The FIA wants to “improve the show”. Here’s how to get it right (and wrong)

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

The pit-to-car radio broadcasts are great - let's hear some more
The pit-to-car radio broadcasts are great - let's hear some more

Last year the FIA announced:

A mandate has been given to the F1 Sporting Working Group to develop detailed proposals to improve the show. The Working Group will meet in January and make recommendations for the World Motor Sport Council to consider in advance of the 2010 F1 season.

We’ve seen a lot of positive changes made to F1 in recent years – the banning of traction control and the return of slick tyres, for example. But sometimes the FIA gets it badly wrong – who remembers aggregate qualifying?

Here’s some simple changes they could make to improve the show in 2010 – and a few mistakes they need to avoid:

Let more people watch it

For all the talk of ‘improving the show’ there’s too little discussion of the fundamental problem that not everyone can watch it.

Here in Britain we’re fortunate to have BBC’s excellent coverage. But join the F1 Fanatic live blogs during any session and there are always fans from parts of the world where F1 isn’t broadcast live, looking for video streams.

Why isn’t FOA supplying a video stream for these dedicated fans who are trying to follow a sport in a country where it isn’t even shown live? A commentary-free pictures-and-sound version on F1.com, supplied only in regions which don’t have live television coverage for a particular session, offered for a fair price, could bolster F1’s popularity and bring in revenue.

Let people watch it in HD

There are many ways FOA’s outdated broadcasts could be brought up to scratch to improve the show. High definition coverage is the least of them, especially considering the 2010 football world cup will be shown in 3D.

In a similar vein, we’re starting to see too much of FOA’s best material held back from the live broadcast and kept for the end-of-season DVD review.

Use more team radio

Getting all the teams to agree to have their pit-to-car-radio communcations broadcast was an important step forward for the quality of F1 broadcasts.

Many of the most memorable moments of 2009 were framed by quotes from the radio: Jenson Button’s “monster of a car” at Istanbul which a few races later he complained was “terrible”, Rob Smedley telling “Felipe baby” to “be cool” and Mark Webber slating Kimi Raikkonen for holding him up in qualifying at Silverstone.

But it’s still used very sparingly. Watch an Indy Car or NASCAR race and the chatter from the pits is almost uninterrupted in the background.

We need to hear more from the radios. And why not let fans subscribe to their favourite drivers’ broadcasts on the internet? That way they could hear them in real time and uncensored.

Drop the compulsory tyre change

Let drivers pit as much or as little as they want to increase variety
Let drivers pit as much or as little as they want to increase variety

As discussed here recently, the banning of refuelling opens up opportunities for interesting strategy variations creating more interesting races. But the compulsory tyre change rule introduced in 2007 will work against this if it is not removed.

At the moment drivers are required to use both types of tyres at least once during a dry race. By removing that requirement drivers will be free to approach the race in different ways. One might use a softer, quicker tyres but make two pit stops for fresh rubber. Another might bolt on harder tyres and try to get through with one stop or none at all.

That variety will produce more interesting and exciting races – like the thrilling battle between Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet at Silverstone in 1987.

Read more: 14 reasons to love the F1 refuelling ban

Keep working on the cars

One of the most important avenues the teams and FIA must work on is how the cars can be modified to allow them to follow each other more closely. The 2009 rules changes made some progress here, but much of it was undone when ‘double diffusers’ were declared legal.

In the Indy Racing League a lack of passing last season was quickly remedied by some changes to the cars. It’s much easier for the IRL to address this sort of thing because all the cars are the same specification. And with the F1 teams just weeks away from launching their 2010 cars it’s too late now for any significant changes to the technical rules.

But we can’t ignore the fact that the design of the cars has a serious effect on how closely they can follow each other. If that’s going to be improved, the FIA needs to look at long-term changes as well as quick fixes it can make in the next two months.

Don’t overlook the world champion

Give the world champions a proper post-race celebration
Give the world champions a proper post-race celebration

Jenson Button came home in fifth place to secure the world championship at Interlagos. The official podium ceremony went on as usual to celebrate the race winner, while completely ignoring the fact that the championship had been won.

Why ignore the new world champion until the official end-of-season FIA prizegiving – which gets far less media attention than the championship-deciding title race?

Bring back Friday test drivers

Third drivers get hardly any opportunities for testing these days, so let them have some track time on Fridays. It’s good for them and good for the fans.

…and how to mess it up

With only 67 days until the first practice session at Bahrain there is little time for the FIA to make major changes to things like car design. Whatever innovations are introduced are likely to be cosmetic.

The danger is they might rush into unnecessary changes to the race weekend format which will leave us with some dreadful error – like the terrible aggregate qualifying which was introduced and then quickly dropped in 2005.

The worst thing they could do would be to introduce some of these flawed ideas seen in other racing categories:

Point for pole position – Offering extra points for anything other than where a driver finishes in a race would make things more complicated rather than exciting. Pole position already gives a driver the significant advantage of starting in frotn of everyone, so why increase its value? This would only open up the possibility for the championship to be decided during a qualifying session, when far fewer people are watching, which is no good for “the show”.

Point for fastest lap – Cue arguments over whether a fastest lap was set while a yellow flag was out. A dispute over exactly that handed Lewis Hamilton the 2006 GP2 title after the race had finished.

