Opinion: F1 car ‘reveals’ are pointless and must be banned

By topgear, 19 February 2021

If you were in charge of Formula One, what rules would you change? 

Perhaps you’d bin DRS, re-introduce refuelling, or mandate at least one of the drivers has to spend the entire weekend wearing a fancy dress costume. Perhaps the individual who gives the single most boring answer to a press conference question. And it should be one of the really hot, humid, sticky venues where he has sweat through 72 hours dressed as Clifford The Big Red Dog. 

I’d start before the season has even begun, and forbid any team from performing a spangly hashtag-infested gala ‘reveal’ of its new racing car. It’s the single most baffling piece of F1-ish guff since Sebastian Vettel’s anti-dandruff shampoo advert.

The drivers scuttle out wearing their smart new pyjamas, and as the world watches through a forest of cameraphones, tug a silk tablecloth off their latest contender. And everyone goes “ooh,” and “cor” and says the word ‘vortex’ a lot while pointing at the sticky-out bits and secretly thinking “I wish I could spot anything different to last year’s car”.

See, F1 cars all look identical these days. Peel off the livery and you’d struggle to tell a Haas from a Ferrari from a AlphapineRomeo. That’s the inevitable result of rules tighter than two coats of paint. The optimal solution for speed is obviously going to look similar for everyone. It’s called ‘doing a Racing Point’.

An F1 car is a supremely impressive bit of engineering kit, but twirling about on a rotating plinth under school disco spotlights, only Adrian Newey can ‘read’ it. Everyone else just has a quick gander at the paint job and its motivational messages. #WEKEEPPUSHINGHARDER.

Then the poor drivers (who have to wear full fireproof garb just to perch on a stool with a microphone like a risk-averse Westlife cruise ship tribute band) must earn their salaries with eight hours of banal questions about their hopes and dreams for the coming season. 

All of which can be boiled down to: “Yes, I’m looking forward to driving the car. It’s going to be a long season. We’ll see what happens. No, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that I haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of winning the championship. Thanks, I can’t wait to go to Monaco dressed as Barney The Dinosaur. #WEKEEPTHRUSTINGWITHVIGOUR.”

If it was up to me, Formula One teams would have to keep their cars as classified as Cold War spy-planes until the warm-up lap of the very first race. 

Until then, all bodywork has to be camouflaged like secret new supercars at the Nürburgring. Sort the aero in the wind-tunnel then wedge bits of polystyrene and sellotaped bin liner over it during testing. Any sniff of a visible hashtag docks you five world championship points. 

Meanwhile, espionage would be encouraged. Imagine Kimi Raikkonen creeping into Guenther Steiner’s bedroom at 3am to pinch some suspension blueprints (while disguised as a giant Pikachu). I’d pay big money to hear Martin Brundle commentate on that.

Then, make the drivers shakedown their new racers completely hidden beneath a strapped-down tarpaulin. Imagine what looks like a giant ballet tutu taking Eau Rouge flat.

Lewis and co are allowed two eye holes cut in the top, but once back in the paddock, everyone has to wear blindfolds. That ought to help Williams catch up.

That way, at least when the whole circus charges down to the first corner to knock bits of carbonfibre off each other, we’d have plenty of new stuff to look at besides the #DADDYSGOTRUBLES stencils on the dome of Nikita Mazepin’s helmet.

STORY Ollie Kew

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