The dictionary has been exhausted of all adjectives that could be used to describe the bizarre events that have taken place in 2020.
For the past month or so, I have been writing and commenting positively about the current state of Formula One, something which has polarised opinions.
The heated debate that followed has been bogged down in what Formula One used to be like with little to no constructive criticism of the sport, just vague comments requesting that something be done to change things.
Therefore, last week, I created a survey to allow fans to have their say on the future of Formula One.
Today, I can reveal the results of the survey, which show that Formula One’s fanbase is divided when it comes to this contentious subject.
My thanks go to all those who took the time to fill it out.
The 38 participants of the survey were first asked when they started watching Formula One, to which 78.9 per cent of responders said they had their first taste of the sport in the 20th century.
These demographics are of significant interest when it comes to the rating of the 2020 season so far, on a scale of one to ten, with 20 per cent of those who were following Formula One before the turn of the century rating this season as a one – one of the worst seasons they have ever watched.
Contrast this to the average rating of 7.6 given by fans who have only started following Formula One in the last decade, with one responder from this demographic going so far as to rate this season as ten out of ten.
While it must be noted that there were some older fans who rated this season as high as eight, the general trend is that this demographic is more pessimistic about what they have seen this season compared to newer fans, who perhaps are more used to duller races due to that becoming the rule rather than the exception in the turbo-hybrid era.
Looking to the future now and the impending introduction of new regulations, the first of those being the new sporting regulations including the budget cap coming into effect next season.
When asked if the new sporting regulations would lead to improved racing, 63.2 per cent of responders disagreed, choosing to wait until 2022 for the new technical regulations to be introduced, a view that I would be inclined to share given that there will be no major changes to the cars themselves next season apart from the banning of the Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system on the Mercedes.
However, 5.3 per cent did agree that the new sporting regulations would not only improve racing but bring the entire field closer together while 13.2 per cent agreed on improved racing but still thought that Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull would remain as the cream of the crop.
There was a mixed bag of results when it came to the question about the maximum number of races a season should have, with the provisional race calendar for 2021 listing a record-breaking 23 grand prix, raising concern of the impact this would have on the welfare of team personnel.
31.6 per cent of responders thought that a Formula One season should have no more than 20 races, a total last seen in 2017.
13.2 per cent are happy with having a 23-race season while 28 per cent wouldn’t mind seeing one or two more races on the calendar.
It’s not all about quantity though as the quality of the tracks Formula One races at should also be considered, even if there will be no alterations to the calendar for the foreseeable future apart from the addition of new races due to contractual obligations.
47.4 per cent of responders strongly agreed with the statement: ‘The circuits that Formula One races on play as much of a role in whether a race is interesting or not as the cars themselves do.’
Just 10.5 per cent disagreed in some way with the statement, showing that the vast majority of fans understand that sometimes you just have to accept that the characteristics of a circuit are a hinderance to overtaking and deal with it.
The final question of the survey asked what Formula One should focus on most in the future and, while 52.6 per cent thought there should be a focus on aero and 23.7 per cent thought there should be a focus on the power unit, it was great to see 7.9 per cent agreeing with me that the sport needs to focus on meeting its target of going carbon neutral by 2030, regardless of if this impacts racing.
At the end of the day, there are some causes that are more important than sport and the climate emergency is one of them.
Responders were able to give other views which ranged from the sensible ‘continuing to be the pinnacle of technology in motorsport’ to the more outlandish ‘bring back V10’.
Overall, I can’t say that any of these results surprised me, instead providing me with some evidence to back up my hypotheses.
The divisions are clear to see and, while this chapter may have come to an end, I don’t see the book being closed for a while yet.