Talking Point: Is F1 alienating its customers, the fans?


Twice, in the last couple of days, I have asked the question, "is it just me?".

The first time referred to a member's avatar on the Pitpass forum, while the second related to the Hungarian GP weekend and subsequent fall-out.

In both cases, I am assured that no, it is not just me.

I won't bore you with the avatar, however, as for the Hungarian GP weekend, it seems that I am most definitely not alone in feeling the way I do.

There were times during the course of the weekend, when I found myself no longer caring what happened, as the espionage/sabotage/qualifying nonsense finally took its toll.

Yes, the Hungarian GP was one of the busiest - in terms of traffic - in the history of the site, but is this due to the "fantastic race" we witnessed - according to some sections of the media - or the fact that F1 is rapidly becoming just another 'soap opera', albeit with better sets, a bigger budget and (for the most part) more attractive and believable stars and characters.

Fact is, I don't watch soap operas, I avoid them like the plague, and F1 is rapidly becoming the 'Dallas', the 'Dynasty' of the new millennium.

All very well some might say, but the fact is that while the current shenanigans might be attracting new fans, some of the die-hards are clearly growing utterly sick of the whole thing. If someone, somewhere were to be able to come up with an alternative, it is likely that many F1 fans would make the switch. Sadly, at this moment in time, there is nothing on the horizon. That said, if the Americans were to get their act together, the 'Pinnacle of Motorsport' could (deservedly) find itself under pressure. Bernie panicked when Nigel Mansell headed out west in '93, the right format, the right names and the right locations could get Mr E, and his new pals at CVC, all hot and bothered again.

On Monday morning, I received the following e-mail from Pitpass reader James Delloyde, rest assured it is not the only e-mail I have received on this subject expressing similar feelings.

James writes:

After watching yesterday's race and listening to all of the nonsense of the last couple of weeks, or is it months now, I went to bed last night completely wound up, fuming and determined to have a good rant at someone, or even everyone, about the mess they are making of my beloved sport.

However, this morning I woke up feeling refreshed, calm and controlled. After my first cup of tea I remembered what the horrible nagging thought was at the back of my mind, F1. After my second cup of tea I realised that to be perfectly honest, I just don't care about it anymore. My 40 year love affair with F1 is now over, it has turned into the nasty bitter mistress that seems determined to make me miserable at every opportunity it can, to waste my time and money when I should be spending both on my family, determined to embarrass me at work, during dinner parties or down the pub. The sport that I was proud to be knowledgeable about and could talk for hours about, people would ask questions and get excited at my enthusiasm and on most occasions would then vow to watch the next televised race to see what I was so in love with. All of these friends and colleagues are now, justifiably, ridiculing current Formula 1.

I will not be watching any more TV coverage (just based on the crap commentary and very poor coverage I should have switched off years ago) nor buying any more F1 magazines or DVD's, and sadly I will not be visiting any more F1 web sites. I say sadly because yours is an exceptional site, I looked forward to reading your comments and the articles by the good Doctor. I will miss Pitpass but I will not miss the news that you now report.

I feel that maybe I should write to Max, Ron, Jean, Flav', Bernie et al and express my disgust at the rapidity of F1's descent down the toilet and all of the money they take out of the sport without giving anything back, the rule changes to save money that actually do the opposite, more rule changes to make the "show" more exciting and again they have the opposite effect. A wonderfully exciting sport has been reduced to a stage managed show with the ringmasters changing the rules or imposing penalties to keep the show alive until the final race of the season. But to use a phrase from TV's Catherine Tate "I just ain't bovvered". I am now finished with it all, this 'mistress' has been dumped.

The earlier mention rant is no longer there, I am disappointed and disillusioned. I feel empty."

As I said, this is not the first such e-mail I have received expressing similar discontent.

Now, I am sure that in a few months, James will be back, along with the rest of the 'dissatisfied customers', after all, in the wake of Austria 2002 and Indianapolis 2005 many fans vowed that they'd "had enough" and have no doubt been lured back, but can the sport continue alienating its fans (its customers) in this way?

We would very much like to hear your thoughts on the current state of F1. We don't want to go into the rights, wrongs and wherefores of the espionage saga or indeed the nonsense in Hungary, what we do want to know however, is whether the politics, the squabbles and the appeals are damaging your enjoyment of the sport. Are you fearful that F1 is heading in the wrong direction, do you feel alienated, let down by the sport.

Chris Balfe

To send your thoughts, click here

Note: Please include your full name - without a full valid name we will not publish your entry.

Peter Wells - Cape Town, South Africa

My stomach turned on Saturday afternoon and I was nearly ill come end of the race on Sunday. Why I put myself thru all of this I don't know - must have masochistic tendencies.

All said and done I too have had enough - my 40 year love affair with F1 is heading for the trash heap. Bernie and Mr Max (full of my own sense of self importance) Mosley clearly prioritise their own needs ahead of the sport and the fans who pay for it's roll out. Incompetence is bred by incompetents.

What a farce this weekend was. And the stewards clearly have also lost the plot. I have not in any way favoured Lewis over Fernando until now. If Ron is to be believed why should FA not have been allowed to take the opportunity of timing his pit exit for a clear lap - it was his right - LH cocked it so tuff.

Get rid of the Gizmo's - bring back the big fat slicks and put both Bernie and Max out to pasture - and by the way I am sick to the teeth of all this pitstop strategy garbage - it's fine watching on the box but the poor live spectators probably never have any clue as to who is where and when. Simple straightforward one hour shoot out practice - fastest in the hour takes it. Stunning exciting and understandable - I don't want to wait until 20 laps into the race to find out who was on what fuel load strategy the day before.

As a firm believer in the conspiracy theory - my mind is running wild. Enough I say enough !!!!!!!! Moto GP - now that is another matter.

Peter Mann

As a long standing punter of F1 who invests virtually zero money in any aspect of the sport (when Denis Jenkinson was around, Motor Sport magazine was to be savoured every month, and, briefly, too when he wrote for Autosport), my 'contact' is through Pitpass, the Daily Telegraph, The Times, Sunday Times, BBC Radio 5 Live and the TV coverage of the races.

As it happens, I don't have a TV, so I go to a friend's house to watch the races and rely on the BBC Radio 5 coverage of qualifying plus the 'Official F1 website' which has live timing, so a combination of the excellent Radio 5 commentators (Murray Walker was hopeless, by the way) and the live timing is a pretty good way of enjoying qualifying. The Radio 5 Friday night pre-race half hour programme is also worth listening to and the quality of the F1 coverage in my choice of papers is also excellent, largely because the reporters are good writers.

What is truly hopeless is the TV coverage - with the exception of Martin Brundle. While the producers may be to blame for much of what we see, and for James Allen's insistence on recounting what's happened in the race after every ad break, as the main commentator, he is the one who should be generating excitement through lively, accurate descriptions of what is happening before our very eyes.

And while circuits like Monaco and Hungary may make overtaking difficult - but, surely not impossible - the fact that driver A has got driver B right on his tail is putting a lot of pressure on both of them not to make a mistake which can be conveyed by a good commentator and thus make us feel that we're watching a great race. Last Sunday, not only did we have an ill-at-ease Demon Hill to contend with, but, yet again, James Allen blathering about anything except what was going on in front of us. Had we not had the pictures to show otherwise, Hamilton and Raikkonen, Heidfield and Alonso might well have been out for a Sunday afternoon drive rather than driving F1 cars at racing speeds.

Bringing back Murray Walker is not an option - his very poor performance at the German GP on Radio 5 (in the qualifying session he couldn't remember the name of car Anthony Davidson was driving!) proved that he made the right decision to retire when he did - but I cannot believe that ITV cannot find a commentator with real talent to replace James Allen.

Jim Dalton

Our Monday morning coffee shop meeting in Southern California was surprisingly quiet about F1. We mainly talked about IRL and Sprint Cars. One of the coffeeholic's daughter was formerly Paul Stoddart's personal secretary and a good friend of Alonso, but he thought F1 was toast in this country and said he would not go to a GP race again, this coming from a person who travels around the globe and catches 3 races a year. He and I both own Ferraris so we have an interest in the races but lately every thing seems flat. It is like the bean counters and lawyers have taken over the scene and spoiled the game.

Michael Sheppard - Solihull

There is welcome for James and all the other motor racing enthusiasts like him at A1GP. Make a diary note to be at Brands Hatch on 4th May 2008.

Further, has James been to Le Mans yet? Has he been to either one of the Goodwood meetings for example?

There is so much more to motor racing than just F1.

It would be a shame if James and others like him turned their backs on our sport for the sake of disatisfaction with F1.

William Wilgus - Silver Springs, FL USA

The biggest problem with F1 is the impossibility of passing. Get rid of the front & rear wings!

Qualifying would be improved if there were an additional qualifying period for the top five of what is now Qualy 3.

Mark James

Yes, this sport I used to love is certainly kicking me in the belly a bit too much for my own good.

It has become a contrived and ridiculous "sport" and I cannot see how it will change. Your note that another series would take the real fans away is spot on.

Lets imagine that the GPWC was not a stillborn money wrangling machine but a real idea for the manufacturers to have the pinnacle of racing. They would have left out the Williams, Jordan and Saubers of the world to go and form the real F1. We could have races which would be less expensive than F1 and more like the GP2/Champ car castings yet with bespoke and individual chassis.

GPWC would be running 1.1l turbo diesel, electro-regenerative and carbon neutral cars for squillions of dollars on huge and boring racetracks with no spectators to watch.

The politicking is now getting beyond silly too.

I watched the 1986 Spanish GP last night and was wondering where it all went wrong. It was a case of "there you go lads, 195 litres of fuel. Get going and see who can drive 200 miles the fastest." Why we needed fuel stops I do not know. Tyre stops, yes, why not if you need them for safety reasons.

Hopefully this season will be rock bottom and we will start to get better again…but with politics running the show, rather than sportsmanship and the thrill of competition I will not old my breath...

Alapan - Cape Town

To be honest, I don't have a problem with Alonso getting a penalty - after all, blocking another competitor from performing is anti-competitive, regardless of whether it was your team mate or not. Many, on various forums have raised the fact that it is similar to MS' antics at Monaco last year, except off course MS' actions affected more than just one competitor. What I do find amusing though, is that MS stalled his car, and hence could raise some sort of excuse .... something Alonso didn't, a lack of experience perhaps :P

But the problem with the weekend was not the politics - it was the racing on the track; or rather the lack of it. The fact of the matter is, F1 was let down not only by the antics of Alonso and Hamilton (which was really childish, more than anything else) but also the complete lack of actual racing on the track. Whether it was Massa stuck behind Sato or Alonso stuck behind Ralf or Kimi stuck behind Hamilton, there was next to no on track action. Well there was fisi bumping Davidson off the track, so can't say that there was no action on the track!

Is it because of regulations - maybe; but we have also had good races this year; two weeks ago, Alonso chased down Massa and passed him, on track. Bahrain, Britain and France were not bad races either! F1 is not let down by politics as much as the lack of racing on the track. It is high time we only race on tracks where racing can take place ... if we are not going back to cars of yesteryear because of safety or whatever other reasons, let us just go to tracks where we can actually race instead of having high speed processions.

Paul Humphryes

Yep - i'm getting fed up with F1.

I agree with the letter published.

The action should be on the track not the court rooms. Trying to tangle up a rival team who's got a faster car than you in the courts is pathetic.

The rule changes should encourage racing and overtaking. Less aero grip from little wings etc, more mechanical grip maybe, return to ground effect maybe

Drivers should be able to battle for position without getting dragged in front of the officials or drive thru penalty if they dare to challenge.

3rd phase of qualifying (infamous fuel burn) is rubbish - either make it the same as previous 2 sessions, or one lap shoot out - I'm not fussed about fuel levels.

At the circuit it would be nice to get close to teams, cars, drivers without having to be "celeb".

I should be able to buy a single ticket for the Friday of the GP weekend at Silverstone not have to stump up nearly £100 for a Friday family ticket or a weekend ticket.

A circuit's appearance on the calender should be down to its ability to provide good exciting racing and not how shiny it is and how much money they'll stump up.

Tom Kalinosky - Chester, CT, USA

I'm down on F1 today, man. I think what happened in Hungary totally stinks. It crosses into a gray area on what teams can / can't do to discipline their drivers. No one seems to be talking much about how Hamilton apparently started the whole thing by disobeying team orders, and there does not seem to be any negative consequence for him right now. I wonder how far the drivers contracts go in outlining the team orders, and the consequences of not following them.

It sure doesn't seem like track stewards should have the authority to overturn team orders. I'm sure there's a limit at which they should, but we're still finding out where that limit is. Also, a governance issue: why doesn't F1 or FIA have people at each race to ensure appropriate / consistent penalties instead of leaving it up to track officials? I think the Hun - bore - o - ring should be penalized, and not go back there. Boooooo - ring!

How in the world can track stewards get away with this? Are there no checks and balances? Do Bernie and Max watch with this unfold with their tumbs up their @$$e$?

Ohhh.. poor Lewis! He's had such a tough year..... all the challenges, all the stress, in only his first year in F1! Let's all feel so sorry for our little pet and step in and make sure he's OK. Poor little boy.....

I hope Ron Dennis has taken Little Lewis out to the wood shed and straightened him out!

Nigel Giddons

Don't like politics, shenanigans, rule bending and spying, etc in F1? What sport have these "fans" been watching for the past 30 years or so? We've had Ron Dennis and Frank Williams years ago find mechanics from other teams in their garage, under their cars in the middle of the night. I've seen Pironi screw over Villeneuve, Senna take out Prost, Prost take out Senna, Micheal blatantly fail to take out Villeneuve. Ferrari got skirts banned, the Garagista's got Turbo's wacked. Bernie and Max's "Night of the Knives", stuffing the FISA and running off with the whole shooting match. This is F1. This is the pinnacle of the sport and business. There's no room for romantic, lilly livered notions of fair play. Please don't reference Hawthorn, Moss or Stewarts approach. Fair game is what it is now and has always been for many a decade. Maybe the "Fans" prefer we dispense with HANS and go back to leather hats and bow ties. Gain an advantage wherever it can be found and may the best team win. I for one am happy that today's championship is being fought out by two drivers who have the same ruthless determination to win as so many of those before them. This is F1. I just hope they are still fuming with each other going into turn 1 at Interlagos. It's a classic season and if it's in such a bad state how come your site has had more traffic than ever? You know I remember being in the pub in the 80's and I'll be buggered if I admitted watching Dallas... but it was a great show wasn't it?

