Making F1 better: a discussion series

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

F1 has had three good races since its widely criticised Bahrain season-opener
F1 has had three good races since its widely criticised Bahrain season-opener

In recent years F1 has become fixated with “improving the show”. And the calls for better racing doubled after the dull season opener at Bahrain.

Since then we’ve had three much better races. That doesn’t necessarily mean F1’s problems are solved.

In a new series starting today I aim to start a constructive debate on what can be done to make F1 better.

Why F1 is great in 2010

Usually at this point in a championship we know where we stand: last year the narrative was ‘Can anyone catch Brawn?’ The two years before that McLaren and Ferrari were slugging it out from the beginning. Four races into 2010 the picture is still coming into focus.

At Bahrain it looked like Ferrari were the team to beat but they haven’t come close to winning a race since. Red Bull are struggling to translate their one-lap pace into wins. McLaren are leading the championship despite not having the quickest car and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes is somehow second.

This is great for those of us who tune in hoping for an unpredictable race and close fight for the world championship. And there’s plenty more to get excited about as we anticipate the season ahead.

Robert Kubica is working wonders with the Renault R30. While Kubica dazzles everyone has an opinion on what’s gone wrong with Michael Schumacher’s return to F1, if he can turn it around, and whether he would be better off packing it in.

A crop of new drivers have already grabbed their first championship points. Thanks to the six new cars on the grid we have the biggest races in 15 years and while they try to get on terms with the established runners the front-runners have to work that bit harder in traffic to get by.

Now the season stretches ahead of us with visits to classic F1 circuits in prospect – Monte-Carlo, Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and Interlagos.

Off-track the political fury of recent years has subsided. After last year’s row over race-fixing in Singapore, budget caps, double diffusers and everything else, that is a welcome change for the better, reflected in Jean Todt’s steadily rising approval ratings on this site.

“Improving the show”

Yes, this is a vision of everything that’s right with F1 at the moment.

It’s not an complete picture, of course. But before we dive into yet another discussion about what’s wrong with F1 we should remember that there’s an awful lot right with it at the moment.

After the Bahrain Grand Prix newspapers and websites were awash with criticisms of “boring” F1. Yes, some of that was a reaction against an anti-climactic start to the season after months of hype. But by any measure the first race of the year was a snoozer.

It’s got better since then but we all know we’ve been exceptionally lucky with the weather. Rain enlivened the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix and mixed up the grid at Malaysia.

But I suspect this is only temporary – Catalunya is the next stop on the calendar and races there are consistently rated among the worst year after year (see here and here).

In the meantime, with the panicky reaction to boring Bahrain behind us, let’s take this opportunity to really get to the bottom of the “improving the show” debate while cooler heads may prevail.

Improving the debate

The phrases “improving the show” and “spicing up the action” tend to provoke groans among fans. And with good reason – they’re usually the preface to some drivel urging yet more knee-jerk rules change to create an illusion of overtaking.

We need a better standard of debate about how to improve F1 and that’s just what we’re going to do here at F1 Fanatic over the next week.

Instead of trying to cover a complicated subject in a single article, we’re going to take the “improving the show” debate apart and look at it from different angles.

Beginning tomorrow we’ll have a series of six articles over eight days, conceived to provoke an informed discussion about what F1 is today and what it should try to be in the future.

In the meantime, please use the comments below to suggest what topics you think we should cover in the coming days to better understand how F1 can be improved.

Is it all about increasing overtaking? Has technical innovation become too constrained? Does the calendar need more variety? Or is everything perfect the way it is? Over to you.

The next part of the “Making F1 better” series will ask whether F1 had a ‘golden age’ and, if it did, when it was and what we can learn from it. Keep an eye out for that article on Friday on F1 Fanatic.

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Making F1 better

163 comments on “Making F1 better: a discussion series”

  1. I’m really looking forward to these articles.

    1. theRoswellite
      24th April 2010, 1:40

      Yes, this should be a very enlightening series.

      As per your request…possible topics:

      1. Aero vs Mechanical…the Passing Thing!
      Cars vs Airplanes

      2. Inovation vs Specification…to include the Money Thing!

      3. The Road to F1…how do teams get into The Show? Is there a system now? Should there be, as some suggest, a feeder series which carries into racing on Sunday? …remember the old non-championship GP’s?, maybe sprints, maybe trophies and money only, maybe younger drivers only?

      4. Technology to meet the future: Electric and internal combustion, fuel formulas/economy(any role for emissions?), weight reducion, passenger safety, the “deformable car”.

      5. The Bernie Monopoly: Why doesn’t the FIA decide who can hold a race, when it will be, and what it will cost the promoters…then Mr. E can opt to manage it or pass (the kind of passing we need in F1)

      6. The integration of F1 onto the internet: …free service, world wide, the highest quality…as an inducement to sponsors?

      7. How the suggestions of contributors to this site could be formulated (polls) and made available to the…”proper authorities” After all, we, and I use that term with your indulgence, are becoming a serious site…!

      8. Track design: who decides?, revolutionary ideas, driver input, passing friendly ideas, public vs private creation.

      9. The “structure” of a GP weekend: What would make each days ‘program value’ increase? (apologies to the conservative crowd). Why can’t..say..Constructors points be earned in a Saturday morning sprint race, with…God forbid…young F1 drivers of the the same cars as run on Sunday (maybe a year or two old)? (put this one down in the…NOT saving money column).

      10. Last, but should be first, how can the paying fan be given more for his money? (..maybe how can his ticket prices be reduced?)

  2. reduce dependancy on aero which isn’t relavent to real world cars (why havent we seen Boeing or Airbus enter a team ? they’d probably learn more than any car manurfacturer would :D ) , and reduce restrictions on everything else.

    We keep hearing about standardised floors, gearboxes, engines, etc to reduce cost, but why not have everyone using the same front and rear wings and then open up engine development etc :D ?

    1. This is what I’ve been thinking for a couple of years now. The aero should have been scaled back ten years ago. It’s totally frivolous. The only people who really care about it, are a little group of boffins. It’s not road relevant at all.

      People want to see cars, not upside-down aeroplanes.

      1. Having spec wings makes it more difficult for teams such as McLaren or Red Bull to find pace through a season, as they would only rely on Mercedes and Renault for better performance, and could do little themselves. It would also mean that a good initial chassis would prove critical, and if the chassis is worse than that of a team with the same engine, you would almost certainly be behind them all season.

        1. Agreed, it is important that there is still a significant area of the car that can be developed through out the season and sadly aero is currently the only thing they have. In my opinion what makes a good season is simply having cars that are close in performance and this year we have 4 teams that are.

        2. Also not to mention that developing a chassis is way way more expensive than devleoping aero components.

          1. why is chassis development more expensive than aero ?

        3. if you open up engine developement, and make the engines more comparible to what manufacturers are building in the real world, (small and turbocharged) we could see a lot more engine manufacturers interested in the sport to the point that there is a lot more variety than the few suppliers that we now have.

          If we restrict/standardised aero and open the door on everything else, there would still be plenty of areas for the teams to find speed during the year.

          Think how much of a real world impact F1 could have if hybrid/KERS technology was unlimited, paid for by massive reductions in aero cost

          1. How about opening up engine development to any type of engine at any size, but forcing them to certain power and torque limits. Then we might see a few different types of engines and once they’ve got the initial design sorted their first priority would be fuel efficiency

          2. @Skett

            Aero would still have to be reasonably unrestricted though to allow teams using customer engines to increase their competitiveness against the manufacturer. Otherwise you have two teams whose performance advantage increases the same amount solely due to the engine, and the team with the initial advantage will keep that all year.

          3. Why not just give each team an allocated amount of fuel and they can use whatever engine they like. This make engine development far more relevant to todays road cars.

      2. Watch touring cars then if you want to see that. F1 should be about the pinnacle of technology.

        1. the pinnacle of aero technology as it is at the moment, i’m saying it should aim to be the pinnacle of more than just that.

    2. Maybe in the follow up articles you can get into:

      – the effects of technical innovations to racing and interest in the sport
      – aero efficiency vs. mechanical grip and engine power, where to find a good balance
      – media coverage and embracing new tech. as well as getting more GP attendants.

    3. BRING V10 Back!

      Stop this ultra safe F1 nonsense!!!

      Faster cars make better show! Period

      Auto racing like bull-fighting, boxing etc… isn’t supposed to be ultra safe.

      1. And what happens if we suddenly lose a driver due to this?

        1. What happens if we suddenly loose a driver do to this?

          Auto racing is always going to have some sort of danger. No matter what you do there´s always going to be the posibility of losing a driver. Drivers have to face it and asume the risk!

          In the other hand, if they made cars faster again (V10´s, plus 1000hp cars) they could always have additional safety measures.

          Today´s modern circuits are pretty safe, and for classic events like monaco you could add safety regulations such as limiting revs for those races.