Success ballast – Making the winner of the previous race carry extra weight is fundamentally opposed to the spirit of racing – it’s a disgrace to see it happen even in touring car racing. Also, it would pretty much guarantee the world championship being decided by a battle in the lowest reaches of the points.

More mandatory pit stops – As described earlier, making drivers pit two or three times would remove any potential for variation in strategy and scupper many of the benefits of the refuelling ban.

Reverse grids – Normal qualifying can be relied upon to throw up an unusual grid and an exciting race once in a while. But if every race started with the quickest cars at the back the novelty would wear off quickly.

For more on why these favoured methods of ‘improving the show’ would only cause more problems, see here: Four mistakes F1 must avoid

How would you “improve the show”? Does the show need improving? Leave a comment below.

Images (C) Red Bull/Getty Images, Renault/LAT, Brawn GP

99 comments on “The FIA wants to “improve the show”. Here’s how to get it right (and wrong)”

  1. It’s not that broken, it doesn’t need fixing. They need to avoid regulating everything, e.g. mandating 2 required pit stops. F1 is the most watched sport outside of the Olympics and World Cup, it can’t be that bad.

    Shortening races is an idea that I think is personally terrible, but it’s been thrown up a few times. Points for pole is stupid too, I want to see championships decided in races. I say that aero should be cut by at leas 90%. We all know that teams will claw back half of it anyway.

    1. It’s not that broken, it doesn’t need fixing.

      Exactly. In fact, I think stability in the rules is the most important aspect of all.

      Lay down sensible rules, stick to them, and let the teams innovate. Given enough time, designers will automatically gravitate towards car that can follow and pass without being too sensitive to turbulence – the incentives already exist for that.

      Plus, there’s something that just feels wrong about a sport that needs to keep changing it’s rules. Tennis, for example, has remained roughly the same for centuries.

  2. Get rid of the compulsory tyre rule and bring back nice hard tyres.

  3. I totally agree.
    By a concept point of view I think that the right strategy is technical. Find a way to allow cars to follow each other more closely, and that’s all. Please remove all rules like mandatory pit stops (refuelling ban is the very best starting point there), mandatory tyre change, strange qualification rules, grid penalties…just flat out and go until the car works, no other machiavellian stuff.

  4. In my view, just racing is the show. Don’t mess with it: F1 is not NASCAR, and it’s not endurance racing, either.

  5. Prisoner Monkeys
    4th January 2010, 8:45

    Going off in a completely different direction here: what about modelling it after tennis (at least in part)?

    Pick four events throughout the season and give them “Grand Slam” status. Normal races are three hundred kilometres; Grand Slams could be upped to four hundred or four-fifty. The points could also be doubled in value. The idea would be to single out a handful of races – like at Monaco – and up the prestige factor. It does do it a little artificially by giving more incentive for the drivers to win, but the idea is to make these the biggest events, the most prestigious race of the season. You could have the Asian Grand Slam at Suzuka, the Grand Slam of the Americas somewhere in North America, the Grand Slam Australasia in Australia and the European Grand Slam in Monte Carlo.

    Another idea I’ve had would be to bring back third drivers and open up two or four extra grid spaces a weekend. The role of a third driver could only be filled by a rookie. On Fridays, they would have their own testing sessions separate from the main drivers. Then, on Saturdays, they would practice with the main crowd. However, the Saturday session would also be a mini-qualifying event for the rookie drivers with the two or four fastest (depending on how many teams enter third cars) being accepted to qualifying proper and the race. It would be a great way to showcase new talent without the pressures of a full-time drive, and a mini-championship could be made for it with points awarded to the best-placed rookie in each race (eve if they all retire). And the teams would not be obligated to run the same rookie driver all the time. The rules would state that the drivers have to have no Grand Prix starts before their first rookie race, and that they could not be pay drivers – they’d have to be accepted on the basis of their driving abilities alone.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      4th January 2010, 9:00

      @ PM.
      How would the third-car idea for rookies work in terms of Constructor points and on-track blocking of competitors?

      On the basis that the start of a Grand Prix is often the most exciting bit, is there an argument for introducing two or three shorter ‘sprint’ races over some weekends in the same manner as Australian Touring Cars?

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        4th January 2010, 9:18

        How would the third-car idea for rookies work in terms of Constructor points and on-track blocking of competitors?

        They’d be inelgigible for constructor and normal drivers’ points. The only points they could score would be rookie points. As for on-track blocking, I’d say their radio transmissions between team and driver would have to be fully disclosed to the stewards. There would only be one channel available for communicating to prevent the teams using a secure line.

        On the basis that the start of a Grand Prix is often the most exciting bit, is there an argument for introducing two or three shorter ’sprint’ races over some weekends in the same manner as Australian Touring Cars?

        No, I think that would just confuse things. It should just be a single race for simplicity’s sake.

      2. Shorter races are a horrible idea. Its Grand Prix not Sprint Prix. I love sitting down for the best part of Sunday to unfold bit by bit before me.

        If people like lots of starts then go and enjoy touring cars where they are devalued to the point of not even being that interesting. Grand Prix starts are so exciting because there are only 17-19 of them. Make the 40 odd and they loose all that excitement.

        Keith, great ideas on how to improve it. Hope the big wigs read your site!! The how to mess it up is pretty scary reading though, lets hope we never see those ideas mentioned again.

