Formula One has gone under one of the toughest months that I can remember, in a season which has been creating a lot of positive noise for the sport even if one main criticism this year was the lack of noise from the hybrid engines. Set in a backdrop of brilliant racing and a see-saw championship between two teammates, these last few races of the reason have been challenging for any fan or participator in the sport. A month ago, Jules Bianchi, the brilliant Marussia driver, suffered a horrendous crash in the closing stages of the dark and rain-sodden Japanese Grand Prix when he hit a recovery vehicle. Hitting the vehicle completely ruptured the sidewall of his car, slowing his car down so violently that he suffered a serious brain injury similar to that of Michael Schumacher a while ago.
There hasn’t been a death in the sport since Ayrton Senna in 1994, and I have never experienced a death in this sport that I love. F1 has been somewhat sensitised since then and we, the fans, and people working in the sport, find it very difficult when one of our heroes is seriously injured and when the possibility of them dying is very high. You only needed to watch the exceptionally melancholic tone of every TV presenter doing their live post-race shows, and fan opinions on Twitter and the F1 Reddit to have seen how much care the sport has for these drivers who risk their lives every time they strap themselves in. Jules Bianchi, since then, is still in a hospital in a stable but critical condition in Japan. It is likely that Marussia’s only points scorer, in that brilliant performance in Monaco, will never race again.
What is more depressing is that should Jules Bianchi wake up, he’ll find that his team is in administration and his car hasn’t turned a wheel since his crash. Caterham are also in administration and they, nor Marussia raced in Austin and won’t in Brazil either. They have allegedly found a buyer and they reckon they might take part in the last race in Abu Dhabi. They’re back markers yes, but F1 needs small teams like these. Daniel Ricciardo, who is currently smashing Sebastian Vettel this season, came through in an HRT, which was a back marker team until they folded a couple of years ago. Where would he have come through if they didn’t exist? F1 is in a slight crisis in terms of how they manage the ridiculous amount of money that it generates. There are literally billions of dollars coming into the sport each year, and the problem is that barely any of it is shared amongst teams like Force India, Sauber and the back marker teams. This is a huge problem for sustainability and they need to sort it out.
On track, the sport is in rude health. This weekend we head to the Brazilian Grand Prix and Lewis Hamilton could extend his 24-point championship lead over Nico Rosberg. I won’t be the first to say that it has been a pleasure watching these two guys duel it out this year. I won’t hide my allegiance to the British driver. He got me obsessed with the sport again when he made his debut in 2007 and the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2008 had me in palpitations and his Championship win that day was one of the most incredible sporting finishes I have ever witnessed. It has been great to see Rosberg keep him honest, but Hamilton is just far too strong. If he loses to Rosberg through the ridiculous Abu Dhabi double points rule, social media and the forums will represent a scene from the first half of the film ‘2012’.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is on Sky F1 live and highlights on BBC after.