    4. when the new rules came out last season it was said that all the little fins and winglets would come off the cars but they came back on almost from the starts make the rules be set in stone with no get outs so everyone builds to the same rules and not to the loop holes that lawers ect find double defuser and front wings for example the front wink was supposed to be two wings they have have more than that now due to loop holes in the rules. if the teams can find the loop holes surely the fia can find them and fill them.

  3. Innovation should become a key part of F1, and have an affect on the Global car business. My thoughts on this matter would be :
    1- Restrict petrol-based-fuel for each team at a certain amount, with a view to reducing this amount by 10% year on year.
    2- remove all engine regulations, but restrict high-costing materials and composites – only materials used in production car engines to be used.
    3 – Allow the use of other forms of propulsion currently available each of the countries where a GP is held (BioFuel, solar, electric, etc). and add in a restriction of the amount of co2/pollutants thats emitted by each car.
    4. make wheels, tyres, suspension, drive train, steering wheels , gearboxes all standard.
    5. Remove all aero restrictions around the front wing.
    6. standardise the rear end of the car to allow a bigger hole in the air for following cars.
    7. insist on gear and clutch mechanisms.

    many others, but thats the main ethos – give F1 an innovation and technical direction that helps us all. not just constantly bang on about overtaking!

    1. i think your breathing whilst watching a grand prix would emit more CO2 than the cars…
      improving fuel efficiency however would be a fantastic challenge and certainly relevant for road cars in this age of reducing oil (until we find more).
      Aero i think is the main issue with overtaking and i now agree with keith that the refuelling ban is a good thing after the last few races.

    2. But composites are being used more and more in the car industry and many others, as they are becoming more affordable. F1 was a pioneer of this, and should continue to be. Plus, composites are good for safety.

  4. When discussing overtaking, it’s interesting to look at what changed in the years before 1995. Since 95 we’ve had a low average number of overtakes of about 15 per race. In the early nineties it was double that. About 30 overtakes per race on average. In the eighties it was even as high as 45.

    Can we even expect much overtaking when the cars start in the order of which one is fastest?

    Do we want to mix up the starting grid? Either reverse it or add fuel strategy into the mix to get some order changes.

    What was the impact of the shift of the huge engine budgets to huge aerodynamics budgets after the engine freeze?

    Is it better to have soft tyres that degrade rapidly or very hard ones that easily last for the entire race?

    If we want cars to be able to overtake more easily, what is the standard that we would like to see? Is it 1 second a lap difference? Less? Or more?

    A big part is the aerodynamics and their dependence on clean air. Which is worse, ground effect and diffusers or big rear wings. How about the split rear wing (CDG)?

    Can we set up rules so cars won’t depend so much on clean air? Or even create a tow so following cars can slipstream.

    Would lower budgets help make things better?

    1. Overtaking is up significantly this year. This cold be a distortion due to weather but even Bahrain was above it’s average.

      One contributing factor to more over taking that we saw in the eighties and early nineties and that we’ve seen in 2010 so far is a greater field spread. More relatively slow teams.

      The refueling ban also means that cars fast on fumes aren’t necessarily fast in the race and vice versa.

    2. i think the last thing people want to see is artificial racing (like that produced from a reverse grid). but as you say, with the fastest cars at the front and not much separating them in terms of lap time overtaking at the moment seems to rely on mistakes from the car in front or changeable conditions. the answer? don’t ask me…

      1. Perhaps handicap the leaders or give advantages to those behind? Like the people behind could have some sort of boost button, or the leader could have a lower RPM limit. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I’m just trying to think of something…

      2. I’m not advocating reversed grids either, but I’m saying that ordering the cars along who’s fastest and then set them all out on the same strategy, is a sure way to kill overtaking.

        1. MuzzleFlash
          23rd April 2010, 9:15

          What if they qualified as a team or something similar, like take the average of the two drivers fastest times. That way in a Heikki-Lewis scenario Lewis would have been dragged back down the field and we’d have seen him do his magic the next day. And Kovy would have been pulled forward so we’d have seen him get pounced on too.

          Or less insane (only a bit) instead of one lap, your qualifying time is set as 3 or 5 laps, and there are no blue flags, you have to fight your way past a slower car. That would increase the chances of a mistake or hold-up.

    3. I think you are on the right track for thinking here.
      We should first look at what we want F1 to be and then take this consequently to a rule set.

      Define how important the key elements are
      – Overtaking
      – Technical innovations
      – driver skills
      – sheer speed or cornering etc.
      – race strategy
      in the mix.
      Then we can make a nice draft rule package.

      Also i would think it is of major concern, that GPs are quite expensive for a large part of the potential fans.

  5. just a no brainer for me, cut back on aero and increase mechanical grip… Job done!

    1. We should focus on the essence of F1: racing. Why are cars not able to run close enough to overtake and what are the alternatives to fix or alleviate it: this could be the car itself (fan car, wing car), the wings (standard aero or modified aero), the tires (harder or softer), the brakes (steel ones), the driver (point system) and also the tracks. Concerning the tracks: maybe all tracks can be looked at in view of overtaking opportunities, maybe a driver working group can be set up to formulate some proposals.
      I would do away at least with unnnecessary changes like the new Bahrain ‘infield’ – use the outside track instead.
      Regarding technology, I think we’re already seeing the standardization working: it’s been a long time that 4 or 5 teams can actually win a GP. The closer they are, the more interesting the race will be (if they can overtake that is). I would say that 2011 and 2012 will be interesting in that the resource restrictions will start to come into play and even more teams will then be competitive.
      Technology is interesting is so far that it does not kill the racing: active suspension was nice, but if only 2 cars have it the race will be predictable. A certain cap and standardization are rightly in place, but F1 should remain the pinnacle, the more challenging; other series should downgrade accordingly if needed.

    2. You hear that suggestion a lot, but I don’t think it is that easy. High mechanical grip means shorter braking distances, making overtaking harder. Then, if you look at rain races with very little mechanical grip and you have a lot of overtaking, but this is more likely due to changing conditions and more mistakes made by the drivers.
      On the aero side, taking off downforce won’t help very much, the big problem is the turbulence created by the car in front. So the regulations should take care of this problem.
      But then you have the teams: They have incredibly smart people working for them who are going to find any loophole in the regulations and no matter what they say, they don’t give a s**t about the “spirit of the rules”. Most likely they’ll even be directly working against it; who in the world is building an F1 car that can be overtaken easily???

    3. it’s what they were trying to do, until mosley’s ego got in the way. I hope todt uses common sense, and finish with the job. F1 is not broken, just needs a sensible leader. I hope it’s that little french guy.

  6. My idea for a perfect championship? Set a limit on car length, wheelbase, car weight and aero downforce at a certain speed (surely the FIA can use a windtunnel and a model from the team to test this). Keep the same rules relating to cockpit protection and driver safety equipment and remove every other rule relating to the design of the car. Less rules = less cost, as teams do not spend $1,000,000 developing a wheel nut that weighs 1 gram less than the old one.

    Then you will see innovation from teams in a variety of different areas, giving you different cars and different dynamics in the races.

    Rant over :p

    1. less rules = more innovation and scope for development = more cost!

      1. i agree Sato113, if there is too much freedom, the rate of development (and therefore expenditure) would just be ridiculous. even so, we’ve seen how crafty engineers and designers are under tight restrictions (ie: 2009 with initial cuts in downforce).

  7. The Genuine Jim
    23rd April 2010, 0:13

    Looking foreward to the articles. A few points:
    1. “Improving the show” makes me want to bang my head off the table. F1 is not ‘sports entertainment'(define that how you will) and should not be governed as such. It’s abput the fastest open-wheel cars in the world battling it out, both on the track and the wind tunnel. The top ten in qually starting the race on their qually tyres is arbitrary and meaningless, not to mention unfair, But apparently ‘improves the show’. This kind of nonsense should be stopped now.
    2. Re: F1 being ‘boring’. This accusation has been flitting around for yonks now, and probably wont change. Non-fans wont care whatever is done, and casual fans come cheap and easy. Let’s face it, only F1fanatics care about outwash front wings and pit stop strategies and all the other minutiae. And F1fanatics will continue to be fans whatever is changed (even in the extreme) because the sport is in their nature. My point: F1 has a passionate hardcore fan base, and doesn’t need to go courting the lowest common denominator of fan like some strumpet hawking her wares. So I suppose making F1 better is a moot point in my humble opinion.
    3. I have many eloquent and ground-breaking ideas, but they appear to have been lost to the Strongbow haze. To be continued… Will I be embarassed by this rambling comment in the morning? Most likely.

