What should F1 be? (Making F1 better)

What is the point of Formula 1?

What is the point of Formula 1?

We began our discussion about how to make F1 better yesterday by asking what made F1 great in the past and what – if anything – is missing from it now.

In part two we’ll tackle a question that often provoked disagreement and debate between F1 fans: just what is Formula 1 supposed to be?

I’ve suggested some answers inspired by quotes from readers from earlier in the discussion. Pick the one that you think best describes what F1 should be, or write one of your own, and explain why you support it in the comments:

A contest to find the best racing driver in the world

In the sixties and seventies, the majority of overtaking took place under acceleration out of corners usually due to missed gear changes; something that rarely happens today.

This argument holds that what people who watch F1 really care about is who is the best driver. Technology that makes it easy to drive the cars, like semi-automatic gearboxes, should be banned. If the cars are more difficult to drive we’ll see more mistakes and better racing.

Making teams use more standard components is good because it will create a level playing field.

A contest to find the best racing car constructor in the world

Things like the proposed budget cap, the engine development freeze and the ban on testing were all conceived by the FIA in an effort to make the sport less costly and consequently more attractive to smaller teams, but I feel this goes against the spirit of F1.

This argument is the opposite to the first one.

The point of F1 is to see who can build the best car and so we should roll back the enormous restrictions on car design that have grown in the past decades. Allowing teams to develop radical new technologies will make F1 more exciting.

But some technologies – traction control, stability control and the like – may diminish the importance of the driver.

The most entertaining form of motor racing

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.

Other motor sports have not been shy about introducing rules to ‘spice up’ the racing, so why should F1, one might argue.

If the cars started every race in reverse championship order we’d see much more overtaking. Bringing back refuelling would mix up the order during the races even more. A NASCAR-style ‘chase for the championship’ would keep interest alive late in the season.

The most dangerous form of motor racing

I don?t want drivers to die, but i want the possibility to be there.

A very controversial idea. Should danger be a part of Formula 1? Even some F1 drivers have suggested the sport is now “too safe” but can it ever be too safe?

Is risk or injury healthy for a sport – or can relishing an element of danger only ever be seen as bloodthirstiness?

A test bed for the automotive industry

Think how much of a real world impact F1 could have if hybrid/KERS technology was unlimited

Instead of allowing unrestricted, undirected technological development in F1, the sport should only allow innovation where it helps build better road cars.

For example, through Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems similar to hybrid engines on road cars, through tyres which are closer in specification to those used on the road, and through fuel-saving technology.

A worldwide motor racing competition

The sport is effectively a ??European gentlemen’s club??. Of the 24 drivers, only 6 are from outside Europe. To me that eliminates the ??best drivers in the world?? label. Europe may hold he best drivers, but that cannot be proven. He from a certain country or he with the deepest pocket, prevails.

Another arguments is that F1 should do more to spread its appeal around the world. Countries with large populations and large car-buying markets are neglected at the moment like America, Russia and the whole of Africa.

Over to you

Do you agree strongly with any of these statements? If so, why? Which of them are wrong?

Some of these statements are mutually exclusive – such as the first two. Which of them is more important?

What’s your definition of what Formula 1 should be?

This is part of “Making F1 better”, a series of articles looking at ways to improve Formula 1. The next instalment in this series will run on Monday. For more information see the introduction: Making F1 better: a discussion series

Making F1 better

Image (C) Renault/LAT

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194 comments on What should F1 be? (Making F1 better)

  1. Scalextric said on 24th April 2010, 18:04

    F1 has consistently failed to conquer the entire world. Now there’s a push towards Asia, probably as there’s money there now, but vast swathes of the world are always going to be unrepresented or uninterested. No doubt F1 is the most popular motor sport in the world but it barely rates a mention in the main stream media where I live now, in the US. If it were to make an impact here there would have to be 2+ US GPs plus Canada, Brasil and Mexico. Recently we were down to just one off that list. Meanwhile there’s nothing in Africa any more.
    F1’s complexity will always be governed by money. It will get cheaper if the economy so dictates. It will get more elaborate and expensive if the opposite prevails.

  2. Weaksauce said on 24th April 2010, 18:05

    There’s one thing I respect about NASCAR, even though I hate its implimentation.

    Engine. They still use carbueretors. They stick to their plan and see it through. Not environmentally friendly? Who cares? Not technically savvy? Nope. They don’t worry about that, either.

    They haven’t changed the engine. NASCAR is of that “it work’s, so don’t fix it” mindset.

    While I don’t want pushrods, carbueretors, or diesels in F1, I do want the scream of the engine.

    THE ENGINE. I want that high RPM growl. I don’t care if the car consumes a lot of fuel. What I don’t want is a 4 cylinder.

