Stop the needless rules changes

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

  1. David said on 30th January 2010, 22:49

    Couldn’t agree more with Keith.
    Stop overruling in F1.

  2. Since 2003 the rules are changing brutally. Stop this!

  3. Just leave the rules alone for 5 minutes!

  4. John H said on 30th January 2010, 23:39

    Is there a link to the survey somewhere? I think I’ve registered but not sure if its the ‘official’ one.

  5. I am with most of you on one point; keep the rules the same for a minimum of 2 years. Have changes put in place that cannot be undone for atleast 2 years and then review them. The charade is a waste of this precious thing we call money. What was the point of simulataneously demanding KERS at a heavy cost and for the good of the world only to say that it won’t ever be used the next year? Holy bat $h!@ that’s ridiculous and unfair… the team that wins the championship never even used it. If I was Ferrari I would demand my money back because those teams were counting on it the next year to win back there losses.

    As far as the tire idea- why all this hatred? Whoever said it is “a sport, not a show” – What are you talking about? Sport is a show by definition. It’s not a freak show, but all sport is pointless if not for its innate ability to attract our attentions from all the things in life that bother us. This thread right now is only a distraction to keep me from finishing Bertrand Russel’s History of Western Philosophy! and you from what you should rather be doing.

    The tire idea is just a substitute for the fueling requirements in the past and is actually quite a logical succession of thought. Instead of the ‘qualify with your race fuel load’ you will qualify with your race tires (tyres). And while I agree that this is up for debate, I don’t agree with all this fuss fuss whining about how its rubbish. Every sport/show has a way of keeping competition even. I do it in my fantasy football league for crying out loud and nobody complains- they like it because close competition is what we want.

    “oh no, I’m on the front row with these ruddy tires that worked so well that they made me faster than every other driver… what do I do now? I guess I’ll have to pit a lap or two earlier and still win the race. shucks, darn and drats.”

  6. Jonesracing82 said on 31st January 2010, 0:13

    they are basically scrapping the “proper qualifying” that we all thought we were getting! it could make the races exciting, but as soon as the tyre goes away they’ll pit so it wont be all that exciting! a needless gimick!

  7. The only goog thing about no refuelling was that qualifying would be a genuine shoot-out of the fastest cars. With this rule new, arbitrary tyre rule F1 has destroyed this. Now instead of talking about who has the best fuel strategy for the race we will be takling about who has the best tyre strategy, just like last season, and the one before. Back to square one, F1 shoots itself in the foot again.

  8. First of all, I have spoken out against the kind of understanding necessary to be talking about “trying to improve the show” before. In this community, I don’t think there’s any need for me to repeat that, so I won’t.

    I think the important argument to be made here is that, indeed, to many of the rules changes introduced in recent times were of a too arbitrary nature. Of course, it’s a case of trying to make things different worse instead of actually improving them, because replacing the arbitrary element of the top ten qualifiers having to stick to the race strategy they defined before qualifying is hardly different from the arbitrary element of the top ten qualifiers having to start the race wth the tires they selected and used during qualifying. It’s a crutch because the, arguably, so far lacklustre attempts of redesigning the cars to provide more interesting races haven’t been successful enough to be able to leave it at that.

    I’d like to echo the sentiment of the “go and watch other races, too, in 2010″ guest article that went up here today. From the perspective of a Grand Prix racing enthusiast, it’s baffling to see how apparently simply interesting motor races can turn out to be interesting. It really does provide a case for the argument that overregulating the sport does not produce the best possible results.

  9. Younger Hamilton said on 31st January 2010, 0:42

    i think i know why FOTA and the SWG doing all this,because of all the new teams and Maximum of cars on the grid has been increased to 26.It leaves chances of getting into F1 much Greater than ever.So i’m suggesting their using all these needless rule changes to balance the chances ‘Improving the Show’ is just an excuse to cover it all up

  10. UncleJingo said on 31st January 2010, 0:54

    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…

  11. verasaki said on 31st January 2010, 1:27

    ‘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.

  12. 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.

  13. wasiF1 said on 31st January 2010, 2:18

    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.

    • 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.

  14. Jarred Walmsley said on 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.

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