A dog might prove to be the unlikeliest saviour of Formula 1, a sport that is direly in need of saving . Bravo India, for unwittingly pointing the way ahead for the sport.
Today is the first ever Indian Grand Prix - held at Noida, at the Buddh circuit, just off Delhi. Why it has come up in Delhi is a mystery - the racing capital (of whatever racing there is) of India is Chennai or Coimbatore. But Delhi it is. This is the fag end of the Formula 1 season; the championship is already decided and there is very little to drive for. But then Bernie Eccleston, the boss of F1, has grasped that the future of the sport depends on the growing audience in Asia - that's why in the last three or four years, new Grand Prixs have come up in Beijing, Singapore, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul (almost Asia !), Yeongam (Korea) ; to add to the more traditional Asian venues Suzuka (Japan) and Sepang (Malaysia). Now India.
Formula 1 has become a bore. The results are completely predictable; superb safety measures have ensured that there are far fewer crashes and rules are changed every 15 days until nobody knows what they are. There are no more flamboyant personalities of the likes of Ayrton Senna - today's drivers are more technical automatons. Even the pretty girls hanging around in skimpy clothes seem to be rather muted. I haven't watched a Formula 1 race for the last two seasons - its become that boring. When a sports nut like me does that, there is something seriously wrong with the sport.
India might offer the redemption. On the first practice session on Friday, a dog ran on to the track and the session had to be stopped for some 20 minutes. This was the most happening thing that day - the rest of it was predictably boring. Now, any Indian knows that a car tyre is irresistible to a dog. In some cases, it is even irresistible to humans, but we shall let that pass.
So here are some very Indian ideas to make the sport hugely more exciting and get the fans back
- Introduce the Indian cow (preferably with a calf) to roam the circuit at random
- Two wheelers featuring two types of Indian drivers must be in the circuit - the rambo who thinks he's Rajnikanth (or whoever) and revs up his pitiful 85cc mobike and tries to do a wheelie or the uncle and aunty (100 kgs each) with three kids on a wobbly moped.
- The tractor who comes in the opposite direction to the racing with headlights on
- The overladen truck who is parked right in the middle of the fastest section of the track, camouflaged to be invisible. For good effect a small branch with four leaves can be placed 10 metres behind as a warning.
- One giant crater right in the middle of the first corner (measurements - 1 ft by 4 ft and at least 2ft deep)
- Four completely invisible speed breakers that will hit the underside of the chassis, placed strategically where the driver will least expect it.
If Sebastian Vettel (the current world champion) can navigate that and win the race, then the crowds will come back for the thrill. Formula 1 will become the most thrilling spectator sport in the world.