Should F1 races be shorter? (Poll)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

FOTA and Massa have called for short F1 races
FOTA and Massa have called for short F1 races

The F1 teams’ association has recommended that F1 race distances should be cut from 320km (200 miles) to 250km (155 miles).

[poll id=”47″]

Earlier this week Felipe Massa suggested pretty much the same thing when he suggested F1 race distances be cut by 15 laps. The response on this website was overwhelmingly negative.

I am very disappointed to see FOTA call for pretty much the same thing and I expect most of you are too.

Whatever FOTA’s rationale for cutting races distances is, they haven’t explained it. They have revealed a marketing survey which acknowledges that most F1 fans don’t want the sport ‘dumbing down’. Making the races shorter, and better suited to the short attention span of the casual viewer, would be a classic example of ‘dumbing down’.

Cutting race distances would be meddling with the DNA of F1 unnecessarily. It would make Grands Prix scarcely any longer than GP2 races. It would undermine the physical, mental and technological challenge of racing at up to 200mph for up to 200 miles.

Television companies would be forced either to use fewer advert breaks, meaning less money for them and, ultimately, the teams, or subect viewers to the same number of breaks in a shorter length of time, meaning they see even less of the race. A lose-lose situation.

Shorter F1 races ultimately means less Formula 1. It would be like demanding smaller grid sizes or fewer races.

I cannot see how any F1 fan would like this idea. But whatever your point of view is, do share it in the comments.

Read more

Image (C) Ferrari spa

70 comments on “Should F1 races be shorter? (Poll)”

  1. they want to shorten the race distance AND they want to modify the exchange rate of km to miles simultaneously?!

    dont they want too much?

    :D:D

  2. I didn’t know Massa read this blog!!! ;)

  3. No to shorter races. Once the teams go to the expense of going all theway there, might as well spend more time racing.
    The logic behind shorter racing might be that if the race is “so” long, TV viewers will be more likely to get up and get a beer and a bite to eat and then come back for the finish and thus miss some TV advertising … I dont know.
    In any case, no to shorter races.

  4. I think someone may have clicked “yes” by mistake there! :?

    That is a crazy idea, they would be headin towards A1 gp if they did that (One hour plus one lap, is that right), or GP2 sprint races. Whats the point??

    Shorter races means less TV time, and that means less MONEY which they are trying to save.

    Budget cap for the teams and maybe a salary cap for the drivers (they won’t like that will they??) is the way to go on this one!!

    Let the excess revenue go to road cars where it would be more useful, and (I’d never thought I’d say this) if KERS is so expensive, get rid of it too or at least standardise it!

    Sorry, I fear I may have strayed from the point slightly there, but I hope FOTA takes note of some of our suggestions…..:?

  5. Should be cut from 320km to 350km? Keith, this doesn’t look like cut to me ;)

    1. Sorry, 250km! Fixed.

  6. I, as a fan, don’t like it either, but like I mentioned in the other thread I think this has to be a cost-cutting move. Less time on the track means less costs for the team. Less chance of damage to the car, less wear-and-tear on the crew and equipment, less fuel used: less cost.

    This is the only thing that makes sense to me.

  7. Robert McKay
    5th March 2009, 18:56

    No to shorter races. No no no no no no no no no no. No. NO. Have I made myself clear!? :D

    Monza is short enough already…

    The races should be at the very minimum 90 minutes in my view, but really they should all be pushing closer to two hours. It should be a proper physical and mental test. And as pointed out by Arthur954, what the logic is in spending all that money designing and building the cars and the racing them even less is is anyone’s guess. It just means less exposure on TV. Hopefully the WMSC will see sense on this one.

    Some of the races should actually be longer. I did quite like Champcar’s “all races will be 1 hr 45 mins” rule in its final seasons.

  8. i am very neutral towards shorter races as it won’t necessarily effect the result in the same way as Belgian and Brazilan rounds last year…F1 should be dynamic, may be the new rules with no re-fueling,etc. can best suit the new set-up, we can’t just turn out to be v. negative over that respect just cuz they happened for last so many yrs or so..and if all the teams feel so, we can’t put that mental strength/ technology and all other logics as all teams must have contemplated it before deciding onto release their desires..Its a hard time and we need to adopt…5 ppl in the world are losing jobs every minute (some survey, pls don’t ask names0 and we should care about that as F1 fans..