Mark Newman

Yes, the sport is alienating its fans, because it seems that the 'sport' is no longer any such thing. Rather, it is becoming more the monster that was always being restrained in a corner. The monster being one of power, espionage, bickering, and backbiting. Forget the racing, that is now a sideshow, or indeed a procession on many weekends. Money rules, and money is power. When money is the power and the sport becomes second place, then the corruption has achieved its aim. It is no longer a sport, similiar to football, which has become the overseas investment fund for bored entrepeneurs. And of course now we have 24 hour media, no-one of any notoriety can even sigh, without some such connotation being drawn...back to basics anyone...?

I'm going to start watching crown green bowling, where the most scandal is who changed the weight bias stickers on the bowls....thereby gaining an unsporting advantage...oh dear...!!

Carlos Villalobos - Santiago, Chile

It is exactly one year since I got fed up with F1. The race before Hungary last year was the last I paid for to watch. After that I cancelled my subscription. Now I read your race report and IF there is something interesting I see that lap in open TV.

There is so much supply of good racing between ALMS, Grand AM, Champ Car and MotoGP, despite the latter change to 800 cc bikes and the introduction of Traction control.

The best races are definitively Champ Cars one, in spite of the reduced field, but they are competitive racing, beautiful venues (i.e. Mont Tremblant). Right now I think the only people who watches F1 on TV are the ones who do not know the history of the sport or simply do not care about it. No one who knows about Brambilia, Ascari, Fangio, Clark, Villeneuve and Senna can survive watch an entire race. The best thing is that now I have a better marriage because of it. I have more time to spend with my wife.

Last thought: If Tony George and the guys of Champ Car stop thinking with the lower parts of their bodies and get reunited, they could kill F1 in 10 years, but that won'be happening. Bernard will use his money to keep them apart.

Victor Rad - Romania

I'm trying to talk from the perspective of someone that viewed the race from one of the grandstands on the main straight. It was a strange moment on Saturday in the pits, but I'm keeping my opinion at bay on this one because I didn't have access to the team radio. But, even though I'm a decided fan of the Renault team, I sympathize on the penalty matter with McLaren, and say that it was exxagerated. Both in penalty terms, and in terms of the media's coverage of the affair.

It's a matter of exploiting just about every weakness that can be possibly spotted in order to create the headline every journalist is looking for. Sometimes, this means piecing together stuff that goes together as logically as 1+1=3, for example. Starting from some facts and turning everything in a few columns of complete nonsense. But it's even worse when that nonsense is turned against a driver or a team, because this does nothing to raise the confidence levels. And a dent in a driver's confidence can be disastrous to his on-track performance and care for the car, which is mandatory now that the long-life engine rules are in place.

It's also time to talk about stupid regulations that destroy the show for everyone in the grandstands and in front of the TV. In the entire weekend I spent at the Hungaroring, the most interesting moments were the GP2 crash in the feature race and the battles in the historic GP race. The only sensation from the F1 race that is really left for the fans is the cars' noise, 22 cars thundering past the grandstand at full throttle at the start, but then, due to the regulations, they spend the rest of the afternoon chasing each other, but unable to overtake each other unless they're on different strategies or the weather makes up its mind and throws a sprinkle of rain on the track. I don't understand why the FIA thinks that complicating the aerodynamics to the utmost degree (caused by the wing regulations) will encourage overtaking. It just produces snore-fests, and added to that, the drivers can't really push to their limit because they have to look after their engines. Races have generally dulled down ever since the one-race and then two-race engine rules have been introduced. And sometimes, a problem on various parts of the cars causes the situation to collapse into farces like Indy 2005. The FIA is interfering too much in the regulations without even considering the consequences that their actions might have. Their goals are what they would want to see happen, but what they're doing with the rules is causing the show to vanish, little by little.

I'm too hooked up to F1 to quit it just like that, after scandals like this, but I'm really sorry to see a great motorsport being devastated by the people managing it and who are supposed to maintain it and keep it entertaining. The high-level interferences have to stop. And they have to stop now, or F1 will be going down the drain faster than you can say "Mosley and Ecclestone".

Wessel van Niekerk

I thought Alonso pulled the most brilliant tactical move over Hamilton on Saturday. Then I woke up to hear that he has been penalised for staying in the pit lane. What a load of B.S. If any action was to have been take it must have come from McLaren and not no Stewards. It is an internal McLaren thing that has nothing to do with any other team. I was so disgusted and didn't want to watch the race! Only the persistence of my sons got me to watch and what a present Hamilton got. Winning after the true pole sitter was discriminated against in the most cruel manner imaginable! It is not good for F1 and not good for the fans. Maybe it is time for Bernie to go so we can get fresh young blood in to run the business. Same for Max. Time to go gents. You have screwed things up long enough. To Ron Dennis- Sort out your team and go win the W D C. I have been a McLaren fan for ever and will always be one but get things organised and lets get on with it. If you ask my opinion, let Hamilton go to Ferrari and stick with Alonso for he is for real.

Nigel Robertson

The thing I find most difficult is the secrecy. If I knew what happened I could cope, but the uncertainty and the feeling that people may be lying to us is the big turn-off. It's insulting. For example, my opinion of Lewis would be affected by knowing whether he did or didn't suggest to a steward that they intervene, but I don't know. Why can't the steward just tell us? Which steward was it, has he been asked, and what did he say? Why does it have to be a secret?

Ron talks to the media about things that are already common knowledge but he won't say things simply and directly, it's all vague generalities after a lot of umming and erring, giving us the impression he is trying to hide something. McLaren press releases ask us to believe Lewis said "whilst". Lewis' PR training has taught him to say he's not angry when he is. Non-one has said directly whether Fernando's engineer's countdown was at 0 or 10 when the lollipop went up - something that would make a lot of difference to our understanding. Petty dishonesty and hiding the truth is just so *normal* in F1.

If we'd had a clear picture things might not have looked so bad. Lewis did not understand the whole picture of giving Fernando the *extra* lap of fuel-burning in exchange for his extra lap of fuel in the first stint. He thought it would be OK if they both got an extra lap. Or did he? Why don't we know? Fernando's blocking now looks less like cheating and more like revenge. If you change the context it can all look quite different; I initially found Ron being told to go spinning quite amusing, he's a powerful slightly pompous guy being outageously insulted by a 22-year-old who has spectacularly lost his temper. I think he's big enough to take it. But now in the context of all the secrecy it's become a nasty exchange.

And of course there is the FIA. If they had stayed out of it McLaren could have managed it, Fernando would have had pole, and the victory, he'd be leading the championship and would have felt less bad about it all. Lewis would have had second place and a punishment suited to his disobedience. The confiscation of manufacturer points looks unjustified - if Fernando had left on time Lewis could have got round easily. With this and the referrall to the Court of Appeal issue there is the feeling, like last year, that the governing body is trying to give Ferrari the championship. McLaren apparently dare not appeal for fear that the FIA will take the opportunity to give Ferrari an even bigger leg-up.

Ferrari's behaviour is also suspect, with wild claims that McLaren are only leading because of The Dossier, deceitful leaks, and exaggerated outrage that one suspects is for competitive advantage off the track. Flav is saying something similar, but based purely on speculation and he is a man with a grudge about Fernando. It just feels dishonest and hypocritical.

So just stop insulting us, F1, with lies and secrets. Tell us the unvarnished truth even if short term it may seem unattatractive. It shouldn't be too much to ask.

Andrew Fuller - Godalming, Surrey

This is more about the 'soap opera' really. I think Hamilton behaved quite cynically in his sub Tony Blair / Princess Diana interview on ITV. I'm talking about the reference to 'Cool Runnings' where the hard done by Jamaican bob sled team learns to 'rise above it'. Now we know what we know it seems a touch nauseating wouldn't you say? I think next time we have a situation like this we may see a better effort at a tear in the eye!

German Salazar - Phoenix, Arizona USA

As a Grand Prix fan since 1971, I have to say that I've felt myself "out in the cold" for a few years. My GP interest cooled as the money men and the techno wizards took over from car men and drivers. Think of Rob Walker, Colin Chapman, Enzo Ferrari, Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Nikki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve - how do they compare to the current crop? Would you rather have dinner with Flavio, Ron and Kimi or with any of the above?

The same holds for the cars, which today seem to be programmed more than driven and have frankly become as ugly as one could imagine a race car to be. Oh the wonders of technology. Couldn't the boffins stick to making computers and cell phones? I'm as likely to watch NASCAR as I am to skydive nude into a church picnic, but I'll give them credit for this: they've kept the technology race well in hand so that their fans still find the cars relatable. Likewise, the drivers understand that contact with their fans is vital.

Your site is my remaining link to what was once a great joy in my life; I read it daily and will continue to do so. However, GP racing is something I no longer discuss with friends and family and having moved recently, my new acquaintances neither have nor will have any idea of my former passion for it because as your first correspondent observed, making apologies for this bunch is not something I feel inclined to do.

Zvonimir Mahecic - Zagreb, Croatia

I've been watching F1 from 1972-73 season and I can confirm the opinion of many F1 fans: F1 today is absolutely disgusting affair. For me all the trouble started with the introduction of all those tecnological gadgets but it did not start yesterday. It is the process which, if my memory serves me well started at the beginning of the 90'. I remember the race in Mexico in about that time when suddenly Senna and his McLaren – combination by then wery hard, but still possibly, to be beatten - were left 30-40 secs behind both Mansell and Patrese. Then beggining of the sad 94. season when Senna simply could not catch Benneton whatever he tried. More and more I was listenenig to the explanations of the "knowledgable" reportes and commentators about F1 being not only competition of the individual drivers but more importantly teams, big companies and technologies (sic!). Well, the sad state of affairs we have today is the result of these attempts and explanations. It brought me in the mid 90' to switch completely to watching Indy Car series. What a time it was! Ten drivers at least every race had a chance for winning! Many of my friends argued at that time that Indy Car is not so sofisticated and improved, and their drivers were second league compared to the F1. Maybe true, but it was what I, as a spectator and follower wanted to se, competition, overtaking, interesting races until the end! Then the auto sport politics and selfish interest destroyed the Indy Car series in order to save sacrosanct F1. (More or les the same happened to DTM.) Today, there is nothing more left to be watched by for real auto sport fans! Is there any possibility to change the situation? I doubt because to much interest is involved. But if there is, we have to make it again the competition of the individual drivers, abolish all sort of gadgets that cost too much for the avarege F1 team and destroy every possibility of racing. This is my short and humble opinion. Like many other F1 fans I could spend hours talking and whinning about the present state of affairs.

Jeff Kay - Chciago, IL, USA

I am an American fan of F1. I was a fan of F1 before the USGP, and I will still keep up on it now that we no longer have a race. I could care less about the political soap opera going on, I'm loosing interest because Honda keeps getting worse and worse.

Richard Norton - Australia

I am excited and contented in relation to what is happening in F1 at the moment. This year, apart from Hungary, the racing has been pretty good, we have 4 drivers looking to be a chance at being champion where in the recent past schumi would already have taken the prize by now. We have new exciting young drivers, and I don't just mean Hamilton. Look how Kubica is racing, look at Rosberg, look at Sutil, all doing very good jobs. OK, so the coverage of the race is rubbish, I've emailed you before on this point, I am in Australia, so every race is delayed except our own, but I have gotten on with life now. If it is too late I video tape it and get up at 6am to watch it Monday morning, it doesn't matter to me anymore that it 'must be live'.

My opinion is that McLaren should have been penalised for having and using information passed from Stepney to Coughlan. If Ron is so darn impeccable, he should have advised Jean Todt immediately what was happening, not use the information 'as a whistle blower'. But, it is not the end of the world. Ferrari are bigger than McLaren, always have been, always will be. If McLaren win this year, it won't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I have not always been a Ferrari Fan. From 1980 to 1998 I was a massive Williams fan, loved their drivers, still love Sir Frank, but Schumi was in a red car, what could I do?

Lewis Hamilton has let his good image fall very far over the last weekend. From all accounts of what I have read and understand, the fault of the qualifying incident lays at his feet alone. I can totally understand Fernando blocking him, after all Lewis did not follow team instructions. I think Fernando should have been sent to the back of the grid for doing it, a-la schumi in Monaco, but I totally understand why he did it, does that make sense? I do not think McLaren should have lost their constructors points, although I do not care for McLaren, that is to say I do not wish them harm physically, just don't care if they win or lose. I care for Rubens Barrichello, I hope he wins many more races in his career, just not in a Honda. I hold contempt for Honda, I hope they never win a race. They cheat time and time again, Nick Fry should be a politician.

I have rambled on but my enjoyment of Formula 1 far outweighs the current issues, so I will be staying an avid viewer and reader. It is 10.00pm over here in Oz, my wife and children are tucked in bed, I get up for work in 7 hours yet I am typing this email. I love Formula 1, have done since I was 10 and my dad let me stay up until 11pm to watch Alan Jones win the world championship, and I believe I will still love it when I have my grandkids sitting on my knee watching another Australian win.

Steve Brandon - Indianapolis USA

I love the cars, and their technology. I have the utmost respect for the drivers, but let me some it up this way, everything else about F1 stinks, sucks, or whatever expletive you care to use.

Rob Huntley - Toronto, Canada

I have to agree with you and many of your readers, this is not the F1 I fell in love with and have followed religiously for more than a decade. To say I was a fanatic would be an understatement in many people's eyes but even I am starting to question how much devotion I should have to something that gives back nothing but frustration and disappointment.

F1 may have reached its zenith in terms of popularity with the masses in the past twenty years or so but it sold its soul to achieve it. Teams and drivers are not battling on the track but in courtrooms where political agility is more important than race craft. Its a sad state of affairs and the responsibility lies with a small cabal of individuals.

