Photo Credit: F1
What was playing out to be the most competitive Formula One race of the season, was marred with the same controversy and frustration fans have been complaining about for years. With 10 laps to go in yesterday’s Canadian Grand Prix, race leader Sebastian Vettel lost control of his car heading into the tricky turn 3 of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and slid through the grass before returning to the track just in front of rival Lewis Hamilton, causing Hamilton to jump on the brakes to avoid a collision. Vettel was awarded a 5 second time penalty by race officials for an unsafe reentry to the track and finished second, though he finished ahead of race winner Lewis Hamilton on the track. The decision set Twitter on fire with fans outraged with Vettel’s penalty. Vettel himself was so enraged he skipped the podium car lineup and upon returning to the podium for the mandatory trophy presentation switched the signs marking Lewis Hamilton’s 1stplace car and the 2ndplace placard where his Ferrari would have been in protest. Sunday’s race was everything Formula One wants, but exactly what continually frustrates fans about the series.
Yesterday’s race encompassed the good and the bad of modern Formula One racing. Just as fans and Ferrari hoped the race was shaping up to be competitive and a likely Ferrari win. For the first 60 laps, Vettel and Hamilton were sparring back and forth with runs down the long straights and defense going into the chicanes at the end of those straights. But Vettel’s mistake and subsequent penalty ruined the excitement of fans and, frankly, the media and other teams in the garage. Penalties like Vettel’s have seemed to suck the racing soul out of races in the last few seasons in hopes of increased safety for the drivers and fans. However, fans like myself and millions of others worldwide are beginning to feel the emphasis on safety is taking away from the drivers’ ability to challenge and push their competitors and cars to the limit.
Speed, danger and the thrill of competition at the core of every type of racing around the world. While Formula One’s efforts to increase driver and fan safety are important, sacrificing the on-track experience for the fans and drivers is dangerous to the longevity of the series. However, Formula One is still at the pinnacle of technology and speed and can provide fantastic on-track action such as the racing throughout the Canadian Grand Prix. Formula One must create a balance of safety and competitive racing if the series wants to continue its massive worldwide popularity and grow into the future.