Should drivers be forced to pit? (Poll)

Drivers could be forced to pit twice per race in 2010

Drivers could be forced to pit twice per race in 2010

Rumours continue to grow that a late change to the 2010 F1 rules will force drivers to make at least two pit stops per race.

The plan has received a largely negative reaction on F1 Fanatic so far, so let’s put it to the vote and find out what most fans think of it:

Should the F1 rules force drivers to make pit stops?

  • No, they should be able to choose if they pit (86%)
  • Yes, one per race* (9%)
  • Yes, two per race (4%)
  • Yes, three or more per race (1%)

Total Voters: 2,794

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*This has effectively been the rule for the last three years.

Why the change?

For the last three years, F1 drivers have been required to use the two different types of Bridgestone tyre at least once per race in dry conditions – which has effectively meant they’re been forced to pit at least once per race.

The FIA has told its Sporting Working Group to come up with ways of “improving the show” in 2010. With in-race refuelling being banned this year one of the changes being considered would require drivers to pit twice per race.

It’s hard to see why anyone thinks mandatory pit stops would be a good idea.

The problem with mandatory pit stops

One of the ways the refuelling ban will make racing better in 2010 is that drivers will now have more flexible strategy options.

Forcing them to pit twice per race will drastically reduce those options. Instead of having a variety of drivers trying to complete the race with anything between no and three pit stops, everyone will know they have to stop twice.

Races will instead hinge on who can get their pit stops out of the way quickest. An early safety car period will result in drivers flocking to the pits to get one of their mandatory tyre changes out of the way.

Making it even worse: pit stop windows

We know this because we’ve seen exactly the same thing happen in other championships where mandatory pit stops have been introduced, like A1 Grand Prix and DTM.

Having found that mandatory pit stops did little to spice up the racing those series reacted by introducing another artificial device – pit stop windows. This meant that drivers not only had to pit twice per race but could only make their stops during two specific periods of the race (usually around the one-third and two-thirds distances).

This just served to make the racing even more prescribed, even less varied and consequently, less entertaining.

Simpler is better

Last year the F1 teams’ association surveyed fans on their opinions of the sport. One of their key findings was:

F1 isn?t broken, so beware ??over-fixing? it.
Formula One Teams Association survey findings

That applies perfectly here. Forcing drivers to pit would add an unnecessary level of complexity to F1 without making it more exciting.

Simpler rules make for a better show. Mandatory pit stops and pit stop windows are over-complicated ideas which come out of the same box that held aggregate qualifying and fuel credits – and they will be just as unpopular and unsuccessful.

Over to you

That’s my opinion – now I want to hear yours. Do you think a ‘mandatory pit stops’ rules should be introduced? Vote above and have your say in the comments below.

Pit stops and rules changes

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112 comments on Should drivers be forced to pit? (Poll)

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  1. What I would like to see is more overtaking on the track instead of in the pitlane and the FIA should put all effords into that.

    • Eastman said on 18th January 2010, 14:39

      Passing on track is something they’ve been trying to throw money at and fix for years.

      Two required pit stops creates the illusion of passing and doesn’t require ridiculous funds. It also promotes in-pit action for the luxury boxes that float above them at many tracks.

      I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that a pair of required stops is going to happen.

  2. John H said on 18th January 2010, 9:56

    I think we can all guess the result of this one! If only anyone would listen and common sense would prevail.

    Having mandatory pit stops decreases the amount of variables in an F1 race – and hence the potential for entertaining races that can surprise and delight. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out….. arrrrrggghhh!!!

  3. No.

    Some of the most nail-biting races in my memory involved drivers and / or teams making clever, surprising, or last ditch pit stop decisions to turn the tide in a race.

    Why oh why would we cut driver and team options to try and add another level of control to the flow of the race. That flies in the face of the human side of racing, and does indeed tend to suggest the powers that be would prefer a predictable show to sell to their target demographic – which seems less and less to be true racing fans.

  4. Christ sake, that fact that they keep on introducing these ideas, tells me that there is something fundamentally wrong with F1 racing.

    Lets just let the 2010 season play out and see what happens with this no re-fuelling lark, and review options afterwards.

    • There is nothing wrong with the racing, it’s the management that has fundamentally wrong it…

      I agree, leave it alone. Regulate the cars, not the racing.

  5. Bertie said on 18th January 2010, 10:00

    Absolutely ridiculous that this is being considered. Will just mean that everyone will have the same strategy. Start with a long stint on hards. Followed by two short ones on soft. Surely the whole point is bring into the mix the cars that may not be that quick but are kind on their tyres. Forcing cars that are kind to theirs tyres to pit unnecessarily defeats the whole point of the changing the refuelling rules.

    • Derek said on 18th January 2010, 15:01

      This will play into the hands of drivers who are hard on their rubber. Like Hamilton over Button for example.

