Fun or artifical? Mixed views in China Rate the Race

2013 Chinese Grand Prix

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Shanghai, 2013Has Formula One reached a tipping point in the “sport versus entertainment” debate?

With an average rating of 7.412 the Chinese Grand Prix was a popular race though not as well-liked as the three which preceded it at the track.

As usual DRS and tyre were the focus of the debate. Many readers felt the twin DRS zones at the Shanghai International Circuit were too powerful. And the sight of drivers completing a maximum of seven laps on the soft tyres during the race was not welcomed by others.

Even so just 8% of readers gave it a rating of five out of ten or less. Here’s what F1 Fanatic readers made of the Chinese Grand Prix.

The middle of the race was middling somewhat as we got into the samey ‘all about the tyres’ type racing. But a solid first and final quarter, with a good bit of decent action in the middle.

However there was a sharp divide between those who enjoyed the race and those who were less enthusiastic:

I turned it off.

Yesterday I watched nothing happening at all for a lot of qualifying. Today I saw lots of cars being passed by other cars via the DRS. Like turning on a tap.

I saw drivers not even bothering to defend their positions because of DRS. Then I saw a few cars making a set of tyres last less than laps. Less than ten.

I?m going to watch the World Endurance Championship this afternoon. Should be a better race.

How is everybody rating this so high? Nothing exciting happened apart from Vettel at the end. Nobody defended positions because everybody is racing their own race.

Some focussed their criticism on the tyres:

Overall the tyres dictated the race today. It was a very strategic race and very pre-empted.

Despite this it was good to see some overtaking manoeuvres now and again but to be honest I?m beginning to get tired of Pirelli controlling the race pace.

The end of this season you won?t see Vettel/Alonso/Raikkonen/Hamilton winning the championship. Instead Pirelli are after that number one spot themselves. A sad state of affairs and something real racing drivers may (and even already are) getting frustrated with.

I officially hate 2013 tyres. Seven laps on a set of new tyres and they?re gone? That?s too much!

One reader pointed out that the way tyre compounds are allocated under the rules may give Pirelli little room for manoeuvre:

The medium prime tyre was clearly just right. The soft option tyre was too marginal but the problem is that there can be only four compounds and the soft will be fine on most tracks it will be used on, unfortunately there was no option but to use it here if the correct prime was used.

The DRS zones once again came in for criticism, especially from Fer no.65 and The Last Pope:

I can?t believe people liked this one. DRS completely ruined it. There was no fight for positions, overtaking was just a given.

It spoiled racing away from the DRS zones (apart from turn six). No one was challenging anyone outside the main straight and the back straight.

[Why did they] set DRS zones at the longest straight in the calendar and the second longest straight on the track, which are just two corners away from [one another]? It was just way too powerful.

I?m a DRS critic, but I think used right, it has a lot of benefits, and it makes racing closer. But this was too much.

A race without overtakes isn?t a race in my book. Not if the overtakes happen midway through a straight. It was good until Alonso and Massa left a powerless Hamilton wondering what the hell had just happened on lap three.

A DRS overtake overkilll. Strategically interesting maybe, but too hard to follow (using TV only). Very little real on-track racing.

The race had no stability with driver positions jumping around all over the place, race position was seemingly unimportant so you don?t really care if one driver overtakes another (even if it was a nice pass).

The Red Bull drivers provided some entertainment:

The only time someone raced today was Vettel in the last four laps which tells the whole story about F1 at the moment.

But seeing them coast around the track and pulling of a few artificial manoeuvres for the show is not why I tune in ?ǣ strategy OK but that borders on chess.

But there’s no escaping there are two consistent points in the complaints about modern F1:

I?ve been an avid F1 fan for at least 20 years and I think I?m beginning to become a bit disillusioned with the current F1 regulations. This race really cemented that for me.

The tyres and DRS are obviously the main issue. Tyres that disintegrate in a short period of time don?t promote flat-out flag-to-flag racing. Drivers and teams are preoccupied with making the tyres last as long as possible, driving to a target lap time and ensuring they don?t overstress them so they can make as few pit stops as possible.

