F1 fans despair of the sport’s rule-makers. Proposals to ‘spice up’ the F1 action – to aid falling TV figures – won’t change that. Chief amongst recent wacky decisions is replacing rolling restarts with standing starts.
They have long said race starts are the most exciting part of the show. But this has become the case not because standing starts are the be-all and end-all. It is due to the race laps often becoming dull processions, thus making the race start by default so critical to the race result. Simply adding in more standing starts misses the point.
For fans at F1 tracks, rolling restarts are one of the most thrilling and visceral things to witness. On TV they offer great anticipation of seeing sleeping rivals mugged and inferior cars challenge the leaders. Questions remain about how engaging multiple re-starts will be for fans if cars stall/break-down on the grid and repeat formation laps are required (ironically taking place behind the safety car).
But most critically, history is littered with tragedy resulting from standing starts and it is not something unique to the dark days of the 70s and 80s. The inaugural Indycar G.P. of Indianapolis this year saw a stalled pole-sitter rammed by an unsighted rival. Both drivers survived but it was a reminder of the dangers of standing starts.