SMP Images/DPPI Media - Francois Flamand

Is formula one boring or brilliant?

HE SAYS

Last week's Australian Grand Prix could hardly have promised more: six world champions, two Aussies and the prospect of a few spectacular bingles - both in the paddock and on the track.

For red-blooded single males, the best news to come out of Albert Park at the weekend was that Lara Bingle took her mum to the event.

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Yep, there was a celebrity for everyone.

For the music lovers, there was American rocker Lenny Kravitz, while for the tone-deaf there was Natalie Bassingthwaighte.

But for the motor-racing fan, I'm afraid it was the same old high-speed procession.

OK, there were a few scrapes and scraps further back in the field but, as with the vast majority of formula one races, it was all over after the first corner.

If you could have got any better than $1.10 on Jenson Button to win after the first lap, your bookie's either an idiot or a philanthropist.

If it wasn't for the late safety car, the Briton would have won by about 15 seconds. Tell me any other sport where the result is a foregone conclusion so far from the end. OK, apart from when the Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney Giants take on Geelong in the AFL.

The biggest problem with F1 - apart from the fact most of the passing manoeuvres happen when one car is doing 60km/h and the other is standing still - is that it promises so much.

Last week, the opening practice session threw up a couple of potential Cinderella stories. The old man of the field, 43-year-old Michael Schumacher, was third fastest. In the second session, he was top of the charts.

Then there were the surprise packets in qualifying: Romain Grosjean third fastest in a Lotus Renault; Schumacher next to him in fourth; and a second Australian driver, Daniel Ricciardo, in the top 10.

Surely the race was now a tantalising prospect for the sports fan?

If they lived on Mars and had never seen a grand prix perhaps.

Everyone else was steeling themselves for the inevitable let-down after that first corner.

And in that way, the race didn't disappoint.

Call me a knuckle-dragging bogan but the home-grown V8 Adelaide Street race was a better sporting spectacle.

SHE SAYS

When you say "formula one is boring", you fall into a certain category of people. Those who don't know how good they have it.

The "F1 is not exciting enough" complaint reminds me of American comedian Louis C.K.'s take on those who grumble about modern technology. In particular, people whinging that delays to a flight caused the "worst day of my life".

"Oh really?" C.K. says, "What happens next? Did you fly through the air incredibly? Like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight, you non-contributing zero? You're flying! It's amazing!

"Everybody on every plane should constantly be going, 'Oh my god! Wow!'" I would argue that his line of reasoning is applicable to ideas that F1 racing is boring.

Watching million-dollar cars weighing 650 kilograms with engines spinning at 18,000rpm and reaching speeds topping 300km/h is fairly extraordinary.

If you're track-side, there's the car's ear-piercing sound and the potent perfume of burning carbon, metal and rubber. On television, cockpit cameras show the drivers' ability to operate a car, talk to team members via the radio and avoid co-competitors while experiencing G-forces between 3G and 5G.

You and I would be close to unconscious in the same situation.

I do agree that guarded comments from drivers, team managers and the like are yawn inducing these days. But what irks are rule changes to refuelling and perceptions there is a lack of overtaking.

Two years ago, Fernando Alonso responded to such criticisms, pointing out it was a technical sport. ''People who want extra show perhaps need to reconsider if they want to watch formula one,'' Alonso said.

I think the tedious aspects of F1 are the "extra show" - the corporate track-side set-up that pays for the event but segregates the sport.

Those with money, contacts and, often, little interest, are fawned over in airconditioned, catered pavilions with appearances from F1 drivers.

Meanwhile, fans trek for miles, crane for views, pay hundreds for a seat and $16 for a ham roll. That is boring.


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