To me a Grand Prix should be a flat-out race with drivers at the limit throughout the whole race, the artificially fragile tyres don?t make that remotely possible. Button asking the team if he should defend his position against Hamilton, or stick to his target lap time, really drives home that something isn?t right.

DRS is far too powerful. If the car behind is fast enough to get under one second to the car in front, they can easily deploy DRS and the massive speed difference makes a pass inevitable. There is no real driver skill involved and the defending driver has no chance, as they are at a huge artificial disadvantage.

During the Moto GP race last week, I was up off the sofa cheering as Rossi reeled in Crutchlow, Pedrosa and Marques. I even woke the baby up during the battle for second. My heart was pounding and I absolutely appreciated the skill and bravery of the riders as they raced flat out. I didn?t get any of that feeling today.

Maybe I?m not an F1 fan, maybe I?m a racing fan. I really have to question whether F1 is really racing at the moment. It feels more like Mario Kart. Get rid of the artificial aids to “improve the show”, the show should be the best drivers, driving the fastest cars flat out for nearly 200 miles to find out who is the fastest.

Previous rate the race results

2013 Rate the Race results

Race Rating
2013 Australian Grand Prix 7.698
2013 Malaysian Grand Prix 6.826
2013 Chinese Grand Prix 7.412

Chinese Grand Prix Rate the Race results

Race Rating
2008 Chinese Grand Prix 4.446
2009 Chinese Grand Prix 6.69
2010 Chinese Grand Prix 8.326
2011 Chinese Grand Prix 9.241
2012 Chinese Grand Prix 8.648
2013 Chinese Grand Prix 7.412

2013 Chinese Grand Prix

Browse all 2013 Chinese Grand Prix articles

Image ?? Lotus/LAT

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99 comments on Fun or artifical? Mixed views in China Rate the Race

  1. Hairs (@hairs) said on 28th April 2013, 16:18

    You know what happens when the best drivers in the fastest cars go racing without any restrictions?

    2002, 2004 and 2011. One driver, in a dominant car, cruising around for a team who have outspent the rest of the paddock.

    All those complaints about the backmarker teams making up the numbers would just stretch further and further up the field. If you think a midrank team like force India would be doing as well as they are without Pirelli’s tyres or drs, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. What you’re looking for is a spec series, and that’s never been f1.

    • If one team/driver do a better job than anyone else & are able to dominate then I see nothing wrong with that.

      It should be upto the other teams to improve & catch-up, The team doing the best job should not have there performance handicapped in any way just so others are able to close the gap.

      Can you really be satisfied beating another team/driver not because you did a better job but purely because there advantage was capped due to rule changes? If I were a team boss or driver I’d want to win & beat the best by been better on my own merits & not because rules were changed to disadvantage them.

      I think the whole thing to keep the field close & give everyone equality in engine power etc.. is frankly ridiculous!

      • Hairs (@hairs) said on 28th April 2013, 22:46

        What you’re suggesting does not mean the best win on merit. What it means is that the teams with the best money/technical staff combination win.

        Toyota, Honda & BMW may have failed by the standards of winning races/championships, but firehoses full of money kept them out of the backmarkers and organisational failures kept them from the front. Without firehoses full of money, Red Bull would never have managed to get hold of Newey.

        And if that’s what you want, that’s fine. Just don’t forget that one rich team dominating results in far more viewers turning off than DRS or tyres ever has or ever will. A race where you can predict the result a week in advance is not, fundamentally, a race. Race implies the possibility of more than one winner.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 29th April 2013, 0:24

      @hairs, what’s the difference between F India now and Jordan then, even Minardi scored points so your theory about the mid-pack doesn’t hold water. An awful lot of viewers love to watch a dominant driver win every race, thats why Vettel, Schumacher, Senna, Clark. Fangio had so many fans.

      • Hairs (@hairs) said on 29th April 2013, 10:09

        If an awful lot of viewers love watching predictable, dominant racing, why did fom and the fia go to such lengths to stop the domination of Ferrari and Schumacher? Because viewers were switching off.

        If you look at racing prior to parc ferme and multi-race gearbox and engine rules, one thing that stands out is reliability. In the past, midfielders had a chance that the front rank drivers or teams would either make a mistake or have a breakdown. Mistakes are rarer and breakdowns are rarer still.

