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. rampante said on 24th April 2010, 20:37

    I think most of the previous comments were refering to what we all want to see at the circus. F1 is about drivers, technology,speed and the danger involved. If you are bored with one season or something has not happened it’s because you have not watched long enough. The problem with F1 is that everyone who thinks they know what the sport is about knows the answer, the answer is that the people behind the sport know what is wrong and they will sort it out.Do you really think people like Newey, Montezemolo, Whitmarsh, Williams etc don’t know what they are involved in? If you find it boring go and watch something else.

    • “Do you really think people like Newey, Montezemolo, Whitmarsh, Williams etc don’t know what they are involved in?”

      Up until FOTA turned up on the scene, I really don’t think they did!

      • rampante said on 24th April 2010, 21:49

        Think about what you said. Between them they have 80 plus years of experience at the very top of the sport and you think without FOTA and all is previous forms before knew nothing?

        • VXR said on 25th April 2010, 1:09

          The teams weren’t interested in what the fans wanted, what they were interested in were their own self interests and you can point your finger at one team in particular in that respect if you like. ;)

          When the FIA asked for a 50% cut in aero, the top teams were almost aghast that such a request had been made. Suffice to say that the 50% aero cut never saw the light of day.

          Even under the new FOTA regime we are still waiting for someone to pick up the reigns with regard to the aero situation. Don’t be fooled by what you’ve seen so far, Barcelona is likely to be more akin to ‘Bore’rain than the three previous races. The danger is that we will once again be told to wait and see and that nothing should be rushed into. Meanwhile, back at the factories……..

          • rampante said on 25th April 2010, 8:37

            I may be alone on this site but I know the teams would be very happy with 2 or 3 dry races just to see exactly where they all stand. Rain does mix the grid up but never shows the true ability of a car. A few “boring” races will do me fine thank you.

    • kowalsky said on 25th April 2010, 8:33

      the thing is politics got in the way. Now with todt, lets see if they can sort it out.

      • Politics will still get in the way, only Todt will be conspicuous by his absence when it all blows off.

  2. Bleu said on 24th April 2010, 21:12

    Safety-wise, you can’t really compare accidents of Massa and Kubica. Other one was freak incident while other was normal racing crash although a big one.

    I too dislike tarmac runoffs. It is often said that they are dangerous because they can cause cars flipping. After all, how many flips we have seen because of them. In F1, I can really recall Zonta at Spa and Warwick at Hockenheim. In some other events car has already flipped but has flipped more times because of that.

  3. Alexi said on 24th April 2010, 21:51

    The inverse grid idea is the best one by far.

    • kowalsky said on 25th April 2010, 8:35

      nonesense. It would be a too artificial way to spice up the races.

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

      Its rubbish that leads to lots of accidents as the slower cars in front brake earlier than the faster cars behind. See V8 Supercars

  4. f1 should always be 1988/9 it should always be donnington ’93 it should never be imola’94….i think at present we have it like it should be.

    • kowalsky said on 24th April 2010, 23:42

      89!!!! What do you mean? the fia manipulating the results, and giving the crown to prost, when senna was the winner in japan? I agree with the rest though.

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

    The best drivers racing the fastest cars. If mechanical restrictions wouldn’t have been brought in the way they were, entertainment would likely have never left the sport in the first place and we wouldn’t have to discuss improving it (rose-tinted glasses notwithstanding).

    I have to say I don’t understand the argument about having the fastest cars start at the front being detrimental to racing – hasn’t it always worked like that, even in the high-overtaking 80s? Cars set up for qualifying pace aren’t necessarily quickest over a race distance – and this becomes all the more true without refueling when a car’s handling is subject to changes due to weight fluctuation. (Unless you figure out a not so clearly legal way to circumvent that, but I digress). Reverse grids are an even worse concept than Bernie’s shortcuts.

    This sport is still plenty dangerous enough – how could it not be, driving cars at those speeds? I think some people confuse how mistake-free the sport has gotten with too much safety. I don’t see how a sport can ever be too safe – only armchair drivers come up with this stuff. That the cars could be less reliant on electronics and more on mechanics, thereby making it ‘dirtier’ and having the human factor play a bigger role (as in missed gear changes, or race-day set-up decisions) is another matter.

  6. haha said on 24th April 2010, 22:20

    The biggest word I saw upon the introduction of Kobayashi during Brazil last year was ACCIDENT. He continues to proof me right and I don’t know what his team or F1 will do about people like him.

    • kowalsky said on 24th April 2010, 23:49

      let him race, maybe? this is called racing, so let the boys do their job.
      What i see with these young blogers, it’s that the job that mosley set himself to do, when he took control of the fia, has worked. They are all obsessed with safety, even though they haven’t even seen a death in the little time they have been following the sport. That’s called brain wash.

    • James_mc said on 25th April 2010, 12:43

      How can you say that with any justification. He’s retired 4 times this season, one engine, one hydraulics, one his front wing failed (and they had to re-design the part), and lastly he was shunted off in an accident through no fault of his own.

