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


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. Michael Brown (@) said on 26th June 2013, 18:14

    I believe F1 has improved the show with most of these changes, in my opinion:

    Refueling ban: This is good, because it makes the race easier to follow as well as encouraging more overtaking. Before, overtaking would occur when the car in front would pit allowing the car behind to use the fuel it saved to overtake during the pit stop phase. Hardly exciting in my opinion.

    Designed to degrade tires: These were at their best in 2011. In that season the tires allowed different strategies which allowed the drivers to either save their tires or push them. In 2012 and 2013, I noticed that there were hardly any alternate strategies, just an optimal strategy that you had to follow closely.

    KERS: If you have to drop DRS, then keep KERS at least. It increases on track action.

    DRS: I think DRS is a good concept but it’s mostly been implemented in wrong places on most tracks. We often see boring passes due to the massive length of the zone, giving the driver behind a much larger speed advantage. As much as I loved the 2011 season, it had this problem as well. Either the zone is too long or they put back-to-back DRS zones, which is incredibly stupid. The whole concept of DRS was to get cars alongside in the braking zone, but I always see them increasing the benefit of it to produce boring passes.

    Slicks: Because grooved tires were ridiculous.

    2009 Aero changes: At least the dirty air effect has been reduced slightly.

    • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 26th June 2013, 22:15


      Absolutely agree on all points – I wanted to write everything you mentioned but no need now.

      I think the Refueling/Tyres/KERS/DRS were most appropriately balanced in 2011, with maybe the DRS sometimes being too effective and sometimes too ineffective. In 2011 of course, we had a driver that understood how to use the tyres better than the others, on top of being in a great car. This is why ultimately the spectacle was not as great. However, Vettel’s wins were quite often not as clearcut as his year-end points tally would suggest: quite often, he was given quite a run for his money and only just came out on top in the end of the race.

      I would go back to the 2011 tyres and 2011 DRS rules, but with current car specifications, and I am sure the racing would be more interesting than what we have this year.

  2. Elliot A said on 26th June 2013, 18:16

    Considering how many people like to complain about Abu Dhabi, it is surprising that it is placed 11/24. I genuinely think this may be to the blue colour along the side of the track. Blue inspires calm and serenity; not good GP colours. COTA (rated at 1) has copied this but painted their track red; colours that psychologically inspires passion and aggression. I wonder if this is the reason people always think of it as boring, despite apparently being in the top half of circuits. Of course this could be complete rubbish…

  3. Maciek (@maciek) said on 26th June 2013, 19:31

    I have no problem at all with the tyre compounds, whether quickly degrading or not. It’s the way the allocation is regulated that blows. I would dictate three different dry compounds, clearly distinct in performance/durability, and all three would be brought to all races without any stipulations on which are used how or when.

    Develop KERS technology much more and for the love of all that is racing, drop DRS. I have been less and less engaged this year and for me it’s really all down to DRS. Those just aren’t passes and it’s just not racing when you simply know more or or less 99.9% of the time that the guy behind will inevitably overtake no matter the defensive skills of the guy in front. It really has put an increasingly serious damper on my F1 interest.

    And to round it off – a plea bound to fall on the deaf ears of progress – I would limit the amount of information that drivers are given by engineers during the race and get back to shifters that are just slightly harder to get right. When was the last time someone missed a gear in F1? When was the last time a driver had to rely on his own brains and instinct to push or pull or whatever else happens to be necessary? Ah well, that’s just a bit of bah-humbug I guess.

    • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 26th June 2013, 22:29

      When was the last time someone missed a gear in F1?

      Button mentioned it happened to him at one of the starts, can’t remember which race.

      Schumacher got it wrong in Monza (2011 or 2012), which led to him being overtaken.

      Just two examples I know out of the top of my head. They still need to shift themselves, you know!

  4. Michael Brown (@) said on 26th June 2013, 21:49

    The tires aren’t even bringing variable strategies any more. Drivers start on the options they used in qualifying because they have to, and then run the primes because they’re the most durable.

    I noticed that even when the drivers have free choice of tire, the vast majority choose the option.

  5. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 26th June 2013, 22:04

    I don’t think the problems in 2013 are down to the individual elements. Rather, I think the problem is the way teams are stuck in a rut, always complaining about the same things and blowing them out of proportion. As Ferrari demonstrated in Barcelona, if you put your head down and do the work, you can win without a problem.

    So it’s not the elements that are the problem, and nor is it the racing. It’s the constant melodrama that goes with it.

  6. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 26th June 2013, 22:05

    I support the ideaology behind the tyres but not the execution: I do feel it improves the racing when strategy is an important element in them and I feel degradebale tyres are a better way in which to go about bringing in that element rather than re-intrducing re-fueling (as that just simply led to drivers waiting it out to pass). However, the influence is far too great currently: I’d like it to be at Canada 2013 levels of influence (I welcome any similar examples with other driver’s winning as that would eliminate any claims of bias) and emphatically not Spain 2013. 1/2 stops should be the target and not 2/3 IMO.