        Furthermore, midfielders have a bigger struggle for cash now that budgets are higher and tobacco money isn’t available.

  2. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 28th April 2013, 16:57

    Can’t say I approve multiple DRS zones on nearly every track, but I’d prefer too much overtaking to too little. Get rid of DRS and we’d be back to 2010, which had the dullest racing of any season I can remember. In fact it would be even worse as the Pirelli tyres are totally incapable of doing more than a couple of laps in dirty air.

    But I do agree that DRS as it is is too much. Most circuits need only the one zone, very few I think need two, and I can name a couple which do not need any.

    • Dizzy said on 28th April 2013, 18:17

      we’d be back to 2010, which had the dullest racing of any season I can remember

      But it didn’t, There was some great racing that year & as I detailed earlier it featured more overtaking than any year since 1989, 547 total overtakes at an average of 28.79 overtakes Per-Gp.

      People seem to base there opinions of 2010 based off Alonso getting stuck behind Petrov at Abu-Dhabi, Then ignoring the good racing & many overtakes that occurred through the rest of the year.

      • People seem to base there opinions of 2010 based off Alonso getting stuck behind Petrov at Abu-Dhabi, Then ignoring the good racing & many overtakes that occurred through the rest of the year.

        I don’t even think that was bad racing: honestly I don’t think Alonso was that much faster than Petrov anyway on that day, he just had a pretty poor race all round.

        Agreed on this though @jackystegg

        Can’t say I approve multiple DRS zones on nearly every track, but I’d prefer too much overtaking to too little.

        …but of course we can find a balance. I don’t really think DRS is needed at all in this day and age with the Pirelli tyres and the extremely close grid, whether the FIA acknowledges this though is a different matter entirely.

        Really, DRS is only needed in places where overtaking is impossible without it.

  3. Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 28th April 2013, 17:39

    I don’t get all the complaining about the tires & maybe this is an oval racing way of thinking but tires should wear, tires shouldn’t last more then 35-40 miles.

    10 laps around the Shanghai Circuit is roughly 33 miles, for comparison the average amount of pitstops in the NASCAR race last night was 7 or one every 58 laps (they didn’t break down like that because of cautions but I’m just using the averages). So in the NASCAR race that was 58 laps on a set of tires which at Richmond is equal to roughly 43 miles, which is only 10 more miles (not that long of a distance) on much harder tires. So an F1 tire lasting that distance isn’t really that big of a deal in motorsports (especially in series where you’re pushing the tires to the max every lap).

    For the heck of it the 2011 Le Mans winning Audi only changed tires 9 times which equals out to the tires lasting roughly 334 miles per stint on average. Now with that being said those tires are harder, they have more rubber & let’s be honest in a race like that you’re not pushing the tires unless you absolutely have to. If the F1 tires would last 334 miles (roughly 46 miles short of two GPs put together) y’all would be crying about that too.

    • Dizzy said on 28th April 2013, 18:13

      The issue isn’t the tyres wearing, Its the speed they wear at & the performance loss they suffer from has just resulted in everyone running around to a lap-time & as we heard on the team radios at Shanghai drivers were having to ask there team if they could race or not through fear of destroying the tyres & the message from the team was ‘no, save tyres’.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 29th April 2013, 0:29

      @fisha695, Actually in the past F1 tyres did last for that long, and I can’t remember 1 single complaint about the tyres lasting to long.

      • HxCas (@hxcas) said on 29th April 2013, 10:43

        Judging from the barrage of whining that hit the internet after Vettel did every lap bar the final one on a pair of softs in Italy 2010 I find that hard to believe.
        People will always complain about something. It sucks for you that at this point you are unhappy with the regulations, but I’m sure there have been past (and hopefully future) situations where you have read complaints from people that you really didn’t understand. Times change and now you are in their shoes for a while.
        This will always happen with a changing formula, and as unfortunate as it is, you may just have to let the others have their time in the sun for now and hope things get back to the way you’d like soon.
        By the way, think DRS needs to be toned down heavily or just removed with the current tyres, I just think that the constant whinging needs to stop. If you aren’t enjoying f1, then stop watching until it changes, simple as that. Losing viewers is probably the best way to let the powers that be know that people are unhappy with things.
        However, if we do keep watching whilst complaining that things need to change, aren’t we just saying that our enjoyment matters more than all of the other fans who enjoy f1 in its current form? That they should have to put up with a series that they do not enjoy simply so we can have some more fun? That reeks of entitlement to me.