First and foremost in my mind Bernie Eccelstone is responsible for much of the current mess. While he should rightly be credited with building the sport into a global phenomenon it has stagnated under his direction. New media such as the internet have been ignored, fan accessibility has been scoffed at and TV coverage is outdated. If it were not for the failings of other open-wheel series, F1 would be in worse shape.

Second, Jean-Marie Balestre. It was on his watch that the dangerous behavior of drivers like Senna started. Balestre should have stepped in and punished Ayrton severely for the stunts he pulled on the track. To have done nothing sent a dangerous message to the drivers that it was acceptable and today it has become common practice. It was during the late 80's that the sport supposedly became professional which seems to be synonymous with ruthless.

Third, Max Mosley deserves a good heaping of blame for the current state of affairs. Max has tinkered with the sport for more than a decade, changing rules, inconsistently governing the sport and its drivers, and playing politics. If Max spent as much time exploring real solutions as he does reminding others of his political power perhaps F1 wouldn't be the rudderless ship it is today. How many more changes should teams and fans endure before Max gets it right? I won't even attempt to address the inadequate job the FIA President has done in curbing the dangerous on track antics of drivers in the past decade. Flipping another driver the bird is punished but running a driver onto the grass is acceptable? Come on!

Finally, ITV should stand up and take a bow. Their constant pandering to the masses and biased sensationalism only makes things worse. If you could at least show some knowledge of the sport, your misguided hyper-enthusiasm for Hamilton could be forgiven. But to combine that with sheer ignorance is a disgrace. Try learning about the sport itself instead of rewriting history.

This sport is only surviving on its past achievements and the faith of its fans that things will improve. If the season ends in political maneuvering by Ferrari or the FIA that in any way affects the outcome of the results on the track (arguably they already have) a lot of fans are going to leave for good. It sounds like many already have. Then its just a matter of time before the whole thing grinds to a halt on the side of the road like a broken down car you loved but can't afford to
keep running any longer. Maybe its time to look for something new.

Sorry, it became a bit of a rant, but it felt good. Thanks for not giving us the corporate whitewash with this and so many other things in F1.

Eric Mogensen - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

I am one of the many Pitpass readers who have over the years vowed to walk away from F1 and then slunk back for more abuse. There is always the hope things will get better, and then they don't.

The litany of unsporting (or just plain boring) events in F1 over the past few decades is long and tedious. None of them, however, have plumbed the depths of this season. Spying, cat fights within teams, legal proceedings, and media manipulation are the new passtimes. Driving cars round and round behind one another seems almost incidental to the whole process. And that is a very great shame because the title fight thus far has actually interesting.

I may still care about racing but as many other readers have noted, the flame has largely been extinguished by the people who run the show. And that show has become more Coronation Street than The Big Show from times past. Will I watch the remainder of the season? If it's convenient. Maybe. Or not. Treat people cynically and you shall reap what you sow.

It may very well be more cost-effective to skip racing altogether and televise the teams, their sponsors, their managers, their lawyers and accountants duking it out in a board room, or perhaps a boxing ring. That's what seems to engage their interest, they forgot about race fans a very long time ago.

It remains to be seen if the business - it certainly is no sport - will be able to recover from this season, one that has almost all the players in an apparent race to the bottom. It makes professional cycling look clean and wholesome.

Rick Wickel

Man, I don't get sick of the squabbling. As a matter of fact, I love the soap opera of the sport. I'm a huge fan of American sports, specifically the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL. I have friends that played professional baseball and I was significant through high school. However, other than the Cowboys nothing has grabbed me like F1. I love the passion of the fights. To me sport is supposed to have that. What I don't like is the transparent rules and the crapping on the fans.

When Kimi lost the Nurburgring in 2005 it was crushing to me. I still can't believe he didn't take the championship that year. However, when they later changed the rules to include tire changing during the season, I was confused and hurt. I don't like how things change in the middle of the season. Like I think Alonso acted on Hamilton, but I think the punishment was compiled with Stepneygate. The money flows like water in F1 but no one knows the rules. Heck the two biggest teams within 3 years made similar mistakes in Canada. Montoya was black flagged from the lead for pitting during the caution and then running the red. This year Massa does it. What was up with Hamilton running around the Ring only to be prepared to change tires before everyone else? When did this rule come into effect?

Then you have the debacle of 2005 Indy. Man that was crushing from the stands. Heck, we were on the road on our way back to Texas within 35 laps. Really I still blame that on Toyota, but some agreement should have been done that didn't sacrifice Ferrari and Bridgestone for being prepared. Now Ecclestone cancels our race. Wow. I understand corporations have to make a buck. Hell, I live in America. That is all that is important. Right? However, there are great circuits out there that aren't utilized because they aren't next to the airport or haven't given Bernie 30 million.

I'll take the soap opera. This is the only sport that I know all of the characters other than the players on the field. I love the passion. However, give us a great race and stick to the rules.

John Lane

It is always interesting to read peoples opinions, especially when their perspective is relatively short from a time perspective. Having had the benefit of being involved in F1 in a small way back in the late 70's and early 80's and having had one of the all time greats as one of my best friends, I tend to have a different perspective. I have been a rabid fan for 35 years and remember not only the "good old days" but some of the "bad old days".

Yes there is a great deal of conflict, rumor, scandal, and aggravation that we, as fans, have to put up with today. But it really is no more than we had to put up with 25 to 30 years ago. The time frame of that wonderful (said with tongue in cheek) leader of F1 in the form of Jean-Marie Ballestre. The lock out in South Africa, the FOCA/FISA war that produced the race at Imola that will always be one that I will have to live with due to the consequences that occurred later. The time of people running around with the "yellow book" and rulers protesting everybody else at about every other race. The arguments about how "ground-effect" made it impossible to pass. The introduction of fan-cars, ball bearings in oil tanks, and all the other shenanigans that took place.

We all like to moan how the money has ruined the sport - but the reality is that we, as spectators, have never had it so good. Living in America I had to wait until my friends called and told me the results as we had two to three races a year on television. The coverage on those was horrible. Today we have in car cameras that give the spectator a vision of F1 they could only dream about 30 years ago. Today we have more races, better coverage, spectacular venues and incredible coverage when compared to 30 years ago.

We moan about lack of passing - but put Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen or Massa on the back row and all of a sudden you have passing. Why do we not have passing at the front? Simple, the cars and the drivers at the front are so close to having the same equipment and ability that passing is very difficult. Yes, the aerodynamics do influence it (another present day gripe) - but the same aerodynamics exist when any of the top four or five are at the back - and they pass people all day long. What you don't have is the privateer F1 entry of the late 70's who was not only dangerous but a constant moving chicane. What you don't have is the broad difference in driver ability that you had 30 years ago. The worst driver at Hungary was within 5% of the best driver at Hungary in qualifying. I remember people not qualifying because they couldn't meet the 110% requirement or even get close to it, yet they were on the track when the good guys were trying to qualify.

We are treated today with drivers who are incredible talents. Schumacher (who I didn't care for due to his "sporting" attitude) was an incredible talent. Alonso is the youngest F1 champion in history. People forget the Kimi came into F1 with a provisional license because he had less motor races than most beginning F3 drivers and now we have Hamilton who could, conceivably, re-write every record in the books.

We have venues that people complain are not as good as the "good ol' days", they also don't kill as many drivers. I had to hitchhike out of the Glen with the winner of the race because his car was so stuck in the mud that we couldn't drive it - yep, those were the good ol' days. The fans who picked us up had been there to drink and had no idea who was riding in the back seat of their car. I remember the burning of buses in the "bog" in the "good ol' days". Of drivers coming in on the last lap of the race in Mexico city with fingers in the cooling scoops because the fans wanted to touch the cars as they went by, in the "good ol' days" - it drove the drivers crazy and I was always amazed that no driver was killed.

From the teams standpoint it probably is not as much fun as it used to be, because it has become such a serious business due to the investment required. But I have to look at what Frank and Ron have done in the last 30 years and I think you have to admit that both would have succeeded in any venue they chose and would have been incredible leaders in business. I had the pleasure of working with Jack Welch who is probably the best business leader her in the US over the past 50 years - Ron and Frank could compete - and Bernie would probably have put him to shame.

We like to moan about the good ol' days - but the reality is that F1 is a much more competitive race today and the spectator has more options today than they ever had in the good ol' days.

Gregor Veble - Ljubljana, Slovenia

While not yet as disillusioned as James, his brilliant writing absolutely nails it and I can relate to it easily. Ten years ago I could comfortably talk to my friends and family about F1 and they'd be interested as they used to watch an occasional race themselves. These days only one of my friends still watches the races with any sort of regularity, the rest just give me those well meaning "he'll get past that" looks if I get enthused about the topic. Perhaps F1 is still expanding its audience, but I feel it's mostly composed of good weather fans that would support a log throwing champion if their country produced it. I haven't been able to meet any new F1 fans yes, and my gut feeling tells me they are for the most part the kind of people I wouldn't really want to know.

The Hungarian GP was a definite low point. It all started with Alonso's action in the third qualifying session. While I disliked what he did, looking back I nevertheless absolutely loved being enraged by his actions. As silly as it was, the incident certainly generated the right kind of excitement about the sporting aspects of the, well, sport. The fastest growing thread ever in the Pitpass forums was dedicated to the topic. Support or dislike Hamilton's and Alonso's actions, they were all about getting the upper hand over their main rival and as such brought about the proper kind of rage from the fans.

Then the FIA had to spoil it all by bringing about a decision that seemed more a result of a nine hour long constipation rather than deliberation. While the Alonso penalty part seemed fair enough, the whole bit about the McLaren team being docked potential points bordered on ludicrous. There was absolutely nothing in the actions of the team as well as in the report given by the stewards to suggest that team's actions apart from Alonso in any way worked against Hamilton's interest.

Even for this Ferrari supporter the decision felt like a kick in the guts. As we saw later in the press conference, it certainly took all the shine and excitement away from Lewis for his win. How can this still be a sport if a sportsman is not able to enjoy his win?

This was not the only decision that worked against McLaren recently either. When the WMSC (in my opinion correctly) determined that McLaren is guilty of possession of stolen documents but decided not to penalize it because just about everything pointed to the fact that Coughlan acted for his own benefit, Max in his infinite wisdom decided to appeal the decision of the FIA's own body. It is the same Max who, within days of learning about the spy documents saga and without any further inquiry, declared that another team at whom both of the protagonists were (jointly!) looking for employment has nothing to fear. I would be very surprised if it was said that the Hungarian GP stewards never consulted Max when reaching their conclusions.

McLaren (note no mention of Mercedes) is a cornerstone of F1, and so is Ron Dennis. I can't say I really like the man. He gets ridiculed a lot for his sour demeanour, and his definition of honesty certainly allows for withholding of certain facts, but it is clear that he abides by a strict set of own principles. One of his traits certainly seems loyalty; while some smaller teams change their owners and with that their names more often than Ron manages to put on a smile, Ron stuck with the McLaren name even if he did much more for the team over the years than its original founder could have hoped for. Apart from it sounding very daft, there would be absolutely nothing wrong with calling it Team Dennis (or maybe rather Project 4). Yet Ron knows the value of heritage and loyalty, something shown not only in keeping the McLaren name but also occasionally running a terribly attractive orange livery in testing. Ron knows that it is F1 that made him the man he is today, and he along with Sir Frank are probably the two people who will stand for the F1 sporting competition values.

By trying to destroy McLaren as it stands, the FIA is also destroying the core of F1. This is paving the way for a fully manufacturer controlled series. While Max was a champion of privateer teams, his quite recent u-turn on this topic has been astounding. With all the sponsors McLaren attracted and growth they've shown, Max knows that Ron is becoming quite influential. Ron wouldn't have been the most likely target of the Max's admittedly old "not the sharpest knife in the box"
comment if Max wouldn't perceive him as a rival. If Ron is eventually pushed out of F1 on other terms than his own, I know for certain that I will join James and stop following the full marketing exercise that F1 is bound to become.

Tony Geran - Sydney

Has F1 alienated its fans? YES YES YES

No sport apart from cycling has done so much over the last few weeks to bring discredit upon itself. Why? Because His Lordship Max cannot abide the principal of one of the most successful teams of all time. Max yes Ron was a mechanic while you were selling your 74 Marches as 1976 models and yes he was running an F3 team when you were a successful constructor in F1, now how many Grand Prix did March win. My memory recalls three, one by the Tyrrell entered 701 at Jarama in the hands of Jackie Stewart and the second at Austria in 1975 by Brambilla and the last at Monza in 1976 in Ronnie Peterson's hands. So effectively as an entrant you won one and a half GP's as against Ron's how many World Championships?

But I digress, F1 has in the past 15 years alienated its fans. What is F1? Well it is a brand now owned by a private equity partnership that was formerly owned by BC Ecclestone. It used to be a collection of constructors who used to make their own rules to be rubber stamped by the FIA but Max saw that was no good as all these constructors either went broke or were taken over by car manufacturers. So now F1 is a brand which has successfully ensnared a whole bunch of bankers and accountants that run companies that make Renault Meganes, Fiat Puntos, Toyota Corollas and other excitement machines that we drive to the supermarket.

F1 alienated its fans when the Fan Car wasn't outlawed, when Schumacher went unpunished for driving his competitors off the road - and just wait until someone defends their position through the 'one move' rule and sends his competitor into the crowd. It is going to happen just a matter of time. F1 alienated its fans when Ferrari weren't sanctioned for Austria 2002, at Indianapolis in 2005 when the FIA stuck to its rule book and now with its campaign against one team which is fanned by those Machiavellian Italians or that Machiavellian Frenchman who works in Italy, I'm not sure which. F1 is in the process of alienating its largest fan base by taking more races to Asia which enjoys a rich heritage of Grand Prix racing, not. F1 alienated its fan base by making the cars butt ugly, reintroducing refuelling stops which were previously banned for being too dangerous thereby making the races even harder to work out. Did anyone watching Hungary understand and appreciate the subtleties of the different strategies - I guess those who study bell and population distribution curves for a living did, but that's about all. As the cars corner on rails and any chance of sideways slip is nullified by TC etc no one can see who is really driving their nuts off.

