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”

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  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

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