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).

Should F1 races be shorter?

  • Yes (9%)
  • No (89%)
  • Don't know (2%)

Total Voters: 1,655

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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.

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Image (C) Ferrari spa

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. TWO quick short races would be better.

    2012 AD = 1433 H

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

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

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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!!!

  12. @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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

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

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

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

  20. 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.

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