    1. “F1 being ‘boring’”- i think if more people could attend grands prix, there would be more fans. you just can’t appreciate the talent of the drivers and technical genius of the engineers by watching f1 on tv (for those who have little or no interest in F1). once you’ve been to a race and seen an F1 car go around a corner, you just can’t ever think of it as ‘boring’ again, regardless of overtaking/ ontrack battles and so on.
      For example, before i went to melbourne last year, my partner kept asking me ‘whats the point? they just go around in circles’. we got tickets on the turn 11-12 chicane (the fast one) and after the first car went past she said ‘holy ****!’. in the end she loved it and certainly appreciates and we went there again this year.

      1. MuzzleFlash
        23rd April 2010, 9:09

        Yeh the sensation of speed is almost totally removed by the TV footage. An angle which really shows the cars speed would make the sponsor logo’s more difficult to discern, and we can’t have that now can we? Billboards need to easy to see, even at 200mph.

        1. For me some of the best TV footage for showing the speed in F1 are the onboard shots from Monaco.

          1. “For me some of the best TV footage for showing the speed in F1 are the onboard shots from Monaco.”
            Agree completely PJA.
            Another good thing would be helmet cameras. I was watching some old reviews and the onboards from the 90s gave such a sense of speed, the cameras these days (I sound about 90 here) are just too good. It’s like watching a movie done in CGI. Although that has some parallels with F1; techonology gets better so loses some of that ‘rawness’, the cars are so good that they don’t punish mistakes as much as they used to but it is the pinnacle of motorsport and all about innovation :)

  8. I think it’s worth debating the governance of the sport. Looking at how the whole structure actually works, the FIA, FOG (FOM, FOA, FOP, FOPA, FOLBV), FOTA, FOTW, GPMA, GPDA. Like a spider chart explaining how they all work together would be cool. Also how the revenue pie is cut.

    I think a lot of this is at the root of why F1 has gone the way it has.

  9. Mark Hitchcock
    23rd April 2010, 0:43

    *Gets popcorn*
    The comments on these articles are gonna be fun to read!

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      23rd April 2010, 0:45

      Well they will if they’re not as inane and pointless as mine!

      1. hahaha…i agree.

  10. A simple front and end wing ( cut the aerodynamics ).
    Steel brakes rather than carbon i think. The drivers would need more space to brake before the turns so that would allow more overtaking. NO issues on the security side since now the tracks and the F1 cars are much safer.
    Also the drivers should have manual gearboxes and cluth.
    Finally switch some tracks where is almost impossible to overtake.

    1. I disagree with the steel brakes. F1 is the peak of technology. If you want to focus just on overtaking, you can watch DTM. F1 is about racing, and pushing the drivers/cars to the limits. I wouldn’t mind seeing the drivers wear G-suits if they are going to be pulling 10 Gs in a corner.

      1. MuzzleFlash
        23rd April 2010, 9:56

        Agree with the steel brakes, would they be consistent enough? I imagine they’d fade rather quickly under F1 punishment.

        But they’re probably fit enough to withstand 10G laterally unaided, though I can’t imagine their necks being able to last that long. Fighter pilots wear them because they experience positive and negative G’s, with human limits at about 5 and -3 respectively.

        1. To my knowledge, carbon brakes don’t offer much in terms of overall stopping power over normal steel brakes, but they work better for longer and tend not to fade.

  11. Noone has mentioned it, and I might be probably lynched by this, but the testing ban is great! That has improved the show. Last year McLaren and Ferrari would´ve catch Brawn GP if there wouldn´t have been the testing ban: with all the resources ($$$) they have they can develop a car between GPs, but the smaller teams can´t (Toro Rosso, Force India). I think the ban has restricted all teams to the same amount of developing time no matter how much money they have and nobody can leapfrog anyone. Last year the gap between all the teams was in my understanding one of smallest in all F1 history. (I´d only give the new teams some more testing time in their first year in order to catch up a little faster…)

    1. Less testing is fine with me. Might be nice if 3rd driver could have regular participation in practice sessions though.

      Less testing, more races. Hard to disagree with.

      1. While I am a bit ambivalent on the testing ban, I think on fridays the 3rd drivers – who largely twiddle their thumbs now that there is no testing – should have a race as a support category.

        Gives them a chance to become familiar with the cars & also to showcase their talents. And gives us something to watch.

        1. not to mention familiarity with the tracks they may be racing on in the coming years. i definately agree.

          1. Completely agree with you both, CPR and PPeril!
            IMO the best of both worlds would be a 3rd driver mandatory practice session. Lets say friday´s free practice one only 3rd drivers are allowed to test: on one event in the car of the “leading” teamdriver and on the next on the other.

  12. Improving the show = Track Battles

  13. Ned Flanders
    23rd April 2010, 1:14

    Long answer= I could type for hours on how to make F1 better, but it’d make for dull reading, and I want to go to bed, so…

    Short answer= Sprinklers! (and I’m only half joking…)

    1. That was exactly what I was thinking. So far all the best races where part wet part dry.
      Sprinklers come on at random periods during the race. Would create absolute chaos. Fantastic.
      Almost as good as Berie’s shortcut idea.

      1. Ned Flanders
        23rd April 2010, 12:08

        I don’t think sprinklers on every single circuit would be good, otherwise every race would be a lottery- which of course would be very exciting but the novelty of wet races would soon wear off.

        But I definitely think sprinklers should be a consideration for circuits where there is no chance of a wet race, where the circuit designers have limitless budgets, and where the racing is usually boring- eg Bahrain and Abu Dhabi

        1. I can’t believe I’m taking this discussion about sprinklers so seriously but I wish it would happen but it’s even more artificial racing, say Ferrari or Mclaren or whoever have pole they would never agree, then it would be how much water for how long then if a car crashed could the team sue the sprinklers? :P

          1. Ned Flanders
            23rd April 2010, 12:51

            Well since I’m not a lwayer I couldn’t say for sure! But I’m sure there’s be a way around that.

            Besides, it’s not as though making a track wet artificially is a new thing; there’ve been plenty of test sessions where a huge lorry has driven round the track dumping water so teams can test their wet tyres

  14. Some quick thoughts:

    1) Decide what things you’re willing to compromise on, or not. Eg – how much difference can the driver make to the result, is being punished for being faster acceptable (eg by reverse grids) if it would improve the show, what is worth standardising and what should be open to development, how relevant should the technology be to real world usage, should there be “bonus” points (eg fastest lap, overtaking, quali results) for anything? If you can get some agreement on these more philosophical questions, then it would become much easier to discuss precise changes.

    2) The “show” is more than a sum of it’s parts (eg “overtaking”). The show starts with winter testing, then practice then qualifying and then finally the race. Ideally, we want things to become more and more exciting as the weekend (and season) progresses. I think the main problem with the show in recent years is that you can have big lulls in action towards the end of the race – the point where you want things to be the most exciting. At the moment, qualifying is fine – it’s definitely in “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” land. The start of the race is often very exciting, but it tends to become more boring with time. One way to keep any race interesting would be to ban blue flags – force the front runners to overtake the backmarkers. That will consequently force car designers (of the leading teams) to care much more about overtaking, and will also increase the input drivers make. Naturally, for this to work it will become critical to come down like a ton of bricks on any possible cheating in this area.

    3) Do we want input based rules (ie what features the car has and the physical design limits) or end-result based rules (eg measured maximum downforce, maximum speeds or the like). The crash / safety tests today are more end-result based (“after simulated crash would the driver likely to be okay?”) while most of the rest of the rules are input based. Would always need some input based rules (length, width, height, weight), but the balance could certainly be shifted.

    4) How can we lean on Bernie to make the TV side of things better?

    5) Should the support races be much more directly relevant? A sort-of “F1 lite” in terms of teams and technology, perhaps?

    1. Show have added:

      6) How do we know the changes have worked without going through the (potential) embarrassment of a real race? ie need to think more about confirming the effects working out as predicted before it becomes too late.

  15. Yes, article is all fine and true, but we must not forget the engineers, if development is cut, people like Ron Dennis, will be put to the side and will not appreciate the competition being a drivers challenge!
    They fought for years to show what engineering can do, and dazzled us with new innovations, all thanks to having their hands free.
    I do believe there is a compromise, but it should come as a FOTA and FIA cooperation.
    Testing cars on straits, and modifying them until they are prone to overtaking.
    It is that simple and easy, but there seems a bigger divide between the two organizations, i fear, we will not see their agreements hand in hand soon. We want action, they want acknowledgment for their genius, it is not an easy compromise.

  16. If they want to improve the show, make the entry prices cheaper.

    1. Do you mean make the ticket price cheaper, i agree

  17. I think that Formula 1 is an engineering feat more than it is a spectator sport. The real magic happens in the months of R&D before a season, which is given it’s true test when it is finally put out on track during races. I believe that the FIA’s focus on creating a more exciting F1 during a race by focusing on what will make overtaking occur more often is completely backward thinking.

