Realising Ross Brawn’s ‘non-championship’ vision

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

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    Toro Rosso are one of three teams desperate to seal sixth place. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

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    Ross Brawn confesses that he’s a “poacher turned gamekeeper”, yet this won’t dilute the maestro’s vision for future innovation to the long-term betterment of Formula One.

    Forefront at his consideration beyond achieving equality across the grid and the difficult undertaking of appeasing all parties – manufacturers, drivers and fans, is a concept which, if fleshed out adequately, has the potential to become a highlight of the season. Only not.

    Take the following passage.

    The crowd erupts as Robert Kubica is handed the trophy for third place. The Pole stands on the podium at his first race in eight years. It’s safe to remark that Nigel Mansell’s infamous blowout in 1986 is no longer this event’s most iconic moment.

    The South Australian contingent is delighted to witness this sensational story, though even more so to have had Formula One grace the Adelaide Street Circuit once more. To consider this race is non-points paying, imagine the ferocity if they had been on the table!

    Quite fanciful, yet under Liberty’s regime, eminently more foreseeable than erstwhile. Kubica would undoubtedly struggle to cope with the technical demands of the beloved layout, yet it’s the convention of a “non-championship” event which would offer such a fantastical concept the scope to be realised, among many other nuances deemed unsuitable for the calendar proper.

    This “once a year” event would present an opportunity to “try a different format for one race… to vary the format and try something different and evolve it”, Brawn remarked to Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz at this week’s initial pre-season test in Spain.

    Cautious by nature, the Briton is wary of ushering wholesale change without due diligence. “If we went to two races over a weekend and then realised it wasn’t quite what we want, we can’t change it”, is an instance of his aptitude for patience amid rampant calls for imminent upheaval.

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    So which composition would a non-championship event form, at least initially?

    Carlos Sainz of Scuderia Toro Rosso

    Wary of striking a compromise between existing supporters and potential future fans, Brawn’s ideal of “giving them an even better deal and also encourage new enthusiasts”, lends itself to implementing a format refreshing to rusted-on though wavering followers who find the present model stale, while boasting a semblance of the instant gratification craved by the millennial market.

    Consider Twenty20 cricket. A standard contest runs greater than double a Grand Prix’s duration, yet is deemed by many – with the context never beyond doubt – a far more convenient investment of their time.

    When applied to Formula One, the art would be to find a length which allows a compelling narrative to develop without causing channel surfers to tune out.

    Undertaking a notional 45-minute sprint affair is far harder to execute than in theory, potentially undermining its merits. Upcoming and reserve drivers? Dependent on their resonance with fans, especially in a target demographic, this has much potential.

    Retired drivers – Reubens Barrichello, Mark Webber or Mika Hakkinen if you wound the clocks back a little further? Fan-voted drivers? Perhaps infamous for what they didn’t achieve rather that what they… didn’t?

    Take Inoue anybody? As for venues, who wouldn’t wish to see Imola, Turkey or the aforementioned Adelaide tamed once more? A rotational system at fans’ behest is surely the way on each front.

    With Ross Brawn – gamekeeper for Formula One’s future in charge, the possibilities are endless!