  9. I think that 3% (as of this moment) of the voters didn’t understand the question.

    There’s no need for the races to be any shorter. I already start to sob when it reaches 2:30pm on a sunday, when I realise that there’s only a few more laps left before I have to return to… well.. other stuff.

    Please don’t take that away from me.

  10. Where the hell do FOTA get their so called marketing survey from!? I certainly wasn’t consulted! Was anyone else? I seriously believe that anyone involved in running F1 these days (be it the FIA, FOM or FOTA) is a complete cretin. These people’s heads are so far up their own ***** they’ve become completely detached from reality. The F1 hierarchy reminds me a bit of pre French revolution royalty, they have a “let them eat cake” mentality. If only we could rise up and chop their effing heads off!

    1. No one that I know of was consulted for the survey. What baffled me was that for a group of teams that competes in the “World Championship”, they had less than 20 countries represented in the survey!! How on Earth (literally) could they expect to get a realisitc sample of fan’s feelings and opinions with such a small sample?

  11. *v. negative over that aspect

  12. I voted no, but I do occassionally fall asleep during the early morning GP’s if they are very processional – those ones could be shorter ;) but in general no.

  13. chaostheory
    5th March 2009, 19:24

    the audience wants more interesting races, not shorter. Shorter does not mean more interesting.
    Shorter races idea should be left behind like medals idea and standard engines for every team.

  14. The races are barely 90 minutes as it is!!!! Gimme a break.

  15. No way, my preference would be a minumum of 90 mins, max 2 hrs.

    The processional races bore me, if there aren’t any good tactical moves unfolding, but for the last couple of years there haven’t been to many of them. Hopefully even less this season if the overtaking working group have done their job well.

    Also combine that with the proposed point scoring changes, it gives the potential for a great couple of hours every race. Who’s going to settle for their position after the final pitstops if they can overtake, not just catch & follow.

  16. Cars are slower this year so they are making track shorter to compensate.

  17. Two hours is not that long of a race. Leave it be, they already run for less than two hours of racing. Leave it be.

    1. I mean’t lenghten the shorter races to a minimum of 90 mins, not shorten the races.

  18. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO….. and just to make it clear

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    to shorter races.

    We should be having proper length races and more races as well. Also more tracks and varied types of tracks in my opinion.

    I wouldn’t advocate 4 hour races but around 2 hrs is about right. Like someone said f1 races are some of the shortest distances already. And it would really be dumbing down the sport for those people with very short attention spans. I agree a lot of races are processional, but that’s down to the bad aero packages and circuit designs. And i wonder if Keith could let Fota know our thoughts and opinions on the matter and find out what their actual reasoning is for the crappy idea please.

  19. If I can eat a triple cheeseburger,there is no reason to eat a double cheeseburger.
    I love every second of watching a race and the more I get the better !

  20. A short event is not a ‘big event’, it loses prestige.
    A football game lasts 2 hours on tv.
    A basketball game – up to 2 hours.
    A boxing event – about 3 hours.

    On fasts tracks, like Monza, there would be only 1 hour of racing. Sounds very unexciting.

    The races being boring is no argument for making them shorter. A long boring race at least feels like it’s something important. A short and boring race, however, would make the sport completely irrelevant.
    Also, the occasional interesting race would not be very memorable if it was short. Perhaps it would finish just before the tables are turned (as it so often happens in rainy GPs) – which would have made it exciting in the first place?

  21. If we were guaranteed that they would race twice has hard I would support a reduction of say 10%. But they won’t, so I won’t.

  22. Yeah right…
    No way we need shorter races …
    I can understand Massa – he still has nightmares about brazil 2008.. but he also has Spa 2008 .. easy come – easy go

    I love races like last years spa, and brazil.. no way we gonna give this away

  23. TWO quick short races would be better.

    2012 AD = 1433 H

  24. Surely one of the reasons for cutting the length of the race is so that the cars (which will not be able to refuel, remember) won’t have to carry so much fuel at the start (and possible in Qualifying too).
    Another reason to try to limit the race to 1 hour 40 minutes is to make it fit into a 2-hour TV slot.
    So yes, I’d support shorter races, but only the boring ones ;)

    1. What’s the attraction in reducing the amount of fuel the cars carry?

  25. I whole heartedly say that race lengths are great the way they are. The major costs are in the logistics so it seems, so why spend all that money travelling to the other side of the planet to race for even less time? 90 minutes is perfect and now us uk viewers have the bbc (and no adverts) then we can get properly involved instead of being interrupted every 15 minutes with adverts.