      3. Terry Fabulous
        4th January 2010, 10:58

        Yes Yes Yes! Great Idea P. Monkey.

        Why not make one race for the year a six hour affair that requires two drivers per car? Each team would have to bring up to speed two reserve drivers to team up with the main drivers.

        It could be at Suzuka, The Japanese racing fans have a long tradition of supporting endurance racing (I think that there was a six hour 500cc motor cycle race a few years back)

    2. I like the Slam idea. It’s a bit artificial, but could be used to give extra cachet to the ‘driver’s circuits’ – I’d pick Suzuka, Monaco, Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos.

    3. I like the Grand Slam idea, although it would take time to give certain events an artificial prestige.

      I had a similar idea a few weeks ago- declare champions for each of the F1 ‘tours’- eg the champion for the first 4 fly aways in Australia and Asia, the first European leg, the second European leg (after Canada), and the Asian/ South American fly aways at the end of the season. Could be a nice novelty

        1. I hope the FIA is not planning to shorten the race distance.

          1. The teams will have already designed the size of their fuel tanks to cover 200 miles, so they certainly can’t increase them. They could decrease them but it might be seen as giving an advantage to teams with thirstier engines (who have to carry more fuel which would put them at a disadvantage).

  6. One way to improve “the show” is for the FIA to stop referring to it as “the show”.

    It’s a sport. Not WWF.

    1. Thank you, I was just about to say that. We don’t need artificial excitement and spectacular showmanship. What we need is racing, and if the racing is good, the viewers will come from themselves and the “show” will be improved.

    2. Agreed- but if they can make things more exciting without making too many artifical changes than they should do

  7. I still cannot understand why they declared the double diffuser legal. Aerodynamics spoil the show.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      4th January 2010, 11:07

      Itwas decalred legal because it wasn’t in violation of the rules. The rules forbade diffusers with holes in them, but Brawn, Williams and Toyota found a way around that by making their diffusers out of two separate pieces and bringing them together, which wasn’t banned in the rules.

      And besides, not banning the diffusers was one of the best things the sport has seen in years. It allowed Brawn to stay competitive – though their speed was not solely a product of the diffuser – and break the Big Four stranglehold on the titles. It was the first time since the 1980s that a driver for a team other than Ferrari, McLaren, Williams or Renault won a drivers’ title (Bennetton being an incarnation of Renault), and the first time since the 1970s that a team outside the Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Renault club won a constuctors’ title.

      Why wuld you want to take that away?

      1. I understand why they were allowed in 2009…

        What I don’t understand is why they weren’t banned for the 2010 season…they saw many of the ways that teams clawed back the lost downforce in 2009…why not close the loop holes in the rules and try and maintain the good work that the OWG seemed to have done…

      2. Why wuld you want to take that away?

        Because it made it really hard for the majority of the cars to follow close to the car in front. The drivers have said themselves that the diffusers are the problem. At Melbourne they could follow so much closer and overtake easier, as more teams introduced the double decker diffuser this disappeared.

        Agreed it did make this season more interesting as the teams lagging at the start of the season improved as the season went on. And it would have been unfair to punish the teams that had made use of the diffuser. However, why not close the loophole for next year so that the cars have less downforce, less dirty air and therefore hopefully more overtaking :)

      3. Benetton won with Ford engines also. That list should be Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Renault and Benetton.

        Why would you want to take that away?

        Because it ruined overtaking.

  8. Limit on the size of standart steel brakes ( smaller )
    Get rid of compulsory tyre change
    More work to lessen the influence of aerodynamics

  9. I agree with pretty much everything in the article. The one thing I’m not too sure about is getting rid of the two-compound rule. It’s silly, but it’s also a leveller; some drivers can make their softs last but have trouble heating their hards, whilst imothers wear out their softs too quickly. Thing is, it doesn’t always work that way, as sometimes – like in Bahrain – thete’s a massive pace difference between tyres regardless of the driving style. Also, the benefits brought by the rule – a driver on the better tyre catching up to someone on the worse tyre in the final stint – will come abot from the new fuel rules anyway, with drivers on fresh rubber trying to catch those on knackered tyres.

    Looking at it that way, it’s time to get rid of the rule, but only if it the compounds themselves are properly weighted, e.g a choice between a compound that lasts a third, two-thirds, or three-quarters of the race. Strategies could then be worked out accordingly and evolve during the race according to circumstances. I think if you just gave them the same compound or two fairly similar ones it might favour some drivers over others.

  10. Joe Saward reckons the new points system will get another change:

    http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/another-change-coming-for-the-f1-points-system/

    At the very least they need to fix the seventh place problem, but I hope they increase the value of a win too.

    1. Joe also says that the most likely change is to add points for pole and fastest lap, which is worrying. That sort of thing is for touring cars.

      I think the points system is fine as it is – winning is its own reward.

    2. I hate the new points system.

  11. Off topic, but regarding “Don’t Overlook the World Champion”, i kinda felt shortchanged for Mark Webber who won Interlagos 09. Can’t speak for the other broadcasters, but Starsports were only interested in Button at that time. There’s only like a short glimpse of the actual podium.

    In the same note that we shouldn’t overlook the world champions, we shouldn’t overlook race winners too.

