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. CeeVee777 said on 18th January 2010, 22:12

    Just get rid of forcing backmarkers to move over when a blue flag is waved.

    Imagine a couple of races where a race win were lost because the leader couldn’t find a way past a backmarker but the seconf/third placed driver could.

    The engineers would solve the overtaking issue very quickly after that because it would be in their own interests to do so.

    • Maciek said on 18th January 2010, 22:19

      Agreed – one of my ongoing rants. Lapping cars should be actually worked for, it shouldn’t just happen. Why did they bring in the blue flag rule, anyone remember?

      • HounslowBusGarage said on 19th January 2010, 21:27

        Blue flag rule was partially introduced for safety reasons. If you have two backmarkers duelling for position, the leading car about to lap them, could be placed in danger by their antics.
        Also can you imagine an inferior team driver, let’s call him Nelson Piquet, doing his best to hold up Button, Schui and Massa up as they try to lap him so that Piquet’s team mate can catch up to the leading trio. That would be very dangerous.

  2. Pingguest said on 18th January 2010, 22:33

    Why do we need artificial rules any way? The 1980s showed us how great pure racing can be.

    Regarding pitstops I’d prefer the other way: no pitstops at all, except for tyre changes in unusual and unexpected circumstances.

  3. Harty said on 18th January 2010, 22:39

    Why not allow the teams to do whatever they want? Just a thought….

  4. manatcna said on 19th January 2010, 0:52

    It will be interesting to see the amount of overtaking this year compared to 2009 with no fuel ban.

  5. I see it in Sport Car racing and I hate it. I dont like the two tire rule either. I think that pits stops should be the teams choice and that if they want to change tires or go the full race on one set they should now that will make for a some good racing.

  6. Sam O said on 19th January 2010, 2:48

    Mandatory pitstops: No
    (So no mandatory use of both tyre types either)

    I think this needs to be solved by tyre compound variations. Bridgestone have gotta be happy with that too, as tyre strategy becomes a major focus even if there are no mandatory stops.

    The ‘hard’ one:
    It should be geared as a one stop compound for consistent grip. It should be able to make it the whole distance, but be so worn that the last 100 km or so the driver is sliding all over the place
    Ideally you’d lose about as much time sitting on the hard as pitting halfway through and getting another set of the hard.

    The ‘soft’ one:
    Should be geared as a two stop compound for consistent grip. It should be able to make it to half the distance but similar to the hard be so worn that there’s a pretty significant loss of grip.

    You could:
    Not stop on the hard and be defending for the last 20 laps, making up positions as others pit and trying to keep them behind (the idea is it will be very hard to defend as the tyres will be shot).
    Stop once on the hard and be attacking later in the race.
    Make a stop from the hard to the soft and lose performance at the end but make up time early in the stint.
    Do 2 stops for softs, pushing all out in all three stints. Could do this if you’re in a fast car in the midfield after a bad qualifying or off pole to build up a lead.
    1 stop from softs to softs.

    There are a lot of options, and the critical thing will be picking when to get fresh tyres based on what everyone else is doing around you.

    • This should be the next comment of the day — brilliant idea!

      • HounslowBusGarage said on 19th January 2010, 21:39

        If we have to have the rule about using two tyre grades, I sort of like the idea of making the choice more difficult for the teams.
        Bridgestne would have to make a judgement about which grade of tyre (from 1 – super hard, to 5 – supersoft) is ideal for each track. So let’s say they reckon Spa is ideal for grade 2 Hard. So they don’t take that grade, forcing the teams to compromise settings and strategies around (1) Super Hard and (3) Neutral grades. And it’s up to the teams to manage their seven (?) sets of tyres as they wish through the race weekend.
        Incidentally, has any team ever mixed the tyre grades? I.E. harder grades on the front, softer on the rear to cope with an over-steering car for example?

  7. wasiF1 said on 19th January 2010, 3:27

    You know what we want to say Keith,but will the FIA listen.

  8. Keith, any idea why even people who should know better, such as Domenicali and Newey, seem to both be advocating more compulsory pit stops? Are they forced to toe the party line, or is there something else going on?

    Also, was Bernie serious when he said he suggested the option of going back to steel brakes, and increased points for podium places, or did he just say that as a sop to fans like us, knowing full well the SWG won’t approve them (at least the brakes)?

  9. Absolutely right that pitstops should be flexible! Artificially introducing “tactics” really doesn’t improve the show.

    The benefit of no fuel stops is that when cars stop for tyres, they get a performance boost and emerge from the pits behind slower cars, giving a much better chance for overtaking and not unlike wet races (and we all know how much we like wet races).

