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)

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  1. BasCB said on 26th April 2010, 13:47

    Something i thought off after seeing the pictures of Webber in Naples.
    Let us not forget to have some better entertainment around the races. Cars doing more of this to promote GP or just promote their team partners all over the world.

    Let all teams do some more of this. It is great to improve their following and promote the brands they have as partners.

  2. claudio said on 27th April 2010, 3:01

    Here comes a wild suggestion;

    1) Divide the car into components (like engines, gearboxes, KERS, suspensions, chassis, etc.)and define standard interface and communication protocols for them.
    2) The teams and specialized companies will be free to develop the components, but they will be obliged to sell them to any other team.

    The biggest advantage will be that teams like McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and RB, will still spend fortunes to develop their cars, but, it would be much easier for teams like Williams, Force India, Renault etc. to build a competitive car.

    Your computer has this kind of multiple component standard communication and interface protocols scheme. And they are getting better and cheaper each year. And if needed, protocols and interface can also be upgraded from time to time.

    Of course, some of parts, like aerodynamics, will be let for the teams. The last thing I want to see is a f1 where all cars look the same.

    • Nutritional said on 27th April 2010, 7:53

      I find you ideas to be by far some of the saner and more realistic ideas I’ve heard so far. They have a nice compromise of commonality and innovation, and independence and uniqueness. Those are great starting points.

    • BasCB said on 27th April 2010, 8:32

      I think that some concept like this is the way to go with technological innovation in the sport.

      I would add, that the team should present their gimmicks firs in the paddock for GP visitors say 3-4 races after introducing it and have them present it on TV/internet as well so interested fans get closer to the technology.
      Very good for getting people interested in technology – another real world off set.

  3. …interesting article a couple of months ago on James Allen:


    where Frank Dernie gives his view on how improving the “show” doesn’t necessarily come down to changing the aero of the cars.

    His basic arguments were that:

    1. In the past drivers lost places when they missed a gear because manual boxes and real clutches made the cars more difficult to drive.

    2. In the past the tyres were a lot less grippy. Also making the cars a lot more difficult to drive.

    The point is also made that in 1983, when ground effects were banned, the cars lost 80% of their downforce, yet there was no more or less overtaking than the previous year. So according to him the overtaking issue has little to do with aero.

    So, back to the question – what should F1 be? Entertainment. If that means hobbling the cars then so be it. But be clever about it. Lets not go back to single element wings (far too seventies) or grooved tyres (far too nineties), but there are some clever things that can be done to make the drivers work harder, make more mistakes and promote some entertaining racing, while still retaining innovation.

    Keep the aero as it is but I want to see more power (turbocharging, basically) and harder tyres (even more than the current ones) with only one compound available and no pitstop restrictions. Engines and tyres don’t need to be developed any further. They work just fine, after about a century of improvement, so lets tailor them to suit our preferred form of entertainment, rather than let the companies involved sanitise our sport by making everything too easy and reliable. The cars will then be much more of a handful.

    We all know that manual boxes will never come back (just not relavent any more) but the re-introduction of KERS in a more powerful form would have much the same effect, don’t you think?

    The change in the characteristics of the car under braking, from circuit to circuit and around individual circuits too, may have much the same effect as a missed gear. Get your braking point just a little bit wrong and the car lurches as the recharge kicks in and you’re punted wide, allowing your opponent to take advantage.

  4. AMVM said on 30th April 2010, 3:15

    1] F1 or GP racing has never been about the best drivers. If anything the most successful champions were more professional racers not necessarily the best drivers on the grid or in the world.

    2] The best Formula racecar constructor, not best car constructor.

    3]The most entertaining form of motor racing … really, LMAO.
    GP/F1 GP racing traditionally has been less entertaining then voiturettes/F2/F3000/GP2, not to mention touring cars, motos and such.

    4] Most dangerous, yes in the 1920s till they banned the racing mechanics. But later Indycars were more dangerous, Le Mans was more dangerous (mid 50s), Group B rally cars, motorcycle road racing.

    5] Test bed, well it was true once, till about and including 1993. Hopefully those days will return as that’s how sport started in 1906.

    6] A worldwide motor racing competition, or even a european one like when the sport started.
    That would be nice as I’m sick of the Ferrari + british “gargistes” formula that’s been here since the late 50s.

    • Nutritional said on 30th April 2010, 11:09

      To AMVM:

      Your points:

      1] & 2] Thank-you for clarifying terminology, but when people have said “best driver” or “best car constructor” in this forum they’ve generally meant “best racer” and definitely meant “best formula constructor” if you want to be that technical in terms.