    Research, engineering and testing will make for more overtaking.

    1. and it’s a damn good spectator sport as well anyway. my partner said she’d way rather go to a grand prix than a football match or any other sport. and she doesn’t really watch races on tv, she just liked them on track and the atmosphere of the event.

      “Research, engineering and testing will make for more overtaking.”
      good point. it seems the focus is on restricting the cars to be more overtaking friendly but maybe if the rules stay relatively the same, engineers will work towards making their cars easier to overtake by somehow reducing their sensitivity to turbulent air and so on.

  18. They’ve got to get some of these bad tracks out of the season. It’s no mistake that the tracks with the best races every year have long sweeping corners, and very few of the dreaded straight-hairpin-straight-hairpin complexes that every new track seems to have. Even Monaco’s hairpin is in a slow section of that track.
    If Bernie is serious about improving the show I think that the tracks are the best place to start. There’s no skill in defending a position when you’d need to forget to accelerate in order to be overtaken. Valencia, the new Barcelona layout with the tight 3rd sector, and the snoozefest in Bahrain all need to be fixed, even if you just run the circuit backwards next year.

    1. Wow. I haven’t heard that mentioned before and hadn’t thought of it myself, but some of the circuits might really benefit from being run backwards. Interesting idea.

  19. I feel that too many readers are negatively disposed towards the aerodynamic side of the sport’s technological development. I fear that restrictions on aerodynamics, especially the standardizations of front/rear wings, engine covers, etc will not do Formula 1 any good. The restrictions on the chassis, dimensions and engine of the cars are crippling enough – removing the aerodynamic aspects will limit further potential for development. Sure, more restrictions and standardizations drive the costs down and reduce the performance difference between cars, potentially allowing for the “closer” races and more on-track action. However, quoting Mr. de Montezemolo, we want Formula 1, with its cutting-edge technological development (BOTH mechanical and aerodynamic) and not GP3.

    Similarly I would disagree that aerodynamics are irrelevant to modern road car development. Certainly, the new MP4-12C has little to do with all the minuscule aerodynamic devices its big F1 brother has; and yet, we cannot rule out the application of modern f1 aerodynamic technologies to the road cars in the future. After all, F1 witnesses not only the meticulous fine-tuning of aerodynamic flaps here and there, but also the developments of wholly new interesting concepts such as f-duct. I am not sure about you, but the current F1 aerodynamic development, or call it the “aerodynamics war” if you will, satisfies me as a dedicated f1 fan. At least, it satisfies me much more than recent tyre wars.

    However, there is some truth in the claim that aero development has recently overshadowed everything else to do with the car’s chassis and perhaps directs F1 into a slightly biased direction. However, instead of standardizing aerodynamics just as everything else (engines, gearboxes, ECU, etc) I would suggest easing restrictions on all of these factors. However, then face the age-old problem of cost-cutting and unsustainability of the sport.

    How can we solve the conundrum? I would, perhaps to much criticism, stick to budget caps. Alright, let us not limit the amount of TOTAL cash each team is supposed to spend, but at least impose restrictions on the cash in specific fields of development. I.e. the lifting of the “engine freeze” would be accompanied by budget restrictions – the engines will then be capable of generating real performance difference while not sucking out the small teams’ finances.

    I perfectly understand that most teams would not agree with the “capping” principle, but it does sound very logical in the situation.

    1. Interesting you should mention a cost cap – I just saw a news story that encapsulated my fears about the infeasibility of that particularly solution.

      Australian rugby team Melbourne Storm have been strapped of titles they won in 2007 and 2009 after it was discovered they cheated their way around a salary cap.

      If F1 had budget capping, how long before someone’s in the dock for trying to get around it? I just don’t believe it’s enforceable without submitting teams to intrusive levels of financial scrutiny that they would never agree to.

      1. Yes Keith, as we are finding out here now with the Melbourne Storm, a breach of the cost cap by a premiership winning team can be an absolute disaster for the sports credibility.

        And I quite like the idea of limiting the amount of fuel so that fuel economy has to be managed. It can add drama to the end of a boring race when we know the leader has to back off the revs to make it to the finish.

        1. I think this why FOTA suggested ‘resource restrictions’ instead of budget caps; indeed a budget cap would be impossible to enforce, any accountant can tell you that.

  20. Aero is king in F1, and as I’ve said many times it is aero which makes for dull races. The RB5 of 2009 was very quick in clean air but pretty rubbish when behind another car as it was in dirty or turbulent air.

    This is the problem. You cannot follow another competitive car easily. You then cannot nail them into the extraordinarily short braking zones and so overtaking is very hard. How is this not obvious to rule makers?

    To solve the problem forget mandatory pit stops, forget push to pass, reverse grids and all the other artificial novelty rules to strip the soul from the sport. Massively reduce aero and if downforce must be kept at all make it ground effect as this is the type of aero least affected by following another car closely. Increase mechanical grip and find a way to reduce the braking performance of the cars. Cutting downforce will be one way but maybe limiting caliper size or making everyone use steel brakes might work.

    In short, get rid of downforce, make the tyres stickier, makes the brakes less effective, and good racing will return. Stop the half measures and finally do things properly!

    1. and allow drivers to adjust their front wing all the time

      in clean air, they adjust

      behind another car, they can adjust it again…., give themselves a bit more front downforce in the last turn, then turn if off down the back straight to overtake….

      just a thought…

      and MORE HP!

      f1 cars had over 1300 20 years ago… now they’ve got less than indycar and nascar…

      1. Thats right F1 should have more horsepower that any other racing series.

        It’s ridiculous that 20 years ago cars had 1300 hp and car safety had nothing to do with today.

        F1 it’s the pinnacle of motorsport. Having 2.4L V8 with mere 700 hp, It’s like having professional boxers wear face protection!!!!

    2. I agree.
      I would also add ‘more interesting track layouts’: Bahrain the outside track, Zandvoort, Brands Hatch, Indy oval, Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, the pre-94 Imola, Nordschleife, Dijon, …
      Less focus on safety, the cars have shown that they can take a lot of battering.

      1. Totally agree, even bring back the Tamburello curve and get rid of them micky mouse chicanes. Bring Imola back to the calender. Kubica at Canada in 2007 proves Formula cars can take an hell of a beating, his crash was much worse then Ratzenberger and Senna, and Kubica just came out with a dodgy ankle

  21. I like the idea that the sport is largely an engineering feat. Maybe there could be significant improvements by creating more coverage and better coverage of the actual engineering work thats involved with the cars both before and during races

    1. ha! that will be the day. i’d settle for more on-board cameras

  22. Regulations on car designing were implemented to close the whole field up..and it was evident in the last season…private testing ban is also great as it closes the gap between the big and small team…we need to analyse why cars are unable to overtake despite being faster…its because of over reliance on aerodynamical grip and downforce which is compromised by turbulence…hence to better to enhance mechanical grip..i say we ban the wings…..bringing back traction control wouldn’t be bad i guess as it would encourage drivers to overtake in fast corners which is rarely seen…also i feel the regulations regarding overtaking by drivers should be more lenient….and lastly i would like to see a extra horsepower button which can be used not for a limited amount of time but limited amount of lap and i would prefer the extra horsepower to be significantly high so that overtaking is easily done and mistakes by drivers are punished

  23. winning teams will not use KERS, while lower teams use them.. like success ballast idea

    1. there is nothing i hate more than “success ballast”

  24. Rubbish Dave
    23rd April 2010, 4:13

    A few things need to be considered when it comes to the overtaking problem. Aero sensitivity being only one of them.

    An often overlooked problem is that of the inability to run off line. By the time of the race, there’s one grippy line, surrounded by tyre debris with a lenghty penalty. Rain improves matters by washing the track, but there may be a possibility by looking at altering the tyres themselves.

    Circuit design also links in with that. Some circuits have by design only one properly usable racing line.

    Another factor is just how professional the teams are today. It’s a far cry from the 80s, even the 90s. Mistakes, both from driver and team, are much rarer. Long gone are the days where overtaking was generated by a fluffed gear changed.

    Add to that there’s comparitively very little scope for cars to have different characteristics, and due to the limited scope for improvements, any advantageous idea is quickly taken on across the board. Again, going back a few years, you had a much broader range of potential ideas to choose from, and less capability to implement every one of them.

    I’m not sure that having a reliability formula helps too much either.

    But having said that, I’m not sure overtaking is as much of a problem as people often make out. (Not least as the casual fan seems more interested in crashes than overtaking)

    Even without rain, I doubt we’ll see a race as conservative as Bahrain was, because the teams now know much more about the tyres than they did there. Yes, we’ll probably end up with a few ‘boring’ races but that’s not surprising, racing is a sport by nature, not a show, and in every sport, you have dull events.