But I guess we shouldn't be surprised, the world is becoming more corporatised, countries are losing their identity as we all bow to Sony, Mickey D's, KFC, Samsung, IBM, HP, AT&T, Coca Cola, American Express, Visa, Toyota and Panasonic and all the other corporations that now control the world. The world has become more sanitised and racing now has to fit the buttoned down image of the corporate Gulag we now habitat. We can't have Ron spoil the show and give the Spaniard another championship, doesn't he know that it's Kimi's turn this year?

Pat Orlando

Yes I am loosing interest in the sport. the rules seem to be made to make everything random. What's the point of one lap qualifying ? I stopped watching Indy car racing, even the 500 because of the rules mess. I get up early to see races, but it seems the race is determined on the first lap. Monaco I can see but all the races are getting that way now. Its not as bad as Stock car racing yet.

Yamini Lohia - New Delhi

I must say that I fully understand the view that all the off track shenanigans are taking away from the racing - they are. However F1 has always been about what goes on behind the scenes as much as what takes place on our tv screens every other weekend. This politicking is what makes the sport so fascinating.

F1 is a rarefied world, an ultra-rich sport. In these times of environmental correctness I'm sometimes discomforted by my support for F1. But the squabbling, the drama, the immaturity of those involved, while exhausting, is not without entertainment. I'm rivetted to the bulletin boards, to the television screen, to F1 websites. Sure, we could do with a better race than the borefest that was Hungary, but barring the odd fluke the Hungaroring has always produced snoozers.

Coming back to the behind the scenes stuff, I think what is new is NOT all the manoevring but the amount of media attention on the sport. The media revolution (technologically, as much as anything else) has created so much more interest in the sport and made it so much easier for armchair experts like myself to access pretty minute details about F1. The amount of money involved has also significantly increased and proportionately, the level of scrutiny has laso increased. All if
which makes the sport seem far more political than it was. But this is an illusion, in my opinion. It is no more and no less like a soap opera than it has ever been.

I continue to enjoy All the aspects of F1 - the racing, the spats, the scandals -- all of it. F1 is more like chess than a soap - you need all the pieces to make a game of it. Take anything out and you lose something vital.

Gene Towne - Denver, Colorado, USA

Got up late and watched the remnants of the train at Hungaroring. While I do like Hamilton and appreciate his efforts, I took no joy in the exceptionally sour look on Kimi's face, albeit Heidfeld's podium appearance was most welcome.

I finally caught up with the lasting postings on PP re: the Soap Opera and am more than distressed to see that Macaluso is continuing to bang his already overplayed drum while Renault is getting into the farce with Briator's brayings. And now, the anti-McLaren players seem to be expanding the list of ills perpetrated by Woking.

Why don't we dispense with racing and instead have all the principals involved in this Pageant in Twenty Acts stand on The podium and read nasty letters to each other. Then, the fans can vote on the winner and we can watch Bernie and Max award trophies to the three top finishers, then spray each other with bubbly while congratulating themselves on another terrifically dramatic, fan-pleasing event.

Did anyone else note that as the Hungarian tedium finished and the placings came up on the TV screen replete with flags, driver and team association that Alonso's name was next to that of Williams? The last I had seen was that he has missed the press conference and my immediate thought was that he somehow had gone over to a rival prior to the event, although I knew that couldn't be. I looked in vain for the other McLaren mention besides Hamilton and didn't see it. Perhaps a portent of things to come? Maybe I've gone round the bend...

In any event, there's a saying in the American West, "In all this horseshit, there has to be a pony." So far, I haven't seen it.

As for getting up before dawn here to watch another GP, I'm not sure it's worth it, although I can't miss my daily dose of Pitpass; it's beginning to read like The Sun. (God forbid - Editor)

Vincent Sutherland-Dadds - South Africa

I have been an avid follower of F1 since 1951 when I read Autosport whilst recovering from a tonsillectomy in hospital in Lusaka in what was then Northern Rhodesia.

GP racing used to be interesting until the FIA interfered with the ground effect cars introduced by Colin Chapman. This interference has now reached the ultimate in its effect in reducing every GP to a boring parade of leading edge aerodynamic technology. Grooved tyres, thirteen inch rims, the underbody plank, the horrible aerodynamic outgrowths all over the "car" and the horrendous expense of running wind tunnels 24/7.

Where is all this going? Personally, I found the Superbike racing at Brands Hatch before and after the F1 "race" to be more entertaining to watch. I have spent more time this year not watching F1, being prepared to pick up the results afterwards on the Internet. Remember that I have full access to Moto GP, Superbike and F1 live. The bikes are worth watching. The racing shows talent and not technological aerodynamic supremacy! The F1 cars are boring but we are now able to watch the GP2 races which are good viewing.

All teams are now using the same generation 2.4 litre V8's running to the same rev limits and producing approximately the same power. Why then do we have top teams and tail-end-charlies? Simple - aerodynamic developments which some teams get right and the under-funded and under-talented teams struggle with.

Get FI back to where it should be by allowing slick tyres on any wheel rim diameter, allowing ground-effect aerodynamics to eliminate the over-car turbulence which inhibits passing now, and have 1 hour qualification with no fuel restrictions. Three insignificant but telling alterations to the car specifications and event activities.

At the last GP, the GP2 commentator advised all those who would watch the F1 race to switch off their TVs because the GP2 cars were passing each other at every possible opportunity every single lap. He advised that this would not happen during the Hungoring F1 Parade. He was correct.

As for the spy saga? Accept that Coughlin and Stepney were acting in their own interests to find future employment with an edge.

Hamilton and Alonso Q3? Hamilton should be severely censured for ignoring team instructions and creating the completely unacceptable consequences that ensued for his team and Alonso.

Briatore's moaning about McLaren gaining benefit from Ferrari IP on Bridgestone tyres? Everybody, including Ferrari, had to get to grips with the 2007 tyres which are different from the 2006 tyres!

Timmi Rasmussen - Copenhagen, Denmark

A lot of opinions ínhere, good. Now, I love Formula 1, and I think this season is most exciting in many years, and I don't think that there is anyone else to blame for the way things are going, but the people behind the whole circus, Bernie and Max. The rules and regulations they have, and are coming up with these days are somewhat nonsense. Why keep changing the rules to the worse? As far as I understand Formula 1 is the PINACLE of motorsports, and so it should be. On the 2006 season engines were downsized to 2.4 liters, but the thank god some quality engineers they found a way around that and the cars almost as fast as the 2005 cars. The latest proposal is now the engines are to further downsized, to 2.2 litres in the season 2011. Hope not! The two gents on top really need to take a step down and let someone with a new and fresh perspective on things take over.

Drivers should have a bigger saying in the matter of regulations, since they are the ones living by whatever rules there are forced upon them. A lot of drivers keep saying that overtaking is almost impossible on most tracks, due to cars are so sensitive to wind and downforce. I would prefer to bring back slicks or at least a tire with a single groove, and thereby gaining more mechanical grip. That would get some more daring moves on the track, and it would keep the "die-hard" fans, who have been watching the sports since Emmerson Fittipaldi, and most definitely attract new ones.

When it comess to "espionage-saga" and the newly risen "Hamilton/Alonso-crisis" I am sorry to say I missed the race weekend unfortunately, but this is a hurdle that McLaren team have to get pass, and maintain focus to win the Championship, though I would prefer Ferrari this year. Alonso and Hamilton not talking together due to recent events is BULLSH*T! Sorry to say, but in a sport like that, THAT is childish. They really need to sit down and talk it through, or things could get VERY ugly within the team. And it seems like Alonso needs to the breaking the ice on this one, since Hamilton have given his apoligies. It looks unlikely though, since Alonso gets awfully bitter when it strikes him, since he such an emotional driver. I recall comments like: " I don't think Formula 1 is a sport anymore", after been given a harsh penalty, I admid. It was last season after he was impeeded for blocking for antoher driver on a flying lap. The whole espionage saga is going to be a long one, and most likely painful one. We still don't know the full extend of the case, but it McLaren is found guilty, I still feel that penalizing McLaren too harsh, would ruin a close season. So sort it out guys, and let's retire Max and Bernie. They have indeed outlasted their stay.

Colin Cashin

I'm of the opinion there is something rotten at the heart of modern day formula 1, too much vested interest and money at stake. All it is now is a global marketing opportunity for BIG companies, squeezing as much as they can out of us for they're greedy and manipulative ends. Look how laughable Honda is and it's one world, we love the planet bullshit. It's the world of the corporate c*********s, lacking humanity and individuality. Which was how motor racing started, individuals doing what they loved most.

I fell out of love with modern formula one after Schumacher's second championship, the monotonous race wins and championships became tedious. I've been a Ferrari fan since my fist visit at twelve to Silverstone in '75 and I'd happily give up Schumacher's championships to share them amongst the drivers in the red car's that inspired me.

I stopped buying Autosport because I got bored with articles about the new aero bits on a car and dry boring interviews with drivers and engineers mouthing platitudes about their season. Wary of what they might reveal (perhaps a personality) and inhibited by contractual obligation. Fortunately I get better articles in the sister magazine Motorsport, that keep my interest going. I'm not some old lag that wants it to be like the old days. I've been fortunate to have lived through
some great times in Grand Prix motor racing and very much hope it continues but get rid of refuelling and cut down on aerodynamics. The popular consensus, I always' seem to read is more 'mechanical grip'.

Well lets have it.

Nancy Ott - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

The message I'm hearing from F1 to fans these days is "Drop dead" -- especially to those of us who live in the United States and the rest of the western hemisphere. Don't even tell me about the Hungaroring debacle. I'm still ticked off that the United States Grand Prix was canceled.

Tom Murray

I had enough time this weekend to watch one race on TV. In choosing between the Hungarian GP and a second tier NASCAR race in Montreal, I didn't even have to think twice. And it's not like I'm even a stock car fan. If they had been racing in circles I would have probably just gone for a walk instead, but you know what? They were racing on an F1 track and they were putting on a better show than the damn F1 cars. Please shoot me, because I don't want to live in a world where I'd rather watch rednecks on ovals than single seaters at Monaco.

Stuart Watson - California

If it wasn't for the "politics" I'm not sure I'd follow F1, as I have since the 1950s.

Steve Hartsel - California, USA

I couldn't agree with you more- I am now genuinely at a breaking point with F1. I have had enough of Headmaster Max and Shyster Bernie. I particularly despise the FIA. I now actually find myself in the novel position of feeling sorry for Ron Dennis! Further, I will nevers support "green" motor sport. I am bored by many of the circuits on the schedule, and also, frankly, by most of the drivers- I miss Alesi and Mansell and the other Human racers who once made this a sport, not just a competition. And I do not regard Lewis Hamilton as the Second Coming of the Lord. It is sad to me that I find Qualifying ten times as exciting than the race itself- is there anything more sleep-inducing nowadays than the final third of a typical Grand Prix? Do F1's masters realize the visual similarity to counting sheep? If there was just some sort of compelling alternative, I would flock to it without an afterthought for F1. Will someone please bring back Can-Am racing in all its pure, unlimited glory? Finally, I'm a Yankee- the chief reason I continue to watch F1 is because of the superb broadcast team on Speed TV (Hobbs, Matchett, Varsha and Windsor), who don't get paid enough to make this all seem interesting week after week. With the loss of Indy to the schedule and the appalling treatment of Scott Speed, F1 is now barely relevant and barely entertaining to me. I will no longer get up at 4 a.m. to watch the race live. I might record a few select races, check Pitpass to see if the race was at all interesting, and then view the good parts. But I just don't have the same interest I did when I followed Graham Hill or Niki Lauda or Alain Prost. Thank you for initiating this discussion - it is good to see others who feel as I do.

Ged Croughan - Melbourne, Australia

when I first started watching f1 racing in the mid eighties teams ran on budget off 1 to 12 million dollars if I remember correctly. the racing was exciting, the cars were very dangerous, looked fabulous with clean lines and a great driver could make a second or third rate car look first class. the politics and driver squabbles were public and open. battles were fought on the circuit not in courts or FIA hearings. eg. senna and prost. f1 is controversy as far as this disillusioned fan is concerned., with out it we may as well watch lawn bowels. bending the rules, espionage, driver squabbles and death are for better or worse what makes our beloved spectacle formula one. I do not want to know the outcomes of FIA hearings or law court. I want to hear Ferraris allegations of espionage and Mclarans denial of wrong doing. I want it reported by a honest and indepent press, so I can make up my own mind. because at the end of the day the opinion of the fans is the only thing that should matter to Bernie, max, the teams, the drivers and the sponsors. because we are the only ones that give a shit.

I am close to turning my back on f1 for many reasons but too much controversy is not one of them. because come 2pm on Sunday, all is forgotten knowing on Monday, half of most of the cars on the grid will be obsolete due to the incredible evolution of the f1 car and discarded in the dumpsters with all the fuss about espionage and cheating. I also know that driver and team titles are not decided during pit stops during qualifying but on race day. I then can watch the race and try to convince myself I am getting the full value of the 4 to 6 billion dollars the teams are spending to put the cars on the grid. the only person apart from the fans I can see asking himself this question at the moment is Tony George, but what would he know.

Alison Kearns

I have been reading some of the other comments regarding Sundays race. In the most part I agree with all the sentiments expressed. However the single greatest thing that is lacking from modern F1 is the actual racing part. Since the mid 1990's its all pit stop strategy and fuel loads. Qualifing was changed to the awful one lap format for 2003 just because Ferrari dominated the 2002 season. Prior to this qualifing was amazing, flat out for 60mins best man wins. It was for tough guys with serious courage, now the F1 World Champion is a petty little boy who clearly hasn't yet developed as an adult. Think back to races like Mexico 1990 and Mansells pass on Berger or Silverstone 1987 at Stowe Corner when Mansell passed Piquet, least we forget Djion 1979. I am now 37 and attended my first race in 1977 since then I've been to 40 odd races. I've seen it all from the tedium of last years British GP to that wet cold April day and Sennas opening lap at Donnington. But alas F1 is no longer about racing its about strategy, if I want strategy I'll play more chess. But if I want excitement and edge of the seat entertainment I go to a motor race. My last GP was Brazil last year I travelled all the way to see Schumacher's last race. I'am a big fan of Michaels and what an amazing race it was. I was at the first corner and I'll never forget the sight of Michael appearing to pass through the wall as he passed Raikkonen. Its hard to imagine a race as exciting as this again, so this year I have decided to go to a motor race where there will be loads of 'excitement and overtaking' this I know for sure, because I am off to Brands (for the first time since 1985) to the BTCC. F1 bosses take note, its us Europeans who really keep your show on the road, we that subscribe to your pay per view services (ITV is such a joke), buy magazines and of course attend those really expensive demonstration runs you organise around the world. Bernie may have made F1 a global sport, but as he wouldn't know class (unless he paid a few million for it! ) he has totally destroyed the incredible heritage of Formula One and turned it into a yellow pack sport.

