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

2013 F1 season

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

KERS

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.

2013 F1 season


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93 comments on Has F1 ??improved the show??? See what the data says

  1. I think the data only proves how subjective and how difficult it is to rate races. Honestly I think some 8 of 2010 were due to the championship excitement rather than the racing itself, maybe that happens as well with the 08 championship. In the end the facts are that despite F1’s evolution, the data shows the change in racing hasn’t produced a better or worse F1 in the opinion of f1fanatics, as .2 of a progress can’t be considered tangible.

  2. Tom (@newdecade) said on 26th June 2013, 14:38

    Lets hear it for races in North America! The track popularity list is very illuminating. I have always been impressed with races at the new Nurburgring despite the distaste that seems to exist for it, and conversely, I have got to admit I havent really enjoyed Suzuka in a long time. Herecy I know, but do the scores agree with me…?

  3. Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 26th June 2013, 14:58

    Impressive article and research, but not sure if any real conclusions can be drawn from this data as the polls have been restricted to ‘registered site users’ since 2010 as you say. This means that prior to 2010, casual visitors were able to vote and after that date only the ‘avowed F1 Fanatics’ were able to do so. So the results might be scewed higher after that date because the voters are exclusively F1 Fanatics.
    In some cases ‘avowed F1 Fanatics’ personal voting criteria is strange. To paraphrase someone who replied to one of my older comments “I rate every race as 6+ just because F1 excites me so much”. So if this registered user didn’t see and didn’t vote on a particular race, it would have a disproportionate affect on the results.
    Really, this research needs a consistent voting panel throughout all the seasons, but goodness knows how you’d do that.
    One of the problems researching via the voting patterns on this site is that we choose to come here because we are F1 Fanatics and so we are knowledgable, critical and possibly slightly biased in one direction or another. Much more telling would be the viewing figures from television broadcasters with a consistent platform over the last six or seven years. This would rule out the UK of course, but maybe France, Germany, Brazil or somewhere could show whether mass viewing figures (and Berne’s “mass F1 audience” is most definitely what he’s thinking of) are going up or down. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised of they peaked in 2008 or 9 and steadily decreased after that, with a more dramatic decline since the last part of last season. That would tell us whether “improving the show” had audience affect or not.
    Does anyone know if global tv figures are published anywhere?

  4. DMC (@dmc) said on 26th June 2013, 15:09

    What about wet races? They are mostly rated higher should we take them out?

  5. Alec Glen (@alec-glen) said on 26th June 2013, 15:34

    I’d be interested to hear what the nationalities of the voters have been, as it’d be interesting to hear if the quality of the TV programming, especially in the UK, would have had any effect.

    I think KERS has had minimal effect on the racing, it’s underpowered old tech which is better used as a defensive aid. DRS is good and bad, it prevents situations like Alonso getting stuck behind Petrov or the train behind whoever’s one stopping but it also makes overtakes look ridiculously simple when there’s a differential in tyre performance also.

    The tyres have been good at some tracks but horrible at others for me, fast to degrade is fine even as far as going off the cliff but it’s the tiny temperature range which I find most boring. Moreso last year but this year to a degree also it’s been a case of who’s car inherently gets tyres up to temp in cool conditions or doesn’t overheat in high temp or challenging surfaces. It’s not as bad as the days when the Ferrari beasted the aero tracks and the McLaren the mechanical grip tracks or vice versa but when it puts cars like last year’s Williams in contention to win in dry conditions the sport loses credibility. It’s now annoying me that Pirelli are going back to ultra conservative tyre choices which blighted the second half of last season, shafting the Lotus in particular.

    I’d rather Pirelli said “here’s 4 types of tyres, they’ll all degrade at increasing rates as they get softer. Take which tyres you want to each race and get your optimum car setup then go out and see who’s fastest.”

    That or make tyres that all the teams can switch on as it must be rubbish for fans tuning in for a full weekend just to be told their favourite team can’t get anything out of that weekend’s tyres because of another team’s lobbying of the manufacturer.

  6. I’m frankly less bothered about this year because I have no drivers to get behind since Sauber axed Kobayashi. Last year was great because you had Sauber and Force India pushing the top teams. Force India is still there or there abouts but Sauber are pretty pathetic this year which they kinda deserve tbh.

    I just hope Koba is back soon, because F1 can be dull without somebody to get behind.

  7. ANDREW (@johnson102) said on 26th June 2013, 15:52

    KERS was an interesting concept when it was introduced. It had me thinking about the myriad of different tactical ways it could be used to influence position and had me genuinely excited.
    Unfortunately the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix showed the downside. Fisichella in the faster Force India was unable to pass the slower Ferrari of Raikkonen due solely to KERS.
    Ignoring that the pass may have happened had Force India had their own KERS unit, the use of KERS as a purely defensive tool made me realise the negative aspect of this device.
    As for DRS, an interesting concept affected by its use by the administrators. The location of the zone(s) have served more to enhance a location already considered a passing zone rather than used to construct additional potential passing zones for each circuit.
    I was about to start on about the effect of recent circuit design and how certain ideologies may not be as contributive towards the entertainment of this sport until I realised this and previous arguments are just rehashed versions of what I’ve read often on this site.
    So has it improved “the show”? Yes.
    Has it improved the sport? Undecided.

