F1 needs to look forward, not backwards, to win back its TV audience and spectators
It seems like a simple thing to say, but if you want progress then you need to look forward. There's nothing wrong with the tried-and-tested, of course, but the best way to breathe fresh life into something isn't by artificially recreating the past. Unfortunately, nobody has told this to F1.
As the sport starts a new working group to look for ways to enliven the action, most of the early ideas have had one worrying theme about them: powerful, old-school F1 figures wanting things like they were “back in our day.”
Back in our day, the cars were harder to drive. Back in our day, you were exhausted after a race. Back in our day, we didn't have all that help from the pit wall. Back in our day, you didn't get so much help driving the car. Back in our day, you were punished more for your driving mistakes.
This is, of course, true. However, as the sport became increasingly technical, this thing called progress happened; the cars became more advanced, the drivers became fitter, and the sport became safer.
All of these engineering and sporting advances have made life too easy, or so it's said, for the rockstars of F1 – the drivers. It's why F1 has had its clumsy attempt to cut down on team radio communications. More obstacles are likely to be thrown in their way soon too: even less downforce and grip, more torque, less information from the pits. All of this in an attempt to recreate the good-old-days, blissfully ignoring the fact that there are dozens of new, modern ideas to use.
What F1 is trying to do is to artificially recreate the days of F1 which nostalgia has glorified by taking things away from it's current product. Rather than add things to the current racing in an attempt to make it as exciting as the bygone days of yore, F1 is clipping its own wings in an attempt to have controlled, artificial conditions which have produced exciting racing in the past.
What it should be doing is looking forwards. There are a plethora of new ideas which could breathe new life into the sport, both in terms of scheduling and regulations. Some may not work, however what matters is that they are new and add things, not take them away.
F1 could extend the lifecycle of the cars from one year to two so that more money can be invested into fully developing a car; move more flyaway races to either night races or primetime races for European audiences; or allow technology such as ground effect and active suspension to return.
All of these things would add new challenges to the sport, not look backwards and take things away to further homogenise the action.
At the same time, F1 seemingly has no intention of examining the draconian cost-cutting measures that are undoubtedly affecting on track action. F1 could divert some money from CVC and Bernie Ecclestone's pockets and use it to allow the teams to use more fuel, engines, gearboxes, and engine development so that at least the action on track is at full pelt.
It doesn't matter what the new ideas are - what matters is that they are new. F1 cannot expect to move forward and retain it's position as an elite form of motorsport if it retreats into an artificial recreation of the past.