    Judging by the amount of money in the sport, it’s not exactly struggling for fans, even during the turgid Bridgestone/Ferrari/Schumacher period of dominance. Because at its heart, extremely quick and nimble cars are exciting, and any race has the potential for things to happen.

  25. my thoughts on spicing up f1:

    18 inch tires are a good move.
    a tire war would be ok, if there are at least 3 tire providers.
    keep removing aero from the cars.
    leniency towards contact and aggressive driving.
    open engine development.

    1. things to avoid:

      success balast, or any other performance-equalizing.
      boring-by-design race tracks.
      lots of 1, 2 and 3 weeks breaks.
      no testing at all.
      irrelevant technology.

      1. I’m no technical expert so I’m not sure, but how about focusing on Formula 1 cars that are designed to run in dirty air, rather then focusing on cars that don’t create dirty air.

        1. there’s nothing stopping teams from doing that right now, except the loss in performance would prevent you from catching anyone in the first place.

  26. 1. Ditch the stupid “must use both type of tyres” rule
    2. Increase the contact patch of the front and rear tyres. This year Bridgestone reduced the size of the front tyres instead of increasing the size of rear tyres simply because of costs. I personally think that’s the biggest mistake the can ever make. F1 cars already have trouble following another car. By reducing the size of the front tyres, this takes away the front end mechanical grip and making it even harder for cars to follow each other.
    3. I am not an expert on the technical stuff of F1, so I am not sure how they can implement it. But I think F1 should give the engineers more freedom. Instead of spending millions on refining the front wing end plate, we need more innovative design such as the F-duct, double diffuser and etc.
    4. Say no to standardised floor/gearbox/engine. We don’t need a faster version of the GP2. F1 is more than just racing. Its about showcasing the latest innovative technologies.

    That’s all I can come up with. People need to stop whinging about F1 is no longer “road relevant”. If they want road relevant, watch the WTCC or GT1. F1 was never about developing road relevant technology. Yeah we might occasionally find some useful adaptation of F1 technologies in the real world, but those are bonuses. F1 is about pushing the limits. F1 would have never gotten where we are right now if “road relevant technologies” are all the F1 engineers care about in the past.

    1. i agree with ditching the “use both tires” rule, but the floor is regulated for a very good reason.

      1. Accidental Mick
        23rd April 2010, 7:48

        Looking for information not an arguement – what is the reason?

        1. the floor is where most of the downforce comes from. as air moves from the front of the floor and out the back, it’s accelerated out the back as much as possible. this reduces the pressure under the car, effectively sucking the car onto the ground with a force several times it’s own weight (a.k.a. driving on the ceiling). the now-infamous diffusers are responsible for much of this acceleration.


          an airplane accelerates flow on the top of the wing, so pressure is greater on the bottom, and away we go. this effect is also used to draw 1 fluid into another, like a carburetor (fuel drawn into fast moving air) or squeezy-bulb bottle of perfume.

          “so, what’s the big deal?” you ask. well, besides driving aero costs through the roof, performance would soar right off the chart. ultra-high cornering speeds would make a mockery of lap times. unfortunately, it gets worse: the ground effect downforce is unstable, and very sensitive to ground clearance. if the car rides too high, air isn’t accelerated enough. if the car rides too low, the ground effect can stall.

          the worst would be having the car bottom out in a corner, like ayrton senna’s fatal crash. first, the ground effect stalls from too low a ride height, so there’s no additional downforce. then the car bottoms out, so the weight is going through the chassis and not the tires, bringing the grip down to effectively zero.

  27. 1. Track design, corners designed/modified to increase overtaking possibilities. Consider shorter tracks, so attending fans see cars more frequently. Change the FIA design parameters, some of the classic tracks do not meet the present specs.
    2. Wheel size, should they increased, they virtually require total redesign of cars.
    3. Tyres.
    4. Mechanical grip or aerodynamics, what is the right balance.
    5. New materials, is F1 the place for innovation and change so should they be left in the 20th century using old proven technology.
    6. Engine size including blowers, types of fuel, hybrids.
    7. Pit stops, how many, should they be enforced. At some tracks the main stand sees virtually no action if there is no pit activity.

    1. That should have been “change OR should” in 5.

  28. I think we are barking up the wrong tree when it comes to aero. The most overtakes come in the rain where there is reduced mechanical grip. Throw on hard, slippery tyres and see how the racing changes.

    1. The cars run slower in the wet so aerodynamic downforce (which increases with speed) is also reduced, meaning the cars can run closer together.

  29. I feel we’re being deceived by the last three races. They were full of alternatives because of the rain. We still need a couple of sunny races to really get a feel of how 2010’s technical regulations work out.

    Are we already discussing why F1 isn’t like the 80s (the most competitive era I’ve witnessed)? Two points: huge reliability and too much aerodynamics.

  30. I would like to think that aero has further to go in terms what it can contribute to road vehicle design working in concert with weight reduction. The diffuser developments have been interesting. ie: lower passenger vehicle mass may raise aero vs mechanical significance over time, the development of wavy roofed TIR trailers could also be augmented by variable diffusers activated by measured trailer weight etc etc.

    I generally don’t believe in dumbing down anything except in limiting the use of high cost raw materials / commodities like rare earths-metals where such applications devloped have limited prospects for technology transfer.

    So I favour technology development companies – a la the emerging Williams model over the marketing franchise sellers like Ferrari/McLaren/RedBull.

    Thats why I do favour a team spending cap more inclined to the interests of the former rather than the latter.

    But I do believe in wake limits and wake performance testing. This is essential to counter balance the negatives of being pro technology because wake is currently an unregulated anti-competitive weapon. When it is regulated it should be done so explicitly and let the developers achieve the test performance criteria using the best technology they can muster with available resources.

  31. his_majesty
    23rd April 2010, 6:01

    Bernie is somewhat correct with his changing drivers with teams. You only get what you win, (purses would increase of course, drivers would have personal sponsors on their suit, and helmet) drivers will compete for cash! You get a true drivers champion and a true constructors champion. Drivers with the highest points pick the car they want to drive next. You can’t pick the same car twice until all have been driven. Then the driver with the most points picks a team for the final races, and so on down the line. Can others tell me how they feel about this, I think it’s pretty bad a$$

  32. damonsmedley
    23rd April 2010, 6:04

    F1 isn’t too bad at the moment. All I think it needs is a few more classic circuits with more variety (less street circuits and Tilke creations), a bit less aero (but please, no reducing width of rear wings and increasing width of front wings, just restrict them to circa 2000 levels) and most importantly yet least damaging of the racing; better coverage by FOM. If FOM can lift their game a little F1 would be dramatically improved and the rules wouldn’t even have been changed. All they need to do is broadcast F1 in high definition and fit all cars with onboard cameras as well as decrease the delay in radio transmissions that are often irrelevant by the time we hear them.

    1. This is madness…
      (No! THIS IS SPARTA!!!!!)

      Nah, I would never watch such race

      1. damonsmedley
        23rd April 2010, 17:22

        Pardon? What are you saying?

  33. my top three tips would be, (one of them WILL NEVER HAPPEN)

    1 – standard rear wing or reduce the number of elements a rear wing can have to one, making it a lot less efficient

    2 – let the drivers adjust their front wing as often as they would like, i.e when in clean air, certain setting, when behind another car, a certain setting

    3 – 200-400 more HP…. F1 cars have less power than nascar and indycar…. the brabham engine with 60lbs of turbo boost had over 1400HP , 20 years ago…. F1 cars should be very very difficult to drive and should easily overpower their aero and tires, …. look at senna and mansell around monaco 20 years ago, and how the cars are fighting all the time…. these days, its simply too much aero and too LITTLE POWER!


  34. fred schechter
    23rd April 2010, 6:17

    SERIOUSLY?! Not one mention of monkey juggling, or pit stop games of operation before returning to the car,, some show!
    But seriously,, maybe monkeys in the cockpit?
    Monkeys taped to the front wheels to increase mechanical grip.
    Possibly some sort of isolation room for girlfriends and wives of drivers and possibly pugil sticks, or simply a single plate of food for them to fight over,, and lots of cameras.
    Maybe some new tethers for Torro Rosso’s wheels (who are we kidding, THAT was exciting!) (Poor guy, I’d have yelled at my engineers to!)
    Monkey co-pilots?
    Better yet, monkey lorry drivers doing the parking of the trailers in the paddock!!!
    You may be noticing a theme here.
    More mechanical grip,
    More Monkeys,
    A little less rear aero wake turbulence.
    Actual good interviews,, (why not, Peter Windsor is free!)

    Oh, Oh,, AND MONKEYS!!!

  35. The main problem is (was :)) not in the cars but stewarding. Let the guys race out track instead of engineers competing in labcoats and the “show” is improved.
    This means that every overtaking attempt gone wrong should not be awarded with penalty and no more results altering decisions after the race.
    So far, so good this year :)

  36. JohnnyBlazeFire
    23rd April 2010, 7:17

    Imagine Alonso in a Virgin, battling Button in a Lotus?
    Simply issue the cars on a race weekend on a random basis by a draw.
    That would shake the show up, but the best drivers would still end up shining.

