Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Melbourne, 2008

Has F1 ??improved the show??? See what the data says

2013 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Formula One was a very different sport when F1 Fanatic’s Rate the Race series began in 2008.

Cars ran on grooved Bridgestone tyres and pitted to refuel during races. KERS and DRS were nowhere to be found.

Since then much has been done in the name of “improving the show”. The Overtaking Working Group’s recommendations ushered in a new and peculiar generation of cars in 2009 with wide front wings and tall, narrow rear wings.

More controversial was the 2011 introduction of the Drag Reduction System, giving anyone within one second of another car a speed boost to aid overtaking. That came in 2011, while the sport’s new tyre supplier Pirelli was urged to produce rubber that would degrade quickly, producing more pit stops.

Have F1’s attempts to spice up the racing succeeded? It seemed to me the best way to tell would be to ask people to give a rating for each race, as objectively as possible. One hundred races on, here’s what the voting tells us about whether F1 has become more entertaining.

Season-by-season: 2008-present

F1 Fanatic readers rated all of the last 100 races out of ten. Here are the average scores of the races in each season so far (2013 to date):

Year Average rating Races
2008 6.651 18
2009 6.316 17
2010 6.759 19
2011 7.23 19
2012 7.367 20
2013 (to date) 6.882 7

There is a clear upward trend but for the first seven races of this season the average score is down compared to the last two championships. Are F1 fans tiring of a diet of DRS and rapidly-degrading tyres?

Before and after

Which tweaks to the F1 rules had the best effect on the racing? Here are the average scores for races before and after various changes were made

DRS and Pirelli tyres

The Drag Reduction System and ‘designed to degrade’ tyres arrived in 2011, both as a means increasing changes of position during a race.

Both have attracted a lot of debate and criticism, as well as conjecture over which of them is having a greater effect on the racing. The latter is difficult to make a judgement on as both were introduced at the same time.

Change Average rating Races
Before DRS and ‘designed to degrade’ tyres (2008-2010) 6.584 54
With DRS and ‘designed to degrade’ tyres (2011-present) 7.237 46

Refuelling ban

In-race refuelling was reintroduced to F1 in 1994, then dropped at the end of the 2009 season on cost grounds.

Change Average rating Races
With in-race refuelling (2008-9) 6.488 35
Without in-race refuelling (2010-present) 7.097 65

Slick tyres and OWG cars

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren. Melbourne, 2009The ending of competition between tyre suppliers in F1 after the 2006 season later meant the FIA felt it could reintroduce slick tyres, which were last seen in 1997, and were still being used in almost every other form of motorsport.

It was a popular move among the drivers, many of which disliked the grooved tyres which reduced the contact patch with the ground to limit cornering speeds in the name of safety.

Change Average rating Races
Grooved tyres and non-OWG cars (2008) 6.651 18
Slick tyres and OWG cars (2009-present) 6.935 82


The FIA granted engine manufacturers the freedom to add Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems to their power units in 2009. These harness energy which would otherwise be lost during deceleration to give drivers a brief, on-demand speed boost, useful for overtaking.

Due to the expense of developing them teams agreed not to use them in 2010. They returned in 2011 and this season is the first in which every team has the technology.

Next year’s Energy Recovery Systems will be far more powerful.

Change Average rating Races
Without KERS (2008, 2010) 6.707 37
With KERS (2009, 2011-present) 6.988 63

Which circuits produce the best racing?

Since the beginning of 2008 F1 has raced at 24 different circuits, some of which are no longer on the calendar. Here are the average scores for the races at each circuit:

Circuit Average Score Races
Circuit of the Americas 8.772 1
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve 8.02 5
Spa-Francorchamps 7.839 5
Nurburgring 7.763 2
Melbourne 7.716 6
Interlagos 7.708 5
Shanghai International Circuit 7.46 6
Monza 7.419 5
Silverstone 7.226 5
Istanbul 6.845 4
Yas Marina 6.844 4
Hungaroring 6.796 5
Sepang International Circuit 6.793 6
Fuji 6.66 1
Suzuka 6.543 4
Korea International Circuit 6.536 3
Monte-Carlo 6.525 6
Singapore 6.244 5
Bahrain International Circuit 6.22 5
Circuit de Catalunya 6.146 6
Hockenheim 5.992 3
Magny-Cours 5.548 1
Valencia 5.488 5
Buddh International Circuit 5.374 2

Notes on the data

Fans were asked to rate each race between one and ten out of ten immediately following each race. Since 2011 polls have only been open to registered site users.

Here are the average scores for each race:

Over to you

What does this data tell us about F1’s efforts to produce better racing? Is it time to put the focus on ‘sport’ rather than ‘entertainment’? Have your say in the comments.

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Images ?? BMW ag, McLaren