        On the plus side, with viewership falling last year and this year maybe the higher powers will begin to think that the majority of viewers would like to see a change and put some plans into action.
        I guess I’ll find out in a few years, as I’ll still be watching.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 29th April 2013, 12:54

          @hxcas, I’ve been waiting a long time, it’s the possibility of change that keeps me watching, next yearwill be make or break for me. Really, I am not trying to impose some snoozefest on the viewers, I genuinley believe that F1 needs to be about the car as well as the driver, there should be competition for a better engine/drivetrain, not just aerodynamic downforce, let alone exhaust generated downforce. And no, nobody complained about tyres that lasted all race because they never thought of trying to stop the best team from winning, other than making another team better.

  4. As already suggested, the best use for DRS would be to give people a set amount of uses per race.

    • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 28th April 2013, 22:45

      I can see where you’re coming from but personally I’d either get rid of DRS (my preferred choice) or let the drivers use it whenever and for however long they want.
      We don’t have rules limiting the amount of time the drivers can go full throttle; we leave it to the drivers to decide, and similarly I’d leave the drivers to decide when they want to use DRS be it in practice, qualifying or the race.

      But as several other people have already mentioned, I think the front wings and the general dependency on aerodynamic grip in F1 is the root problem that needs sorting out so that we don’t need DRS, refuelling or any other gimmicks.

      • tmekt (@tmekt) said on 28th April 2013, 23:30

        Removing DRS completely and allowing it everywhere are basically the same thing

        • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 29th April 2013, 12:45

          No, they’re not. Some drivers would be able to deploy it earlier than others coming out of the corners and some would be able to use it on parts of the track where others could not – just as some drivers are able to accelerate earlier, brake later and take different lines than others.

  5. I have always disliked DRS with a passion and I just do not understand why something artificial like that was introduced to patch the aero problem instead of actually fixing it. Compared to the whole deployment and timing complexity it would have been extremely simple to just reduce the size of the wings and the drag creating defusers.

    Instead we got this cartoonish “press the overtake button” and even at the same time as the silly bicycle tires.

    Just sad!

    • @poul the intention was that DRS was supposed to be a stop-gap for major changes to the 2014 rules which would reduce overall downforce levels, but sadly the FIA have decided for us that we like DRS and that we should keep it. It makes me sad…

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 28th April 2013, 22:52

      How do you patch the aero problem, though?

      The 2009 regulations were brought in to rip up the amount of aero that teams were able to deploy, by banning complex triple front wings, the profusion of winglets sticking out everywhere, the wide rear wings etc.

      What we got was not much of an improvement, the cars were still aero limited, still couldn’t get within a second to overtake, and races were decided on maximising strategies. Within a couple of years, the teams had reclaimed all the downforce the regs changes removed. You have to accept that when the team of people approving regulations is measured in tens, and the collective team of people finding ways of beating the regs is in the thousands, the regulations will never be able to “stop” aero development short of making it a spec series, and that is what the regulations have been doing more and more over the past few years.

      To allow for unpredictable results, you have to take an element of racing out of the direct control of the teams. Tyres and DRS are ways of doing that.

  6. tmekt (@tmekt) said on 28th April 2013, 23:41

    Why don’t we just pick the best year of F1, take its cars, freeze all development, and race with them until the world ends (or we run out of oil)?

    I’m sure no one would find anything to complain about then…

  7. jackal40 (@jackal40) said on 29th April 2013, 2:12

    Well, I’m a part time fan – and only started watching F1 a few years ago (back when there was refueling).
    I find DRS and the current tires a frustrating gimmick – however, I would prefer them to seeing a parade of cars based upon who was fastest. Yes, there are circuits where overtaking happens more – but I think this is more a result of circuit design than the cars+drivers.