    1. Webber would get the virgin every weekend!

  37. John Edwards
    23rd April 2010, 7:32

    If I could change one thing and one thing alone:

    -Race at better circuits.

  38. I want to see F1 come back to the be the showcase of technology that it once was & to be more relevant to normal cars.

    The first thing would be to progressively reduce the amount of fuel used, but allow the manufacturers to develop new forms of energy recovery – not just the limited KERS system.

    Secondly the resource restriction should be kept in place to prevent it being won by the company with the deepest pockets.

    Thirdly dramatically reduce the rules – the Le Mans rules are much simpler – except for safety aspect. That will encourage inovation, not engineering legal experts:)

  39. please stop with the “Improving the show”
    It is NOT a show, it is a sport.

    My own opinion is that F1 does not need improvement. It is fine the way it is. The reason Bernie and the media want to “improve it” is of course to have more viewers, and thereby, more money.
    And there is the problem. Bernie and co. are trying to make F1 appeal to everybody who is watching and thereby appealing to the lowest common denominator, who just want mindless action to fit their beer.

    These is no technical solution to this problem. We can go on and on about banning and un-banning slick, banning and un-banning movable aero, or diffusers, but it will not solve the underlying problem.

    1. bmw, and the colloseum was just sport right?

  40. Accidental Mick
    23rd April 2010, 7:58

    Get rid of all the nit-picking rules. Specify the dimensions of the car plus the minimum weight (to avoid the Chapman effect) and set a maximum turbulance left behind (to stop designers deliberately designing a car that is difficult to pass).

    Then allow the designers and engineers do what they want within those parameters.

  41. Nice job Keith, with no forum now we can chat & learn many things about F1.I am looking forward for this.

  42. When the 5 red lights go off, set off an old lady driving a Morris Minor the OTHER WAY round the circuit…

    Just kidding…It’s got to be less downforce and standardisation of wings….

  43. Is difficult to improve the show if we keep on cutting the budget and adding limitations. Now the pilots not only have to drive but to manage engines, gearboxes,…
    On the other hand, I don’t want overtaking to become so easy. For me is a exciting part of the show see how an inferior car can still defend his position to a top one.

  44. Mid 80s were easily the golden age! More power than could be controlled by the aero on bumpy circuits requiring soft(ish) suspension meant the cars were a real handful.

    The cars looked good with the right proportions and you could see the drivers working at keeping it on the tarmac, rather than the illusion of being a playstation game we have now.

  45. I think that they should bring back KERS but offer a higher level of horsepower. Also make the cars simpler in design and equal in performance.

  46. If you are going to win this title then you have two options:

    1) Do what Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica are doing with consistent finishes around 4th or 3rd and ultimately you will get enough points over the season.


    2) Do as Button is and the Redbulls will have to do, and that is regularly win in order to make up for low point finishes or retirements.

    Obvious really.

  47. Christian Biddon
    23rd April 2010, 8:38

    Less aero, more mechanical grip (big tyres) and instead of spending millions on KERS, why not bring back turbo charged engines. Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t the overdrive button in years gone by do the same thing as KERS?

    What we need to avoid is stupid ideas put forward by people obviously entering senility such as shortcuts. Oh how I laughed at that one. :-)

    1. Christian Biddon
      23rd April 2010, 8:49

      Just though of some more changes I think would be good. :-)

      Allow the teams to use whatever tyres the wish. The reason Bahrain was boring was due to them all using the soft tyres for qualifying and they all changed to the hard at the same time. Dull! At least get rid of the top 10 teams having to start on their qualifying tyres.

      Get some new track designers. Even if Tilke was the Van Gogh of track design(which he is not), some variation of designer would stop them all being ‘samey’.

  48. First of all, I think we (the people who REALLY enjoy watching F1) should establish WHAT is the purpose of F1. In my opinion, it’s a sport. It’s entertainment. It should be a delightful sunday tv event, because TV needs more interesting programs right now. This whole “leading tech development” is a load of crap. People need new groundbreaking ideas in how to feed the poor and stop wars, not how to go faster in a car. Cars go fast enough nowadays, people, just cut the crap.
    So, if we establish that it IS a show, and the main objective is to make for an enjoyable 2 hours, then what has to change?
    I don’t think changing rules here and there, tyres, regulations, etc, will do any good if the mentality doesn’t change. Because like everything else in the world, the more it’s developed, the more boring it is. Take travelling. To go from France to Australia, 100 years ago? Now that was DEFINITELY not boring. Dangerous, exciting, mind boggling. Today you sit down for half a day, watch a couple of movies, sleep and there you are. That applies to MOST activities – from finding food to building palaces. That and the mentality of “always safer”. No weaving in braking zones, no pushing other drivers out of the race, no nothing. Let’s face it; we had MUCH more fun when Piquet and Senna and Mansell and Prost were being mean to each other while driving ‘crappy’ cars.
    (By the way, I’m happy about F1 today – I haven’t seen such good racing for a long time. It can be better, definitely, but it’s not bad right now. But that, I think, is because of the nice crop of talented drivers.)

  49. Herewith my topics

    – coverage / camera’s (eg. more or less onboard, more or less Nicole, more or less overtaking action (I keep reading that Bahrain did have 21 overtaking actions)

    – internet / data sharing (eg. should all set up and telemetry data be available for the fans and competetion as well? (imagine the graphs on this site after a race!)

    – blue flag discussion
    – how to improve / test the improvements and keep budgets in balance?

    What is F1 about?
    – drivers (how much influnce should the driver have on the result? 60%? 80%)
    – engineering
    – tyres
    – innovation
    – road car relevance
    – is ‘green’relevant? and if so, what is ‘green’ (eg. biofuel, ‘side’ effect is that area’s of rainforests are being suffered to produce bio fuel)
    – what is racing? (fast laps? tyre management? overtaking? or just finish first)

    – Live discussions: can you invite, say, Adrian Newey, Mike Gascoyne etc etc, some Tyre specialist, teambosses and even drivers for a live debate on the subject of overtaking

    1. I agree, these are issues we need to decide when trying to find an improved package for F1.

  50. Ive always thought that KERS could potentially work and create more exciting races without radical change to the cars. A quick overview would be –

    Only 60 seconds etc.. of KERS boost per race

    Restrictions ie..not allowing the use of KERS to defend position (oviously there would be a lot of grey areas here but im sure something could be ironed out.

    Only allowed to be used after the completion of the 1st lap.

  51. I am against steel brakes. Road cars have carbon ceramic nowadays so why should F1 not?
    A quick, easy and cheaper way to increase braking distances so overtaking opportunities by driver skill would be to make the disc diameter smaller!

  52. Glen Crompton has a view on this as well in pitpass last week.

    Maybe he can join in our discussion here.

  53. Some of the areas I would like to see covered are the format of the race weekend, the technical aspects of F1 including overtaking, how standardised should F1 be and should it be a test bed for green technology and be more relevant to road cars, the race calendar, F1 finances, how F1 uses new media and promotes itself and probably a final general debate to cover any aspects not covered in the main topics people can think of.

  54. RandomChimp
    23rd April 2010, 9:48

    Remove the silly tire rules (top 10 quali tires, 2 compounds rule) and substantially increase minimum car+driver mass for longer breaking zones while keeping the aerodynamicists happy.

  55. I would like to see cars with around 800 bhp from the engine and 200 bhp from KERS operating on the front wheels, so when the KERS is not used the car has 2 wheel drive from the engine on the rear wheels and when KERS is connected the car has 4 wheel drive. This would create many more overtaking opportunities since the KERS 4 wheel drive would make a difference almost everywhere and not only on long straits.
    Also use much wider tyres that are harder so they do not produce as much marbels so the off racing line can be used more easily for overtaking.
    And then of course cut down on the downforce by using standard wings with the front wing freely adjustable to compensate for the turbulence from the car ahead.

    1. I sort of like it but is that actually realistic!! Has there ever been a single seater that has run 4×4 in the past? I cant see where they would to find space for the driveshaft.

      1. With electric motors inside the wheels no drive shafts is required, only the electrical wires to the motors.
        Some teams tried 4×4 in Formula 1 in 1969,
        (Matra, McLaren and Lotus) but gave it up due to the weight and problems with space for the differential and driveshafts. Also at this time the focus shifted more and more to aerodynamic downforce which gave greater gains in laptime.

        1. loved those lotus wings on stilts over the front and rear axles. genius

  56. No reverse grids or punishing the lead drivers/teams. I don’t think it’s fair and anyway reverse grids would just make cars go as slow as possible in quali so they’d end up near the front. Maybe something like the GP2 system would work but I don’t want anything artificial as then it really is just about the ‘show’ and not racing. The cut off points for quali could be changed though as it is very boring at the moment. Quali has lost its madness it had last year.

