Many words have been committed to print on the meagre entry list in LMP1 for 2017, the lack of competition and strict regulations. But there comes a time, after discussing and debating past developments and future changes, when we must ask ourselves: is the problem really the entry list? Or are we fans the problem?
I look back fondly on days in my childhood getting up at 6am on a Sunday to watch Formula 1 on TV. In the 1990s and the 2000s I didn’t question the world of motorsport. I grew up with a particular series and followed it without any qualms. But now, in the current world of motorsport, we can easily criticise every single rule amendment or interpret every form of change as a provocation.
Is everything as bad as we seem to believe? No, certainly not. For many, the development of our media landscape and the growing number of racing series is at the core of the problem. Not everything was rosy in the past, and some rule changes created a furore. But back then we fans only had limited opportunities to follow all races in a particular championship. Even though we may not have agreed with some rule changes, we seemed to accept them more easily. We are all motorsport fans at heart and want to see drivers at the limit, battling for the lead, fighting for race wins.
Social media means that we become aware of plans to change rulesets more quickly and often they are dismissed as bad for the sport without looking into the bare bones. At first glance, changes in engine regulations, hybrid power allocations or balance of performance (BoP) have a radical impact on the current situation, but each change can open up opportunities, too. Case in point: automated BoP in GTE Pro. For many, it may come as a surprise to see the manual BoP process, previously handled by a team of experts at the FIA, replaced with a computer algorithm. But this spanner in the works, if you will, brings a new element to the class and sets a challenge to GTE Pro teams.
Ultimately the teams must cope with the change, but for us fans everything will stay the same. We will still cheer on our favourite teams, cars and drivers. Regardless of the changes that may afflict motorsport moving forward, competition, excitement and fascination for man and machine will remain. We live in an era in which motorsport has never been so easy to follow. The number of series competing at circuits all over the world is flourishing, and we should never lose sight of that.
New information or a planned change doing the rounds on social media shouldn’t be blinding us. Factory involvement in LMP1 may have fallen from three manufacturers to two, but that doesn’t mean that the races will be any less exciting. The Prologue in Monza gave us a taste of what should be a mouth-watering season. The quicker we are to accept new situations, the sooner we return to the core of our passion, the thing that got us out of bed early those Sunday mornings: motorsport itself.
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