Sochi: A timely reminder of F1's progress

Sochi Russian Grand Prix

The Russian Grand Prix was a dull race, but it was a good reminder of how far F1 has come in the last decade to improve the overall show.

Lets not sugar coat it: the Russian Grand Prix was painfully dull. But, if you'll step down memory lane with me, it was also just like watching a race from a decade ago.

We had the dominant car scampering off to victory, only this time it was Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes rather than Michael Schumacher's Ferrari. The most exciting action came watching the pitlane exit to see if somebody had been able to pick up a position on strategy (although, thanks to a rare durable tyre selection from Pirelli, there was precious little of that too) and the entire race was spent begging for rain, a safety car, or at least something to disrupt the boring norm.

It was a throwback to the days where you'd start watching the coverage, and hope to see Jim Rosenthal covered in rain as that would be the only way that an interesting race would happen.

At the same time, though, it was a good reminder of just how far F1 has come to try to stop races like these happening. Some of the decisions which were made to spice up the sport have come in for a fair bit of criticism – DRS makes overtaking too easy, the highly degradable Pirelli rubber makes racing artificial, the cars with less aerodynamics look ugly and boring – but they were all made to put an end to the era of every race being like Sochi.

Sochi also gave the perfect counter argument to those who say that modern F1 has lost something with its gimmickry. The alternative is season after season where races like Sochi are the norm. If there is one alternative which is worse than slightly artificial grands prix, it is an entire season of races which suck the excitement out of the peak of motorsport.

While Sochi may have been dull as dishwater, it was an important reminder that F1 has come on leaps and bounds to improve the spectacle of the sport, and that we need to be thankful for that. For any negatives that recent changes to F1 may have, the backlash to the Russian Grand Prix succinctly shows that if those changes hadn't been made, F1 may well have been crushed under the weight of bored, dissatisfied fans.

There is hope for next year's Russian Grand Prix, too. With Pirelli now knowing that they need the softest compounds at the circuit, with track officials knowing that there needs to be more punishment put in place for running wide, and with FOM looking to make it a night race from next year onwards, hopefully the event will live up to its potential. If these changes are made, then it too will be a further tribute to the fan-friendly F1 of the modern era.

But most importantly, through it's excruciatingly boring race, the Russian Grand Prix should have made us all thankful for the innovations which have made dull racing the exception, not the rule.