    Maybe loosen up the engine rules abit and rev limit, 18 inch wheel rims hopefully will come in, less focus on aero and free up tyre rules. No mandatory stops at all, and an extremely hard compund brought with an incredibnly soft but much quicker tyre then we might see something like this .

    The big problem with all of those is money; the teams look like they’re going to end up paying for their tyres and if engine regs are more open then that will probably be a financial black hole but realistically some compromise has to be struck.

    What is helping overtaking will be the stewards too. If things are more consistent and less strict then drivers will be more willing to attempt to pass.

    Kers should definately be brought back. Any team who wants to use it should. It should not by any means forced on a team which would rather concentrate and invest in another area of design. That doesn’t make things equal, that hurts innovation and individuality. Kers should be allowed to be used for longer or give more of a boost so there is more incentive to be used. I doubt Williams would want that though.

    F1 has had some great and historic passes, including some very recent ones but it’s always about a driver challenge and technology not about NASCAR style racing so I think we shouldn’t whinge too much but rather have F1 the pinnacle of motorsport with some more freedom or ideas for an area to design (so costs don’t go out of control) and see what happens. I don’t want artificial racing and positions changing a thousand times, I’d rather wait through a procession to see one really great overtake. More overtakes would be nice but I really don’t think anything too radical needs to happen just yet although I would like Monza to have some classic slipstreaming battles again. That would be fun.

    1. there would be no qualy w/ reverse grids, except for first race – driver championship standings as of that race, reversed –

  57. It’s quite simple to improve really. We need much more mechanical grip and drastic aero restrictions. Much larger tyres should be the 1st change in regulations. It would be the quickest way the address the mechanical vs aero grip problem.

  58. Set a fixed budget for development of the cars only. Then go trough the rulebook and scrap a lot of rules. Instead of saying you need a 2.4 liters v8 etc. say your car can have a maximum of x horsepower measured at the wheels. This will make for a lot of different solutions, but within a certain limit so f1 doesn’t become to expensive again. Also cut back on aero, atleast so that cars can follow eachother closely again.

  59. I think we should determine what factors make F1 different from any other motorsport series, which ones make it THE motorsport. In other words – what we should preserve and emphasize at all costs. IMO these are:

    1. The technological race – innovations, genius engineers, unorthodox designs etc.
    2. History – legendary tracks and teams
    3. Personalities and skill of drivers, rather than skill – We could probably find better drivers than Lewis elsewhere, but none of them would bring such thrill as Lewis does, because, well he is Lewis. Same goes with legends such as Senna, Schumacher, Mansell etc. On the other hand, F1 becomes full of average drivers who shouldn’t really be there.
    4. Unpredictability of races – one wrong tire choice, one wrong pit stop and suddenly a champion finds himself fighting at the very end.

    My conclusions based on the above-mentioned factors are:
    1. DON’T make cars standardized. It kills the show.
    2. DON’T remove fabulous and proven race tracks from the calender to make place for tilkedroms. It kills the show.
    3. DON’T let anyone from the street to F1 and support drivers who bring the skill and the character. Otherwise, you kill the show.
    4.DON’T try to regulate the races too much, leave somethings to a chance, make room for surprises, of course within boundaries of safety and common sense. Or you… you know what :)

    I intentionally omitted the problem of overtaking, because I don’t of it as a crucial characteristic of F1, and I regarded as one of the things that can be compromised in order to improve the previous mentioned one. Moreover I think that given more technical freedom, therefore more variate between the cars, we should have sufficient amount of overtaking. Of course we could drastically cut aero but that would contradict ma initial thought of giving more technical freedom. Cheers.

  60. Hi Keith, great introduction to the series…

    I’ve said plenty of idea over the past couple of years on this site… and looking back at them i have contradicted myself at times, mostly because I’m caught up in the emotion of the championship or the boredom some races generate… below are carefully thought out ideas, that i hope i will stick on for the future.

    1st Testing:

    Increase testing prior to the season with cost cutting restrictions in terms of location from factory, number of personnel, equipment, catering and stuff of that nature.

    2nd Qualification:

    for God’s sake, return to 1 hour session with maximum 12 or even 10 flying laps per driver. the current knockout is not all that bad, but the flurry of fast laps at the end of the lap make it very very confusing and hard to follow, especially for people without Live Timing.

    Also allow the third chassis to be used by rookie driver in practice 1 and be on stand-bye as spare car whose parts would be included as spares within the shipping quantities limit.

    3rd mechanical regulations:

    Drop the V8’s… as mentioned above, in my opinion F1’s golden age in terms of performance was the Turbocharged 80’s, bring back small displacement 4 cylinder Force induced engines, with limited fuel quantities and no refueling.
    Engine and gearbox development would be allowed but only implemented to the units after they have run 4 races… to keep costs at a limit. (quota to remain 1 engine / 4 races with no Rev limit)

    Bigger tires, metal brakes (like on road cars), and less aerodynamics down-force.

    Boost capabilities with the use of KERS or hybrid devices should be allowed, use solar or wind energy if you have to…

    All the above should be designed in such a way that all the solutions and technologies, from safety, tires,and power can be implemented or at least spun off to road cars within a 5 year cycle max.

    4th Racing:

    With regards to racing, the above should mix up the grid a tad bit…pit stops should only be restricted to tires or repairs if needed, and refueling should remain banned.

    5th Promo:
    Safety and medical car should be supplied by the company and brand who’s engine has won the constructor’s championship.
    Tickets to F1 events should be a whole lot cheaper, TV and video internet access should be made available and more public to attract more viewers…

    more ideas should be forth coming as the series goes forth…

  61. Ferrari have something to say on F1’s future too

    1. just makes me wonder, weather Ferrari is planning that kind of engines in their own road cars in the future, or just with Fiat.

      Nice to see they are giving opinions. So it should be relatively low cost, with smaller (bi-)turbo engines.
      And have some KERS or just electrical drive for the front wheels (like Porsche, BMW and Ferrari showed in their latest hybrids presented).

  62. Morningview66
    23rd April 2010, 11:59

    Tracks, people need to start looking at the classic tracks which tend to provide the best racing instead of letting Herman design everything.
    Having said this malaysia does seem to be getting better with age.
    But what F1 needs is fast sweeping corners punctuate by a few chicanes and hairpins like Spa and that always provides classic racing, the drivers and fans love it rather than theese new tracks with boring twisty technical sections with lots of slow corners.

    1. Shanghai is good too. every track should have something distinctive about it and the less sameness the better.

  63. Completely road relevant things are:

    Reducing drag and increasing fuel efficiency. Improving tyre compounds to give better grip. Getting more horsepower at the cost of less fuel. Opening up the rules to let them push the boundaries on this will not only make f1 more exciting but improve our road cars. Downforce is necessary to increase corner speeds but this must leave less dirty air and more stringent rules must be put in to control the way in which the cars produce downforce. Green innovation must be freed up completely without restriction apart from for safety reasons as this area needs to be explored as much as possible, moving forwards huge things could be discovered in this area. Things like active suspension are completely road relevant as well, active suspensions doesn’t just optimize downforce, it optimizes cornering and weight distribution – ideal in emergency stop situations on the road.

    To summarize, there are huge steps forwards f1 can take to bring it towards being road relevent – whilst still being the pinnacle of motorsport. If this link is restored the money f1 teams spend won’t be down a bottomless pit, they will be able to earn money by selling it to road car manufacturers – which also brings money back into the sport.

  64. Keith has mentioned in previous articles about the usage of blue flags with regards to improving “the show”.

    I for one believe perhaps not a complete ban on blue flags but a heavy restriction would provide an improvement, if only slightly.

    Why shouldn’t quick front-runners be given the extra challenge of having to overtake back-markers through skill? You could argue that a very slow car like the Hispania would prove a danger to front-runners but would you really expect Chandhok to be going wheel-to-wheel with Vettel when an accident would surely land Hispania with a fairly hefty fine?

    The problems for the front-runners would become most apparent when trying to lap cars like the Toro Rossos and Saubers but surely if a driver is capable of almost lapping these cars then they should have the speed, the guile and the skill to overtake them on merit. And if they’re unable to overtake them? Well, tough. The other front-runners will eventually catch up and provide an extra factor of excitement.

    Blue flags could still be used to indicate to a driver that the car behind is considerably (e.g. 3 seconds per lap or more) faster than them, but not necessarily force the driver to let the front-runner through. They could also be used in wet conditions when it is difficult for a back-marker to see behind, though the team would be able to inform the driver anyway.

    A restriction on blue flags may not necessarily increase the amount of overtaking, but it would certainly make it more rewarding.