    On topic though, if football can have trophy presentation the moment champions are mathematically decided, and telecast extended for that 15 – 30min, F1 should do it too. After all, its not like they need to have buffers all the way back to the last 4 – 5 races of the season just in case it gets decided then. Its maybe the last 2 or 3 where max of 20 or 30 points can still be won. This way, we can actually see a bit of the celebrations of the newly crowned champions.

    Medals for the pit crew, maybe?

    1. If football can have trophy presentation the moment champions are mathematically decided, and telecast extended for that 15 – 30min, F1 should do it too. After all, its not like they need to have buffers all the way back to the last 4 – 5 races of the season just in case it gets decided then. Its maybe the last 2 or 3 where max of 20 or 30 points can still be won. This way, we can actually see a bit of the celebrations of the newly crowned champions.

      That’s exactly what I’m talking about. By all means keep the podium ceremony but let’s have something official for the champion too.

      1. Pedro Andrade
        4th January 2010, 11:17

        I actually disagree with you here Keith. Though it is nice to see a champion celebrating in the podium, I think there’s a special feel in seeing him partying with the mechanics and all sorts of unknown people in the middle of the garage. Making a special podium just for him and Jean Todt to be there would make it seem very desolated.

        Speaking of football, when a team won a cup they used to go to the top of the stadium, where the president/queen/whoever used to present the trophy, and by doing that they would be passing through the fans, and celebrating near them. More recently, the trophies have been handed in a special-made podium in the middle of the field, away from the fans, where only the winning team and the black suited politicians were. Thankfully the trend is reversing.

      2. Pedro Andrade
        4th January 2010, 11:18

        Oh, but I do agree with handing him the championship trophy on the spot, not waiting until the “gala”.

      3. Have the normal podium for the placegetters in the current race with champagne spraying and photos, then those drivers step to the side…
        Up gets the new world champion driver and representative from his team to receive the world championship trophy (and drivers on the side get fresh champagne to spray them with)…
        Done.

  12. Jonesracing82
    4th January 2010, 10:16

    well for a start, allowing the double diffuser killed all the work the OWG did in making the cars racable, which is what they had done, see 1st 3 races of ’09 before they were legal!
    i dont really agree with the grand slam idea, tho the way things r going, there wont be any “gandee” events left as we r going to al these new markets with little or no history/interest in motorsport whatsover, just look at the turkish GP!
    i also agree that the tyre change rule should go, have the 2 compounds available and let the teams do as they please, if u think about it, the iudea of a car on used tyres being caught by a car on newer tyres in the last 10-15 laps an exciting prospect!
    another idea, stop penalising drivers for collisions, as this is a deterrant, if it’s a deliberate/stupid act then by all means, but this is F1 with (supposedly) the best drivers in the world and we want to see them “race” each other.
    2 things i’d love to see return, “H” p[attern gearboxes and big fat 70’s-80’s style rear tyres that allowed the cars to powerslide! to me, it’s a crying shame i have to watch the old season reviews to see this kind of action, these days IMO the cars r too easy to drive and compared to the older cars from the “powerslide” era, they appear as if they are on rails.
    the FIA go on and on about “road relevance” to which aerodynamics has none at all.
    and with the front wings, y alow “flip ups” on there and the “wing mounts” in front of the sidepods, isnt this the very thing they outlawed at the start of the year?

  13. Jonesracing82
    4th January 2010, 10:19

    P.S y not let the winning driver do burnouts on the slowdown lap, i know F1 isnt nascar but seeing the winner crawl around the slow down lap then simply dissapear as a bit of an anti-climax, not one fan would complain!

    1. Let the winning driver do burnouts on the slowdown lap

      Definitely – great idea.

      1. Something Ive always said for ages is that the cars should be weighed straight after the finish, and THEN do their slowdown lap to park the car. That way, you’re not gonna get disqualified by being underweight after you’ve deposited half your tyres infront of the nearest grandstand.

    2. yes yes and yes. Those are rules for rules sake. Another point happening doughnuts is also engine rules. You don’t want to use up your engine revving it up. Last year motogp introduced rules for engines to last multiple races with the result that donuts were out. I mean look at their celebrations. Rossi jumps off his bike, over a barrier and into a portaloo- classic. Fans embrace him, give him t-shitrs, let alone indy, nascar etc. F1 can be too boring and staid at times.

    3. Exactly, let ’em go nuts to celebrate. Find me one person trackside who wouldn’t be loving it :)

  14. I would ban wings at all.

  15. How would I improve the show? Bring back refuelling, but not the rule which meant the FIA posted car weights.

    Not knowing which driver on which strategy improved the show for me. It made me want to keep watching. i.e. Why was driver A going so slow during qualifying when we know he is one of the fastest on the grid? We then see during the race he was fueled much further than everyone else, and goes onto win the race.

    Or, how on earth did driver B qualify there? He must be bone dry on fuel! And as it turns out, driver B has a respectable fuel load and is just in good form.

    The qualifying show just wont be the same. The last session of qualifying was really exciting at every race last year, this year I can’t see that being the case as we know that each car will only have a coke can’s worth of fuel on board.

    1. The qualifying show just wont be the same

      I think it’ll be much better because we’ll know every driver qualified where they did on merit. If a driver is half a second and ten places behind his team mate he’ll have some explaining to do.

      What the driver can do behind the wheel is far more interesting to me than how much fuel he’s got in the tank.

