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F1 bosses in agreement shocker

Luca Martini/Sutton Images

In the immediate aftermath of this week's Strategy Group meeting in Biggin Hill, the main story was the changes proposed for introduction later this year and on into 2017.

What we missed (as expected, given the media's obsession with all things negative) was the fact that the F1 Strategy Group managed to reach unanimous agreement on several agenda items. Having spent the past year or so joking that the group was unable to agree on the day of the week or the colour of the sky outside the window, this was earth-shattering news indeed.

The subject of that unanimity was the proposal to reduce the number of driver aids in Formula One, giving the racers themselves more control of the cars they are piloting. While the effectiveness of the move has yet to be proven on track, reducing driver aids looks like it will be a sensible response to recent criticisms facing the sport.

The various fan surveys that have taken place this summer have so far shown that fans are as bad at big picture thinking as those of us in the paddock. According to the GPDA survey, fans want to see more overtaking, but also want to bring back a number of regulations that have historically seen a reduction in passing manoeuvres on track.

Improving something - anything - requires a holistic approach. To change A might have unforeseen consequences on B, which in turn affects C and so on. So while it is entirely reasonable for fans to want more overtaking and a tyre war and refuelling while disliking DRS-based overtakes, it is also impossible to put all of those desires into practice and achieve more passing.

The removal of driver aids may have a short-term negative financial impact as teams amend their cars to meet requirements in time for Spa, but if fan interest is increased as a consequence, the balance should (hopefully) be redressed.

In the main, however, moves like reducing radio chatter and giving the drivers control of their own race starts is a low-cost solution to what the sport has considered to be one of its biggest problems in recent years: the sense that the general public no longer sees racing drivers as plucky heroes testing their talent and testicular fortitude in a sport designed to separate the men from the boys.

The increased corporatisation of Formula One in recent decades has changed the way drivers are viewed, as sponsor interests can often outweigh the desire of an individual to have a personality. These days, would any team waste valuable advertising space on racing overalls to display a patch reading 'Sex, the breakfast of champions'?

If Kimi Raikkonen were even allowed to wear such a thing today, you can bet your bottom dollar the patch would not occupy prime breast pocket real estate...

This is not a problem unique to Formula One. There are those who believe that the 21st century's obsession with celebrity and gossip - Stars! They're just like us! - has had the unintended consequence of demystifying the famous, robbing them of the distance that gave celebrities their special sheen, turning them into otherworldly creatures to be admired, archetypes we could only aspire to be.

Social media access into the lives of others has a similar effect, despite each post being curated to sell a message, to tell a story, to be 'on brand'. Demystification breeds familiarity, which in turn... And if it does not breed contempt, it does breed blah, blasé, boring.

F1 is not going to be able to turn back the clock to a time before social media, the demystification of celebrity, and untouchable stars in their firmament. But by trying to increase the mystery surrounding just how the best drivers in the world do what they do so well, the F1 Strategy Group has been able to arrive at a low-cost proposal for tackling an element of declining consumer interest. Even better, they did so unanimously.

Just think of all the positive stories we could have told since the start of 2014 if only it had always been thus...