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)

  1. djdaveyp said on 18th January 2010, 12:21

    Mandatory pit stops would especially be detrimental to drivers like Jenson Button, who I’m sure could do a race on one or no stops!

    More aggresive drivers like Hamilton probably won’t be affected as much.

    I think they should leave it alone. As these strengths/weaknesses will naturally define pace/number of stops over a race.

  2. Gusto said on 18th January 2010, 12:21

    I suppose you do need Mickey Mouse rules for the new Mickey Mouse tracks

  3. ajokay said on 18th January 2010, 12:32

    I believe teams should be allowed to choose if and when they want to make pit stops for both tyres and fuel. If a team wants to go the whole race on one fuel load, and just pit for tyres, then they should be able to do that. If a team wants to spend the whole race on a super-hard tyre, and pit 3 times for fuel, then so be it.

    Some might develop a longer car with a 100% fuel tank, and only stop for tyres. Others could create a car with a maximum of 50% capasity and choose to pit for fuel at least once a race, and tyres if they wish to.

    That would create the most flexibility for the teams and drivers, without forcing anyone into mandatory pitstops or windows, or having to use a silly green striped tyre once during the race.

    • Icthyes said on 18th January 2010, 13:26

      The only problem is that cars with smaller fuel tanks will easily have an advantage in speed over those who are fuelled for the whole race, despite having to stop an extra 10 seconds to put their fuel in.

      Let’s consider the numbers: estimates say the difference between lap times at the start and end of the race could be about 5 seconds. So if a car has 50% of the fuel onboard compared to another, they would be 2.5 seconds a lap faster every lap, more than enough to cover the deficit of a pit stop.

      However, it’s an intriguing idea, and perhaps a better margin of leeway could be introduced to give choice? If, as Dominic Harlow, chief engineer at Force India suggests, 5kg fuel could equal 10 seconds in the race, and a stop for fuel and tyres takes about 30 seconds, so perhaps there could be a leeway of 15kgs of fuel. The only problem with this it’s a stupidly small amount of fuel to bother doing so, especially as the main reason for banning re-fuelling was cost-cutting (which goes some way in explaining why they want to bring in mandatory pit stops, which would nullify the benefits to racing the ban will bring).

    • Do you mean that stop can only be made for fuel OR tyres? Because otherwise it’s just like it has been in recent years apart from two-compound rule. Anyway, fastest way to drive the race is stop for fuel and tyres, probably two times.

  4. Robert McKay said on 18th January 2010, 12:47

    Another no to mandatory stops.

    They’re going to stop anyway, so just let them have the maximum amount of freedom to determine when and how many times.

    We all want to see if someone can do a 0 or 1 stopper on hards and beat someone who does 2 or 3 on softs.

  5. 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.

    Oh, yeah, that about covers it. Unfortunately, it appears that FiA has forgotten that it’s supposed to be about the racing, and not about the show.

    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.

    Yes. See paragraph above.

    I just don’t understand Fia at all these days. Rather than let teams innovate, allow them to really race, they continually micro-manage and make more rules in a sport where I thought there was no more room left for rules–referring here to the rule covering the placement of the champagne bottles on the podium, and the like.

    I’ve said for a long time the more rules there are, the less racing there is. I have continually advocated LESS rules, less restrictions, and the teams again being given freedom to innovate. Competition bulds fast-and safe-racecars, and provides good racing. The way things are, might as well forget F1 and just watch GP2. At least THEY can overtake. I don’t want a spec series, I want what F1 used to be…truly THE PINNACLE of motorsport!

    OK, sorry, rant over. Making two pitstops mandatory very simply defeats the stated purpose of banning in-race refueling, which supposedly was to make the show better. You will still have two stops, just like a two-stop fuel strategy, with drivers crusing behind waiting to leapfrog when the other driver in the pits. No change, in the end, in the show. What in the WORLD can FiA be thinking of ???

  6. there used to be a statement about the influence of human and technical factors to the performance of an F1 driver.

    a few decades ago it was 50% driver + 50% car.

    from the 1990s, as the technique became more advanced, it turned out to be 30% driver + 70% car.

    but recently it seems like 10% driver + 40% car + 50% rules that try to elliminate the effects of the previous 2…

    imagine this on a football match: “and soon the defending period for Manchester United will be over, attacking will be allowed for the next 5 minutes! however, strikes are only allowed from inside the penality area…”

  7. If the FIA wants to force pit stops, I’d prefer it to be through making tyres that performed better but were used up quicker, rather than taking yet another element of control away from the competitors. In fact, forcing pit stops in the first place is an idea of limited attractiveness.

