Should F1 races be shorter? (Poll)

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

  1. EGC said on 5th March 2009, 21:09

    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!!!

  2. Owen said on 5th March 2009, 21:28

    @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”

    • Jon Finn said on 5th March 2009, 21:43

      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.

    • Gman said on 5th March 2009, 23:42

      @ 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?

    • Jon Finn said on 6th March 2009, 0:32

      @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.

  3. 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.

  4. Owen said on 5th March 2009, 22:05

    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.

  5. 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?

  6. Loki said on 5th March 2009, 22:14

    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.

  7. 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?

  8. gabal said on 5th March 2009, 22:59

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

  9. Jonathan Cheung said on 5th March 2009, 23:21

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

  10. 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.

  11. Steven Roy said on 5th March 2009, 23:27

    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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th March 2009, 23:42

      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…

  12. Chaz said on 5th March 2009, 23:32

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

  13. Gman said on 5th March 2009, 23:47

    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.

  14. Rui said on 6th March 2009, 0:46

    I really really hope not..

  15. scunnyman said on 6th March 2009, 1:24

    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

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