      • Nutritional said on 25th April 2010, 21:36

        I thought Kobayashi was very entertaining last year in Brazil. Unfortunately, this year he has a Sauber, which so far is awful. And de la Rosa has only beating his once in a race because so far he’s the only one of the two whose managed to finish a race. I also remember Kobayashi causing to Nakajima to crash out. So what? The list of drivers, great or poor, who have done that during overtaking maneuvers is endless. Especially if we’re talking only 1 incident.

  7. Hamish said on 24th April 2010, 22:21

    The concensus seems to be people want to human aspect back in the sport. By that I mean there is scope for mistakes to the made, and for them to be punished for these (sandtraps, walls, missed gears etc) Its catch 20/20 as restoring the human aspect compromises safety. I’m all for that, but at what point do you say “stop, this is now too safe”.

    Heres something I’ve always believed would work but no one has caught onto. As Frank Williams mentioned F1 must do something to eliminate the potential criticism from environmentalists. Why doesn’t Tilke build a circuit that is surrounded by trees? It adds character to the track (which currently lacks) and the surrounding trees yearly CO2 intake would easily cater for 3 days of F1 use. I’ve always said this about track – build the track without compromising the landscape, not the other way around. These flat tracks are just a joke. Why do you think Monza, Nordschleife, Laguna Seca, Bathurst will always be respected?

    • Gilles said on 25th April 2010, 19:16

      well, they had this: the old Hockenheim – beautifull straights into the woods and back again … turned into a joke of a track now.
      I guess F1 is not that green after all then.

  8. Fer no.65 said on 24th April 2010, 22:23

    1.- Yes, F1 cars should be very difficult to drive. Like what Alonso was doing at Sepang. Doubt many people think that wasn’t an epic performance by him, with those clutch problems or whatever…

    2.- Engine freeze is rubbish, really. Engines are getting more and more and more reliable and nowadays an engine related failure is not that common as it used to be. And it brings another question. How to close the gap to the Merc engines? they are clearly the best of the field (last year’s Monza Qualy had 6 out of 10 mercs on Q3).

    Engine development should go along with the chassis. More and more and more power for the drivers every season.

    3.- Disagree completely. Imagine what would happen if Chandhok and company started every race at the front. It would be so annoying. Imagine that but in Monaco. It would be even worse than the Valencian GP. And that’s a hell of a task…

    4.- Yeah, that’s a hard one. But it used to be a good way of rating drivers. To see who braked the lattest, who accelerated the earlier, who went flat out and where. Balls used to play a much more important part of the game. And track designs kill that too. Where’s the danger of a very difficult flat-out corner if hundreds of miles each side is tarmac too?. A bit wide, no problem. I can easily get back to the race track hardly loosing time. Why? What did grass and gravel do to us to avoid it completely?

    6.- It’s F1 interest that decides who gets a drive. Why there were so many Japanese drivers and non of them truly successful? Because F1 needs Japan. And Japan needs (or used to) F1. Honda, Toyota, Yamaha, Bridgestone, Suzuka, Fuji, Mugen, plus a large amount of sponsors… all need a good way to show their products. And promoting F1 drivers no matter the cost it’s a good way. Look at Vitaly Petrov and his 15 million dollars.

  9. verstappen said on 24th April 2010, 22:38

    F1 is ideally about best drivers AND best team.

    To have this strictly, you would have to make a rule where the drivers have to change team every week. However, this would be a sponsor nightmare, so it will never happen.

    But I think the current situation is close enough. Maybe the cars are ‘easy’ to drive, but if you see these guys in other cars (karts in the snow, race of champions, fastest lap at Top Gear, and even in a Rallycar), there’s just no denying that all these boys and men are truly the best drivers in the world.

    And teams, well, if you just look at what the teams actually achieve within the rules they have, it’s really amazing (Fduct, double diffuser, push rod suspension etc).

    Some say intellect is the ability to adapt yourself to new situations. From that point of view all the rule changes are fine with me.

    And from good ideas ‘roadcar relevance’ automatically follows. Just look at the Williams / Porsche-roadcar KERS deal.

    So, don’t make that mandatory. And yes, keep changing (bits) of the rules!

  10. nikolas said on 25th April 2010, 0:19

    While we go about improving overtaking and making F1 as exciting as NASCAR, lets get more goals in soccer too. Cause nobody likes watching boring soccer anymore, it should be more like American football or basketball.

  11. Prisoner Monkeys said on 25th April 2010, 0:38

    I think Formula 1 should be all of the above, but the emphasis should be first and foremost on driver skill. The championship is decided far too often on whoever has the best car.

    • kowalsky said on 25th April 2010, 8:20

      while they make some changes, we have an even field this year, so in the history books we’ll have a clear view who was the best driver of this generation, by just looking at this season.

  12. the Sri Lankan said on 25th April 2010, 1:04

    bring back toyota! thats the only way me and my mates would watch F1 again!

    • kowalsky said on 25th April 2010, 8:17

      those loser will come back, they have to change the president and a few more of the people that make the decisions, but they have unfinished business in f1. And they are proud people, so as soon as they have a chance, they will be back. Don’t expect them to do much better than they did though.