    By removing the element of choice on pit stops by force, the FIA makes it easier for people who can’t preserve their tyres. It doesn’t make overtaking any more tempting; in fact, it’s the opposite because people can and will wait for their compulsory pit stop sequences to play out. Predictability is decreased because there are so few plans that can be made to work if swathes of strategies are blocked. It also clashes with the environmental awareness and cost-cutting the FIA is trying to promote because consumables usage increases.

    Sometimes you get the impression that the FIA is staffed with frustrated racers who prefer to be competitors even though they’re supposed to be organising and regulating the sport. I just feel like quoting from Dune, “Highly organised research is guaranteed to produce nothing new”. Forcing research into race strategies, or car design, or anything else down one or a very few narrowly-trammelled lines simply produces expensive, inefficient, non-innovate competition. We’ve had several years of that now; we want a change.

  8. It seems that some teams aren’t prepared to let their drivers do too much thinking for themselves.

    Making two stops mandatory will just be like any other time we’ve had refuelling, with the guys on the pit wall calling the shots and the ever obedient driver doing what he’s told rather than what ‘he’ feels or thinks is right.

  9. Drivers should defiantly not be forced to pit at all.

    I would really like someone from The FIA or FOTA to say why there are even considering this as I can see no positives to the idea at all. The only thing they should be doing is getting rid of the rule whereby drivers have to use both compounds of tyre during the race so drivers are not forced to pit unless they choose to.

    The reason drivers have to use both compounds of tyre is usually put down to Bridgestone wanting to make sure they get enough exposure now they are the sole supplier, was this the official reason The FIA gave when the rule was introduced or did they try to justify it in with another reason?

    Compulsorily pit stops cancel out most of the benefits of no refuelling, it unnecessarily complicates F1 when surveys show that people prefer things kept simply with no gimmicks, and when it has been used in other Championships it hasn’t worked to ‘improve the show’ there either.

    The only thing that is surprising about the poll results at the moment is that only 89% have voted no.

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

    Why was the mandatory multiple tyre-compound rule introduced in the first place – I mean what were the reasons for that?

    I guess it was to “spice things up”… The FIA has been (and looks like it very well still may be under Jean Todd) caught in some weird self-perpetuating bureaucratic dynamic – like any other over-regulating body, I think that subconsciously they justify their own jobs for themselves by coming up with new rules for people to figure out; if they didn’t, what would be the point of their jobs? By the way, does anyone know how many people are on the FIA council, how many participate in the final decision-making, who they are, but most of all – what are their salaries like?

    • Robert McKay said on 18th January 2010, 19:25

      Bridgestone’s suggestion.

      They wanted the benefit of being sole tyre supplier, but with no tyre war realised noone would talk about the black round things unless they failed, pretty much, so the must use option/prime thing was their idea.

  11. Ads21 said on 18th January 2010, 13:40

    wow I don’t think there’s ever been so much agreement on this site about anything. 90% opposed to it in the poll and all but one or two comments are against it. We’re all saying the same thing, if only the fans were listened to…

  12. I would like to draw peoples attention to the fact that currently only the SWG are considering mandatory stops and not the FIA. All will become clear (or not) at the end of this month. But you just have to hope that some individuals in the teams or the FIA actually bother to look at F1 forums.

    • John H said on 18th January 2010, 13:59

      I think there’s enough evidence to suggest they do not unfortunately!


  13. Adrian said on 18th January 2010, 14:00

    If I recall correctly, the original reasoning behind the 2-compounds rule was so that people would still talk about tyres with only 1 supplier.

    Seems to me that people are more likely to talk about tyres (in an interesting way at least) if the drivers are free to choose how many stops to make and whether to use both compounds or just 1, as you will have different drivers running different strategies which will revolve around their tyre choice.

  14. sato113 said on 18th January 2010, 14:19

    keith you should be the fan’s spokesperson to FOTA or even the FIA! I’m sure they’d listen. after all this must be the biggest F1 fanbase on the web.

    • I’ll second that. Let’s organize an e-mail campaign to FiA, asking for a Fanbase Liason, and nominating Keith.

      What do you think folks?

  15. Macca said on 18th January 2010, 14:24

    I want to see a driver that has not pitted being chased down by 1 or 2 seconds a lap by a driver who has pitted twice or three times and having to battle for the win in the last lap. If this rule makes it through, that vision will be dead.

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