Stop the needless rules changes

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Top qualifiers face a tyre choice handicap in 2010
Top qualifiers face a tyre choice handicap in 2010

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

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108 comments on “Stop the needless rules changes”

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  1. how about after qualifying, all the top 19 drivers are blind folded and have to describe their latest girl friends shoes. The one who is closest then gets to have just one hand tied behind his back for the first 10 laps…

  2. ‘fo gawd, ms scarlett! i haven’t even had time to savour and salivate over the new car pics and they’re already jacking with the frackin’ rules! memo to fia-controversy and melodrama is beneficial to low grade media stars- not the zenith of motor racing.

  3. With so much fuel in the car the only sensible choice is for the top 10 qualify on hard tyres. Qualifiers 11 through 26 will also start the race on hard tyres – so why is the spectacle lost?

    The real problem here is the ridiculous two tyre rule.

    Why should a tyre manufacturers desire to be spoken about more dictate a formula? We all know they race on Bridgestones, next year they won’t – who cares?

    We should be removing the two tyre compunds rule and let the sole supplier provide 4 compounds for the season. The teams have enough data as to which compounds suit their car at the different venues so they can choose the right compound for the venue in advance e.g. super softs at Monaco. If the weather is wet then they all use the standard intermediate and extreme tyres. The teams would then spend the race weekends practising, qualifying, and racing on the one compound of their choice. The tyres will still get spoken about becasue cars use tyres differently, in 2009 Brawns like the softer tyres, Red Bull liked the harder tyres.

    Whether F1 is a spectacle or a sport – it is both. Most people wouldn’t pay the money they pay for an F1 ticket to watch any old sports match, but they will for a spectacle.

  4. I have proposal about qualifying.

    Let all the cars qualify freely for the first 10 or 15 minutes.Then from descending order lets have 1 shot qualifying.In this way the qualifying will be over in about an hour & we will be able to see how each driver performs.It’s also good for the sponsor as now the whole car will be seen on television for more than 1 minutes.
    As in the past between a Force India & Ferrari,we always used to see the Ferrari,it’s good for the small teams.

    1. With some tweaking that could be a great way to qualify! I am going to take this idea a step further as i believe it has a solid foundation that is fair and good for all teams.

      Instead of 1 driver going at a time lets do this.
      1. Same open qualify free session first,
      2. then let each team have their cars on track for session 2 for 1 hot lap.
      3. and then bring it down to a third session where the top ten qualify in a hot lap format with two or three separate runs (like they do in half-pipe ski/snowboard competition)

      I think it would be more enjoyable to have two cars, each team, on the track at the same time for session 2. If you’ve ever been to a GP you realize how long it feels like it take for them to come back around (especially at Spa Francorchamps) so it would be nice to have a team session and have them start 30 or so seconds apart.

  5. Jarred Walmsley
    31st January 2010, 2:41

    wasiF1, thats is a really good idea, I think it will also mean that the drivers will go harder and be able to get the fastest time possible. It will also mean that the yellow/red flags wouldn’t impede the qualifying if there was any crashes.

  6. Jonesracing82
    31st January 2010, 4:37

    u can’t be serious? there’s nothing more tedious than being at the track during single lap qualifying!
    it’s almost as if the FIA are trying to say that F1 is boring so bring in these rubish rules to make it interesting, simple fact of the matter is that we have been watching F1 for years because we all like it AS IT IS!!!!!!!!!!!!! since ’03 they have been changing the rules every year, how about we leave it as it is with no gimmicks and if team dominates then stiff shit! it’s on the other drivers/teams to up thier game! these gimicky ******** rules belong is sports cars or lower catagories where reverse grid racing is the norm! F1 is the pinnale of motorsport so lets cut the crap b4 we kill it off.

  7. remember, with the double-gap between tires…

    very hard, hard, soft, very soft…

    and bridgestone coming to the track with , for eg, hard and very soft…, the people who quali in the top ten, will, in my view, all be on very soft, but all have to stop much earlier than the other cars….

    this is a very very very dumb rule…

    use any tires you want, and no ‘must use both’ rule either…., but the politicians of motorsport wont let that happen

  8. theRoswellite
    31st January 2010, 5:47

    Just a small add on…

    One reason F1 has lasted so long is that it has a history, as a sport…not a circus. If the rules are changed too often it makes the continuity over time disappear. You might have more fan appeal among casual viewers, but you risk alienating the long term fans and thus the future of the sport.

    F1 is presently held in very high regard around the world. The SWG should be cognizant of that and spend their time working on important issues, such as a dearth of passing, rather than the creation of “artificial regulations”.

  9. i am not getting anymore excited about f1, there are to many rule changes, the rules do not have stability and the cars do not evolve anymore, they look the same every year. im loosing my appitite for f1, i just hope that this gets sorted soon because people will lose interest, nothing as been gained from changing the rules every year.

    proof? this article.

    1. Wherever the best drivers go is where we all go… until the best drivers go to another sport or another version of open wheel you will be watching just like everyone here. If the pinnacle of all sport, the most expensive, the most exotic and so on and so on, is boring to you then I am not sure that there is anything left that will catch your attention on this whole planet! There is nothing further and until Anakin Skywalker shows up racing his pod-racer on Tatouine (sp?) then I fear you will have to suffer like the rest of us with all the different ways this sport could be organized.