    • Toyota learned the lesson that it’s not how much money you have (although it does help), it’s the people that you have in the team that matter most and until Toyota can persuade one of the top aerodynamacists and the best engineers from where they are now (typically RedBull and McLaren) to come to their team, they will most likely continue to stay away.

      • Gilles said on 25th April 2010, 19:17

        or they can go to Le Mans instead

        • the Sri Lankan said on 26th April 2010, 0:11

          i hope they just supply engines. all this time away form F1 gives them plenty of time to explore the Turbo engines for 2013 and get the jump on other manufacturers.imagine toyota jumping in when mclaren runs out of their mercedes contract

  13. mclwfan said on 25th April 2010, 1:28

    Ignoring the driver part of the equation I would have to say allowing more freedom in the engine and tyre areas. With teams (and manufacturers) pushing the envelope in these areas we would bring back the possibility of failures. Does abyone remember when Shumacher finished a race with one gear? (pretty sure Senna did this at one point too).
    With current tech being pushed to the limits we also have ended up with benefits for everyday people. Where would the tyres on our cars and bikes be without racing and tyre wars. Radial belts and silic compaunds have enhanced safety, provide longer better grip and have resulted from battles on the track.
    Or how about the pnuematic valve systems and turbo’s. Fiat’s new multi air engine would not have been possible if it were not for things like F1 needing something to produce greater revs.
    If F1 and other forms of motorsport are left to stagnate with heavily restrictive regulations we will end up with irrelevant events that no one will want to watch.
    As to the idea of electric motors only if they need them for a kers or similar setup. The technology behind this is amazing and far more real world applicable than full electric replacements.
    I could go on forever with these but I should leave some space for everyone else ;)

  14. DaveW said on 25th April 2010, 1:51

    If you want F1 to be first and foremost about driver’s skill, then let’s stop any talk about whether the sport is the pinnacle of motorsport, because you can’t have both. Regarding skill, a true crucible of driver merit looks utterly differnt that F1. It looks like the Race of Champions, or a championship on computer simulations with emprically equal “car” performance.

    The very best drivers would not come to a series where the car doesn’t matter at all, because it could not be the pinnacle of the sport. Without distinct, autonomous paths of technical development, it would not attract the designers, and the cars thus would not be the best, most sophisticated tools available. The best drivers want to drive the best cars, not the hardest cars to drive. The hardest car to drive fast may currently be zipping around some rural american dirt track with a 900hp V8, weighing less than a refrigerator, a tiny wheelbase, and no power steering. But that’s not the pinnacle of anything.

    Further, the view is ahistorical. F1 has always been, in large part, about the guy with the pencil behind his ear or the mouse in his hand—frequently it has been only about him. The idea that drivers nonetheless mattered more when it was hard not to miss a shift, or there was no power steering, degrades the skill of driving fast to proficient operation of primitive machinery. Anyway, getting the most from today’s cars is not achieved without exceptional talent. Ask Giancarlo Fisichella, or, lately, Michael Schumacher.

    It seems that now, with an historically unprecedented overall quality of cars on the grid, and the lack of wealthy hacks and gentlemen drivers, driver skill matters now more than anything. When before has the ability to manufacture from pure skill a tenth in qualifying or on an in lap separated the good the from the great? The sport has never been better, whatever evidence Youtube has to offer.

    • A-Safieldin said on 25th April 2010, 12:50

      I think you’re right. To my mind the best driver will outshine the machine he drives. I’m not saying Bruno Senna will win every grand prix to come cause he is a hidden talent that can out do his car. But any of these Lotus or HRT guys who have talent will be noticed, one of these days they’ll go early on slicks and end up in 10th or something.

      • Nutritional said on 25th April 2010, 21:28

        I agree. The best driver will outshine his machine. One just has to look back to Monaco in ’84 with Senna driving the Toleman, or to Monza in ’08 with Vettel in the Torro Rosso.

  15. wasiF1 said on 25th April 2010, 2:13

    Refueling needs to be back in F1 that will promote more overtaking on raceday. But what F1 should never do is to have standard parts for all car or have a budget cap which will prevent the teams to develop new technology. Reversed grid shouldn’t be for F1 it’s true it will make racing interesting but then it won’t be F1 anymore & the value of Saturday won’t be there anymore.

    I too agree with the fact that F1 will be a place where the top car manufacturer will use this as an testing ground for their road cars.Like Ferrari installed KERS in their 599 car.It’s true that some of the new track are not as challenging as the tracks in the old days were but it’s something the track designer needs to work with the drivers to how we a challenging track can be made.

    & Finally I think F1 should host races where there is a popularity if it then they should think about car market. Like is a good track but it fails to attract crowds, on the other hand China is one of the leading country where the manufacturer wants to enter but it too fails to attract crowds

    • maciek said on 26th April 2010, 9:28

      how does refueling promote overtaking on the track?

      • wasiF1 said on 27th April 2010, 4:31

        When we will have refueling then different cars will have different fuel loads that’s why if a car in front is 20-30 kg heavier then the car which is at the back will be lighter & faster on the corners.Therefore will be able to overtake the car in front much easily.

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