It comes as no surprise to learn there are yet more changes to the F1 rules planned for this year.
Not only is a second change to the points system planned – the second in two months – but now some drivers may also be forced to start the race on the tyres they qualified on.
Will the needless meddling with the F1 rules ever stop?
The ‘top ten tyre’ rule
The latest proposed change, which will require drivers who reach the final stage of qualifying to start the race using the same set of tyres they qualify on, is particularly poorly thought-out rule.
Drivers who reach Q3 will now face a dilemma. They can qualify on the softer tyre, which will be quicker over a single lap but struggle for durability on a heavy fuel load at the start of the race. Or set a slower qualifying time on the harder tyre and be in a better position for the race.
In short, the rule makers have decided to handicap the top ten qualifiers with a compromise decision the rest of the field don’t have to make.
It is a classic piece of needless, arbitrary decision-making. Why penalise the top ten in this way? Why not the top three, or the 15 best qualifiers?
A football team that goes five goals down does not get a free penalty. They get thrashed, go home and figure out how to improve their team. In the same way anyone who qualifies outside the top ten for an F1 race should not be getting hand-outs from the rule makers, they should be building faster cars.
The new rule, proposed by the FIA’s Sporting Working Group, will be voted on at the World Motor Sports Council next week. I hope they throw it out.
“Improving the show”
I don’t believe the SWG is trying to spoil F1. And I’m grateful there is – as yet – no sign of them making matters worse by forcing drivers to make more pit stops, dishing out points for pole and fastest lap, or other such tweaks.
But I do think they need better leadership. The FIA instructed them to find a way of “improving the show” (their words, not mine) and, 41 days away from free practice one at Bahrain, their options were pretty limited.
F1 has somehow got hooked on tweaking its rules year after year. It began in 2003 when they first started fiddling with the points and the qualifying format after a particularly dull 2002 season dominated by Ferrari.
It’s as if those in charge are having a crisis of confidence about the shape the sport is in – but they needn’t worry.
This year we’ve got Michael Schumacher back in a works Mercedes, the last two world champions driving for McLaren, and Fernando Alonso back with a top team alongside the ever-improving Felipe Massa.
That’s not a show that needs improving.
Later this week FOTA is launching (another) survey of fans opinions on F1 (find it here). Among their key findings when they surveyed F1 fans last year was “F1 isn’t broken, so beware ‘over-fixing’ it” and “there is no evidence to suggest that grand prix formats need ‘tricking up’ via, for example, handicapping.”
This is clearly a message that needs repeating to the powers-that-be. So when the survey launches on Tuesday let’s give them a clear message that this endless, needless fiddling with the rules – especially handicapping the faster cars – is no good for F1.
Changing the F1 rules