      3] – No.1 – Take your “LMAO” somewhere else. That isn’t an argument nor does it prove any point you’re trying to make. It’s just inflamatory. We don’t need that in this forum. Please keep your input to factually backed points or counter points and politely expressed opinions.

      No.2 – Touring cars, GP2, etc. are definitely entertaining races, but they don’t have F1 cars, F1 drivers or do they have the World Championship. Actually comparing them to F1 is like comparing the English Premier League to the English Football League One or Two. Sure, they’re fun to watch, but they aren’t the English Premier League. They don’t have that key prestige factor of being the best of the best, just like Formula One is the best of the best. And I think TV viewing and international interest would speak to that point. In addition, Touring Cars and GP2 tend to very entertaining, in terms of overpassing and bashing about because a lot of the drivers ( or racers if you prefer) aren’t as good at their craft as drivers on F1 teams and they make more mistakes, facilitating the passing and crashing. Granted of course that’s not all the drivers. Some of the GP2 drivers will forge successful careers in F1. Also, European Touring Cars and DTM have had some great talents. Again, of course, those great talents have usually dominated races and championships just like we see in F1.

      4] & 5] I mostly agree with you.

      6] Interesting.

      • AMVM said on 30th April 2010, 13:38

        1] Why I said it’s not the best in the world, it wasn’t just because of the professional racer/champion vs. driver.
        It’s also because of the ladder system.
        When the italians (teams/cars) dominated, italian drivers were “the best drivers in the world”, when the french (teams/cars) dominated then french drivers were “the best drivers in the world”, when the german (teams/cars) dominated the german drivers were “the best drivers in the world”, then in the 60s it was the british.
        It’s always been about the ladder system and until every country in the world has a very good ladder system to filter the talent and push it towards F1, it will NOT be a series witch has “the best drivers in the world”. Just the best of what’s available.
        “The best drivers in the world” has always been nothing more then marketing hype, and to see that all you need is a little logic.
        3] In terms of on-track racing/action and even close championships there were always better racing series. I started watching F1 because of the cars, their performance and the technology, the development race in an era when F1 (kind of) really was the pinnacle of motorsport.
        But I never believed it was the most entertaining racing series, appealing yes.

        • Nutritional said on 30th April 2010, 21:49

          1] Aren’t you talking a bit too much in the theoretical and potential? I don’t think that because there are potentially better drivers in other countries without ladder systems you can’t therefore say that F1 doesn’t have the best drivers in the world. These potential drivers only have potential talent and not yet actual measurable talent. In addition, seeing that we’ve had champions from South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Canada and Europe I think it wouldn’t be too much of a slight on the world to say F1 “has had” if not does have the best drivers in the world. Also, I’d like to point out that Japan seems to me to have a very strong motor racing culture, and either did or still has a Japanese F3000 championship, and has yet to produce a world champion, or race winner. So the ladder system isn’t the strictest rule. The British ladder system has also helped Senna as well as many of the Northern European drivers without digging through books to find specific names. So at least its accessible to people from outside of Britain.

          3] I think I’ll just agree to disagree with you on the entertaining part. For me, motor racing other than F1 just personally never gets me as excited.

  5. Cynical said on 14th May 2010, 3:45

    In my opinion most of the current F1 drivers are good drivers. In saying that they drive to the limit of their car. ie they had a good car they drive well. when their car is not 100% they don’t drive so well. The thing that attracted me to F1 was when a driver {lets say Senna} had an average car you could see him drive beyond what the car had to offer. Drivers like Vettel and Hamilton have shown this quality where they can drive agreesive and push the car beyond it’s comfort zone.
    The biggest whinge I hear from Formula One Drivers all the time is back markers whether it’s in Qualifying or in the race. And these days there are no team orders as the Blue flag almost reders them pointless.

    So here are some radical ideas : possibly already suggested
    -In qualifying send out cars 1 time only to give cars 3-4 clear Laps to get their best possible lap. that’s it.
    -Burn the blue flag. allow backmarkers to get in the way of front runners. Make the guys earn their victory. Allow weaving, alow all on the road tactics that have made it advantageous for the front runners. Let the drivers drive.
    This will create agressive driving where it’s more focused on the driver than the strength of his car and we’ll see more action on the race track

    radical : yes. Will it be implemented: I seriusly doubt it.

  6. Tim said on 4th June 2010, 7:07

    Should be shared parts between teams, a maximum budget and a contest to see who can build the best car with that budget.

    Using unlimited budgets is just stupid, and makes the sport a joke.

    That’s why we saw Ferrari winning constantly for like 50 years, because there were no budget caps, and nobody even trying to compete with them.

    Should be budget caps, fewer laps, tyres that wear more quickly, less downforce, and most importantly – NO JONATHAN LEGARD.

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