    Maybe it would help if FOTA explained their reasoning.

  26. If Massa wants shorter races he should try GP2.

    1. He *might* have a shot of winning that.

  27. It would be interesting to see a comparison of how this would affect each race on the calendar. Eg how long a typical dry race lasts now and how long it would last if reduced to 250kms.

    It’s a ridiculous suggestion for whatever reason they come up with to justify it. If they want to cut costs why don’t they start with organising the calendar so races in far flung locations aren’t months apart – China/Japan, Malaysia/Singapore, Bahrain/UAE. ie something that doesn’t negatively impact on the enjoyment of F1 fans.

    1. Exactly- pair up Abu Dhabi with Bahrain, and Singapore with Malaysia. As for that argument about it decreasing attendance, give it a rest- less than 1/4 of the grandstands at those events are full as it is.

  28. Pete Walker
    5th March 2009, 20:21

    No. Just no.

    As much as I am looking forward to the refuelling ban, I’d not welcome it at the expense of race length.

    By all means work on improving the product. Just don’t give us less of it.

  29. We need an F1 supporters association to challenge these kind of proposals. Or maybe we should rely on the FIA or FOM to look after the interest of the fans…hmmmmm

  30. let’s be honest – the readers here are hardcore F1 fans. Asking them if they want shorter races is like asking a crack addict if they’d like to smoke a little less today. fact is – that poll on this site is an exercise in futility and tells us nothing. Do one entitled “hands up who likes F1” :)

    Point we should be discussing really is – why does FOTA want this and are there advantages to the sport.

    I agree with DC that it must be rooted in another cost cutting exercise – it would surely have quite a reasonable impact there and i can’t, offhand, think of more than the reasons given by DC.

    The other aspect that Keith touches on is appealing to the casual viewer. Personally, I wholeheartedly disagree that reducing race length is ‘dumbing down’ the sport in any way. They could run i over 50km and the cars, drivers and teams would still represent the pinnacle of motorsport. Simple facts are – if they reduce the race length, us hardcore fans will *not* lose our passion for the sport. At the same time it *will* appeal to a wider audience. Easy to see that this equates to more revenue – and that’s what drives the teams as much as anything.

    If they replaced the lost race time with increased coverage of the activity *around* F1 (the politics, tactics, drivers techniques, the specifications etc) I’d still be a happy bunny

    1. I think that’s a fair and well-argued defence of shorter races – kudos for standing up against the majority!

      But I don’t agree. Shorter races equals dumbing down because it lessens the challenge. The cars won’t have to be as durable and the drivers won’t have to sustain concentration for as long, or be as fit.

      I don’t agree that casual viewers turn off because the races are long. I think they turn off because (for most of them) they see the start, the race settles down for a bit, an advert break comes on, and they channel-surf off to something else.

  31. NO, NO, NO, and NO,
    If the TV has to fit all the advertising in a shorter time we will see nothing of the race!!!

  32. @Jon Finn

    First of all, lets assume you’re right about shorter races attracting more casual viewers.

    A) Is it right to do this to the detriment of hardcore F1 fans who’ve supported the sport for years?
    B) Is it financially beneficial to do this? Would having a casual fan tune in to 2 or 3 races a year be worth upsetting thousands of ‘real’ F1 fans?

    I remember when the US wanted to give football pitches coloured zones and play in quarters. Should football have given in and reduced the quality of the product for generations of fans just to try and attract an indifferent market?

    Personally, I don’t think reducing races by 20 minutes would attract that many floaters. I can’t imagine many of them thinking of the racing at Spa last year – “yeah I heard it was good. I probably would have watched it if it had been a few laps shorter”

    1. A) is it right? well as the aggrieved party we would obviously say no. Do our banknotes have a higher value to a team than anyone elses? no. Do the teams think its right and could there be benefit to the sport (and the teams pockets) maybe – yes.
      B) is it financially beneficial? actually i think it would be. Apart from the reduced running costs, a small percentage increase (even a fraction of a %) of an international audience could generate significant revenue.