  65. Lord Hesketh
    23rd April 2010, 13:56

    I know this debate is meant to be constructive, but the first thing that would make F1 better is to stop whining about what’s “wrong” in the first place. It’s F1, and it’s awesome.
    It’s wonderful to now be able to go back and watch races from 20 years ago and listen to everyone complain about exactly the same things.

  66. I think we have to look to the rain races, which are always filled with passing and excitement, to spice up F1.

    What changes when the race takes place in the wet…

    Does downforce decrease? No! Teams usually crank on the downforce in the wet.

    What really changes during a rain race is tire grip. It’s reduced from dry conditions. The cars still have the same aero configurations which make following and passing difficult, but with the lack of grip, passing is ubiquitous.

    I say keep the current aero restrictions in place, but bring harder tires with less grip. This should help promote passing, as it does in wet conditions.

    1. That’s a bit of a fallacy.

      Teams do crank up the downforce settings, but that’s because they need every bit of downforce they can get when it’s wet. Because the cars are slower in the wet, however, they still aren’t generating as much downforce.

      If it were about the tyres then cars would still have the same difficulties following each other in the corners in the wet as in the dry. But it’s easier in the wet.

      Hard tyres would improve a low-downforce F1. It would make a high-downforce F1 even worse for overtaking.

      1. But F1 IS currently high downforce, yet lower grip races (wet, or light rain) are great.

        Braking zones are longer, less clag buildup on the outside of the line – both promote passing, in spite of the higher downforce configuration.

  67. In my view the only thing F1 is missing is regular battles for the lead. If we can improve overtaking, that will increase action down the field, because strategies like Hamilton’s and Webber’s in Melbourne will become viable. Then we could see a battle for the lead through differing strategies, instead of the front few just copying each other to cover everyone else’s race.

  68. I echo the comments on aero down force, why have they made this years cars more dependent on aero down force by reducing the size of the front slicks, surely if the balence of last years cars wasn’t right then mack the rear tyres bigger, not the front smaller so that you have less mechanical grip and can’t follow the car in front because of the aero effect, i’m sure last years cars followed closer then this years??

  69. ConcedoNulli
    23rd April 2010, 14:37

    1. No weaving or blocking or “one move” rules applied to any driver.
    2. No blue flags – fast drivers should be good enough to find their own way through the traffic; drivers at the back of the field are having their own battles as well.
    3. Get rid of tracks that lead to processional racing.
    4. All four wheels on the track at all times – no shortcuts.

  70. Keith, I look forward to reading these articles. I think you should do one about the commercial side of F1, and how Bernie Ecclestone and CVC are de-valuing the sport in collecting massive fees from those hosting a race, and gaining the lions share of revenue from the TV deals and such. Also, why F1 doesnt seem to have the marketing power it once did, and is now struggling to find sponsors (in some cases) and cant even lure a tire supplier. I for one see the commercial issues as the main stumbling block to improving F1 in the long term and ensuring its health for years and decades to come.

  71. F1 is over-governed. There are many rules and they are very specific which results in a very narrow envelope for the best solution to design a racing car. Most teams come very close to that one solution and as a result we see lackluster racing. The differences we see are usually minor and most of us couldn’t tell the difference between any two cars if they were painted white.

    F1 has been linked to innovation, but even that innovation has been too tightly ruled over, take KERS. The limits put on KERS by the FIA meant that the systems barely gave an advantage. If those limitations were removed we would see much greater development of the KERS systems.

    The one thing that continually makes F1 exciting is variability, when things are put out of order and you see the better teams and drivers having to fight for the win and sometimes a deserving winner comes out from the shadows. Unfortunately we can’t always rely on wet weather to give us that and not many other factors influence a race to the degree that a bit of wet does.

    Another variable comes in the form of loopholes in the rules, F-ducts, double diffusers, Red Bull’s magical suspension and so on. In the past we saw variables such as 1.5L turbo engines pitted against large V12s, Tyrrell’s with six wheels, ground effect cars and technological advances being introduced such as traction control, active suspension and ABS.

    The rules have sorted all that out, to cut costs, to make the sport safe, to to take away any ‘unfair’ advantage they give us a sport where the difference between teams is measured in thousandth’s of a second. While the tracks or aerodynamics or mechanical grip get the blame the cars are too similar. If the we broadened the spectrum of what makes an F1 car we may see cars that corner well be overtaken in straights by cars that reach greater top speeds. Different cars better suited to different circuits.

  72. Compulsory rain would be great! A sprinkler system with some kind of random control over quantity and time built in. Max

  73. Regarding limiting fuel loads: F1 cars are already quite fuel-efficient. They might use ten times the petrol of a family saloon, but that’s because they’re putting out ten times the horsepower. Reduce the fuel allowance per race more than about 2% per year and you’d have to cut power output. Fuel efficiency gains are very hard to achieve. You’re up against the laws of thermodynamics, and they are tougher than the laws of the FIA.

    1. Mind you, they could also cut downforce to reduce consumption. Hmmmm… maybe not such a bad idea after all.

    2. I am not sure, that i would like to have a fix limit on fuel use.
      On the one side, why limit it to gasoline. Diesel, Hydrogen, Ethanol, etc. would be just as viable, so some team might get a try at that. You would need CO2 limits for that or very complicated calculations.

      I think, that with the no refuelling during the race, the engine manufacturers and the teams are already working on even improving the efficiency to save weigth at the start of the race.

  74. Some random points:

    Don’t forget, Formula 1 used to be about glamour. Fast cars, beautiful women, celebrities, and money. We mustn’t get too anorak-y about things.

    MEmo made an interesting point re less testing being a good thing.

    What about linking testing to grid position? If you are 1st, you get one extra lap of testing. If you are 15th, you get 15 extra laps. It will help the back markers become competitive, but keep expenditure down for the rich teams in front.

    And two crazy suggestions: More night races — but with the lights out! Line the track with flaming torches. Cars have neon lights underneath, and flames spouting from their exhausts like dragsters. No headlights. ;)

    And get Simon Cowell to rate the racers. ;)

    1. Wow, that would be force an immediate push into virtual reality, infrared visors and more sensors around the car to signal getting close to rivals or to the sides of the track.

  75. F1 needs nothing more than rain to “spice up the show”. Failing an answers from the rain gods for rain on race day, the FIA should install spriklers at all the traditionally boring races as a back-up…

  76. What’s wrong with Formula 1?

    Most of the chatter is about the technical stuff, but there is more to racing than that. It’s supposed to be entertaining.

    1. The existing downforce/ground clearance dynamic requires rigid suspensions. Flexible tires take the place of compliance. An upside down airplane riding a megabucks go-kart. And it can’t pass a slower car because it comes unstuck in bubbly wind. Functional racing agility has been sacrificed to ultimate cornering speed. This is a weird situation for a class that supposedly is the paragon of handling.

    2. Everyone knows it; F1 needs less aero and more grip. Comparing apples to oranges, NASCAR drives bumper to bumper at similar speeds, so it must be possible to at least improve F1. We don’t care if cornering speeds go down. Aerodynamic regulations should be purposed toward less turbulent wakes. Design for more mechanical grip and torque; let the show go on.

    3. Current regulation tires offer less grip than in 2009 and leave marbles all over the track so there is no place to run outside the racing line. Rain makes an interesting race because the whole track is equally slippery, therefore equally useable. Tires should get traction from a bigger contact patch, with tougher compounds that don’t leave so much debris.

    4. Rule makers should ask the drivers what they need to improve the show. Who knows better than the gladiators?

    5. The new race tracks look like CAD products. No soul. No feng shui. That’s why everyone likes Montreal and Monaco, Spa and Silverstone. Street courses and old tracks.

    6. Fat hips and a beak like a toucan. And that baroque marzipan front wing…! The total F1 aerodynamic package makes ugly race cars. Admit it. They are disproportioned. You wonder how a man can do a day’s work inside that freakish shape.

    7. The action is often difficult to follow on ordinary TV. Too frequent camera jumps and flashy paint jobs; visually confusing like darting reef fish. One basic color per team and big numbers would help.

    8. In this era of digital everything, why are there no online 3D course maps that show the hills and dips?

    9. Bernie should make concessions to get an F1 date started in the USA. The advertising values and the eventual participation of an American team would be a huge payoff. Get them Charlotte rednecks in the game, that’ll wake things up.

    10. Twiddling on the rules and format can suck the life out of any sport. Schemes to artificially induce overtaking, like the fastest cars at the back of the grid, or wetting part of the track, are just dumb stylings.

    11. Who will ever be up to Jackie Stewart’s level as a commentator?

  77. J.A. Summers
    29th April 2010, 17:02

    Keith, will you post something like a conclusion article at the end of this series? It would be interesting to see if we, your readers, collectively, had reached some kind of conclusion.

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