Better luck for Leclerc?

It appears that once again we have to improve F1 by ensuring more A-list celebrities, stunts and challenges along with live music performances.

After the bitter disappointment of Bahrain, Ferrari’s new recruit Charles Leclerc will be hoping for a car that remains healthy to the finish line in Shanghai.

After rumours of an MGU failure the car was returned to Maranello for a full investigation, but even before the final result was known the team principal, Mattia Binotto intimated the problem had in fact only affected one cylinder and was an external component, not an internal engine failure.

It was announced that Leclerc will be using the same engine in China this weekend, which is good news, as it will not mean a power unit change. Remember, only three power units are allowed before penalties are applied. Losing one this early could have dire consequences at the season’s end.

One hopes it was an isolated incident and that the young Monegasque will once again be able to prove his worth, even if he disregards team orders. Honestly, if a driver is confident he is quicker than his team-mate and proves it by being almost 10 seconds ahead at the finish, one hopes that those on the pit wall take note and act accordingly.

There is a wide range of opinions regarding the effect of the aerodynamic modifications for the 2019 season. Simplified and larger wings all round were designed to reduce the problem of “dirty air” behind an F1 car and its effect on the car behind, the objective being to allow closer racing and provide greater overtaking opportunities.

Ross Brawn, F1’s technical director, appeared to be satisfied that the new format was having the desired effect. He was reported as saying: “The effect of the new aero rules began to be felt in Melbourne and it was even more apparent in Bahrain.

“The changes were introduced to improve the driver’s ability to race closely and they seem to be working. “I would say we are only seeing the first encouraging signs, and they have made for interesting racing.”

He summed up by adding: “It’s not just down to the new rules, but the show we have seen in the first two races makes me feel optimistic about the rest of the season.”

Australia certainly produced an increase in overtaking over last year and several drivers appeared to be enthused by the results of the new aero regulations. Bahrain produced a good race with action throughout the field, but whether this was down to the new aero package one can only surmise.

Kimi Raikkonen was reported as saying that he could definitely get closer in the disturbed air, although he found corner exits “still tricky” when close.

Not everyone was convinced. Most notably reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton reportedly, said: “It has made no difference, it is still terrible.” Sorry folks, but once again I have to wonder what on earth Liberty Media had in mind when they bought Formula One.

As widely reported, the whole directive of more fan involvement has become the keyword. The latest concept emanating from the USA organisation is yet another example of “where the hell are we going?” Formula One Management have announced they have teamed up with Westbrook Studios and Apollo World Touring “to initiate a new broadcast entertainment initiative”.

It appears that once again we have to improve F1 by ensuring more A-list celebrities, stunts and challenges along with live music performances.

This they are hoping will “bolster fan engagement by providing new outlets for supporters to come together and get involved, while also generating commercial partners with new opportunities to collaborate”.

Westbrook Studios is owned by no less than Will Smith, the film star who was a guest of Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi last year.

The logic behind all this was explained by the sports commercial chief Sean Bratches. He is quoted as saying: “As we continue to build F1’s entertainment and content offering, partnering with Westbrook and the team at Apollo is an amazing opportunity to attract even more star power to F 1 Grands Prix around the world, engaging with an even wider audience.”

So we will have more celebrities, more music and more stunts at the tracks. But I have to ask, will we have more fans? Remember fans?

Those die-hard individuals who traveled far in all sorts of weather to stand by the side of a track in wet grass or mud to listen to the sounds of Grand Prix cars creating that beautiful music.

They would stare fixedly at the true celebrities, the drivers, and in the days of yesteryear inhale the heady aroma of Castrol R. I am so glad that I have experienced this many times. But I worry that it will never occur in the future as the entertainment could mask the car soundtrack and the size of some.

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today in print

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