    For a case in point – Jerez 1986. Mansell is being caught by Senna so dives in the pits with a few laps left. Then storms the final laps gaining hand over fist with fresh tyres and we have a very exciting close to the race. Much better than drivers giving up racing after they’ve made their last pit stops.

    I’m amazed in these days of talking about driver aids being bad and driver choice being good, people still think forcing tyre choices on drivers is good. What next, drivers must use FIA approved suspension settings?

  10. Derek said on 19th January 2010, 14:36

    Yes, we all remember the good old days where the driver dashed into the pits for fresh rubber. But, there was no pit lane speed limit then and with no fuel to load the overall pitsop was fast.
    Now H&S would not allow cars to enter the pit area at racing speed. The pitlanes seem to be longer now, it’s so the entrance and exit joins the circut at a safe point. So as someone already said the modern pit stop is still long 20+ secs and the advantages of the old days are no loger there!

    • If they had a decent spread of tyre compounds and freedom of choice between them then the advantage would still be there I think.

  11. bernification said on 19th January 2010, 22:51

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

    How is banning refueling allowing teams to have more flexible strategys?

    The two are mutually exclusive. I have no doubt at all that the racing will be much more predictable, with noticably less over taking.

    The premise that this is a cost cutting exercise is ridiculous- the $200,000 that this will save is a drop in the ocean relative to overall budget.

    It’s just another slight of hand tactic to keep people busy and divert them from the underhand political manipulations that blight the sport. Come this time next year there will be a similar debate discussing how it was such a bad idea.

    I really have no understanding why people are so obsessed with low fuel qualifying. Isn’t the winner the one who was the fastest on the track?

    • I agree.

      I am still ticked off with the whole KERS situation. It should be mandatory this year for all teams. Period.

      • I agree although I think KERS needs to be derestricted. In it’s nobbled form last year it didn’t do anything useful.

        • Yeah, perhaps. I was a fan of Turbos back in the day also.

          The thing about KERS is four fold for me:

          1. We are supposed to be saving money in F1 and this was an example of regulations being badly managed to firstly introduce a costly ad-on to cars and then kick the teams that actually gave it a go in the crotch by letting the majority can it instead of having to play catch up this year. In effect making it a massive potential waste of money and R&D. Although I hope we see this coming over to road cars which will perhaps make it worth it anyway.

          2. It was only crippled in order to give lower order teams a chance to still compete. If they were going to allow this split of “have and have nots” then they should have raced two classes or simply accepted that racing is nasty like that. Put up or shut-up. Not that I think that it’s a good idea to run two classes, but neither is having a loose rule system that creates that situation, and means that it has to be crippled from day one.

          3. F1 is supposed to be more environmentally friendly, and this was a step that way. Now we’ve gone the opposite way. Super fast qualifying, and heavily laden cars in the beginning of the race burning more fuel and driving like dogs.

          4. What has been done about overtaking for this year? Nothing. The one hope we had was something like KERS running at 100%. We have not even seen William’s take on this year, which I was keen to see. Again, don’t get me wrong I am not in the bleating and moaning camp about overtaking that much. On *real* tracks it’s still possible. A little bit more would be nice, but then again if we keep making street circuits because the media and fair weather fans like it all to be close to the shopping malls and hotels then we’re never going to see any overtaking anyway!

          The regulations being introduced in F1 do not make any sense to me any more.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th January 2010, 9:20

            The regulations being introduced in F1 do not make any sense to me any more.

            I agree, I think this is very much the point Adrian Newey made last week. They went through a process of working out how to improve overtaking via the OWG, but quickly slipped back into their old habits of tweaking the rules on a whim with no clear goal in sight.

          • I firmly believe that no refuelling will produce some cracking racing, simply because car performance will vary significantly during the race and faster cars will often be behind slower cars.

            Another thing I’d like is to remove the restriction on using the same compound on all corners of the car. Quite what this achieves I don’t know but it’s taking away driver choice.

            For me F1 should allow choice and variation in as many areas as possible, both for the driver and the designer. A framework should be in place to make sure things don’t get out of hand, but after that allow people to innovate. Maybe there should be a 5 year window of rule stability, after which engine and aero regulations change in one go (similar to the start of last year).

            I think it’s best when there is a paper-scissors-stone field and not identikit cars like there is now. The turbo era was a typical example of this with some teams having great power but poor handling. Deregulation of KERS would mean more of this. Some teams would go for the Clarkson POWAH approach with the penalty of more weight. Others would go for the Lotus approach of less weight and less power. After a few years the best solutions would converge, hence the need for a 5 year rules refresh.

            Job done! ;)

  12. Mandatory pit stops in “windows” is one the craptacular rules they have in V8 Supercars. No no no no no!!!

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