Stephane Caron - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

when i've read all of the politics, dirty business tactics and all over the past 18 years that i've followed the circuit, i'm wondering if the sport of Formula One still exist or is it now just a spectacle? Like the World Wrestling Entertainment (what a proper trademark to say that it's not a serious sport anymore) or with a lesser degree the National Hockey League or National Baseball (Barry Bonds on steroids breaking home run records). Even the Tour the France has joined into the farce game by having competitors on big teams cheating with steroids when at the same time it wants to erase the last years of controversies.

Professional sports all around the world are having big issues with credibility and integrity, even on it's purpose in life! And the one who has more problems with ethics, professional conducts, the inner politics and the business side of all is Formula One, because of it's size and international 'appeal' of it's activities. There is a strong feeling with a lot of the common people that F1 is FAKE, ALL ORCHESTRATED BY BIG BROTHER (or is it BIG BERNIE?!), CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE BEING BOUGHT BY BIG CORPORATIONS AND NOT WON ON MERIT (a doctor on material studies said that to me once!), or that the only thing that it wants from you is YOUR MONEY!

I'm a great admirer of the principles of the sport that started at the beginning of the twentieth century (the ultimate deliberation between man and machine), but for the last thirteen years or so (since the death of Ayrton Senna), the sport has mutated and changed beyond recognition.

The reasons are complex and far fetching. It could take me five pages at least to tell my side of those changes that F1 has been affected of. Discussing of politics and the two stooges at the top with their sycophants all around them. The big team bosses and their agendas for them and/or their teams.The influx of different corporate money in and exponential manner over the last twenty years. The standardizing of the media coverage (TV, print and on the circuits) and the irrelevancy they talk about the sport (i miss the time or Murray Walker and James Hunt on the BBC). The standardizing of the circuits themselves, thus having more or less the 'same' design methods (thanks to Bernie and Mr. Tilk's firm).

The sport has mutated into a well oiled and crafted spectacle machine, with the stakes of high marketing campaigns, corporate image and perception, and the help of photogenic drivers (more beautiful, dumb and less opinionated) making it more boring. The constructors themselves play the game by not having any relevant new technology been developed that could impact the auto industry. Remember the last Honda foreign in F1 in the late 80's with it's V-Tech technology? It got into it's cars starting with the Acura NSX. Since then (talk to any auto CEO), it's technology that's poured into F1 and not the opposite. F1 is a marketing tool now, not an engineering demonstrations platform. The deliberation is more about details then about any new revolution in auto technology.

People want some action that says a statement on the drivers, the teams and the constructors, not a procession of drivers and cars that are more or less the same. Like in life, they want choice. They want different curves and tastes. They want different mentalities in play. That's what F1 was all about! The seventies to the mid nineties were a great era.

Those who remember well those years know that. Like me, they try to watch F1 with a sense of history the purpose of the sport. We can sustain all the short term stupidity and inconsistencies the sport demonstrates now and then. But for many others, and even some true F1 followers, it's too much. Even for me, the sport is losing it's true purpose. With all those synthetic rulemakings, formatting and short term decisions that have been generated in the last five years, the sport is now in danger of being just an entertainment like any other.

Just look at the reactions Bernie got when he said that the U.S. isn't important for F1 anymore. Other venues like India are more important! I think he doesn't distinguish between F1 fever and those who seek global status. Canada could become obsolete like the U.S. in the name of not having golden palaces built on the facilities or giving good kickback to Big Bernie. Like France an Great-Britain. We do not go to F1 to seek status. We go to F1 to watch F1! I do not go to a Grand Prix to be recognize as an important people of the new global economy. I'm a F1 fanatic. There are other events to go to be called big shots. For me and others, we are treated like trash.

When you treat your customers like trash, don't expect them to come back! The auto industry has grasped the opposite concept. Toyota and BMW have high ranking for their good customer relations. Are Maximillian Mosley and Charles Bernard Ecclestone able to? I think it's time to tell them that we're not in the former category. If they don't understand, then we go somewhere else!

Juhan Palm - Sweden

I think all this mayhem bores the genuine diehard F1 fan, but it certainly wakes a kind of interest to the general public with scandals, open war between teammates, espionage intrigues, team bosses getting verbal with their drivers and so on.

Personally, I think more people will get attracted to the sport now and in the future since there is now also an element of soap-opera - just like there is in most other sports. If you asked someone in the streets some year ago - they only knew Schumacher, Ferrari, and a sport where those won everything - and that was really boring since it was all set up to be like that without any major competition. "Alonso, who??? Naahh - you're kidding, Schumacher must have won it this year too... " - a common misunderstanding among the ones that don't follow F1...

Now the situation is different and even my work collagues are discussing F1 during coffee breaks and such. It can only be positive as seen from a PR-angle for the sport in general. And more names other than Schumacher get to be common knowledge....

Phil Shuey

Unfortunately, I lack the commitment to step away from F1 due to the current sham, but its interest for me has been significantly eroded. The fiascos involving McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull etc. have left me wondering whether F1 deserves its alleged place in the auto racing world.

Then, when Bernie and his ilk, feel that it is more important to rake in a few more Euros by placing races in venues with little or no connection with the sport, at the expense of those tracks which are the historic lifeblood of the sport, I realize that each passing year moves F1 closer to oblivion.

I will tolerate “silly season,” the loss of the sole American driver and the vast egos in the sport, but the 2007 season has moved so far into absurdity that perhaps I need to move my motorsports interests in a different direction.

That said, Pitpass remains one of the best locations for information and bright, informed contributors.

Keith Simonian - Martinez, California, USA

You just have to ask yourself this simple question.

Have Bernie and the gang done anything to make F1 more exciting in the past 5 or 10 years? When you answer no, you have to wonder why you keep watching.

I do continue to watch, but I much prefer to watch the race on tape, and fast forward through the parade portions of the race. Which sadly to say is most of the race.

I don't care that Bernie made F1 the powerhouse that it is, he does nothing now but to try and find more ways to squeeze money out of everybody.

Every business person tries to maximize profits. That's a given. What Bernie doesn't do, is try to improve the product. He is to racing, as Bill Gates is to software.

Chris Fisher

I'm so bored with the sport that my favorite passtime is now casting famous actors to play Bernie, Jean, Ron, Fernando, Kimi, Philipe, Lewis, Scot, Tonio, et al. in the movie version of the 2007 F1 season.

No writer could have written this script!! It's just too much.

Peter Heapmon

Alapan, I couldn't agree more.

I was discussing future F1 regulations with some friends over lunch the other day.

A brief list of possible regs:

No engine design limits on capacity, rpm, induction or cylinder count

Hybrid and regenerative powerplants allowed

Increased freedom on chassis design (ground effect, separate/moveable a la Lotus 88 etc.)

Limited maximum fuel per race (and quali), to be reduced on a race by race basis if necessary

No refuelling permitted - a car must start with enough fuel to run to the finish

Team point penalties for failing to finish, whether by mechanical fault or running out of fuel

Reduced minimum mass - to the point where no ballast CANNOT be carried

Slick tyres of a suitable (minimum hardness?) compound to permit 4-wheel drifting without too much grip penalty

Manual gearbox linkages and throttle connctions, i.e. cables & rods not electrical wiring!

Limit downforce by introducing 'control' wings front and rear

Only allow testing at circuits NOT included on the GP calender

Body regulations in an attempt to get rid on chimneys/bargeboards etc.

Obviously these are very general ideas, but I think they could form the basis of diverse, exciting, and advanced technology racing.

Patrick Donnell

The one thing we (F1 fans) all want to see is action on the track, which means overtaking. Why don't we see it? As far as I can tell, there are two reasons:

aero-packages prevent the cars following close enough to be able to slipstream and so get close enough to outbrake the car ahead

circuits are designed with a single racing line so that slower cars can hold up faster cars simply by sticking to the racing line

None of the technical changes introduced ever address these two problems. They talk about slowing cars down for safety, introduce grooved tyres, reduce engine size, insist that engine design is durable enough to go two or even five races, but none of this addresses the problem that slow cars can stay in front of faster cars. To bring back overtaking and excitement we need to remove circuits like Hungary and above all Monaco from the calendar, ensure that any replacement circuits are designed to promote rather than prevent overtaking, and put in technical changes that work in favour of racing and skilled driving - minimal wings, no traction control. Monaco epitomises what is wrong with F1. We all know that the race is boring, boring, boring, but still everybody rabbits on about the history, the tradition, when the reality is that the hacks and hangers on see it as glamorous. Which it may be, but it's still the worst race of the season.

Sadly economics cannot be ignored, but surely Ecclestone has made enough out of F1, and someone else could take a slightly more long term view of the sport, develop some venues where land is cheap enough to build a race track rather than a Scalextrix circuit.

Finally, I can't resist a comment on recent events. I think Alonso knew exactly what he was doing, and fair play to the stewards for nailing him for it. We all complained enough about Ferrari shenanigans, so I for one am glad that the stewards punished Alonso for gamesmanship or cheating or whatever you want to call it. If Dennis hadn't tried to cover it up with a load of tosh, perhaps Maclaren wouldn't have lost their constructor's points. Dennis's talk about parity doesn't convince me. Yes, we saw the ding-dongs between Senna & Prost, but Dennis's clear favouritism towards Hakkinen over DC makes me think that the parity is there only when the drivers are equally egotistical. This is a back-handed compliment DC - a very good driver, but also a good man, so not ruthless enough. That's the problem Dennis has now, two superb drivers, two guys prepared to do what they have to do to win. A great problem, so long as they are willing to compete rather than take the Schumacher and Senna route of deliberately taking their rival off the track. Fortunately the stewards now seem gutsy enough to penalise that kind of behaviour. Pity they didn't deduct Ferrari's points when RB skidded to a halt to hand MS the win - or a pity that RB didn't have the cojones to take the win for himself!

Adrian Fu

My name is Adrian Fu, and I was an F1 fan for 18 years. Cue "hello, Adrian" from other victims.

No joking matter, mind you; I am gradually getting embarrassed telling people that I actually like this sport. I am extremely heartened to see such an outpour of reader opinion on your website. To know that I'm not the only one absolutely fed up with this sport... to know that I'm not the only taking the recent events seriously... it's good to know that we can all hold hands.

I work in the PR business, and one of the first things I advise my clients is to monitor key trade publications every day. I hope Max, Bernie, Jean and Ron read your wonderful website; if they don't appreciate any of the good stories you've done, at least read the 20+ pages of views from disgruntled, disappointed, heartbroken fans. It's you who have made this into a farce, not a sport. Well done.

PS Nick Fry should be fired. Sorry, separate subject I know but I think that guy is as valuable as any random item in a $10 shop - rough, cheap and very replaceable.

David Glaysher- Canada

We all must remember that F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and with it you will get this type of controversey. Only a very small percentage of the population get to sit in these cars let alone have the skill to drive them. I still love F1 and have for many years. I know these issues may hurt the sport, but the spy scandal is just one of many issues in the past or future which will fade and the sport will survive. If i do get sick of the scandals i still have Champ Car, IRL or god forbid NASCAR. Champ Car is a very competitive series, with many interesting venues and heavens forbid the cars can pass one another, perhaps F1 should take a chapter ot of their book.

Hank List - Cambridge, Ontario Canada

It's not the politics or shananigans that are a turnoff to my beloved F1 - on the contrary it seems to be the only thing worth listening to at the moment. What F1 clearly lacks at the moment is on the competition side of things. Here we have these modern F1 cars that are the ugliest things I have ever seen on wheels - if they continue to sprout any more winglets they should be able to fly off the pavement with very little effort. I don't understand the FIA in all of this - are you not listening to a soul out there? Go to any F1 related website and you will see what everyone is shouting - NO aero devices allowed on the cars (front and rear wing only), slicks, manual gearbox, no traction control and get rid of the flat bottom - bring back ground effects in a limited fashion (ie: no side skirts). Get back to what makes a grand prix car exciting - driver control and passing. Hell A1GP is very good at the moment and the stuff we seldom see such as Grand Prix Masters is fantastic. I still watch and tape all the races but if I miss one it wouldn't bother me. I think the last good race was back in 89. Wake up FIA because fans are definitely leaving in droves.

J Mayo - Central Coast, NSW.Australia

For a number of years I have had a growing concern for the future of F1.

Finally, I have managed to attribute my disquiet to a single source, perhaps because Michael has retired. I feel that this has enabled me to focus more clearly on F1 as a whole.

I am now comfortably, albeit sadly, disillusioned with F1, because I can attribute every failing within the sport to The FIA.

For example, I believe that in Hungary, The FIA were incorrect in charging McLaren as they did. It is my perception that the McLaren debacle arose due to the FAILURE to obey Team Orders.

It is my opinion, that in almost every instance where there has been an opportunity for the FIA to act swiftly, decisively, correctly, and responsibly, it has failed to do so. The circus at Indianapolis merely highlighted its ineptness.

Each year I await the announcement of the regulations for the following season(s) however not with as much anticipation as I await the inevitable amendments, due to, sigh, the FIA's inability to get it right.

I believe that F1 must be seen as squeaky clean, where every driver, and every team is allowed to race on their merits, on race day. If a transgression of the rules is discovered, I see little wrong with retroactive penalties. It is race day that counts for the paying public, the couch potato, and the would - be fan alike.

Sadly, I will no longer deprive myself of sleep, to watch F1 at some ungodly hour, commentated by a pair of less than competent narrators, lest the race be turned into yet another non-race by the FIA' s bumbling intervention.

