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F1 needs more than rain to help prevent a dreary season

Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor

The Inside Line Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With three races completed, Formula One has avoided total damnation this season with the help of Mother Nature.

No, F1 top boss Bernie Ecclestone currently is not reciting the famous nursery rhyme, "Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day." In fact, Ecclestone was positive about the poor weather conditions during the March 28 Australian Grand Prix, and last Saturday's qualifying in Malaysia.

Showers played a vital role in Australia. The race featured its share of thrills, with several crashes, including a multi-car collision on the opening lap. Defending world champion Jenson Button capitalized on an early-race pit strategy when he was the first driver to change from rain tires to intermediates. Button then benefited from Sebastian Vettel's mechanical problem just before the halfway point to claim the win in his second start with McLaren.

Australia was a turnaround from last month's ho-hum season-opener in the desert-setting of Bahrain. If it weren't for his loss of power in the late- going, Vettel would have led the entire way. Instead, Fernando Alonso overtook Vettel and won in his debut with Ferrari.
Bernie Ecclestone and company have to figure out how to prevent a dreary Formula One season.
Qualifying in Malaysia was marred with torrential rain conditions, which led to one of the most unusual starting grids in F1. Mark Webber captured his second career pole, but several big names misjudged the weather and failed to make it beyond the first qualifying session. Lewis Hamilton from McLaren, as well as Alonso and Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa attempted their first laps late in Q1 when the rain became heavier. They did not advance and settled for positions far back in the staring field.

Unfortunately, Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix turned out to be another lackluster show, thanks to no rain. The outcome of the race was decided before the completion of the first lap. Vettel passed Nico Rosberg and then overtook pole sitter and Red Bull teammate Webber. Vettel gave up the lead for only one lap when he made his first pit stop.

Even though rain can make things interesting in a race, F1 needs a lot more than inclement weather to save the circuit.

"Don't be fooled," Ecclestone told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. "We have been lucky with the rain. We have got to do something. For the first time, the teams have realized that they have to do something about it. We don't need reverse grids. We just need more overtaking."

When asked how he can rectify the problem, Ecclestone suggested making the front wing smaller and eliminating the double diffuser. Perhaps, he should explore further solutions, such as implementing more aerodynamic changes to the cars and eliminating the recent ban of refueling during races.

By the time F1 returns to Europe next month, Ecclestone and company have their work cut out, so we don't see the same kind of racing that occurred in Bahrain and Malaysia.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Symeon at csymeon@sportsnetwork.com.

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