Many automotive sponsors have clamored for a reintroduction of Road Relevance in Formula 1 since leaving the sport, but now that the FIA have mandated new rules to bridge the gap between science fiction and the Toyota line-up, the sport is about to lose a substantial following. Road Relevance isn't a necessary evil, in fact it isn't even what's killing Formula 1; misinterpretation is.
I've long followed the notion that Formula 1 cars should be sponsored by automotive companies, not financial institutions, but the premier Motorsport has been leaping away from traditional road car technology and sanity as the idea of Climate Change reaches the to-do-list of our world leaders. Automakers with large cash flows that used to be a big part of the sport have begun to pull out (Honda, BMW, Toyota), opting for low-reving hybrid inline 4s to sell to the general public and retreating from past advertisements of the loud, shouty V10s and V8s that have screamed through the woods and cities that have been gracious enough to support this sport.
The FIA have been hearing things like, "We want to see racing" even before the Schumacher era; however, this has since been roughly interpreted by the FIA as, "We want to see artificial racing that nullifies both the driver and the engineer," or at least that's what they've answered with. Now the new Schumacher is actively speaking out against these new rules.
There are only two things that make Formula 1 the premier form of Motorsport: The drivers and the engineers. Since the FIA and Formula 1 Management realize that they cannot take either of these away without the risk of competing in a sickly race with IndyCar, they've decided to introduce gimmicks to muzzle the engineers and attract the non-enthusiasts by using artificial tricks like DRS, tires that degrade unbelievably fast and and force conservative driving, KERS/ERS, fuel consumption limits (both flow and capacity), and now double points for Abu Dhabi, the last race on the calendar. Formula 1 is stuck in a battle between fueling real racing and
Watching Formula 1 now, you might wonder how anyone ever made a pass before DRS was introduced, and why people would even watch in the first place. In recent years, Formula 1 cars have developed a particular characteristic of not being able to follow closely to the car ahead due to consequences of bad airflow for both cooling and aerodynamics; this has changed how Formula 1 drivers have to race, often being told to open up a 2 second gap to the car ahead. DRS was a small plan to fix this, yet the moveable flap that opens up in the passing zone has made passing predictable and expected with some drivers choosing to wait for the DRS zone to pass instead of making a move in a more difficult corner; not exactly what I'd call racing.
So what will kill Formula 1 after the 2014 rules kick in? It won't be the smaller 1.6 liter V6s, it won't be the turbocharging, and it won't even be the increase in hybrid technology.
It will be the low-revving engines, it will be the ill-advised attempt to compete with tournament style suspense thought point gimmicks, it will be the attempt to cuddle up to hippies who will never watch the sport, but above all else, it will be irrational marketing that sends Formula 1 to meet its maker.