    I’d watch a feeder series if I wanted to watch an open wheel car with a 4 cylinder. I don’t care about its power output.

    F1 is all about being extreme. Many cylinders. Gorgeous and radical vehicle design.

    My fear is the engine following this 4 pot; what do they go to next? Is it less green and detrimental to F1’s image if they bump the displacement up in 2019?

    I’d rather see a V10, 12, or larger V8. Excess. Give me Excess or give me Indy.

  3. Hairs said on 24th April 2010, 18:11

    F1 should be what it already is: The best drivers in the best cars backed by the best teams. The more artificial garbage introduced to “spice up the show” then the worse it gets. Reverse grids, lottery grid placement and the rest can bugger off. If you’re not fast enough to be at the front you don’t deserve to be there, end of story, that’s the way it always was and should be.

    1) What makes F1 so expensive isn’t the lack of technical restrictions, it’s the areas the restrictions are made in. There’s no way of increasing engine power, traction or mechanical grip because all these areas are homolgated. The only thing left is aero, and that has now reached the point of sophistication that massive spends and time are necessary to gain a small advantage. The double diffuser is actually a cheap, large benefit solution compared to fiddling with barge boards, front wings and the coke bottle zone ad nauseum.

    2) F1’s historical glory days were ages of sheer amateurism compared to the teams of today, in terms of mechanical reliability, understanding of aerodynamics, and organisation. The top teams are not suddenly going to give up all that. There is more to getting an F1 car to the front than a fast driver and a good car.

    3) Kers is a joke and should be abandonded. Give teams a choice between a standard homologated engine, or an unrestricted hydrogen engine of their own design. Then we’ll see what F1 can do to change the face of the world in quick time. That’s where F1’s greatest technical leaps came from – not a manufacturer asking its f1 team to tweak an existing road car technology under a rigid set of rules, but pulling something out of the ether and forcing it into a technical reality.

    4) Get the drivers to design the tracks. They know what’s up.

    • Matt said on 25th April 2010, 13:17

      Well said, all the “mickey mouse” crap like reverse grids are rubbish. They tried that in V8 Supercars… no thanks.

      If they could put in place and police a salary cap successfully, then all technical restrictions could be removed.

      Drivers involved in track design would be a nice further step after getting them involved in the stewards

  4. BasCB said on 24th April 2010, 18:17

    I think F1 should have something of all these perspectives:

    Letting there be some degree of difficulty to make driver errors (clutches for shifting, braking techniques, maybe with adjustable wings and off course with tyre management).
    If they don’t manage to stay on track, let there be only just about enough space for a great save and then the barrier, ending the race or at least prompting the need for serious repairs. Having deads is a little extreme, but some bruises would not be entirely unseen.

    There should be the element of teams building their own cars and making High-techn development part of it. Preferrably with some real world off spin, though not limited only to automotive road cars.
    I would prefer there to be enough freedom for separate teams to get into differing development paths (kers, turbos, alt. fuels, electrical driven front wheels, ground effect, some electronics, movable parts, etc.) But cost/resources should be somehow limitid to avoid an arms race of high spenders buying everything there is to get.
    I would like teams to present their succesfull developments up front / during GPs or latest at the end of the season, maybe getting them developed into sellable packages for the other teams or for other industries. This way the technology is better to be seen for the viewers. The best would be GPs with teams presenting some of their inventions say 3-5 races after introducing them.

  5. shostak said on 24th April 2010, 18:22

    Firstly: F1 without FIA & Ecclestone. Please, stop fixing races.

    Secondly: more freedom to innovations.

    • steph said on 24th April 2010, 19:09

      I know everyone loves to hate the FIA and in particular Bernie, but they have actually done some good. F1 needs a governing body to keep it’s structure and not fall apart and look how much TV coverage has improved and the different venues F1 is going to thanks to Bernie. They get things wrong but I definately think we are better with them than without in my opinion

      • BasCB said on 24th April 2010, 19:17

        Yes, F1 needs regulation and it desperately needs someone to take care of the commercial side.
        We currently have no one better than Bernie, but he should find himself somebody to start taking over from him.
        1. Make the FOM coverage better (all the missed overtaking in Bahrain)
        2. look differently at race deals. Get circuit packages together where the local promotor actually gets together an 80.-120.000 crowd on race day with nice side programs
        3. Let the promotor as well as the teams get a bigger part of the share for better sustainability in the long run.

        • wasiF1 said on 25th April 2010, 2:27

          I agree they needs to make sure that the circuit where they are hosting the race can actually attract 10000 people on raceday.

