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Talking point: Monaco the reminder that F1 is at its best when its raw and extreme

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Talking point: Monaco the reminder that F1 is at its best when its raw and extreme
May 20, 2015, 4:46 PM

Predictably the F1 paddock in Monaco is abuzz with discussions about the future rules for F1, with the proposed return of refuelling appealing to o...

Predictably the F1 paddock in Monaco is abuzz with discussions about the future rules for F1, with the proposed return of refuelling appealing to older drivers while some, like Fernando Alonso, openly saying that the sport has been "on the wrong track" for the last few years.

Tomorrow, the GP Drivers' Association launches its global fan survey, asking fans for their views on the ideas being proposed for 2017 and to contribute others of their own. But the GPDA's Jenson Button admitted that the drivers have yet to be asked to contribute to the discussion. This survey is their gentle way of remaining the sport not only to listen to its fans, but also to listen to them.

Alonso Malaysia 2006

There are some strong views among drivers; Alonso admitted that his views are probably "too radical" to be considered suitable by the rule makers, but he pointed to the fact that in Malaysia this year, a circuit which has changed little since its introduction in 1999, the fastest lap this year of 1m 42.062 was almost eight seconds slower than Alonso's fastest race lap in 2006 of 1m 34.803s and observed that the cars were barely faster than the GP2 feeder series cars today.

Asked if he felt that the sport was on the wrong track, Alonso said it had been so for a number of years and "the proof is by looking at the grandstands".

Meanwhile in the press conference Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Button, all of whom raced in the previous refuelling era, said that they would welcome a return to that format of racing.

But unpredictable racing, where cars pass each other in the pit lane, rather than on track, is not the same as wheel to wheel and there has certainly been more of that in the last few years than there ever was in the mid 2000s. What is the objective? Is it close racing and overtaking, or strategy-led unpredictability?

F1 engineers say they will need to know by August what the technical regulations are for 2017 in order to set in process the work needed to re-imagine the F1 car. But the likelihood of getting an agreed set of proposals by then is quite remote and there are plenty of other things going on behind the scenes - with possible EU investigations into the sport's contracts with participants, discussions over shareholders in the F1 business, when they exit and how they get their money back - to distract teams and those close to the top.

Perhaps what will end up happening is the bigger picture will drive the rule making process rather than the other way around.

So is today's agenda just talk, as F1 maintains a holding pattern while the money matters are resolved? Quite possibly.

The news of Lewis Hamilton's contract dominated the agenda today, but not for long, as it was not unexpected.

Walking around the streets, tens of thousands of people, getting close to the action, bumping into Hamilton as he makes his way from garage to paddock through public areas.

Monaco GP

What Monaco does remind us of, with its slightly chaotic organisation, the fans mingling with teams in the pit lane when the roads are open, is the magic of what F1 can be; this extreme, unreasonable pursuit of driving impossibly fast cars around a race track, drivers being paid millions to live the dream and everyone coming within touching distance of that magic.

Monaco is a metaphor for what F1 can be at its best and the sport's powerbrokers should get out there and feel the atmosphere this weekend to remind themselves of it.

Bring back the visceral and the raw, the glamourous, the dangerous and the extreme and you have the real F1; a product that will fill the stands - providing the ticket prices can be brought under control too as part of the process - and have a strong future.

Vettel
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