  10. Everyone seems to have forgotten that this was the rule in pre-2003 qualifying as well. You made your tyre choice before the qualifying and had to live with it for the entire race.
    Of course it was for the whole grid who did that, not top 10.

  11. Stop making changes to F1, these changes are ridiculous.

  12. P3-P10 will be penalised incrementally increasing from P3 slightly down to P10 massively (defending those from P11+). P1-P3 will still sit pretty if they stay clean if there is alot of swapping behind them.

    “the show” is something they do to raise taxes from selling climate change isn’t it?

  13. I don’t understand why we can’t go back to the days of teams able to choose whatever tyre they want when they want. Allowing attempting the full race distance on a hard tyre, against a couple of stops on soft tyres, or a late stop for super soft and a charge at the end.

    For me, and I could be completely naive here, but a company like Bridgestone either has manufacturing facilities worldwide, or at worst is constantly delivering tyres worldwide. Therefore why can’t they supply all the tyres to the circuits for all the teams, either from local manufacturing centres, or as part of their normal shipped deliveries. No extra cost, they don’t have to fly a stack of tyres out, they are waiting at the circuit.

    1. Regardless of how we all differ on this and other issues, the one thing we have to remember is the Indianapolis GP fiasco. What a load of @#%$#% that was! Michelin really diddled the pooch. How did the track change that they couldn’t bring a tire that would work? They did it all the years before! I liked the two tire war on some level, but after this I was incredibly disappointed in Michelin and F1. If at that time they were all on the same tire they could have simply put in a chicane and all would be fair and fine for everyone. I still think all the Michelin teams should have been forced to run at a slower rate because it was even more embarassing for them not to race.

      I think its these sorts of things that rile us all up on the tire issue. We don’t want as many excuses. I also hear others so sick of it that they freak out and just say “remember the good ol’ days when you raced what you brought!” How is that better? Thats loaded with the potential for excuses, uncompetitive cars and worst of all for tragic untested failures that cause life-ending crashes.

      That said, I do agree that we need similar cars, but different enough that there is a reason to even have a car manufacturer trying to say they make the best cars. This isn’t karting. The teams have to be different on enough levels to matter.

  14. I can’t understand what FIA people are cooking out there.
    I think they are doing this so poor teams can get more chances to score points but this is ridiculous. If you want poor team to score more points then let them do that by improving themselves(on developing the cars etc.) and not by bringing this type of ******* rules. Throw this rule out in other galaxy. I am getting so….. abt this

  15. David (not the same :p)
    31st January 2010, 9:36

    Totally agree, Keith. Can’t think of any other sport were rules and regulations are changed anywhere near as frequent.

  16. The drivers can use both hard and soft tyres to set a qually lap. It may be that a driver finds himself to be quicker on the the harder longer lasting tyre. It may be that he can’t get the best out of the quicker – but only if you get it right, soft tyre, and decides that starting on the harder tyre is no bad thing anyway. It may be that all the drivers who reach Q3 will use the hard tyre to qualify on, knowing full well that the hard tyre is a ‘no-brainer’ to start the race. If this means that cars from 11th to 26th can choose whatever tyres they want, then what’s the big deal?

  17. Someone may already have mentioned it but in my opinion the only thing that needs to be improved is the cars ability to follow each other closely and to be able to overtake! Perhaps the SWG should be studying Hungary ’89 and understand the technical reasons why Mansell was able to start 12th and win the race from way back there…I’m sure there’s some useful lessons to be learned there.

  18. Why do the FIA and teams continue to make a joke out of the sport and fools out of the fans?

  19. Should this tyre rule stand it will hurt the sport. It’s ridiculous. It will drive people away because the frequent arbitrary rule changes make it even more confusing to understand what is going on while trying to watch a race. The constant meddling with the rules make F1 look desperate in trying to be popular. I must say though, I do think a point for pole and possibly fast lap would not be a bad thing.

    1. “I must say though, I do think a point for pole and possibly fast lap would not be a bad thing.”

      That would only make them look desperate in trying to be popular.

      Instead of a point for pole, why not just give him choice of tyre?

      1. a combination of a point for pole, and having to start with the tire you qualified on, would encourage some guys even more to use the soft tire, trying to put it on pole.
        I wouldn’t disagree with you on the point for pole, but both will be to tempting. It will screw the pureness of the show, just to bring the soccer fan to watch, and may be to hold on until the end, if the wife doesn’t tell him to go for the paper.

  20. The thing that bugs me about this FOTA survey is the fact that it is aimed at serious F1 fans, the ones who will fill in the survey. The casual fans, whom which the FIA and FOTA want to “improve the show” for will really have no idea about this survey.
    They should just listen to those of us who know what Formula One needs and understand what the casual fan would want, meaning stable rules and easily understandable rules.

    1. This thing got out of hand. We want overtaking, but natural not artificial. They have to look at the cars and the race tracks. The idea of reducing the down force was good, then some came with the double difusers, and the little sideboards for the mirrors, and they were not banned. And they are still here in 2010. I see all cars with small low side boards as well. The cars look very much like the ones during the 2008 season. What have they achieved?

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