      1. Terry Fabulous
        4th January 2010, 11:08

        Great article Keith, spot on.

        Also, I love the fact that you are fighting the good fight for low fuel qualifying.

        I have given up and am just licking my lips in anticipation for the first Qualifying session from Bahrain when the only sound to be heard from the naysayers will be socks being blown off.

      2. I’ll agree that driver skill critical, but often fuel strategy has been required in the past few seasons as certain cars “dislike” certain circuits, for example, the Brawn car didn’t like the cooler/cold European tracks this year, but the Red Bull’s were happy about it. So, it took immense driver skill for Jenson and Rubens to get the cars to where they were in said races. Had the job been given to more medicore drivers such as Nakajima or Grosjean, they would have struggled full stop.

        I’ll agree that driver skill is defintely shown up when the field is levelled. The feeder series for the BTCC shows this quite evidently (Ginetta Juniors, Ginetta G50s, Renault Clio Cup, Formula Renault and Porsche Carerra). The point here is that these feeder series are lower formula. Part of their ethos is to find the tallent in the field, so they can advance to a higher level. Formula One does not have the same level playing field these series show.

        Fuel strategy showed us which drivers were the best, and which teams. There was a bigger emphasis on driver and teamwork. Think Hamilton and Mclaren, Think Alonso and Reanult, Schumacher and Ferrari, Hakkinen and Mclaren. These drivers were at the top of their game in the car as individuals, but all would have been nowhere without the work of the team behind them.

        The only way we’re gonna see which driver is the best on the grid is if Formula One becomes a single engine supplier form of racing, and that isn’t what Formula One is about… is it?

  16. Steel brakes and a maximum downforce level at 160mph.
    These 2 things more than anything else would give F1 the overtaking it needs.
    I have delved into the idea of “groundeffects” and there is definatley room for scope in this area.

    Either way, Todt is technically minded enough to know better than I which is the best way forward. I just pray he has the conviction to do somthing great instead of just appease his (FIA)electorate.

  17. Keith, I agree 100% with everything you said.

  18. Two suggestions that might have a positive effect:

    1) Allow only a certain amount of energy (kJ?) to be used per Grand Prix weekend, regardless of engine capacity, output or power source, for that matter. The fixed amount could be reduced each season, too, like MotoGP did/does.

    2) Allow only a certain amount of downforce (P?) to be available at any given time, regardless of number of wings, venturi tunnels, diffusers, et al.

    1. The kj idea is a great one. Do Moto GP actually implement this and if so how?

      Will this come down to a formula of 1 litre of fuel equals X amount of kj’s? So in effect the Highest fuel efficient to power ratio will be best?

      1. IIRC, MotoGP have reduced the size of the fuel tank a couple of times during the last few seasons, e.g. from 23 to 22 litres.

        You’re right on the formula, I reckon: 1 litre of fuel for a petrol engine equals x kJ, while 1 kWh — bear with me, I’m no physicist — for an electric car equals y kJ.

  19. Terry Fabulous
    4th January 2010, 11:04

    Team Radio Case Study:

    Last month I was volunteering as a grandstand steward at the V8Supercar Sydney 500.
    At the track you could buy a special radio for about AU$80 that came with a frequency guide for each of the 15 teams!

    So you could pick your team and sit there all day listening to the pit to car conversations!!

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that for F1

    1. V8 Supercars are brilliant. I’ve really got into that lately.

      F1 could take a few leaves out of their book.

      1) The rotating on board camera.
      2) After the race, the race commentators can talk to the race winner over the radio.
      3) Sprint & Longer races. (I’m not sure how they work just yet. I’ve only started watching lately.)

      Back to F1, take away the two compounds per race rule, very artificial.

      No points for pole or fastest lap, points are going down to tenth now so thats enough.

      Most importantly, CONSISTENT RULES!

      1. I like points 1 and 2.
        And perhaps when a safety car is out the commentators can also talk to the drivers whilst they follow it.

      2. Most of the leaves of the V8 Supercars book should remain with V8 Supercars. Watch it for more than one season Spud and you’ll see they change rules every year, if not mid year.

        -2 tyre compound rule
        -compulsory pitstops to put in a compulsory amount of fuel
        -09 was a new type of fuel
        -first they say that all races (either sprint or enduro) are worth the same amount of points as each other then that changes to sprint being worth less
        -each year they make more and more of the cars standard across the grid (only thing different between Holdens and Fords are the engines and body panels
        -don’t get me started on stupid things like reverse grids that they have done in the past

        The only thing F1 should look at is the TV coverage, its done pretty well. Cameras everywhere inside / outside / under the car, if someone goes out because of a broken part they often will get a hold of that part and show how and why it broke, talking to the drivers during the race (Dick Johnson was known for telling jokes while driving that would take a whole lap of Bathurst to tell), commentators that really know the rules

      3. Oh I forgot the rubbish point system

  20. Prisoner Monkeys
    4th January 2010, 11:12

    At Monaco, the winner must run the length of pit stright to celebrate. It worked for Jenson Button, it should work for everyone else.

