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Debate reaction: Readers back Fernando Alonso on F1’s peak

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Debate reaction: Readers back Fernando Alonso on F1’s peak
Jan 12, 2017, 9:33 PM

Fernando Alonso recently triggered a thought-provoking discussion with his opinion that the 2000s era of Formula 1 was its peak in terms of popular...

Fernando Alonso recently triggered a thought-provoking discussion with his opinion that the 2000s era of Formula 1 was its peak in terms of popularity.

So we asked JA on F1 readers for their response to the double world champion’s comments, which also included his assertion that the mid-1980s-to-mid-1990s period of the champion was “very boring”.

In a poll that asked “When was F1 most popular?” 66 per cent of voters (1,990 out of the 2,973 who took part) felt that the 2000s era was the sport’s popularity peak. Only 25 per cent voted for the 1980s-1990s and the remaining nine per cent opted for another period besides the two discussed by Alonso.

poll-1

But the observations written by readers gave an interesting insight into the positives and negatives of both eras.

Here is a selection of the best comments:

Vano: “IMO the 1980s-1990s was the most fascinating for me. What Alonso says is true, that many races were not classics and two cars would romp away at the front, but it was an era where the cars were both powerful and fragile - there was a real sense that F1 was pushing the boundaries of what was possible which was often resulted in mechanical DNFs.

“The cars were beasts to drive, and drivers would often finish a race in a state of exhaustion. The drivers were men, not the boys that half of today's grid represent. And above all else, there was still a very real sense that F1 is was a danger sport where mistakes were punished by more than a stop-go penalty.”

Senna 1

Lee Bailey: “I'm inclined to agree with him. Whilst the cars and characters of the 80's/90's were more 'attractive', the racing was typically dull and predicable for the most part, but you only realise that when you try watching those races today.

“For me, the best time in recent history was the mid-late 2000's - 2008 always stands out for me - a period of relative stability in the rules meant the grid was pretty close.

“Every time there are major technical changes, we end up with huge gaps between the teams - we *need* stability in the rules to close up the grid and (hopefully) improve the racing as a result. Even the small teams will catch up eventually.’

2006 Brazilian Grand Prix

Serge: “Alonso is totally wrong. I remember the 2000s as an era where passing was mainly done in the pits. Refuelling and the lack of passing made for boring races. My favourite era definitely 1984-1993, when drivers could still make the difference with the development of the car and you had rivalries between Piquet vs Mansell and Prost vs Senna.”

Alex T: “I completely agree with Fernando. For me the best period of F1 was 2005 – 2009, the 2005 season I mark as the most exciting. Still to this day I cannot believe Kimi didn’t win that championship, and the tyre & suspension failure at the end of the race at the Nurburgring still lives long in the memory. For me it ranks up there as one of the most exciting ends to a Grand Prix alongside Brazil 2008 and Canada 2011.

“For me though the season that really summed up how Formula 1 should be is the 2008 season. 7 different drivers winning in 5 different teams – nearly half of the F1 teams that season won a Grand Prix, and that variability of multiple teams being able to turn up on a certain weekend and in be in with a shout of victory if the conditions played to their favour is where motorsport should be.

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

“In F1 2016 we had 4 different winners from 2 different teams. In the 2016 World Rallycross Championship there were 7 different winners from 6 different teams over just 12 rounds! That is what motorsport should be and highlights where Formula 1 is failing.”

Readers reckon 2017 rules will improve F1’s popularity

We also asked JA on F1 readers for their thoughts on the upcoming rule changes that have been implemented in a bid to make the cars quicker and designs look more aggressive from this season. The 2017 machines will feature wider bodywork and front wings, wider and lower rear wings, as well as bigger tyres.

poll-2

In response to a poll that asked “Will the 2017 rule changes improve F1's popularity?” 55 per cent of voters (1,386 out of 2,491) said yes they would, while 45 per cent felt that they would not have an impact on the championship’s appeal.

Renault is currently slated as the first team to unveil its 2017 challenger on 21 February, with Force India launching on 22 February, Mercedes revealing its new car one day later, and Ferrari making it four design debuts in four days on 24 February.

Pascal Wehrlein

The first winter test of 2017 will get underway on 27 February and will last until 2 March, with a second session taking place from 7-10 March. Both tests will be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

What do you make of the reaction to Fernando Alonso’s comments regarding F1’s most popular era? And do you agree that the 2017 rule changes will help to boost the championship’s reputation? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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