      • Agree, however we also have to bear in mind safety – We have seen consequencies in the past with running on damaged tyres – But again the whole idea is down to drivers and preservation of the tyres. To be forced to take pit stops will inevitably change the race strategy and again make races predicatble. Lets race and see what happens

  6. DanThorn said on 18th January 2010, 10:06

    No. Never. Who can forget the two Leyton House cars ‘no stopping’ at the 1990 French GP and almost winning? And then there’s the classic 1987 British GP, which needs no explanation. Such dramatic races would not have happened if all the drivers had to stop.

    If mandatory pit stops are introduced, I’ll be hugely disappointed. It would effectively nullify all of the benefits of not having to refuel in terms of strategy variety and unpredictablity.

    • stjoslin said on 18th January 2010, 12:06

      Absolutely right Dan. The early 1990’s was great for this, I also remember Alesandro Nanini nearly getting the better of Senna at the German grand prix of that year too. By allow drivers to decide if they want to stop at all brings greater variance in results and allows drivers to display their skills in different ways. Managing a set of tyres for a whole race takes supreme skill, to be able to go fast enough to manage them to the end. If we have this prescribed pit stop window it will make everyone drive the same way and no one will be able to take advantage. It also puts more emphasis on the pit crews to turn the cars around faster, meaning a driver can blame his crew for losing a race rather than down to his own skill.

      I reckon just let them race however they want. The FIA should enforce that the hard tyre can do at least the race distance.

      I also loved the days when drivers would also mix compounds, it showed real intelligence, eg having hard compound on the right hand side and soft on the left!

  7. Rob B said on 18th January 2010, 10:20

    I really hope they don’t enforce this option, If they do I can only see it being enforced for commercial purposes to fit with Bridgestones contract and to line the pockets of CVC.

    I don’t think over-fixing is the issue, its more a case of the rights holders trying to bleed out every penny they can. They are holding the sport on a knife edge and they need to decide if they want a to wring every penny they can now, but loose viewers and in the long term sponsorship money. Or they can take less now, help improve the show and accessability for the public, which should in turn increase revenues, more people seeing the show should surley result in higher prices for a sponsor slot / ad?

  8. Jonesracing82 said on 18th January 2010, 10:28

    i recall Champcar had pit windows and TC introduced, and got rid of them after 1 yr as they did nothing to enhance the show!
    having pit windows etc will just kill off all advantages of the refuelling ban

  9. three4three said on 18th January 2010, 10:30

    Absolutely not. This would undo the perceived benefits of the refuelling ban and it’s quite predictable that the end result – the race – will be far less exciting and therefore not an ‘improved show.’ Don’t be stupid FIA, don’t do it!

  10. Bullfrog said on 18th January 2010, 10:30

    I’m surprised it’s as low as 88% ‘no’ so far…

    I think tyre stops will add to the spectacle way more than the old refuelling ones did. The 3-second ones the teams are promising should be worth seeing.

    But the tyres will wear out anyway (unless they make them much much harder) and encourage one or two-stop races, why do we need silly rules about it? Non-stop races would be a rare treat as they were before (I’d add Thierry Boutsen’s win in Hungary to DanThorn’s list.)

    Is Bridgestone behind this move, or maybe FIA trying to drive up the bids to succeed them as tyre supplier?

    What’s the penalty, by the way, if you don’t do enough stops in a race – just a time penalty? Is there a loophole…

  11. GeeMac said on 18th January 2010, 10:30

    I am very against the mandatory pit stop rule. As Keith noted it would dramatically reduce the drivers options and effectively negate many of the benefits of the refuelling ban.

  12. iceshiel said on 18th January 2010, 10:32

    I believe the rational behind mandatory pit stops is due to the use-two-bridgestone-tyre-compounds rule. If pit-stops werent compulsory, everyone would probably be using the same tyre strategy.

    • thestig84 said on 18th January 2010, 10:51

      How do you know that? We saw last year certain cars getting the soft tyres to work when all the other teams thought they wouldnt. Whats more likely is the same tyre strategy id you force them all to make 2 stops.

      Worst idea ive heard for ages and we have a lot to choose from in F1 sadly! If its taken up I want to know who exactly is in this SWG. Name and shame the fools!!!!

  13. Icthyes said on 18th January 2010, 10:36

    I’d rather have short-cuts and medals than two mandatory stops.

  14. David said on 18th January 2010, 10:40

    Absolutely they shouldn’t!!!
    Stop fixing it, the more it is simple the better it is.
    Just flat out and drive!!!

  15. Phil R said on 18th January 2010, 10:55

    Trying to control driver decisions isn’t how we want it. If the driver wants to continue on a worn set of tyres, trying to gain some sort of track decision, then allow them, because this is what we want to see, the driver making this decision.
    I want it so that the drivers come in when they feel neccessary to allow for tyre changes, and if they want to stay out, caught up in a battle, trying to hold onto that last point paying position, with ever wearing tyres causing them to lose grip and fall of the track, now that’s my kind of racing.

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