  21. all the drivers know where on every track they can overtake, make the tracks with more of these places. simples more overtaking oppertunities

  22. I actually disagree about the “point for fastest lap” situation. Think about it. There’s 5 laps to go, everyone has burned off their fuel and have nice light cars. Normally, you would be told to save the car and bring it home but now there is an extra point up for grabs. Everyone is going to be banzai-ing it right to the end of the race to try and get that fastest lap, especially the guys outside the points that have nothing to lose. I personally think this would put an end to the whole “cruise and collect” mentality we have at the moment where after the second round of pitstops are over, nothing happens.

  23. I am thinking of a point should be awarded for leading most laps in the race. This will give some reward to drivers who dominated the race or to the drivers who led the race for most part of the race and lose it at the end because of engine/mechanical failure or other similar type problems.

    1. I think this wouldn’t necessarily make things more entertaining, just more complicated.

      And again, whenever we decide to start giving points for things other than finishing the race, you raise the prospect of the championship being decided in a rather unsatisfying way.

      For example, driver X becomes world champion on lap 44 at Interlagos because he’s led every lap apart from the first eight and now no-one can lead any more laps than him so he must get the bonus point… doesn’t really do it for me.

      1. For example, driver X becomes world champion on lap 44 at Interlagos because he’s led every lap apart from the first eight and now no-one can lead any more laps than him so he must get the bonus point… doesn’t really do it for me.

        Later on I also thought on this.

  24. Having the 3rd driver on a friday is a nice idea, although in a time where cost cutting is taking most importance, have to supply an exrtra car for that driver doesn’t seem right. I guess you could let him drive one of the main drivers car, but then if he puts it in the wall then the main drivers weekend is effectivly stuffed.

  25. I agree with every single word you typed Kieth except the “Don’t overlook the world champion” thing because i think that the other drivers who won the race deserve to be seen just like any other place. And you won’t believe what i am about to tell you… in the middle east there are 2 F1 circuits Bahrain and Yas and those are the only 2 races that they show on free T.V. imagine that! to see any other races i think (not sure) that you have to buy Jazeera.

    1. Just to correct the info, this was true before 2009, in 2009 the rights were bought by Bahrain Sport which is free if you have a cable dish..
      The so called “show” definitely needs to be more accessible to more fans, they could also look into reducing the costs of the race tickets so that more enthusiasts can afford to see the action live..
      Excellent suggestions Keith :) I love the team radios and they never have enough of them on, I understand the issue might be censoring some of the conversations, but there should be a way of screening them and making more of them available, it really gives us a taste of what’s really going on behind the scenes..
      I really hope they don’t give points to the fastest lap or pole position that will just ruin the value of the race!
      I’m all for giving the new Champ a chance to celebrate as well! They should also make the awards Gala more accessible just like the races, after a whole year of following each race, the fans deserve to see it live!

  26. I always find it interesting to watch way lower-profile racing series, who don’t pull half the shenanigans Formula One currently or formerly did to “improve the show” and provide equally, or even more interesting racing. From those experiences, I’m pretty convinced that it’s not necessary to have or introduce reversed grids, forced pit stops, weight penalties or bonuspoints for pole positions or fastest laps to produce interesting racing.

    The underyling question of those discussions, however, is a hugely important one. What is missing from (modern) motor racing that could make it more interesting?

    My answer, I’m afraid, isn’t one that could be rushed in as a change for the new season. One of the most important factors for me right now are the race tracks. Especially since the evolution of the technical regulations over the last two years seems ot have succeeded at unleashing some potential for close and interesting races, I’ve been all but underwhelmed by most of the new circuits that have been added to the calendar in recent years. I find it very sad to see that modern race tracks primarily seem to baffle spectators and “professionals” alike with their vast, impressive architecture — while the actual race track, for example, offers three chicanes, an array of slow, 1980s street circuit-esque corners and only one semi-fast bit.

    In my opinion, the vast improvement of the last fifteen, twenty years, which led to the modern track safety standards should have opened up a lot of potential for much more interesting, challenging and diverse circuits. Instead of that, if I’m following some of the discussions, every reveal of a new track layout seems to produce a lot of yawning and more or less appropriate name-calling of the architect…

    1. I’ve been all but underwhelmed by most of the new circuits that have been added to the calendar in recent years.

      I have been pretty disappointed with the new tracks as well. Unfortunately Bernie has put alot of energy into taking F1 to nations that are the most desperate for international exposure.

      every reveal of a new track layout seems to produce a lot of yawning and more or less appropriate name-calling of the architect

      You hit it on the head. When there’s an appetite to create a new circuit, the aim of the game has to be to create a circuit that has some classic features, not simply build every new circuit to the same formula.

      They seemed to have done the job at Istanbul Park, but sadly the list of recent circuits that follow the same standard formula is far too long – Sepang, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore to name a few.

  27. Whole-heartedly agree Keith on just about every point. One thing I’d add though, is that a lot more tech needs to be brought to bear on the coverage as a whole.

    For a start, they need a lot more cameras. The old days when cameras were expensive and huge are long gone, if they can put an on-board camera on every other car, they can put an extra 50 small unmanned cameras around the circuit for peanuts. They may not be the very best quality, they may not all be able to be cut in, in real time, but the coverage would be there for post race review and nothing would be completely missed as is so often the case. That I think is more important than hi-def.

    Also, while I find the on-screen info often annoying, badly thought out and badly positioned – so I’m not suggesting covering the pictures in thousands of graphics – but there are many many ways to improve the coverage with more data. That cricket enjoys more hi-tec coverage than F1 speaks volumes.