  8. nackavich (@nackavich) said on 26th June 2013, 15:56

    I definitely agree that races in the 2000’s weren’t as exciting as they could be, and I was happy to hear the return of KERS and intrigued about DRS.
    I feel the combination of new, less durable tyres, DRS, KERS are exciting overall, but I see them as a sign of a confused sport.

    Wheel to wheel racing is the obvious enticing element for the casual fan, and that is who these new devices are catered towards.
    For instance, I’m not a huge fan of soccer, and seeing a 0-0 draw would lead me to think “oh gee, what a bore fest”, but I understand that true fans would be enthralled by mid-field match ups or tactics used by either teams.

    At the moment though, Formula 1 seems confused in the direction it’s heading, which is understandable.
    Get rid of DRS, and the drivers will just use their KERS in the obvious spots for overtaking.
    So you then look at the tyres, and since they’re a control tyre the strategies are going to be very similar up & down the grid. Tyre wear is the only real decisive factor, but I guess it always has been in motor racing, and you can’t rely on the tyres to create interesting racing at every circuit.
    So what else is there? Fuel? Again very similar across the board.
    Aero? Obvious, but advances in aero make the cars hard to follow, which takes us back to the mid 2000’s.
    So to help that, since both drivers are using their KERS, you introduce DRS to aid an otherwise difficult-to-make pass.
    So you’ve come full circle to where the sport is now.
    Personally I really hope we see more of a horsepower battle next year with the new engines, and hopefully a number of uncertainties for the teams still coming to terms with the changes.

    At the end of the day though, it’s about the driver as much as the car, and at least we’re guaranteed they’ll always do their best to provide good racing.

    Since I’ve been watching F1, the last couple of years have really felt like the first time I’ve experienced F1 trying to broaden its fan base. The dedicated fans will always be there, gimmicks or no.
    The racing in the mid-late 00’s called for changes and I’m sure a lot of the dedicated fans are still unhappy about those changes, but when have F1 fans been truly happy with the state of racing?

    As the stats show, we’re closer to being happy than we have been for a while.

    • Dizzy said on 26th June 2013, 16:14

      The dedicated fans will always be there, gimmicks or no.

      I know quite a few long-term & highly dedicated F1 fans who no longer watch F1 now purely because they dislike what they see as Artificial gimmicks.

      Not sure how much longer I’ll continue watching F1 either as im growing increasingly disinterested in the current product.
      I get zero entertainment value out of watching any of the DRS highway drive by’s, If anything they make a race more dull for me because the DRS passes are so boringly unexciting to watch.

      Same with tyres, Watching everyone managing there tyres is just dull.

      • nackavich (@nackavich) said on 26th June 2013, 16:41

        That’s a shame they no longer watch it, but I can understand why.

        Tyre management has always been a part of motor racing, always will be. Perhaps the current tyres would produce good enough racing without the gimmicks, maybe not. Either way, people complained when the tyres would last a whole race, and if less durable tyres are conducive to closer racing them I guess I’m all for it. But since we have the gimmicks, it’s hard to tell.
        DRS is a tough one, and like I said current aero design doesn’t help passing so I can see DRS benefits right there.

        I’d like to think that there’s more to F1 aside from the gimmicks that can maintain dedicated, loyal viewers. DRS or not, I still get a massive buzz as the lights go out.

      • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 26th June 2013, 16:42

        For all of the complaints about the late 90’s & 2000’s one thing is for sure, we’re never going to get action like this in the modern era of KERS and designed to degrade tires.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkXpkxtw0Do

  9. Dizzy said on 26th June 2013, 16:03

    The problem with all of what we have now is that everything has been done purely for the ‘show’ rather than the ‘racing’.

    Is 50-80 DRS/Tyre based highway passes per-race great for the ‘show’, I guess it is, But is it really good in racing terms? I don’t believe it is & thats my biggest hate of the DRS/Pirelli era, There’s tons of highway passing & tyre related ‘unpredictability’ but there’s actually very little racing going on.

    Watching ‘races’ where all a driver has to do is get within 1 second, wait for a passing zone & push a button to be driven easily past the car infront which is left completely defenseless to me as a ‘racing’ fan is boring & I get zero entertainment out of watching that because I want to watch ‘racing’.
    Watching races where the tyres fall to bits after less than 10 laps & where everyone is running to a pre-set delta not racing other cars because there desperately trying to manage there tyres I also find boring because again there’s no decent ‘racing’ going on.

