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Talking Point: A Step Too Far?

NEWS STORY
16/04/2013

Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix has clearly polarised race fans, with some claiming it was a great, exciting race and others insisting that it was manipulated to within an inch of its life.

Indeed, in the first ever Pitpass post-race Podcast, the three contributors - yours truly, Glen Crompton and Mat Coch - have differing views of the race.

In the days when refuelling meant a series of short sprints people complained; now, as the sport become ever more strategic, many fans are still unhappy.

Launching its 2013 range of PZero tyres, Pirelli admitted that to produce tyres that went an entire race distance would be easy. Howeber, the powers that be had ordered them to produce tyres that would deliberately degrade and thereby spice up the action. They obliged.

From the opening race certain teams have complained about the durability of the softer compounds, which as far as the man in the street is concerned is grossly unfair on the Italian tyre manufacturer. It was given a remit and it has delivered.

Ignoring the situation in Malaysia, which saw the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers ordered to hold station, in China things got worse still. Following the first half-hour of non-action on Friday morning, for a while on Saturday afternoon it looked as if their might be no action in the final phase of qualifying, traditionally one of the most exciting parts of the weekend.

At one stage in the race Felipe Massa asked what was happening, the Brazilian clearly as baffled by the various strategies as the rest of us. Jenson Button asked if he was allowed to fight, whilst Sebastian Vettel was told not to waste time holding off Fernando Alonso.

Previously, Mark Webber, had compared the current situation to WWF (wrestling), whilst Kimi Raikkonen, one of the sport's true ten-tenths racers, when asked how he feels about this particular form of F1 replied: "It makes no difference, because this is what we have and you'd better like it or do something else."

Despite the dire warnings, in the final laps of the race, Vettel showed us what the soft tyres were really capable of, the three fastest laps of the entire race being set in the final laps by drivers on the option rubber.

In essence, Formula One 2013 is about managing one's equipment as opposed to racing, and a lot of people feel they are being short-changed.

We'll ignore, for now, the fact that the DRS zones made overtaking too easy, we'll even ignore the ongoing telemetry problems that threatened to turn the race result on its head, had (eight!) drivers been punished for using DRS in a yellow flag zone, but we cannot ignore the fact that the sport is in danger of losing fans as it becomes too strategic and too reliant on conserving the car as opposed to racing. But what do you think?

Chris Balfe
Editor

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