  6. BasCB said on 24th April 2010, 18:26

    The coverage would have to be more of a focussed effort, maybe offering some kind of fan packages including team visits, GP tickets, merchandise and on line acces or a F2V acces for those who do not want to commit to a longer period with just some things accesible (live coverage of race events and reviews live and on line).

    The races should be more of a mix of different types of circuit. Monaco style, some like Melbourne / Montreal, have long circuits as SPA, Le Mans or maybe the Nordschleife, or that Argentinian circuit around the lake. Add some real tight circuit like mabe Long Beach. Have high speed ciruits like Monza and bring in the Bahrain outside ring for high speed. Maybe have a try at oval racing each year.

    I think the field will become more international in time anyhow, with more Asian interest and hopefully more drivers from the Americas. There are Indians, Malaysians, drivers from Argentina as well as the USA and a Chinese/Dutch driver waiting to break into the fray.

  7. BasCB said on 24th April 2010, 18:28

    Let us have a closer look at what Nico Rosberg said about having a good time following the McLaren with the F-duct stalled wing on the straights.
    If it helps drivers following them, let all teams develop this, it would be nice to see some slipstreaming again.

  8. I would like to see a limit on down-force, some sort of point system. But with moveable aero. that way when drivers come to over take they can just dial the wings in. also I’de would love to see some engine restrictions with limited BHP and emissions. but freedom to use any means to meet those requirements.

    increasing the danger in F1 is stupid. rent Death Race if you want to watch that kind of thing.

  9. haha just thought, apparently f1 cars could drive on the ceiling. I’DE WATCH THAT.

    • Gilles said on 25th April 2010, 19:06

      maybe they can build a long tunnel on the straight, a car can then find clean air … upside down !!
      the stands would have to go though, but a fantastic idea indeed; is it too late for SIlverstone to construct the new infield underground ?

  10. MouseNightshirt said on 24th April 2010, 18:44

    I think F1 should be a balance of all of these things to be frank. There are respective motorsport series for each particular point.

    I mean if you look at it, best driver is arguable, it’s single seater – a DTM driver may be as, if not more skilled in his respective series, you can’t really compare between them. Rossi is a superb “driver”, but you can’t really compare him with the likes of Vettel or Hamilton because he races in a vastly different series.

    In terms of best constructor, DTM is not far off technologically than F1, and many F1 cars are an amalgamation of the excellence of several partners. Even the works teams use independently manufactured brakes, wheel rims and tyres etc.

    Most entertaining is all relative. BTCC is high contact, with lots of overtaking, NASCAR as well. GP2 produces “exciting” races, but the “race excitement” of F1 isn’t necessarily better, or worse, it’s just different.

    The most dangerous form of motor racing? MotoGP is horrendously dangerous, drag racing can be fatal, and look at American single seaters. F1’s danger comes from its speed, but as with all my other points, that is a different form of danger than say, motorbikes, where danger comes from exposure, or NASCAR, where danger comes from contact.

    A test bed? F1 provides extremes. It’s excellent for “pushing” the envelope, but then wouldn’t BTCC be more useful for relevant road technologies? Rallying for fancy suspension innovations. Different series provide different opportunities for road relevant technology.

    And worldwide racing? There are plenty of series with more “National Geographic” potential, but then the exposure is less, the glamour is less, the business bonuses are less than F1.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that F1 should be a finely blended combination of *all* of the above things. That’s what makes F1, as a series superb. Every single “area” in which people want F1 to excel at inevitably has a series which does it much better than F1, but only F1 combines all of these areas into one amalgam that can provide everything to the viewer and fan, all in one go. For that, F1 will always head in the right direction, as you will always please a section of fans with each new area you try to focus on.

    F1 is great. Don’t forget it!

    • BasCB said on 24th April 2010, 19:04

      I am very close to you in opinion.

      I add, that Rally is very good for showing different countries and has a very challenging program with ice, gravel, sand, mudtracks and tarmac. But it is somewhat like a series of qualifying to determine the results, no real racing.

      I think it is very good, to have some restriction on fuel use or co2 output per season or something. But maybe given the options, the teams are allready good into more efficiency (while stayin realistic – this is racing) to get better speed at the start of the race.

  11. It wouldn’t matter if F1 were a completely spec series or used as much technology as it did in the early nineties. F1 would still be F1- An open wheel series run to a set of regulations that allow each team to build a car within the rules. And that’s all F1 is or ever should be. If you think it should be the ‘fastest’ or the most ‘innovative’ or even be the most ‘dangerous’, then you might want to look elsewhere.

  12. Icthyes said on 24th April 2010, 19:08

    Out of the choices, I’d put them in this order of importance:

    Best driver
    Most entertaining
    Best car
    Being a “world” championship
    Relevance to road industry

    I don’t support teams, I support drivers. Also, whilst drivers get help from their team, in the end it’s up to him to deliver the goods. If you’re Romain Grosjean, you can get all the help in the world and still not beat Alonso.