    I’d love to see DRS go, coupled with better tires IF it resulted in drivers being able to race. I’d like refueling back (as a strategy option), but most importantly – I do not want to see the same car and driver on pole and podium each race. I’m not a fan of any one driver, I want the action of the race with the reward for the team and driver who performed the best that weekend. For me, the championship should be decided by the very last race and should not be influenced by what driver was made to yield his position to his team mate. I know the teams want to limit the amount a battling their drivers do, but I find it quite aggravating to see three teams in one race this early in the season dictate who could or could not pass their team mate.

    I’m close to calling it quits on watching F1 – seems like the team with the most money is the one who wins in the end.

  8. Melchior (@melchior) said on 29th April 2013, 10:05

    I am undecided about DRS because it has made racing more exciting with more overtaking.But DRS has made the racing more “Artificial”.
    Without DRS we would return to the days where there is little overtaking.And how boring was that?

    Perhaps the teams need to be allocated extra batches of tyres so that the cars can have the opportunity to actually turn a few laps during Q2 and Q3.
    I would prefer to see more durable tyre compounds but until this happens (if it happens) maybe there should be Mandatory 3 or4 pit stops per race.Hopefully fresh tyres will equal better and more racing instead of tyre conservation..
    I would love to see a return of refuelling………

  9. 23kennyboy23 said on 29th April 2013, 12:19

    The complaints about bad track design pre-drs were off the scale due to he lack of overtaking, noone is saying that now. They should just shorten the drs zones and reduce the slot gap.

  10. Matt_D said on 29th April 2013, 20:41

    F1 has resorted to becoming completely artificial racing because the FIA have crafted a set of rules which otherwise make overtaking nigh on impossible.

    First, the cars are too alike. Overtaking — obviously — results from a differential in speed. The closer to identical the cars are, the more difficult is is for a driver to create that speed differential.

    The FIA (and the TR/SR) have become increasingly technophobic under the reign of El Supremo, largely because Bernie is obsessed with the notion that the better funded teams are buying the championships. But the more the TR limits a car designer’s creativity, the more alike the cars become. And with true innovation all but dead, the teams end up copying design elements and executions from the more successful cars. Which results in convergent evolution of design. Whether the FIA sill admit it or not, F1 has become a spec racing series.

    Second, F1 cars have managed to get so fast (6 Gs transient lateral loads) by employment of massive levels of wing-generated downforce. But wings need to run through undisturbed air to generate maximum lift. Which makes coming out of another car’s draft to overtake it a risky manoeuver, because it takes a moment once it has left the leading car’s turbulence for the the trailing car to settle down under the new-found downforce. But if the overtaking is occurring in a corner, the trailing driver does not have the luxury of waiting even a moment for his front tyres to bite, especially since he might be clocking 200 metres every second.

    The biggest problem is that the FIA refuse to admit they had any role in overtaking ever becoming so scarce. And only they have the power to mend it.

    They have to wean F1 off the massive, multi-element wings and put it back on the path to mechanical grip: über-wide and über-sticky race tyres (which also will markedly reduce wind tunnel costs). The problem with that idea is that the cars initially likely will be substantially slower, and F1’s brand cache could never tolerate its feeder series running faster cars than it does. Which means GP2 and GP3 also would have to retool from scratch, except they don’t have big budgets like F1, so they would be none too keen on the idea.

    And the FIA have got to get over their technophobia. All new cars sold in the USA are required to have electronic stability control, but it’s a banned technology in F1. Along with ABS and traction control and active suspension and a litany of other technologies available in production cars or motorcycles. If they don’t start allowing these technologies, they run the risk of turning into another NASCAR, which disallowed fuel injection for a 27 years after the last carburetted car was made in America.

    Teams always will spend their entire budget on whatever technology is available, so limiting technology does exactly NOTHING to limit the cost of racing. And allowing the designers more latitude enables them to create a car that is unique from their competitors, which by its nature goes to the heart of the problem: the lack of performance differential.

    1. Allow designers to innovate
    2. Embrace new technologies
    3. Small, simple, single element wings with a uniform profile
    3.a. Prohibit use of frangible materials in the front wing
    4. Big, fat, sticky (non-Pirelli) tyres

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