    2. @ John,

      You make some good points, but there are far better ways to cut costs and increase revenue than shorten the race times. If they want to increase viewership and get a bigger audience, they should try some cocnepts that are proven in other sports and could be done with some ease- a dedicated marketing campaing here in North America, perhaps?

    3. @Gman
      I’m sure there are more effective cost cutting methods but i guess this could be viewed by the teams as a method that they effectively have to do little to nothing in order to implement.

      As for North America – I couldnt’ agree more. The current situation with F1 and North America is utter madness. The F1 decision making parties should be breaking their backs to open up, and profit massively from, a market full of petrol heads.

  33. If they want to save money use pop on the podium in lieu of champagne, but keep the race lengths as they are!

    If the “casual” fan can’t bear the boredom, let them do what I do for NASCAR races, tune in for the last 20 laps regardless of how long it is.

  34. Looks like we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one mate!

    I think it’s a dangerous game trying to attract a channel surfer to the detriment of the lifelong fan. There may be a small short term benefit but once the next viewing fad comes along they’ll be off and the sport will have run the risk of alienating its lifeblood. It’s not like they’ve maxed out what they can get out us fans either – HD, internet, better DVDs to name a few.

    In this respect I do think that the bank notes of a loyal fan are worth more than the casual viewer.

  35. Someone hasn’t done their sums right here.

    Say on average it brought the race lengths down to 70 mins instead of 90. That’s 360 minutes (6 hours) worth of on track time that has gone from an 18-race season.

    How much is 6 hours worth of TV time worth to the team sponsors, less TV time = less advertising exposure = smaller advertising budgets = less income for teams.

    Am I wrong in thinking that?

    1. If they didn’t cut the number of ad breaks then F1 fans would just see (even) less of the action.

  36. I can see why Nigel Mansell made the comments he did about ‘modern champions’ (paraphrase :p) – it’ll soon become a sunday stroll around a park before we know it.

    I bet the drivers will be glad when it comes to baking and humid tracks. No sweat for the last part.

  37. No, no and no ! If anything, F1 should be looking to increase race lengths.

    With the joint proposals of dropping off friday practice and shortening the race length, tell me why anyone would hand over the $$$ for a race ticket? How is that going to save money?

    And given that the BBC is going to be sans-ads this year anyway, I don’t see how less exposure of the car and track advertising is going to benefit.

    Sure they might save a few revs on the engine, but surely the income from ads outweighs the expenditure on a few mechanical parts?

  38. I don’t see any good reason for this – 90 to 120 minutes is just fine by me, thank you very much…

  39. Jonathan Cheung
    5th March 2009, 23:21

    Massa needs to toughen up and stop whinging like a little girl

  40. Keith,
    You know what to do… get all the f1 blogs to do the same poll and send it to whoever decides upon such things – I guess Max?
    OK, I can understand if there were to be no pit-stops and no tyre changes – makes for pure racing, and good for the environment too! – but your argument about revenues and dumbing down etc. is also very good.
    Yes, I know we’re all fans here, and that may seem skewed to those who look for “public” perception, but we’re the ones who love the sport, and watch regularly, and keep those incomes incoming.

  41. I think that FOTA are proposing a race distance cut because they know Bernie won’t buy it and FOTA are prepared to negotiate it away.

    1. That could make sense. Shorter races would presumably mean less television revenue for Ecclestone so I can see why he might not go for it.

      My concern is that FOTA representatives like Flavio Briatore have argued in favour of shorter races in the past, so I think they might actually be sincere…

  42. Was there no journalist at the press meeting to ask why they wanted the races shorter…

    1. Not from what I’ve seen. Maybe they’re all hoping they’ll be able to get earlier flights home?

  43. I can’t see any logical reason for wanting shorter races- the drivers should be the last people wanting it, so I have no clue why Massa would be in favor of such a move.

    I know Flavio and the rest want F1 to be more of a spectacle- more of a TV drama. How, then, dose making a GP shorter make it more dramatic? There are fewer position changes, overtakes, strategy battles…the whole idea makes no sense to me. F1 is supposed to be the best, and the FOTA shoulden’t be trying to move back towards race distances seen in GP2 and other junior series.

