Welcome to another dose of all things debatable, the Scrutineering Bay. With not long left to the start of the season in  Australia, it has been hard getting thoughts together on what question to run this week…

image by David Killock

…and then Bernie Ecclestone opened his mouth and pure magic came out. The statement about “artificial rain” (that’s water, just to clarify) being added to tracks to increase excitement not only raised a few eyebrows in the Sett, but also had one writer spit his tea out across his desk…

Which begs the question:

“What will Bernie think of next?”

As with each edition, a variety of Badger’s will be adding their thoughts. This week we have Jimmy Von Weeks, Benson Jammichello, myself Craig Normansell and Scutineering Bay debutant, Red Andy, who kicks things all off:

In the last few years F1 has been adding venues at a pretty rapid rate, to the point where the season now runs from mid-March to mid-November, when previously it would have finished in the latter days of October. Given this rate of change – with new Grands Prix like Austin and Sochi on the horizon – it won’t be long before the calendar loops back on itself and we end up starting one season before the previous one has finished.

So Bernie’s next big idea will probably be to do away with the tedious winter break altogether, and simply instigate a rolling calendar with GPs spread across the entire year. Just to keep everyone interested, he’ll probably mandate that the regulations are altered at random intervals, so that teams have a couple of weeks in each case to comply with the new rules.

The teams won’t like it, of course – team members have families to spend time with and work hard already – but perhaps Bernie will suggest that they hire people on a “six months on, six months off” basis? That would provide employment for many of those made redundant in the recent raft of cost-cutting measures, and ensure that everyone gets a decent break. Well, except the drivers.

Given this outlook, some fans will no doubt be wishing that Bernie vacates his position at the top of F1 as soon as possible. But they are bound to be disappointed – I have long believed that Bernie, like North Korean president Kim il-Sung, will continue to rule over F1 long after he has shuffled off his mortal coil.

Andy’s first contribution is a fine one. Why should fans suffer the boredom of a winter break when there could be races all year round? It’s only fair, if it’s a great season, why stop it? Don’t forget, you can catch the Runoff Area every week for more of Red Andy’s work.

Up next is Jimmy:

Bernie Ecclestone’s plan to throw artificial rain in to the F1 mix in an attempt to spice up the show is, in my humble opinion, ridiculous. I don’t think there’s any need to go over why – that’s been well documented elsewhere – but I can sit and daydream about what madcap scheme Bernie will hatch next.

So how’s this for a potential Ecclestone gimmick: celebrity passengers. After all, two-seater F1 cars have been a reality for years and we’re pretty sure that the likes of Adrian Newey could make them very quick. Added to that people love celebrities – they buy gossip mags by the millions, read their autobiographies (see Wayne Rooney’s ‘My life Kicking a Ball About’ or Colleen Rooney’s ‘My Life Married to a Man Who Kicks a Ball About’ for the best of the genre) and they incessantly watch celebrities humiliate themselves in jungles, on gameshows and even from the comfort of their own homes via the medium of Twitter (not that they’re aren’t still #winning).

So why not bung them in the back of F1 cars, just to add to the drama and boost audience figures? Yeah, yeah Lewis Hamilton at the wheel of a McLaren is all well and good, but what about Lewis Hamilton at the wheel of a McLaren with plastic-faced popstress Cher sitting behind him? Alonso backed up by the Dalai Lama, Vettel with veteran philosopher/political activist Noam Chomsky as his rear-gunner or Michael Schumacher taxing Snoop Dogg about at 200mph. It’s bound to do no end of good for interest in the sport!

Actually, this is the best idea anyone has had since they decided to race cars in the first place. Bernie can keep his hands off – this little goldmine belongs to me.

Such a preposturous suggestion from Jimmy…Lewis would definately have Snoop Dogg in the back of his car! Is it wrong for me to want to see at least one round?

And here’s Benson Jammichello’s rather imaginative idea…

Bernie wants artificial rain? We already have normal rain. The last thing I want to see is more precipitation in F1 – we need something new, exciting and completely mental. That’s right people – what Formula 1 needs is something completely unnecessary that’s spelt almost the same as rain – a train.

The way I see this working is that a railway line would be constructed to cut across the circuit(s) at various designated points. The train would, at a number of special times during the race, leave its siding and trundle through the circuit.

Now, the genius of this plan is that none of the teams would know when the train was going to depart or at what speed it was travelling. 30 seconds prior to it hitting the circuit, level crossing barriers would come down and the cars would have to stop, creating a more mixed up field. Years of effort spent trying to slow the cars down solved at one fell swoop.

Also, it comes with a range of other benefits. Safety is a big thing in both F1 and on the railways – use it to boost level crossing good practice. There’s a worldwide audience. Bang, another of society’s problems solved.

You could also charge a lot of money for tickets to be on the train. That’s right, the fans (and this is all for them, after all) get to insert themselves into the race like no one else can.

You could sell masses of sponsorship on the train – “The Badger GP F1 race stopping train”. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Or, and now for a truly revolutionary idea, we could leave F1 well alone and just concentrate on going to tracks that are designed to promote good racing. Now there’s a plan.

Last, but of course no means least, here’s my two cents:

“What would F1 be without Bernie Ecclestone?” is a commonly asked question. The sport is what it is due to his involvement, but when it was OK to push the boundaries in the, ‘70’s, ’80’s and ‘90’s, I don’t think the same train of thought works in the modern day.

Sprinklers are one thing. If Bernie wants more rain, why are most of the new races being held in deserts? Surely hopping from country to country during their monsoon seasons (especially Asia) would help. That way you wouldn’t have the risk of a sprinkler malfunction and a track reminiscent of Korea last year, or maybe even Malaysia ’09.

Why stop at sprinklers? Change the schedule to race in Europe over the winter and the weather would dictate random patches of snow and ice on the track. That could then lead to potholes in the track too, and could save some costs on maintenance also. A perfect win/win situation.

What the danger is to have a young generation of drivers work their way up to Formula One, through hard work and determination, only to find out the best training they needed was a few hours a day on MarioKart and watching re-runs of Wacky Races. Wasn’t last year good enough for you Bernie?

There’s no doubt, as I touched on above, that Formula One is forever in Ecclestone’s debt for what he’s created. But, there’s only so far before being innovative becomes going a bit to far and into the realms of the ridiculous. We here in the Bay tried to come up with some ridiculous suggestions to what could be in Bernie’s mind, what can you come up with?