Jean de Chalain - South-Africa

All considered, I am still an F1 fan and cannot find anything else in motorsport to compete with it. As an example, I have tried watching GP2 races, A1 GP, various touring car series and oval track races (Indy etc), but I can never concentrate on one of those races entirely and find myself drifting off, wandering away, and just watching bits and pieces of the races. Not saying those mentioned are bad forms of racing, on the contrary, they are highly competitive, but I do not follow them closely enough.

F1, on the other hand, I can easily manage to watch an entire race while not missing a thing and in fact "hardly batting an eyelid", as it were. But that is because, the advantage of their superior and awesome performance on track aside, I follow all the news and behind the scene stories that I can as well, and that definitely makes a big difference in how much someone will or will not enjoy a sport. As an example, I've grown up in a "Rugby" nation, and I love watching a good game of rugby, but if I had time to follow all the stories behind the game, would make it that much more interesting. That said, back to F1, I think stories such as the "spy" saga are inevitable, but the outcome or finalisation thereof should be made a priority so as not to drag on for too long. People in general live a fast life, and for something to drag on for longer than 1-2 months can become tedious, which is where we are with the spy saga, I think. The thing between Hamilton and Alonso, I think is fantastic for the sport. Then we have (partly as a ripple effect of my last comment) already stories of driver changes starting, which makes people wonder what will happen, again great for the sport.

The overtaking issue is a sensitive one. Personally, I don't watch F1 to see continual overtaking moves (I'll watch moto GP if that's what I'm after), that said, I (no doubt like all other Ferrari fans around the world) would have loved to have seen Kimi at least be able to get into a position to attempt a pass on Lewis during the Hungarian GP. If the future cars can be regulated to be designed to allow that to happen (there was talk of a rear split-wing last year?), especially between cars with a few tenths of a difference in pace, would definitely further improve the show.

Justin Hsu

All I know is that, and I'm sure many other F1 fans will agree, that I've become to feel certain vapididity about F1. More and more, I feel like I don't care anymore. The excitment of watching the race with my friends does not exist anymore. The spat between teams and drivers is just abhorrent to watch. And now that there's a set date for the appeal court, we can all expect more spat when the decision is handed down, becuase if one team rejoices the other team will protest bitterly. I will not stop watching F1 for this year, because I've been following for so long, but I will slowly detach myself from F1 if it continue to have no action on track and all the rubbish off track. What a shame.

Craig Holmes - Catalina AZ USA

James's email was very eloquent but I have to defend the mistress here.

She was pimped out by a certain Mr Ecclestone who like most pimps is too greedy, he can only see his bank balance, not the best interests of those who ultimately contribute to that bank account, us, the fans. A bit short-sighted you might think on his part but Hey, he's 77, he can only play the big money game for the short term now anyway so what does he care if he ruins the integrity of F1? He's happy as longs as he wrings every last penny possible from the, now disreputable, slut that used to be so pure and beautiful.

I'm going to miss the old girl......

Mario Fonseca - Santiago, Chile

It was more than forty years ago, at 12, when my passion for F1 began. I even think reading Road & Track every month helped my English, as I am a Chilean born in Perú. So many years have passed and I can't find anything that has remained so close to me like this, sometimes absurd, passion. And you may imagine how it is to follow F1 from this part of the world, first reading magazines three weeks later, now waking up at 7 am on Sundays to catch the TV transmissions, mostly filled with the stupid comments from mediocre local journalists, I'm sorry to say (the mute button is a relief, but it doesn't help when the commercials come to cut the race at any moment), etc. But last saturday, after reading your info about the Alonso-Hamilton affair, I just went to the country without programming the recorder to see the Hungary GP when back. I didn't care anymore, not even whether Alonso or Hamilton were right (both used to be my favourites, and this was already very difficult to bear), although I still wish the best to Speed and Liuzzi. But I know that all these feelings –passion, favouritism, well wishing– don't work anymore, if they ever did. It is sad to understand that the only possibility left to, perhaps, help F1 is not caring about it anymore.

S.K. Anand

This is the absolute bottom that the game has hit, and this is causing anguish, despair, and disillusionment. Certainly not the best advertisement for a rapidly growing sport, which is appeared to on the verge of getting global acceptance. While the current events will not deter new circuits to bid for races, perhaps the losers will be the genuine F1 loving tv audiences. The fall in the ratings is not going to make the commercials of the sport attractive.

I think the Mclaren issue is a failure of team management, breakdown in communications, and sketchy evolution of roles and responsibilities. In this case each one is at fault.

Alonso, would have been naïve to expect a preferential treatment at Mclaren for his double championship victories. But what he demanded as a right, he seems to forfeited by action. It could have been an opportunity where he could have rallied the entire team around him, and his past achievement could definitely have helped in that regard. But what we see is the exact opposite. Press leakages and fractious relationship with a rookie has proved to be an abs PR disaster.

Hamilton, in his debut year, has delighted the F1 public. At 22, he is doing what he is best at… driving the wheel of the Mclaren. He is out there to win and I bet he is telling Ron “ orders”…what is that?

The one who is left holding the baby and the bath water is Ron Dennis. The spying saga and the ego clash of his drivers means that his camp is divided right down the middle. He has most to loose. If Alonso opts out of the contract next year and Hamilton is snared too, the sponsor are going to extremely livid at the turn of things. This is the worst form of advertising that the sponsors would want.

It appears unlikely that the events will sought themselves out.

Mclaren will have a new boss and a new drivers line up next year. The positive thing is there will be quite few choices to go for and many of the current drivers on the circuit will be putting their hands up for the job

Csongor Kuti, Romania

First. I disagree: most "dissatisfied customers" will not be back. But it does not matter whatsoever: there always be new fans to fill the lines. F1 is a product, extremely well sold, well marketed and therefore, to some extent, it creates demand for itself.

Second. Those who believe that something has dramatically changed in F1 are wrong. The cut-off point, when F1 has changed from sport to a repulsive money-making machinery lies some good 18 years ago, in the haydays of the Prost-Senna era. These were the years, when F1 became something akin to soccer: definitely more than racing and (sadly) less than "sport". With heroes and villans, tragedy, drama and happy endingsg. Unfortunately for sportsmen, while soccer can be labeled as a mass-movement, F1 is a very, very thight "pinnacle", to which only the blessed may gain access. Perhaps this is a reason why it could be hijacked relatively easy by the business society.

So there has been a process, something like a long disease, which kills softly and slowly. Currently we are in the acute phase, not so far away from agony.

Third. Those who believe that we are witnessing unprecedented scandals in F1 appear to me to be naive. Cases of espionage, breaches of intellectual property rights etc., must have occured in the past too. Only that they were not mediatized at the current level. Why? Because earlier on, F1 was about racing, and winning on the track rather than in the various legal and sporting fora.

Scandalous "interpretations" of the rulebook, like in the craning or the qualifying incident are surfacing now, as we approach the terminal stage of F1. Business interests are more cynical and less disguised than ever. A British driver has to take the championship, and he will, no matter what.

Four. I quitted watching F1 when Senna died. I felt that there are no more heroes left on track. Robo-pilots (whose prototipe was the great Schumi, started to take over from race drivers). I began watching F1 again - and got more and more disgusted with everything - for the sake of JV, whom I found an enjoyable lad (and had pretty exciting races in the Schumi-years, rooting for the JV guy to finish in the top half of the field :))

Currently I am not watching the TV coverage anymore. I cant stop though to check out pitpass every week, to keep myself updated.

Waiting for a miracle.

Tim Carter - London, UK

Sunday was a marvel. For the first time in years the real battle in modern F1 was exposed: the Team vs the Driver. Fernando and Lewis were not, in particular, confronting each other but the Team. It was the Team's instructions that compromised them against their closest rivals (each other) so they rebelled. For the first time in I can't remember how long, drivers expressed personality in public. Did you see Fernando walking down the paddock grinning from ear to ear? Did you see Lewis chuckling and saying "you've got to do what you've got to do"? My God, it almost looked like there was a human interest to the anodyne world of Scalextric for dullards. Two drivers are locked in a fascinating race for the title. Two drivers of consummate skill, human fallibility and iron determination to win against all comers. I doubt there is any real personal bad blood between them. In fact, we are witnessing nothing more than competition. For too long the Team has controlled, emasculated and sanitised F1. Do we glory Ferrari over Fangio? Mercedes over Moss? Mclaren over Senna?

Ron was close to tears at the end of the race simply because his best efforts to dehumanise McLaren for the wider benefit of "the Team" had crashed about his ears, undone by two mutinies which sank his ship of Team points while floating the boat of Driver gain. I couldn't help but feel some sympathy for him whilst I rejoiced. All he wants is equality. Very noble, but F1 is not a team sport in the way that football is. The Team should be subsidiary to the Driver. Only sad geeks follow the Team. Human fans follow the Driver. Yes, we respect individuals in Teams, we also appreciate the mighty organisation of the Team itself, orchestrating huge efforts, multiple talents to produce epic engineering feats, year after year. But we wouldn't watch it if robots were driving (ok, I admit I have been watching F1 for the last 15 years, but you know what I mean). Ron wants a McLaren victory. He doesn't care if it's Fernando-flavour or Lewis-flavour. I do. I care a lot. I don't care if they're driving cars made of balsa wood, with ground effect and a blow-up Bernie prostrate across the nose cone, just so long as they're at it hammer and tongs, wheel to wheel, inch for inch. The victory of the Team over the Driver has always done more harm to F1 than the massed ranks of Manufacturer-Regulator-Rights Owner, however fetid their impact is. But now we have the leading team with two equal drivers trapped inside, and that pressure is unbalancing the status quo. Suddenly, the Driver is more significant than the Team, trying to outwit his rival and unpicking the grip of the Team's shackles.

The Stewards' involvement in the McLaren Driver/Team battle was just a sad side issue. They are not to blame. They are merely the outward bubo leaking the puss of F1's rancid structure. Bernie made the Team supreme, with money and control over venues, TV rights, sponsors, Drivers. Max made the Team supreme, with rules so complicated that no Driver could usurp them, with the politics of divide and rule. Drivers made the Team supreme, because not enough of them have the Schumacher/Senna instinctive demand (and talent to back it up) that the Team is there to serve them.

Cut the red tape, cut the regulations, free innovation, and you release the Driver from the straight jacket of the Team; you release the innovative pauper from the shadow of the conservative banks, I mean, the manufacturers. An engineer with a brilliant insight can make a difference without a Gazillion dollar 200-personnel wind tunnel. It should be the Drivers and Engineers threatening a break-away series: the manufacturers doing so was the sickest joke since Midas screamed "More gold!".

How long will McLaren last with two equally top flight drivers? Each is incentivised to seek a team where he can be top dog. This is bad - teams of equals create drama. So imagine if we had more than one! Jean, take yourself off to a happy retirement to the Fiat Board, where you can whine and politic to your heart's contentment. Schuey, come back and run La Scuderia. Bring back Ross. Run it like a RACE team. Ron, keep pluggin away, but remember that the platform you're building should be the Drivers' floor, not their ceiling. And Honda, for Pete's sake, try to make a racing car - Jenson's not the sweetest smelling rose in the bunch, but give him a rocket and he'll fly without giving an inch.

Lisa Schmidt

No it's not only you. :-)

I have almost had enough of F1 now. I honestly was thinking of not watching the Hungarian GP. I've always tried to mantain that F1 is NOT a soap opera, NOT a circus, but a sport. A high-tech, multi-million dollar business - but still a sport.

I'm rapidly losing that faith.

Seems though like the present qualifying format, only dreamed up to boost the TV figures, is a bit to blame. Rules have had to be invented, changed, interpreted in absurdum. Drivers are deservedly/undeservedly punished for all kinds of infringements of rules open to interpretation, their credibility questioned, the outcome of races decided by a bunch of stewards before they even take place. These elements of non-sporting and open-to-interpretation issues on and off track in qualifying does certainly not do F1 any good as a sport.

Qualifying is a special part of the race event that is both competition and non-competition, a fight against the clock, not against other drivers.

I'd like to see a qualifying format that reflects that.

Imagine if we still have had qualifying system of 2005. One shot fair and square for all. (boring? I never thought so)

-No Rascasse.
-No Monza.
-No Hungaroring.

I want to think there's still hope for my beloved F1. Changing the present qualifying system - since it obviously doesn't work - would be a step in the right direction.

Han Thomas - Chiang Mai, Thailand

I still like F1.

Of course I also liked the intrigue-soaps like 'Dallas' in the eighties, and indeed F1 is reminiscent of that. But look on the bright side, it means that now points-affecting events happen not only bi-weekly on weekends, but can happen at any time.

I'm now waiting for Bernie to take it all the way to its logical conclusion and add short scenes of drivers arguing with each other, like World Wrestling Federation. Wouldn't you just LOVE to see Hamilton bitch-slap Alonso in a mid-week reality-TV update on Formula 1 Prime?

The bi-weekly racing is just icing on the cake really, and provides a good excuse to tell the Missus I'm going to the pub to watch F1.

It's a guy thing; (or so she still thinks anyway.)

Timothy Wong - Melbourne, Oz

It's all well and good that we, the core fans and customers of F1, keep ranting on about how bad the formula has become, both as a sporting spectacle and a sport in itself, it absolutely has minimal effect when the Bernies and Mosleys, the Rons and Flavs and Jeans, and Franks, and the TWGs and boffins don't read, or even if they do read, don't take the fans views seriously.

So much for all the CPU-sponsored surveys done in the past, the biggest change for the better is probably just the qualifying format (and even that's not quite perfect in my view - get rid of fuel-in Q3!) and Friday free testing. Everything else has changed for the worse, including Mosley's so-called "cost saving" initiatives ie. long-life engines and gearboxes, control tyres and 2 tyre-compound races (who really cares what compounds the drivers are using).

Similarly puzzling are Mosley's "safety driven" rule changes ie. (this is my favourite hate) grooved tyres (more dangerous when they lose grip and more expensive to manufacture - where is the safety and cost saving??), 2.4L V8 engines (just ask Mario Theissen how much his R&D bill is, but the lap times are still comparable to V10 era), restricted front and diffuser aero (now these are the prime culprits of no overtaking!!). Whatever Mad Max proposed to solve, they worked to the contrary. Max must have a middle name of Sadim (the opposite of Midas).

