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Has F1 Been Ruined?

High tyre degradation, DRS and 'too much' overtaking have resulted in much criticism being thrown F1’s way of late, but is that really fair? EDD STRAW investigates...

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A “reality check”. That’s how McLaren team principal, and Formula 1 Teams’ Association chairman, Martin Whitmarsh described the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix. It was the first race without refuelling since the end of 1993 and in the aftermath, deconstruction of the ‘boring’ action dominated the headlines.

The durable Bridgestone rubber, the product of the brutal tyre war with Michelin during the early years of the 21st century, made it a one-stopper for everybody. Save for leader Sebastian Vettel fading to third with a loss of power thanks to a spark-plug problem, the changes of position in the top 10 from the end of the first lap to the chequered flag were limited to the odd driver jumping another in the pitstops. Mark Webber, who was seventh on the first lap but later leapfrogged by Jenson Button, complained of being “shocked by how hard it was to overtake”.

“I spent 48 laps staring at the gearboxes of first [Michael] Schumacher and then Button and there was nothing I could do,” said Webber. “I tried everything – different lines, pressure, everything.”

Today, Webber is one of the most vocal opponents of what he described as the WWFstyle racing in F1. But what would he have given for DRS or some higher-degradation tyres that day in 2010? Come to mention it, what would Fernando Alonso have offered for the chance to use a dab of DRS to pass Vitaly Petrov in the Abu Dhabi finale rather than watching his title hopes agonisingly fade thanks to one strategy error?

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