    Which isn’t to say I don’t have respect for the teams. But I don’t like having the car being more important than the driver. Sometimes I wish the FIA would design the base F1 car, give it to the teams in January, and see what they can do with it in terms of improvement. Next year’s car would then be based on the best car of that year. But I digress.

    I think the entertainment is more important than which car is best. At the end of the day, I’m never going to be able to buy an F1 car, certainly not for road use at least. When I look at the RB6, I know it’s the best, but somehow don’t find that as exciting as seeing a Lotus Exige and knowing what it can do compared to other cars.

    I think it’s pretty important to have a world championship take place on every continent (well, not Antarctica, though that would be interesting!). It’s part of the reason I dislike Bernie taking F1 to all these Asian races; why does South America only deserve one race, and why is Central America not represented at all (it’s not an official continent, but it’s more distinct from North America than Eastern Europe is from the West)? Why should the issue be which place can pay Bernie the most cash?

    I don’t think F1 needs to be relevant to the road. There are plenty of other formulae for that. KERS was a good idea, but botched in its regulation and cost/advantage balance, and though it appealed to my green sensibilities, I thought push-to-pass was too hackneyed. I’m glad F1 doesn’t have things like ABS or traction control, because it takes away from the drivers’ ability. Other things like active suspension may not do so as much, but then there’s a speed-safety reason for that not being in F1. The one area I’d like to see F1 become road-relevant in is fuel, because oil is going to become a massive issue soon enough. Hydrogen fuel cell technology is apparently just waiting for investment before it can become viable. Why not F1?

    And whilst I think the FIA are a little too paranoid about safety, I don’t think an obvious higher risk of danger would make F1 any better. Massive run-offs and excluding some circuits because they don’t have them are annoying, but there’s a limit to how far we can claw things back in that direction. Thankfully the cars are always getting safer, and that should continue.

    The best drivers in exciting races, aided by the best cars, driving around the world. That’s the point of F1 for me.

    • BasCB said on 24th April 2010, 19:22

      But for entertainment, i hope you do not mean reverse grids, or more to the extreme sprinklers on site, handicapping winners, etc.?

      In the article Keith cites Patrickl with these kind of things.

      The issue there is, weather we are speaking about a sport or purely a form of entertainment

  13. Martin said on 24th April 2010, 19:29

    As to safety, I would feel truly ashamed as a fan to argue for more dangerous racing. If Kubica’s Canada crash was horrifying to watch, what must it have been like to experience? (one of many things separating me from the ranks of F1 drivers) – just because we were shocked at the minor extent of his injuries, does that mean we would have preferred it otherwise? It was recently and well-said on this site that you might ask Felipe Massa about safety, he could tell you. Henry Surtees can’t.

    • beautifully said,barry

    • kowalsky said on 25th April 2010, 8:31

      he will tell you he is happy with safety nowadays, but what is he risking for having the life he dreamt about? not much i must add. This makes him not better than any other sportsman in any other sport. I didn’t start watching f1 thinking like that. I started because lauda coming back from that accident, to a young kid, was bigger than life. He captured my imagination, and got me hooked for life. Even if, with how the sport changed, somtimes i regret it.

  14. James_mc said on 24th April 2010, 20:08

    I think that in terms of developing technologies, ALMS is more relevant, and Audi have indicated so and in the past cited it as a reason for not joining F1 as the ALMS provides a more relevant test-bed for their technologies.

    However… I believe that KERS had great potential but it was not properly utilised. I believe some teams’ systems were only working at approximately 20% capacity due to the regulations.

    The FIA didn’t want a KERS “arms war”, therefore I think we can accept that currently F1 is not interested in it’s relevance to road cars.

    Much as I would like F1 to become a development lab for road cars, I will fully concede that ALMS is much better in this respect, even in terms of something as simple as body-shape. (Ok my Nondescript PassengerVehicle, doesn’t look like and AUDI R10 but it does have 4 wheels covered by bodywork, a passenger seat and has fuel consumption better than 2mpg….)

  15. Younger Hamilton said on 24th April 2010, 20:19

    The things F1 Needs right now are:

    1.3L V8 Turbo Charged Engines
    Michelin Low Profile Tyres(Help with Making the F1 cars more environmentally friendly)
    Bio Fuel
    Qualifying lap commentary by Martin Brundle on the BBC(Started doing it now i believe)
    Unlimited Testing

    and of course lots more Overtaking,those are all my suggestions of making F1 its best level what does everyone think about all of those Suggestions?

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