Let just wait and see how his "green movement" will pan out. It sure will cost more than an arm and a leg that even the most cash laden team (Toyota) will call it a day. It won't surprise me when the other manufacturers cry enough. Even though they're acting like they really support the future. Surely there're cheaper formulae to showcase road-car relevance and energy efficient technology eg. Sportscars, touring cars, the GT3/GT4 categories, rallying (not WRC!! - look what
happened to that when Mosley gets his hands in - the Sadim's touch)

Oh, what am I doing complaining at all - they won't hear any of our grief anyway!!

Brett Westcott - South Africa

Good Afternoon Gentlemen, I became a regular reader of your website purely by chance just over two years ago. I was looking for an alternative to F1 because it was becoming so boring. A1GP was about to launch itself onto the world stage, and I was just dying to see some decent motor racing.

I had been a Schumacher fan from the time he won his first race. However, I could not help but feel that over his 5 year reign with Ferrari, the "sport" of racing had been done much harm. I used to switch on the TV on a Sunday afternoon to watch the start of the race. I would see a red car head past the pits for two laps and then fall asleep on the Sofa and wake up just in time to see last round of pit stops and to watch…. yes you guessed it, the same red car winning the race…With Schumacher gone, I was expecting a fantastic season, I thought there would be three teams gunning for the championship, Renault, Mclaren and Ferrari. Instead we find ourselves doubting the integrity of teams, punishing drivers, creating "legends" out of nobodies and having to listen to it all via ITV… this is like being forced to listen to commentary on a one horse race…

There are a few things that have turned me off this "sport" this year,

Firstly, "Bernie's" arrogance and greed (The American FANS love F1 sir, what gives you the right to take it away, because you can't get the money you want….)!!!! There are countries like South Africa that have a huge fan base and would love to see F1 cars racing in our country, but the price tag is just horrendous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not everyone earn ponds or dollars Bernie, but some of us can afford BMW's, Merc, Hondas, Renaults and Toyotas, so why can't we support our teams at a reasonable cost?

Another issue is the English medias obsession with Lewis Hamilton, the words "legend" and "phenomenon" have already been thrown about like loose change this season when talking about this young upstart. The obvious desperation by the F1 ITV boys to have a British champion, in what is a predominantly British run organization (F1) as well as the Media's obsession with Hamilton has made this season too painful to watch and listen too, I wish we could at least have neutral commentary on ITV.

I believe Mr. Hamilton has landed with his bum in the proverbial butter. The car that Mclaren is using this season (with or without Ferrari's assistance), is driving on rails … I believe a Vettel, Rosberg, Heidfeld or even a Piquet Jnr. could drive the wheels off that car if given half the chance.

Then there is the British involvement (Stepney, Coughlan, Mclaren…etc…etc…) in this "007 Spy saga" and the FIA/WMSC or "MI5" glaring bias toward a particular British racing team. Along with poor Alonso being dropped 5 places on the grid because Alonso, or his engineers, out smarting the young upstart. Or, Massa being nailed for exiting the pits on an empty track. These kind of judgments has left me wondering, what's the point of watching F1 if the championship has already been decided? These issues lead one to believe that there a greater powers at work here than just a simple racing "show". I think Mr. Mosely realised the obviousness of the WMSC's decision not to punish Mclaren and his hand was forced to push for an appeal… very sad…

Then there is the actual Race Action; WHAT RACE ACTION?!!! There are too many driving aids keeping the cars on the track, if you want to travel at 300+KPH then you must be prepared to take the risk of not getting around the corner… That's racing… I bet my kid who is PlayStation Crazy and only 9yrs old could drive that Mclaren around the track and keep it on the road.

The Most Important part of the "show" is the DRIVER. They make the show!!!! If they want to hold another driver up in the pit, then so be it, If they want to block a pass then let them, They get paid horrible amounts of money to take risks, let them!!!!!! If a driver is smart enough to outsmart another driver without endangering his life, then let him do it!!!!!! Otherwise, take all the drivers out of the cars and let the race engineers race from the pits with remote controls…(they just about do it anyway)

I am not bashing the British people, god no, they gave us F1 in the first place, this is just the way I see it as a fan and there is nothing fair or fun about watching this season unfold, every time the Mclaren wins on Bridgstone tyres, you can't help but ask why and how they got it right when last years champions, Renault, could not???? Did the Ferrari documents play a roll in the weight distribution set up of the Mclaren??? And every time this talented young driver Hamilton wins, you can't help but think it must be so easy to drive these cars when compared to ten or twenty years ago…???? We forget that Hamilton only just beat Nelson Piquet Jnr to last years GP2 title, does that mean Piquet Jnr is also a "legend" or if given the chance in the Mclaren, could he be the next Schumacher/Fangio/Senna???

I think I will stick with A1GP for now, At least they get to race their cars, hell, they actually drive their cars… and they overtake too… all the time, it's great entertainment! I just hope the rest of the racing world sees racing for what it was meant to be, just that, a bloody race!!!!

Bill Rose - Florida

I don't pay much attention to the race while it's on. I used to watch every lap of every session. I don't insist on seeing it live, I'll let TiVo get it and I'll watch when I can. I don't always watch the practice sessions, less now than ever before. I just don't care as much as I used to. I'm not done yet but it's not impossible to imagine the day when I don't follow F1 at all. What's wrong? See below;

The rules are killing the sport. For me it's that simple. Forget controlling costs (an impossible exercise) and let the teams do what they do best which is creating wonderful machines out of big piles of money.

The engine rules are a joke, they all sound the same because their form and top revs are dictated by rule. Give the teams design freedom with the engines and encourage relevant technology by making waste energy capture a performance plus. No rev limits (please!) but you only get one engine per weekend so use those revs carefully. Give the teams more rubber on the road and take away the wing's influence which has no real world automotive relevance. The FIA could dictate the rear wing by supplying them to each team. The supplied wings should be a single element design and only big enough for a little ad space. Their mounting position would be based on the location of the rear wheels. The front wing should also be a single element design and of a size dictated by rule. Mounting location should be based on the front wheels' location. Any other aerodynamic devices attached to the cars -- barge boards, Viking winglets, etc would count against the allowable front wing area. Anything thinner than a 1:6 fineness ratio is an aerodynamic device so let's get rid of all that junk hanging off the bodywork and get back to some clean, elegant shapes. The undersides of the cars should be dictated by rule such that most of the downforce comes from that part of the car and is not subject to development in wind tunnels. The main use of those expensive wind tunnels should be drag reduction, not downforce creation. Let the passing begin!

Let's let the drivers make a few mistakes, take away their aids, make them shift manually and use their right foot as the only traction control. More passing anyone?

Passing in the pits? Let's not. Formulate the rules to at least make a no-stop strategy possible and sometimes, at some tracks, make a no-stopper the obvious choice. Let the teams choose between the two (or three??) tires based on how long they need to last and not force the use of different tires during the race. The tire used in qualifying is the tire you start the race on, beyond that it's the team's choice. Force the drivers to conserve their tires on those long runs and let's see if the one or two-stoppers can catch them. They'll still be cause to talk about tires, but for good reason instead of the contrived situation we have now. Mark the tires so we all know what the teams are doing.

Qualifying should be done in race trim with low fuel. If passing is possible there's no reason the worry about race fuel during qualifying.

While we're at it, let's do something about the points system. Winning should be rewarded above all else and if it's possible to pass on the track let's make that risky pass for the lead worthwhile. The 10 point system may not be enough to give points to some of the non-winning drivers so maybe it's time to award 20 points for the win, 10 points for second, 6 for third, 4 for fourth, 3 for fifth, 2 for sixth and 1 for seventh. 8th out of 22 (24 next year) is too far back for a reward, maybe 7th is as well.

Politics aren't going away, there's nothing to be done on that score as long as there's this much money in the sport. But if the on-track action overshadows the backroom BS, who cares?

The FIA likes to dictate so let them dictate the countries that will get a race in any given year. A lot of us think Bernie has too much power. A rotation system could be created for all those new tracks that have no traditional status. Leave England, France, Spa, Monaco, etc as yearly events. The manufacturers could pressure the FIA to include the US each year based on the market for their products. Bernie would then be forced to make a deal with the available tracks within the chosen country instead of playing one country against the other and jacking the price up to where nobody can afford to host an event.

It's not too late to fix it....

Jose Ramon Cedeño

Being an F1 fan in my country (Mexico) is such a strange addiction, waking up at infra human hours is insane (Australian GP was live at 3:00 a.m. or so), but watching a boring succession of non sense is simply stupid. I dumped F1 in the early 2000's in the very climax of my beloved Ferrari wins; It wasn't fun at all anymore to watch a race that was already won, even if it was my favorite team winning; now I see no sense of watching this years championship ending, I'm hard headed so I know I'll watch it, but I want to see Ferrari winning races, competing, pushing technical barriers to the very limits, Raikonnen or Massa spinning out looking for a daring overtake, that is the heart of the sport, I'm sick of waiting to see who comes ahead from pit stops, who qualifies best or which stars are walking in pit lane before the race.

One call for F1 and Mr.B: OVERTAKING!!

That's it!, give us hope to see a 14th qualified driver making it to the 1st place, give us hope to see someone else than the ‘big four' winning, give us hope that this cars are not radio-controlled and that there's passion still in this drivers, remember Senna, Prost, Mansell, Hill, Berger, Alonso even the ice-cold Schumacher, they all ran with passion, this season is all about strategy, you know what F… STRATEGY! The best Championship in years? C'mon! Last year was heart braking for Ferrari fans but as a tiffoso I can tell that it was quite better than this ridiculous plot.

Gilraen – the Netherlands

Last weekend I was absolutely thru with F1. I felt extremely sad to see my beloved sport go down the drain; icons in F1 brought down to their knees and the championship in danger of being decided off track, in court even, rather than on the track.

Now, a couple of days later I realise that politics have always been part of F1 (but less accessible to the general public because of the Internet). You only have to look at some past (at least 15 years) Court of Appeal decisions and the current so called ‘cost cutting measures', which NOT at all achieved what we were promised they would (all examples have already been mentioned).

Today I still feel sad but will not turn my back on F1. I actually found myself feeling good with McLaren's decision to appeal their Hungary team penalty. That sounds like a contradiction, but when people like Ron Dennis are giving up, who are we left with?? And how they (whoever THEY are) managed to even get Ron Dennis loose his cool and crumble under the pressure? Why btw haven't we heard anything from Frank Williams? No one asked him??

With the Internet we, the fans, are flooded with inaccurate news posting (most of them only cut and paste, typo's included) and sensationalism and it's hard to filter out fact from fiction. Among fans there are those who believe everything they read and those - probably the ones posting here :-) - who are sceptical of news and try to look for the most reliable source. In the past couple of weeks it could have been a daytime job.

I wish I knew what I could DO to make a difference in making F1 again being all about car development and man-to-man racing on the track again. I don't, and maybe that's the most frustrating for me. If anyone knows, please tell me. And if anyone knows how I can attend the Court of Appeal's meeting on September 13th, also tell me J. When the real fans are giving up, what is there left to fight for?

Michael Hughes

Something just happened which makes me wonder who it is who makes all the decisions in F1. Everyone has agreed for sometime now, underscored by the F1A Survey, that the sport needs to get closer to the fans, that the human element is important; Michael Schumacher leaving has resulted in German TV figures collapsing, Alonso's success to enormous interest in Spain. In short we want a sport where we watch amazing sportsmen driving amazing machines. And how do we get close to the drivers, the engineers, the designers, the pit crews, the machine, how it works, how it is built and developed, how these complicated and sophisticated teams travel around the world and compete at the highest level?

Why, TV, of course or how many people do you know can afford to take time off and have the money to travel to more than one GP a year? I have been a fan since watching Jim Clark lift the inside wheel of the Lotus Cortina at Goodwood. I have followed the sport intensely, on TV for all this time. I too have grown tired of superficial commentating and always been amazed that after the last race of the championship I have never actually seen the crowning of the new world champion. Apart from that that over the winter break nothing was to be seen or heard - at the time of the feverish development of the new car, fans were kept in the dark.

One day I was jogging along with my dog when suddenly the idea came to me how I could address all these issues using TV in a way which it has not been used before but using resources which are already there. So I got together with a journalist friend and we worked out the concept, gave a copy to our lawyer and tried to get in touch with Bernie Ecclestone. We had to aim for the top because we all know that his power over TV rights has made F1 (and himself) rich. We got pretty high up only to be told that they saw no potential in our concept because "the drivers are so hypersensitive that they would never agree".

Now you may well question whether or not my concept was good enough and you have to take my word for it and, at the end of the day, no one cares except me, but being fobbed off with an answer like that after the bare bones of the concept had been pushed around the top echelons for something approaching a month, without being offered a meeting or a chance to expand and argue our case just shows how little anyone really wants things to change and how little they actually care about the fans.

By the way I am a professional photographer with 25 years experience and my colleague has a similar experience as a sport journalist and author with one of the biggest German dailies: the concept was not that bad.

Anyway maybe the Tour de France would be interested...

Richard McAuley

It is rare that I ever get involved in 'on line' comments but I feel the need to express the opinion in our household. My wife and I (late 30's) have been avid F1 fans for many years. We had the age old arguments about Schumi, (wife likes new boys such as Fernando and Kimi, I like the professionals such as MS) but to be honest we both agree that this year is turning into a comedy of errors, directed from above, and has next to nothing to do with racing cars! Both Bob and Lewis are doing a fine job of proving that if you have talent you can score points but with the media going mad, the FIA making rules as they go along and Bernie directing the whole song and dance from above it is starting to get a bit tedious. What we want to see is racing, real racing, where man (or woman) and machine race against each other for the glory of the win. We have a lot more fun watching Moto GP, Superbikes or Red Bull air race. Bring on the action, the drama and the sport but for the love of god stop trying to manipulate F1.

I thought wrestling, hores racing and boxing were fixed but this bunch of monkeys take it to a new level, is Tony B involved?

Ged Croughan - Melbourne, Australia

The relationship between speed and skill.

