circuit.
A1 does provide a more levelled playing field by providing similar kind of cars, the teams are allowed to make limited adbustments to the setup of the car.
Hope Karun is as good a driver as his dad was in the Indian Rallies.

Dinesh said...

@Varkey: Thanks for the correction about the 'Verstappen not being rookie' part. But about 80% of the drivers are rookies in a Grand Prix.

Ravi said...

As far as competition is concerned, yes it will be much more. It will not be like F1 where one team dominates for the entire season. The focus will now shift to nations & drivers more than the big names like Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, BMW, even Jordan....

Accidents will be more because now it is much more dificult to race. Since all the cars are essentially the same, they will behave similarly on turns & straights. This means it will become that much more difficult to overtake. One has to take more risks to overtake as one cannot rely the car itself to give any advantage (all cars being same). Consequently the accidents will be more.

Now I did not have the chance to see the first A1 race but I think I will be following it more keenly than F1 simply because it is more unpredictable.

Dinesh said...

@Ravi: Welcome to the blog. The risks surey have increased and thus the fun. I will also be one of the keen followers of A1 with you. :)

anantha said...

Dinesh: Nice to see the salient points of A1 racing listed out here. But what makes A1 racing different from CART or IRL (or whatever they are called now)? Basically nothing.
I admit the costs of F1 are more. But why does Ferrari (in spite of being a low volume manufacturer) stay in F1? Its only because it is using F1 as a USP! It's all marketing. The FIA and Formula One (under Bernie Ecclestone) have proved absolutely incapable of this in the past few years. FIA can do better and woo more auto companies. Ford dropped out of F1 a few years ago, since it was not viable for them. But Toyota and BMW came into the sport in a big way just about the same time.
Forcing a team to spend less is not the solution to improve a sport and the FIA is not doing the right thing by introducing rules like the "one set of tires" and "one engine for two races" rules to cut costs in F1. You can't use force to acheive a level playing field. That should happen on its own.
F1 costs more, cos the technology costs more and the automobile giants that participate in F1 use the series intend to showcase their technology. Going by that yardstick, it is fine if only a few companies are able to participate and FIA's onus should be get more auto companies to participate. Technology is F1's USP and the sport is not going to gain anything by forcing the teams to cut costs.
It is just like professional sports (apart from auto racing) like the NFL/NBA in the US where teams get a free hand (mostly) to recruit the best players after offering them the best money. Thats the investment, cos by getting the best players in the house, you ensure a sold out arena.
Ya, so why am I telling you all this? Because I think A1 and F1 are two different forms of racing and can co-exist perfectly.

Dinesh said...

@Anti: Welcome to the blog. Thanks for the detailed analysis.
I agree with you on the point of tech being F1's USP. But there is a limit to the improvement of the cars and at a speed which they can go. No land machine can reach supersonic speed, even if it does, its not possible for humans to drive it. Thus, until something is thought about, the sport will get boring in due course of time. The cons of F1 also lie in its predictibility of who the winner will be.
As for getting the best players like in NFL/NBA or football in Britain, F1 and A1 can both get best drivers of their country. You prove your mettle and you represent the country, just like any other sport viz. Cricket, Football worldcup, tennis et al.
I agree that F1 and A1 can co-exist together, no doubt. But F1 might get boring after a point wand A1 may be able to ride that wave comfortably due to its unpredictibility of results.

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Prahalathan said...

A1 is like Amature and F1 is like Pro...
Both are needed. Its only the talented guys that get to race in the F1's better teams. So u cant give all credit to Alonso's success to Renault... there's Fisi too...
There are many such races with same car with emphasis on driver skills.
Narain went through one such too... I guess Formula ford or Formula Jordan...
But being something supported by the Emirates' Richest... A1 will garner more popularity and there's the supprt the nation component too.
A1 will show how our drivers lack...