Was the 2011 European GP boring?

I’ve seen all manner of opinion across a variety of internet feeds, be it Twitter, Sidepodcast’s comments, and more, that the 2011 European Grand Prix was the most boring motor race of all time. But was it?

No.

Don’t be silly.

This kind of reaction seems to have become a hallmark of internet discussion and especially in ‘real time’ fora such as Twitter or Facebook. Knee-jerk overreactions just because someone is bored with a race and there is a keyboard in front of them.

Was the race boring? Well, half of it was. The first half actually really interesting, but the second half was awful. It seems people with a keyboard in front of them lose all sense of time and perspective after 25 boring laps, and by the chequered flag they had forgotten the first part of the race wasn’t actually that bad. They seem to have applied 3 previous years of boredom to this year’s event. I’m sorry, you just can’t do that.

The only person I saw with a different opinion was Lukeh in this excellent post, a beacon of common sense. It was not a great race. It might not even have been a good one, but I tell you something, it wasn’t a bad one either.

Afterwards I posted the following comment to Sidepodcast’s ‘Rate the Race’ thread:

I give this a 5 out of 10 simply on the basis that I really enjoyed the first half of the race and it was only from halfway onwards that it got boring (really boring).

People must have such incredibly short attention spans to level the vitriol I’ve seen about this race. There is nothing wrong with having a 5/10 race once in a while.

I’ll admit I didn’t watch live and because I had it fullscreen and was too lazy to boot up a separate device, I wasn’t following internet reaction as it happened (i.e the live thread), so I was just left with my own thoughts. I found the first 40% of this race to be just as interesting as any other. There was racing. There was passing. There was a 3-way fight for the lead which could have resulted in a pass at any time. That it didn’t was neither here nor there, at no stage in the first half of the race did I think it was a foregone result (apart from actually already knowing the result.. but you know what I mean).

There was a battle for 4th. Racing between McLaren, Mercedes, etc. There was a colossal battle for 7th-14th which I loved, Force India, Toro Rosso, Williams. There was split strategy among midfielders, with Jaime in particular proving a lot of people wrong, he shouldn’t be written off. Sutil had a good run as well, no crashes, top ten result.

There was genuine passing as well as DRS-assisted passing. Just because the DRS was useless among the top 5 – and we have to say the FIA got this one wrong with the distance between detection and activation – it doesn’t mean it was useless for everyone.

We also can’t expect the FIA to get the zones right first time at each venue.. they are going to get some wrong in the first year, they got it wrong here. But on the few occasions a car was close enough in the zone, there was a pass.

So it fell flat in the second half. That’s not an excuse to write off the entire thing. It was by far the best F1 race at this track I have ever seen. That’s not saying much but it is positive progress. We had half an interesting race here, that’s half more than we had before. Change the DRS zone next year. Problem solved.

In the second half of this race we’ve proven conclusively – without the effect of rain as per Canada – that the old aero problems still exist and cars can’t pass without DRS (even with KERS and Pirellis). That’s a problem.

By 2009 standards this would’ve been a good race. Leaders sailing off into the distance, bit of battling in the midfield as a sideshow, just like 2009 with different players. We’ve been spoiled this year. Frankly if this was the worst race of the year, we’re very lucky. People are acting like this was Bahrain 2010 and it was nothing of the sort.

And I’m not saying the latter half of the race wasn’t boring, far from it, it was terrible..

I should also add… it probably says something about how low my expectations were, that I was watching on delay in the first place, having prioritised a golf game with my Dad over it. And I always prioritise F1 first.

Let’s just have a sense of perspective, shall we? Two years ago we’d have loved this race and here we are with people saying it is dull. I think that shows just how far we’ve come in such a short time. What a great result that really is for the sport of Formula 1 and motor racing in general.

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7 thoughts on “Was the 2011 European GP boring?”

  1. Whilst I do agree that it’s good that a race such as we got in Valencia on Sunday is now what we consider to be boring, I also disagree with your post in some respects.

    I prefer to judge a race within the context of its own season, rather than those past. In the context of the 2011 season, I found this to be a fairly dull race. Yes, it was better than Valencia 2010 and 2009, but against the level of entertainment that has come to be expected of F1 in 2011, I thought it fell pretty far short.

    I’m guessing that we’ll have two pretty dull races this season (Valencia and Hungary) and that is major progress for the sport, but in my view it doesn’t change the fact that, in the context of the season in which they take place, they’re still dull races.

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  2. I’ve tried to explain this to the people at work who have only recently started watching F1. The best analogy I’ve come up with is expecting every football match to end 10-9 or some other equally ridiculous scoreline. Canada was a very entertaining race and the next one was bound to look dull in comparison.

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  3. Sorry Pat, I didn’t enjoy it at all, in fact I was starting to fall asleep 10 laps from the end. I wasn’t expecting a good a race but it didn’t even live up to those expectations. I think I could have spent my time better having an afternoon nap! The thing is though, the mornings GP2 race was good, no DRS, no KERS or other gimmicks just good honest wheel to wheel combat, that’s what F1 needs..

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  4. Compared to other races we’ve seen it was very boring, the first half was quite good, but it wasnt as good as the other dramaless races we’ve seen.. I’m not sure whether it is now the teams are comfortable with the new rules and things have levelled out, but in my opinion, Valencia should be on the top of the ‘to axe’ list along with Bahrain.
    I just hope that no good tracks are abandoned for this wave of new tracks entering the sport

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  5. If the fundamental aero problem of F1 cars can be fixed there is no reason to drop Valencia. I would have the track layout changed fundamentally, before dropping it completely. You can do that with a street race.

    I agree both it and Hungary have almost always been bad but I reckon that’s as much down to the design of the cars. The problem with this race was the thing which made a big difference at all the other races, DRS, wasn’t as effective here, and the tyre drop-off didn’t have the same effect as before – either Pirelli got it wrong or as Joe says, the teams are working around it better now.

    I think Valencia brings a great atmosphere and highlights Spanish culture in a way Montmelo has never managed in 19 years, if there is a way to make changes to keep it and drop Barcelona then let’s try it.

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  6. Generally agree although I think they got DRS spot on. It should be an assistance, not a free meal ticket. There wasn’t that big of a “train” effect anyway.

    Short term memory loss seems to be catching of late, it seemed to be missed that the Canadian GP was dire for at least the first three quarters and judged entirely on the last 10 laps. If you compared the two side-by-side, lap 1 vs lap 1… lap 2 vs lap 2… kind of thing then really, Valencia was a better race. Instead Canada is hailed as a classic while ignoring the fact that many people gave up “bored” after the red flag was waved and decided to watch something else. Yet what ruined the majority of Canada, only to give a pretty good finish (sorry but Vettel waving the white flag before battle was even joined isn’t a great finish) was the weather. Not tyres, not DRS, not KERS. Ages old technology, not 2011 rules.

    Valencia’s main problem is that it’s a Tilke circuit which sets it up for criticism from the start – nobody would complain about Silverstone and Monza like that and they frequently produce little in the way of action.

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