  44. I really really hope not..

  45. Hey keith!!!

    maybe once this latest poll is done you could do another one asking who has taken part in the FOTA survey?

    maybe they didn’t ask any of the 17 countries to be america or britain

  46. “Shorter races would presumably mean less television revenue for Ecclestone so I can see why he might not go for it.”

    The RACE may be shorter, but that doesn’t mean the whole “show” would be. Think NASCAR. They have a great deal of pre-race activity on the television. Interviews, discussions about technology, etc.

    Did you read what the statement said about all the new access television crews would get? I think the actual “show” combined will be the same length, but the amount cut from the race will be made up for in pre-race programming. They specifically looked at how local broadcasters worked on race weekends – the release mentioned this several times.

    So I think there will be shorter races but more off-track broadcasting for the same amount of time. No ad revenue lost.

  47. How many ‘casual’ fans have said, “I’d watch F1 if the races were shorter?”

    I’ve never heard it said. People don’t watch F1 because they don’t like F1, it’s nothing to do with the length of races.

    And another thing, does ‘casual fan’ really exist? or is he the figment of someone’s imagination?

    Is anyone here a ‘casual fan’? Please come forward, and tell us why you describe yourself as a ‘casual fan’.

    I’m genuinely interested to hear from you, because personally, I’ve never met a ‘casual fan’ of anything.

    And why would you change the rules of a sport to make ‘casual fan’ happy? It’s bizarre. It’s like asking someone who watches football twice a year what they would prefer to see at football matches:”we would like to see two balls and three goalkeepers”.”really?”. “yes”.”consider it done then”. ????.

  48. I went karting last week. We only raced for half an hour. yes I ached when I stepped out of the kart, but all I wanted to do was get back in and race for another half hour.

    I can’t see how any of these guys, who have made a life from racing, would want to go for any less than they currently do.

    Maybe they do do it too often, maybe they’ve decided they’ve got too much of a good thing. In which case, sack ’em all, and get in some drivers and teams who do want to race for longer.

  49. Shorter races, absolutely no. I am surprised that at the moment only 89% have voted no.
    As noted in the article this is dumbing down F1, something their survey said shouldn’t be done.

    I would like FOTA to explain why they feel races should be shorter. If they think it would and improve the show for TV or casual viewers then they are going against their own survey. If they think it will cut costs I am sure most people wouldn’t mind them getting rid of some free practice sessions.

    The length of the races is part of the challenge of Formula 1, what if someone suggested changing Le Man so it only ran in the day time or shortening the length of the Indy 500, people wouldn’t accept it.

  50. Certainly would start to reconsider whether it would be worht the ticket cost. leave it how it is 90 mins is not that long.

  51. This would be the worst thing to happen to F1 since the one tyre rule.

    F1 is grand prix racing. It should really be 2 hours every time of racing. That’s what distinguishes it from the other formulae. It’s why every driver strives to be in F1.

  52. this is stupid! why on earth would FM or any driver want shorter races… he wouldn’t like it if he was on the back of lewis and just about to take him on and then opps the flag goes down lol.

    is it just me or does mclaren seem to be lacking in pase? i’ve made a bet with friend that a red bull will be on the front row on race day!!! just hope i’m wrong…. on and also i’d bet a weeks wages that it wont be MW!

  53. I think Massa lost his mind after losing his Champ by a single point.Coming up with crazy ideas like shortening race distance and scraping Friday’s practice for tests.I thought drivers like races rather than test and hre is a exception….Massa the Test driver……

    1. That’s because that’s all he his. A test driver what got lucky.

  54. so the f1 on sunday is down to less then 2 hour of interesting show? 30′ min buildup and then a race of about 1’15”? i just think of motogp were eurosport had a 5 hout show that kept my interest all the time… heck, f1 doesn’t even package the support races with the main television rights!

    the season is about to start and i don’t even feel excited… f1 need am MAJOR overhaul or it will be gone in a few years time.

  55. Shorter? If anything, longer!

  56. marvin guillen
    21st March 2009, 17:53

    F*** No. I love F1. I have upgraded MY Tv and Sound to get the Best Race Sound ever.I Fu**** hate Nascar SH**.
    Look i love this Sh**.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.