x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Motorsport could do with some reforms

Pole Position Motorsport has to buck up its ideas if it wants to keep fans enthralled.

What if? The world of Formula One and MotoGP, both of which sit at the highest levels of motorsport, is all about innovation. Manufacturers and professional race teams with astronomical budgets employ some of the world's cleverest engineers to set about building a prototype racing car or motorcycle that has to meet stringent technical rules.

The art of the design engineer is to enable his team to build a faster machine than their competitors. The professional drivers and riders the teams employ to operate the controls on the race track are so expert at what they do, having typically spent 10 to 15 years training, that they can take the machinery up to its limit, and maintain lap times to within a couple of tenths of a second lap after lap.

Remarkably, after all this expense and innovation, with engineers having come up with totally different chassis designs, using engines from different manufacturers and custom-designed gearboxes, the resulting machinery performs almost identically. It's got to the stage now in Formula One that the small differences in performance of the top teams is purely down to aerodynamic design. So in turn, the F1 sporting body is having to innovate and have given the drivers "go faster" buttons to help spice things up a bit to keep the viewers awake in the form of drag reduction systems (DRS) and kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS). As if that wasn't enough, they also make the car use tyres that wear out at different rates.

There are a couple of innovations I would like to see introduced and I invite you to comment on what you would like to see. Here's a couple of mine:

Firstly, what really is the point of qualifying sessions? All it does is put the fastest drivers at the front of the starting grid and puts the slower ones at the back. Not good. How many times have we seen a race series ruined because the guy at the front of the grid, who has the fastest car, has the easiest race? Nope, I'm still not convinced of this tradition; for me I'd offer points for best qualifying practice times but then have a completely random grid.

Secondly, I am a great enthusiast of motorcycle racing, where competition is also fierce. The main thing spectators love about motorcycle racing is the expertise of the riders, especially demonstrated when they overtake each other. It nearly always appears to be clean, precise and very respectful. And do you know why there is often a big difference between the smooth overtaking of the rider and the clumsy, lunging style of the driver?

Mirrors. Yes, for me the difference is night and day. I propose to take mirrors off racing cars. This would have a major change on the way in which drivers behave on track.

And last of all let's put passengers in race cars; well, at least in GT, touring and sports cars. Why not? It would help the drivers find someone to help pay the bills, and would offer the paying passenger the most amazing opportunity to experience the race.

Before you laugh too much, remember that we already do this in rallying and motorcycle sidecar racing. Form an orderly queue.

Barry Hope is a director of GulfSport Racing, which is hoping to find an Arab F1 driver through the FG1000 race series. Pole Position appears every week in Motoring. Join the UAE racing community online at www.gulf-sport.com or on Facebook at Gulfsport Racing.