    1. That I think is more important than hi-def.

      I completely agree with you there. Completely!

  28. I agree with all the points in the article.

    I don’t like the FIA calling it improving the show, and worry that they may introduce gimmicks such as reverse grids, or make some changes in a hurry without being thought out such as the new points system with the problems with seventh place.

    For me the format of a Grand Prix weekend doesn’t need massive changes, apart from the points mentioned in the article the main thing I would look at are increased access for fans and allowing the winner to celebrate after the race on the in lap.

  29. ITS NOT A SHOW!!!

    please stop referring to it a show.
    Its a sport, not X-Factor!

    But apart from that, I agree upon all your ideas apart from the “improve the cars” bit. Cars do not need to be improved, they were fine in 2008. There will always be progress and with it advantages, disadvantages loopholes etc.

    Remember, F1 is a sport for engineers, and well as drivers!

  30. Excellent ideas Keith
    You should be getting paid for these

  31. All very logical, sensible and well thought out Keith, you’ll never get a job at the FIA behaving like that ;)

    I’d like to add my voice the “It’s not a show it’s a sport” view.

    Other than the things mentioned in the article I’d free up the technical regulations to allow designers and engineers to innovate and put a greater emphasis on safety, maybe closed cock-pits. Better safety would mean that cars could go faster, much faster, which would improve the spectacle.

  32. They have to drop the idea of Drop the compulsory tyre changes,it will just destroy the show.
    Secondly shouldn’t they lower the price of ticket by some mean,I know the FIA has nothing to do with it but isn’t there a way.
    They should ban double diffusers.

  33. To make Formula 1 really interesting again, the standardization should stop and we’d get rid of artificial means to ‘spice up’ the racing.

  34. I agree with Keith that F1 needs to be more accessible to the average fan as well as dedicated fans following a specific team / driver.
    If you take a look at NASCAR, they have done a great job on this. They have something called TrackPass on the internet. You can watch the entire race with every driver’s telemetry, and tune into specific driver or team’s radio for the entire race. On TV, they’re in HD.
    At the actual races, they rent out radios that also lets you tune into team radio. That is really cool. As a side note, there’s no way the Hamilton / Trulli fiasco could have happened if the teams knew fans in the stands all have access to their team communications.

  35. I think the calendar is an important point. It needs to made more logical. How can F1 not go to the USA, France etc., but go to Korea? I like the idea of varying lengths of races, and the ‘Grand Slam’ idea.

    Also some cricket-style hi-tec line comparison graphics. I thought we were supposed to have that in 09?

    And for those that say F1 isn’t a show….
    It’s just about the only TV-based entertainment I’ll watch. F1 is a show these days, X Factor is a Freakshow!

    1. Common-sense stewarding as well please! The new points system is great by the way. Better than the medals system. I would have preferred something like IndyCar, to spice up the fight for 19th place!

    2. Actually, we did have the line comparisson graphics, although it wasnt used too much. If I remebmer rightly, it was barely used after Hungary…?

    3. +1 on the graphics call

      If WRC can manage to show the different lines drivers are taking out in the middle of the forest somewhere, surely we can do this at a track…

  36. The idea to make the races more exiting towards the end by giving a benefit to the fastest lap when everyone often just cruise around to protect their position is a good one I think. Somehow giving points seems out of tradition with F1 but perhaps gaining 5 positions on the starting grid of the next race would liven things up a bit.

  37. The BBC have been getting a lot of schtick lately with many vociferous complaints about the quality output of their HD programming. Apparently the bit rate (I’m not a techy so feel free the explain this further or moreso correctly if you wish) is much less than that of Sky. Despite the criticisms they insist programmes are not being compromised and yet on theirs and other forums the complaints continue to the contrary…

    1. Here’s a few idea’s off the top of my head.

      Decrease the off season period.
      Allow fans more access on and off the track, including at testings.
      Discourage teams from charging membership on their sites as this puts fans off. Memberships are seldom worth the money anyway.
      Teams should offer more car and driver telemetry (revs, speed, brakes, g-forces, drivers heart rate, gps, in car camera feed, etc) that fans can access free and follow during races. FOA has a real opportunity to show-up the FIA and I would have thought they would relish that.
      Put more camera’s on cars to show different views and angles and camera’s should be able to be swivelled around by the tv director.

      1. Oh yes and get rid of the rubbish circuits that don’t allow for much overtaking opportunities. On a lighter note, if they insist on staying on the calendar then FIA must demand sprinklers be placed around the track to go off for a single perhaps random period no less than for half an hour…

    2. Not just their HD programming! And as I recall ITV was the same with their online stream, the picture would be fine up till the race start time (when I guess more people joined the feed) and the bitrate fell through the floor for some races.

  38. I don’t think that the extra point award for the fastest lap would increase a lot the interest.
    Do you really have fun if you see a 12th placed car doing ten very fast laps while fighting with…nobody? Not to say that it may happen that drivers that don’t see any hope for points could pit during the last laps just to get soft new tyres and try a flying lap.
    What we really miss in formula 1 is overtaking and directly fighting for a position. And the many reason for that is technical.
    Point system could remain the same of 70’s, it was more clear.

  39. For me, the first thing that has to go is the two tyre rule, it negates a lot of possibilities that the refuelling ban brings to F1.

