The beauty of highlights is that they include only the good parts...and dramatic music!
It has become fashionable of late for journalists, pundits and fans on the internet to slam F1 while proclaiming Endurance racing, WEC specifically, as the saviour of all motor racing.
F1 is boring, nobody can pass, the tires are garbage, the cars sound like crap, there is no technical innovation, one team dominates, rules are arbitrary. Those are the usual complaints, some quite valid.
This past week end we watched the amazing spectacle that is the Le Mans 24 Hour. What an event it is, huge crowds, big manufacturers, tons of guests, the pomp, the circumstance, the ACO really puts on a great event.
But can we talk?
The race itself... not so exciting.
This year's highlight reels is mostly cars being serviced and a couple of crashes.
There were very few, if any, on track passes for the lead over the whole 24 hours. The GTPro class saw good action but fans were robbed of any excitement at the end when the leading Ferrari's gearbox broke. The race was decided mostly by crashes and failures.
Of course that is generally what happens in endurance racing, it's normal. Apples are Apples.
But if we look at it in terms of it being what F1 is not, then one would would point out that even at what was generally considered a particularly boring Grand Prix of Canada, we saw Massa and Vettel make more passes in an hour and a half than happened in the totality of the 24.
For sure the recent WEC race at Silverstone had an exciting ending but the 24 was, from an action point of view, a bit of a let down.
All the talk of endurance being "better" than F1 is silly, apples and oranges.
WEC is followed by a comparatively small number of hardcore endurance fans, if anything because few have the patience or time to sit through watching a six hour race, much less a 12 or a 24. A majority watch edited highlights. It's a measure of how badly F1 is doing its fan relations that comparisons are even made.
Let's take some of the common points of contention:
WEC is technically superior? Indeed WEC currently has a variety of different hybrid technologies and its regulations allow different approaches to get to a specific power/emissions compromise.
It's interesting how this year's winning Porsche's power unit was conceptually identical to the current F1 engines, with and MGU-H helping spool the turbo and MGU-K driving not the rear but the front wheels.
As for technical innovations, you could make the case F1's been there, banned that, From active suspension, 4wd, traction control, bizarre aero, turbos, small engines, big engines. To say one is way ahead of the other is unfair to both, at best.
Another complaint against F1 is sound, do I really need to go there? Audi's turbo diesels shut that down.
But WEC has more passing you say, their drivers can push full tilt from start to finish.
It's true drivers in WEC can afford to push longer but this is doe mostly to tires which are designed to last for hours.
Still, this does not guarantee on track action, even on a track as wide as Le Mans.
F1 runs on much softer, less durable tires by design which is one of the reasons why it's considerably faster. When F1's had to run on a single set of tires, racing was mostly terrible.
Another complaint against F1 has been that cars are both too complicated and too easy to drive. Bipolar nature aside, how come nobody complains about WEC cars with 4WD and traction control?
|Photo Rajan Jangda/Flickr|
Finally let's address the complaint of one team dominating F1.
Not to single out Audi again, but....Audi. The Volkswagen group has won 13 out of the last 14 editions of the 24. The have essentially outspent the competition into submission. Sound familiar?
Does this mean WEC is worse than F1? Absolutely not, F1 has much to learn certainly in terms of content distribution, social media and especially ticket pricing. A top of the line VIP hospitality ticket for the upcoming WEC Lone Star Le Mans week end at COTA cost $799 and includes food and drink. A similar package for the USGP is about $3000.
But let's drop the snob pretensions of WEC having the only "real" race fans. You may prefer the taste of one over the other but apples and oranges don't really compare.