Debate: Are F1 races too long?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Flavio Briatore, Sepang, 2007Flavio Briatore is banging the “let’s spice up the show” drum again:

A one hour and 30 minute race is too long because the last 30 minutes is really boring. Maybe one race of 45 minutes and one race of one hour with a reverse grid in the second race like we do in GP2.

People want to see people overtaking and fighting and if you put the quick drivers behind, the quick drivers will start overtaking, for sure. If not, the two cars quickest in qualifying are the two cars quickest in the race and win the race easily.

Although I don’t dispute that F1 races are, at the moment, not as good as they should be, I don’t agree with his proposals at all.

Formula One Grands Prix are supposed to be challenges of driver and car ability. Sustaining a red-hot race pace for lap after lap for up to two hours is a serious physical and mental challenge. Cutting the length of the races would erode that challenge.

Simply reducing the race length and fiddling with the format is not a be-all and end-all solution. Yes, GP2 races are far more exciting, but that is because the cars are far less aerodynamically efficient than F1 cars and can run closely together in packs. Last year at the most aero-sensitive circuits such as Barcelona even the GP2 racing wasn’t very good.

Banning either fuel stops or tyre changes would be another step in the right direction.

Banning fuel stops would force drivers to manage a car that is far lighter at the end of the race than the beginning. Banning tyre stops would force them to manage tyre wear. Either would drive them towards making tricky compromises with their cars’ setups which historically has provoked better racing.

Though in this era of one tyre supplier banning refuelling is probably the better way to go.

GP2 is, to an extent, a model for how F1 should be. But only in terms of massively reducing the aerodynamic properties of the cars – not as a template for a Grand Prix weekend. What do you think?

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