Getting the balance right. How often in F1 telecasts do we hear about balance? The car is perfectly balanced over the ripple strips, the balance of the car is all wrong the way the driver has to fight with it middle section of the corner. The pit crew are adding more front wing to try balance the front of the car. After watching 2 decades of F1 I have become acutely aware that balance is a very important factor in F1. But it puzzles me no end why balance between driver and car never are a matter of consideration when the F1 technical rules are drawn up. As a fan this is the "formula" in Formula 1. At the moment in Formula 1 I find it impossible to grade the drivers on the grid mainly because the cars have two much influence in determining the out come of the races. The formula is all wrong, I would estimate in modern F1 the car influences the out come of any given race for any given driver by about 80%. As a fan this is fundamentally wrong. How long will it be till the driver in for safety or other reasons must race the car by remote control? I see a 50/50 relationship between driver and car in determining the out come of races, as rule no.1 in the Formula for getting F1 back on track.

Brian Mancinelli - Easton, CT USA

It has been a ritual of mine for about 10 years, to wake up early on Sunday morning, and watch Formula One from Europe.

Attending the Canadian GP a few years ago, and then the "aborted" US GP a couple of years ago was fun, and exciting, but in the case of the event at Indy, ultimately, disappointing.

Automobile racing can be fun, exciting, suspenseful, thrilling and totally compelling. There is of course no RACING in Formula One. There really hasn't been much racing in the "show" for quite some time. Now, I either sleep a little longer on Sunday, or simply read the NY Times, play tennis or to the delight of my daughter and wife, actually spend some time with them.

There really isn't any reason to spend time watching Formula One anymore.

Cliff Roythorne

Well I for one have been going on for years that this sport is kicking its self to death.

The spy saga is getting beyond belief and i think ferrari are doing themselves a greater diservice than they think. Qualifing needs to go back to orginal system but with a structure.

I have been saying for years get rid of fuel pitstops and just give them one amount and they have to make distance. bring back slicks and get rid of the dirty air and major aero pacakages, even bring back skirts will be better than what we have now. Plus get rid of tracks that you can not pass on.

And as for Bernie and Max, i have said for a long time they need to go. It is time for professional sports development and organization to take over the sport.not people that have cap in hand in ever department from track ownership, to F1 powers that be.

We the public say your fired Bernie, Max and the FIA.

Ronald Mcisaac - Canada

The current state of F1?

well I for one would much rather have the controversy any day. why?. well because I feel that to many drivers of today are LITERALLY owned by the teams & are nothing more then ROBOTS who have no say of their own &/or are scared to death to speak their mind on or off the track.

so no matter how much I disliked Alonso blocking Hammy in the pits, just look how much that one bad move on Alonsos part did to excite the sport!. thats why among my main heros in F1 are first & formost the late great Ayrton Senna who took absolutly zero crap from anyone or anything, he difined the word PASSION, but not in a cutthroat backstabbing do litaerally whatever it takes to win Ferrari/Schumacher type of way. I was also a big fan of Jacques Villeneuve not only as a fellow Canadian but also as someone who was not scared to tell it like it is. thats what I want to see & thats what I want to hear.

maybe its still early to say but Lewis Hamilton reminds me alot of the late great Ayrton Senna in the way he takes no prisoners on the track & like Villeneuve in the way hes not affraid to speak up.

Formula one is a great sport, my favorite sport, & I for one want RACE DRIVERS not ROBOTS.

Ray Blount - Woodstock, Ga

I agree with Mr... Delloyde, but this has been building over the last couple of years.

Stewards and officials are to much of a factor. Unless a team principle protest and can show damage don't make a ruling.

Until recent years we knew who had the fastest car after qualifying. Now everyone is trying to guess how much fuel is in each car and guess fuel stops. In fact pit stops have become too much of a factor. Increase the time in pit lane and maybe the importance of pit stops drops.

Stop trying to make the races more entertaining, this is suppose to be racing. One of the most remembered seasons was in 1988 when Mclaren took 15 of 16 races. And the run of Championships of Michael Schumacher will be talked about as long as anyone remembers F1.

I am still a race fan just now I am going to pay more attention to local amateur events instead of F1 and NASCAR.

Nigel Osborne - Canada

I have to say, I haven't turned my back on F1 yet, despite the recent nonsense.

Am I ashamed and disgusted by it all? Yes. But will I turn F1 off? Probably not. I might miss a few races when I forget to record an event now and then or if I'm out of town, but I'll still watch. For me, it will always be about the cars, the drivers, the skill and the intensity of the sport.

I do find it strange this culture we live in though. A culture where we idolize celebrities, worship athletes, and avidly consume so much of the "extra-curricular" going's-on of those who run and partake in any form of frivolous entertainment - and at the end of the day that is what F1 is. If anything, all of this should be a reminder to us (the anonymous and modest masses), that despite the obscene amount of money that these people make, it is that very thing - MONEY, of which these people have so much, that fuels the passions, motivates the illicit desires and transgressions, perpetuates the unknown cheating, stealing and back-stabbing. Pathetic.

Other sports are no different. The Tour de "Farce" this year was just that. Who cares if a steroid junky baseball player manages to eclipse Hank Aaron's record? And what the hell is a multi-millionaire American football player doing participating in the abhorrent cruelty of dog-fighting? Given all of this, why the hell should we be surprised? Why should we care?

I don't. But like I said, I'll likely still watch. I may become increasingly apathetic about those who run the sport and have control of the various interests of it. I will become further detached from all the shenanigans as I seek to find some of the good and purity that was once F1. But, at the end of the day I will put it in context. I will remind myself that this is just a sport (or game - however you look at it). It is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, as are all sports and the professional athletes who participate in them.

Wilson Duke - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I used to break away from everything just to watch the qualifying and the F1 races. But the complex rules and the bore that begins after a few laps from the start when the pole car starts to pull away, you know the what the end-result is 8 out of 10 times. In a sense I have to respect what Juan Pablo Montoya did when he decided he did not wanted out. I now see his decision why he'd rather not continue with a lesser team with no chances of winning or just wanting to hang on to F1 for the sake of being there.

I feel now that there are probably better drivers out there in other series, but there are definately better engineers, tactitions and strategists in F1. But I noticed that people here generally are less interested in the sport and the hype has settled with F1 unable to attract the young. I myself don't mind finding out the results after the race. This was unthinkable 2 years ago.

I hope F1 will get be more attractive on the track rather then under the hood, behind the scenes or as a soap opera.

Harold Netto - Singapore

After reading 34 pages of great comments and insights may I add my humble thoughts.

WE WANT RACING (ie overtaking)

To achieve this we can
1. get rid of "dirty air"
2. make sure there are no "marbles" on the track (so there is no dirty line)

In this way we can "clean up " F1 to some extent.

Wayne Baillie

F1 doesn't give a ***** about the fans. It's just become this enormous money making machine. Problem is, it's just a very select few who are racking in the money. They aren't going to change anything, why would you when you're richer than some countries. Alonso was correct last year, "F1 is no longer a sport." It's become a joke.

Sally Wilson

I have been a fan of F1 for years, in particular a fan of McLaren, but no longer.

F1 has become corrupt and it is no longer about racing.

McLaren have shown themselves to be not worth supporting. They employ a 2 time world champion then shaft him into an underdog position. This is not about Hungary, its about team tactics. If Alonso decides to leave because he feels he is not getting what he thought would be a good deal, then McLaren lose the number 1 on their car, thus I suppose losing some sponsorship. This doesn't show clarity of thought. Ron Dennis gave it all away when he lost it after the qualifying. If anyone was in any doubt of who he favours then they can't be now.

This team needs a good re think. I am not saying either of the drivers is right, but they both need to be put in their places and told who actually is the number 1 driver.

My son walked out of the room after the first couple of laps and refused to watch the rest of the race. If I had anything better to do on Sunday I would have done the same.

I think it is time now to stop pandering to all and sundry and let us have some racing. Not organized results

Timothy Dannwolf - NJ, USA

I'm not overly bothered by the whole "spy scandal." I assume similar events have happened many times before but havent been so heavily reported because the instant access of the internet wasn’t around yet. The reason I am quickly losing interest in a sport that I have been completely obsessed with for the past 15 years is the blatant disregard for the fans. It I find it appalling that the US GP was dropped when it is clearly one of the best attended events of the season. It is actually fine if they want to find a different circuit in the US, but F1 owes it to the US to at least have a race here. After all, we provide the majority of sponsors in F1 and we are the biggest market for most manufactures in F1. Its completely shocking that Bernie would A) drop the USGP and B) make comments to disparage the US fans with talk about how F1 doesn’t need them. F1 should be trying to win over the US fans, not the other way around. A similar thing will no doubt happen to Spanish fans in a few years when Alonso retires and their two GPs turn into one and then into none. This is what makes me lose interest in F1.

Lee Stohr - Portland, Oregon

After 35 years of following Formula 1; I have lost interest as well.

I worshipped Senna, respected Schumacher. I study racing history back to the Peugeot/Mercedes battles before the Great War.

I have been suspicious of FIA manipulation of the championship for awhile, but with the FIA controlled ECU's coming soon, it's over.

Auto racing must be about cars and drivers, and every racing series in the world has lost sight of that.

Even F1 cars have become so technically dumbed down they can't beat a Champ Car at Laguna Seca. That's a cheap, spec car built by a no-name designer in Redneck, Georgia for Christ-sake.

It's over.

Trudi Berglin

I agree with James' letter. Except that I will continue to read Pitpass because I'm still interested in what happens to the sport I have loved for over 55 years. And Pitpass gives me the true facts.

I was raised on this exciting, dangerous, fun-loving sport. And yes it is sad that people like Ecclestone who originally wanted to bring cohesiveness to the sport, and safety as well, went the way of all who start making a lot of money when they didn't have that much. Greed and power took control of them. Now the US does not have F1, albeit we do have excellent coverage. In fact the coverage by David Hobbs, Bob Varsha and Steve Matchett of Speed is very entertaining, more so then the race.

At this point in time it would be far better for us if F1 dissolved and the sport were run so to say, by the team owners. Each sitting on the Board so to speak with a representative of the Drivers to have a say.

After you explained how F1 was sold, I was aghast. The man sold "air?" So my question is was he allowed to "sell" F1 only because of the Concorde agreement which ends in a year? and is it because he owns a "trademark" F1. I guess I'm confused. As the agreement ends in a year then maybe it is time to let the agreement go and start new. Maybe then we can get better ticket prices, better racing, tv coverage, etc. This entire financial picture of F1 and hedge funds is smoke and mirrors and will definitely destroy whatever is left anyway.

All I know is this mess has been going on far too long and for now I'll nap between the start of the race and the end of the race. Or maybe stop getting up at all hours to watch it live and just read the results on

Paul Timothy Carden - Los Angeles, California

No, you are not alone, and in the end everyone must answer the question for themselves individually. I became a fan because I was fascinated by the technology and speed of the cars. Now all I hear about is the litigation and court proceedings. Globally there are countless ways to satisfy my appetite for racing technologies and speed, but sadly, Formula One is no longer on that list. And no sir, I won't return.

Gary Mueller - Lino Lakes, MN, USA

I have been following F1 since I first read in Road & Track about Phill Hill and Wolfgang von Trips going at it at the old Nurburgring in 1961. What passes for F1 today bears little resemblance to what I was captivated by in my youth. The "sport" has left me behind. Bring back those days when drivers muscled their cars around on raw talent, and when you could see them 3 abreast on the front row. I will now go days without checking online to read about the latest "he said, she said" sophomoric goings on. Most days the F1 news barely rises above the level of the worst gossip rags one sees in the supermarket checkout lines. The fascination is gone!

Tony Sullivan

as with all sports the "fans" seem to want gossip and comment - it is my desire only to watch the athletes perform and not to know anything about their pecadillos, drug use, criminal records, activities off the field of competition nor do i want to know how they relate to their bosses - they have jobs to do once they are in their uniforms and a true sports afficianado can ignore what it is the commentators, editors and trash mongers want to talk about - selling the ability of an athelete will somehow detract from the reputation of persons reporting sports trash and trivia -

for years i have complained about how F1 is produced and broadcast - close ups of the helmet of a F1driver at speed does very little to demonstrate the ability and concentration of these superburb athletes - i can accept the fact that advertising has to detract from the race, but poor television production can give no excuses - stop concentrating on farce and shenanigans and watch the race.

Galen Williams

I will first admit that I have been away from F1 for quite a while and 2007 is the first time in more than a decade where I have tried to watch every race and follow the teams and happenings in general. (I trace my F1 roots all the way back to Jackie Stewart.) Needless to say, the internet has been invaluable since the American press is 50 years behind the times and leaves so much to be desired when following F1. As an American, and with all of the many forms of auto racing that we have, I should first say that knockout qualifying is one of the best innovations to come along in motor sports in a long time. I wish the American sanctioning bodies would adopt it. However, it is very difficult for me to understand how a governing body such a FIA could allow its number one sport (F1) and likely the number one motor sport in the world to maintain a system where the winner of a race will more than 90% of the time come from one of the top three or four qualifiers. That seems a travesty from this American prospective.

Just to name a 2nd problem from my point of view, why would anyone even want tracks (such as Monte Carlo and Hungry to name a few) where passing is so difficult that if you qualify as low as 3rd, barring some unforeseen major occurrence, you have no chance of winning, even if your car is as fast and "fleet of foot" as those in front of you. And if starting a race on the "dirty" side of a track is such a thing to be avoided, why not let qualifiers 2 through 22 respectively decide what position they want to line up in. In many instances, you might have the #2 qualifier starting from the 3rd slot on the track. Not only does that make more sense, but also adds some strategizing to the race. In any case, just some thoughts from an old/new F1 follower from the unsophisticated side of the Atlantic.

Monica Drury

I am absolutely disgusted at the waythings start to happen midway through the championship when ferrari are not leading. last year it was the mass damper saga and this year it's the spy story.we had to suffer enough changes in order to help michael schumacher win seven championships,don't they think it's time to give the young ones a chance?

I say give mclaren the 15 points back and let them fight it out on the track where races are won after all.

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Published: 07/08/2007
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