    2 tyre suppliers, no refuelling, 4 world champions, now that’s a recipe for success.

  40. I would like to see the traditional qualifying formats reinstated. I am sure many fans terribly miss the sight of 20+ cars chaotically flooding the track at one go when the hour mark is due to be up.

    Most teams will only attempt to set a best time when the track is at its prime condition during the closing stages. So the concern is that the track is usually empty during the initial 45 mins as teams wait for one another (usually the lesser lights) to lay down the rubber first.

    Here is the solution. Scrap the knockout format but keep the four 15-minutes segment. All the cars must set a time during each of the segments.

    To ensure the runs are competitive runs, any driver who fails to set a time within the traditional 107% (could be even stricter e.g. 103% to ensure everyone tries his best) of the fastest driver’s time is knocked out immediately.

    Fans are happy that the track is utilised almost every minute. On top of that, they get to see the mad rush at the end of the session where commentators fall over one another trying to keep up with the proceedings. Mr Editor, i hope you might take a liking to this idea and post up a page discussing this solution. I am sure it is one up for worthy consideration to really spice up the proceedings.

    1. The knockout qualifying is one of the few improvements of late.

      Your idea is basically the knockout system, just not as good. Right no we get cars out pretty much straight away and there is pressure to make their runs count. Yours sounds more complicated and you would loose occasions like Malaysia where Massa tried to get through Q3 with one run then got bumped down and out.

      With yours he could have trundled round easily within 103%.

      Qualy is great right now IMO and even better when low fuel returns!!!

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      4th January 2010, 22:32

      I am sure many fans terribly miss the sight of 20+ cars chaotically flooding the track at one go when the hour mark is due to be up.

      Not really – when we had that system, the only time anyone went out was when the hour was nearly at an end.

      Fans are happy that the track is utilised almost every minute. On top of that, they get to see the mad rush at the end of the session where commentators fall over one another trying to keep up with the proceedings.

      We already get that in knockout qualifying.

  41. Jonesracing82
    5th January 2010, 1:15

    i dont like the point for fastest lap idea, a guy who is 15th with 5 laps to go will pit for fresh tyres and artificially get the point

  42. Keith, from reading this article i found my self amazed on how well you know what you are saying. I agree with everything you said. I wonder if you are willing to work for Todt if he gave you a call, because he must. The solution to our problems seems to be putting you in charge of this F1 Sporting Working Group.
    Geezz..!! Why aren’t people inside he FIA think like that? Is it really that hard. What is it that makes them blind to the obvious?

  43. Sush Meerkat
    5th January 2010, 6:07

    How would you “improve the show”? Does the show need improving? Leave a comment below.

    Include drivers in the weight of the car, there’s only a millisecond advantage to every 5kg’s but the disparity between the drivers weights are huge, and the disparity between the cars performance as of last year is minimal.

    Take Adrian Sutil for example, he’s 6ft of pure muscle, he can’t afford to lose weight since his body would eat his own muscles, including the heart.

    Seeing Kubica last year all lean I thought he was going to keel over.

    1. I may have misunderstood your comment, but aren’t drivers already included when weighing the car to make sure it is not underweight?

      It is just that the lighter a driver is the more ballast they have to play around with when setting up the car, and this became an issue when KERS added extra weight meaning less ballast to move around for the optimum setup.

      1. You are corrent PJA

  44. This articles shows a nice breakdown of different “Show Improvement” measures.
    Totally agree and all that’s said.

    I especially support the idea of reducing the aerodynamics even more. Concerning the double diffuser story, I was under the illusion that it would be banned in 2010. Is that not true?

    After the ban on refueling, I think competition between various tyre manufacturers would bring a lot to the show. Indeed, if Bridgestone are left alone, they can afford to make very hard tyres so that drivers don’t have excessive wear problems. The result could be no pit stops at all. A Tyre war would force manufacturers to make the fastest possible tyre. Thereby probably forcing the drivers to make pitstops. It would be a much more elegant solution than the totally articifical rule we have now of forcing all drivers to use 2 different types of tyres. With Bridgestone leaving at the end of 2010, this might actually happen…

    Other thing I’d like to mention, in my view even more important than TV coverage, is ticket prices. A Sport that fans can’t afford to go and see for real is a dead sport.

    1. I agree with you on ticket prices but in terms of another tyre war, that would only raise costs when costs are trying to be reduced at the moment

  45. A performance test and limit for wake turbulence but no engineering reg prescription for how to get under the limit.

  46. If FIA is serious about cost reduction, set a target budget of say £80m and award up to 5 MANUFACTURERS Championship points for amounts below that ceiling. Could mean that both championships are more keenly fought as a better car is probably more costly and not necessarily more reliable & a lesser car could still do well in the manufacturers championship.

  47. and nobody suggests knocking 50% or more of the down force off the cars? The over emphasis on aerodynamics is what makes the sport so boring.

  48. To improve the show? More grip, more torque, less aero. Simple. As for the TV show? The director in the video-trailer twiddles from one screen to the next every few seconds, so it is too easy to lose track of which car is which. The paint schemes are flash but work like a camouflaged fish. Many of us do not have large modern televisions. We need simpler paint schemes and visible numbers. Also, polls show that fans love on board cameras. A view of the road, front tires, and the driver’s hands tells us more than the yammering announcer. Unless he is Jackie Stewart.

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