    To me watching a DRS highway pass or a pass caused by a big difference in tyre performance is really unsatisfying, Especially if its the sort of catch & pass with no decent fight between the drivers which we all too often see now.

    Watching races like Spa in 2000 with Hakkinen catching Schumacher who was doing everything to defend the lead, Both pushing each other hard over a couple laps with Mika eventually having to try something special to pull the pass off was truly exciting, The build-up was great, the fight for the place was great & the overtake was genuinely thrilling.
    I can recall many other races in the Pre-2011 era, Real racing & real overtaking that was all really exciting for race fans.

    Look at what we have now, Cars braking in a straght line desperately trying to not be the car ahead over a line painted on the track-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXRbgnqIG_Q
    utterly absurd.

    Sadly I can only see this obsession with the ‘show’ over racing & this obsession with quantity over quality getting worse from hear on leaving many ‘racing’ fans who just want to see proper, exciting, hard fought racing with real & exciting overtaking out in the cold :(

  10. Linda1 said on 26th June 2013, 16:20

    a lot of people here often talk about how great the pirelli high wear tires have been for the show.

    an interesting comparison is indycar this year. at a few races this year firestone have trialed tires that they designed to wear faster than normal & interestingly those races (texas, indy, milwaukee, belle-isle) have all been far less entertaining as the same races were a year ago with the same cars/drivers.
    texas for instance turned into the sort of tyre management races seen in f1 nowadays as while last years race was thrilling this years race was the complete opposite.

    at the last round in iowa they brought tires that handled as they did in 2012 & the iowa race was brilliant as everyone could race hard knowing the tires would not be a big issue.

  11. 5150 (@) said on 26th June 2013, 16:44

    My solution would be:
    1.Absolutely NO refueling
    2. ban DRS
    3. NO mandatory pit stops
    4. Tyres: Hard (no pit stop to 1 pit stop), medium(1-2 pit stops), soft(2-3 pit stops)
    Tyre manufacturer should bring all of those compounds to each race and teams would use any compound they like and mix ‘em up however they prefer.
    And no colors on tyres. I as a viewer don’t want to know who’s on which tyre, and if I was in F1 I certainly wouldn’t want everybody to know what strategy I am on.

  12. Deej92 (@deej92) said on 26th June 2013, 16:50

    KERS and slick tyres have had minimal effect on the racing, as the data suggests. I personally liked refuelling in F1 as it added another variable. It seems evident that people have now had enough of DRS and perhaps ‘designed to degrade’ tyres (more 2013-spec). I am not a fan of DRS, in its current use, in the slightest. If there was a better way of implementing it then I’d be all for that, otherwise I wouldn’t mind seeing it ditched.

    Regarding the circuits, as I mentioned in the previous article, Hockenheim is right down the order (2010 dragged it down, but still). I’ve heard many people over the last few weeks criticising Monaco, some suggesting it should be removed from the calendar, and others have been wanting Tilkedromes removed for years, but the ratings show Hockenheim below Monaco and many Tilkedromes, and I think it’s quite an accurate reflection. The Nurburgring, however, is right up there (excluding 2007). I was a huge fan of Hockenheim before Tilke’s redesign, but the racing there now is poor.

  13. Lewisham Milton said on 26th June 2013, 16:53

    Clearly, races with Michael Schumacher are better than without – so he should make another comeback.

  14. dkpioe said on 26th June 2013, 17:18

    the first photo had me thinking of kubica…
    his rehab is slow, slow but ongoing.
    he never raced a gravel rally until this year. he has entered 3 WRC events in the WRC-2 class and his results are 6th, 1st and 1st. last weekend (thought driving a wrc2 class car), he became only the 3rd f1 driver in history to score WRC points, when he finished 9th overall.
    He is oncourse to be WRC2 champion, though he cares not about this, he only cares about learning about rallying and his rehabilitation.
    Next year it is most likely he still wont make an f1 return, even though he is regularly testing in Mercs Sim. last weekend he said he doesnt care for a real f1 test unless he could race on all f1 tracks, at the moment with his elbow movement he says he could only drive on 80% of the tracks. Instead, it looks like with the progress he is making, and the words being put out by Citroens chief, that Kubica might end up having a fulltime WRC drive in a high up team next year, and going by current progress, he will be right up there at the sharp end of the field.
    I hope Kubica comes back to F1 one day, his recovery is very slow in his right arm and hand, but it continues nevertheless, and he has not lost any speed. even in 2016 if he came back as WRC champion, or WRC top 3 driver, he would still only be 31.

  15. Tretton (@tretton) said on 26th June 2013, 17:39

    Interesting to se that there are not many Tilke-tracks in neither the bottom of the track-poppularity list, nor the top.

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