    DRS is something I loathe in it’s current guise: it should only be used at tracks where overtaking is almost impossible without it (eg Catalunya, Hungaroring) or in places where overtaking doesn’t usually take place on other tracks. I wouldn’t object to it being banished completely though as it definitely cheapens overtaking manouvers!

    As for the new car design, aesthetically they aren’t particularly appealling but they aren’t monstrousitous either so I didn’t mind that change. However, I didn’t find it to be particularly successful as the dirty air effect is still very prominent. Simply, I think front wings should be eradicated (as they are very aero-sensitive) in favour of primative ground effect. That way, hopefully DRS wouldn’t be necessary!

  7. RACERNORRISKI (@racernorriski) said on 26th June 2013, 22:53

    F1 is about Racing … cars going as fast as the driver can make the car go … while going fast the driver is passing other cars … passing other racers … FALSE inducements do not make races more interesting if one keeps focused on RACING … the most true race would be any number of given laps on whatever tires the team chooses and if they choose to change tires (weather not being a factor for discussion sake) with or without fuel stops again team decisions…. No fuel stops and pitl lane speed limits do add to safety which I am a support of … so kers, drs on / off qualifying or racing, racing incidents being reviewed with decisions made near real time or a week later, starting grid penalties due to any number of activities, (replacing parts, social attitudes, and whatever else crosses someones mind) IF a suspension part is suspect it may not get changed because of a possible grid penalty??… Rules for an UNruly activity just appeals to those who need to feel some ego power boast, and is just ridiculous in many cases. Once a rule is made there are 2 major problems, FAIR enforcement and immediate workarounds / avoidance by all those who are supposed to abide by the rules.. RnR

  8. Dizzy said on 27th June 2013, 0:01

    Just wanted to raise a point regarding tyre management.

    Yes its always been a part of F1, However its never played as big a role as it does currently & unlike today in the past teams/drivers had full freedom regarding how they used there tyres.

    In the past the tyre supplier/s took all there dry compounds to every race & teams/drivers could pick to run those compounds in any way they wanted. They could pick 1 compound & stay with it, They could switch compounds during the race, They could opt for a no-stop strategy or plan 1 or more tyre stops.
    A driver could opt to use tyre management if he wanted to try & run a race non-stop or he could drive much harder knowing he will wear his tyres & need to stop one or more times.

    The problem with tyre management & strategy today is that teams/drivers have very little control over it because there forced to use the tyres selected by Pirelli & are forced to run both compounds during a race.

    The issue with tyres in 2013 is that drivers are not been allowed to drive how they want, There been forced to drive to the tyres Pirelli force them to run.
    In the past you had drivers selecting compounds that allowed them to run the race how they wanted to run it, Pick a soft & drive flat out knowing you will need to stop or go for a medium/hard & know you may need to conserve it at some point during the stint.

  9. Lachied said on 27th June 2013, 0:19

    All these solutions to improve the racing are only really stop gap measures. They need to treat the problem at the source which is that cars cant follow behind another car due to the aero effects. Instead of banning BD and other elements that change the aero as they pop up, why cant they make the regulations/rules mandate some kind of air envelope behind the car.
    With all the engineers and wind tunnels they should be able to figure out what constitutes ‘good air’ behind a car that does not hinder a trailing car, maybe even assists it. Then the engineers can do whatever they like with the airflow around their car so long as it produces the required airflow needed for a car behind.
    FIA then just test each car in a windtunnel and its all sorted.

    Net result is that cars should be able to trail a car closely in the corners and then pull out on a straight, not having to worry about lack of downforce due to air disturbed by the car in front.

    Im sure it would be quite complex and not as simple as I describe but they are smart cookies so should be able to figure it out.

    • GT_Racer said on 27th June 2013, 11:58

      The so called ‘Dirty air’ is not in itself a problem, The cars have always generated dirty air even back before the cars had wings & it was the dirty air that helped create the great slip-streaming battles on the Pre-Chicane Monza.

      In fact the term dirty air is not even strictly correct as there’s not really any such thing as clean air when it comes to air disturbed by a car traveling through it.

      The problem is actually the cars aerodynamic reliance, Especially at the front. For example you could have a car from the 70s driving behind a 2013 car & it would have no more of a problem doing that than it did back when it was been raced. Put a 2013 car behind a car from the 70s & it would still suffer problems caused by the turbulent air been generated by the 70s car.

      People often believe the 2009 aero changes were designed to eliminate or reduce the turbulent air when it fact they were simply designed to try & redirect it away from the front wings.
      The higher/Narrower rear wing & lower/wider front wings were designed to get the turbulent air away from the front wings & try & keep as much of the front wing as possible outside the turbulent air.
      The problems however came with the double diffuser & then blown diffusers which simply blew massive amounts of hot, turbulent air directly onto the front wings of the cars behind.
      The front wings generating additional flaps, towers, flip-ups etc… also didn’t help.

      All that needs to be done is to reduce the cars wing generated aero reliance & this is why Patrick Head, Rory Bryne & Pat Symmonds proposed wing aero reductions & a return to ground effects for 2014.
      Those regulations were going to come in, However when DRS was introduced the teams saw that as a cheaper alternative & backtracked on pretty much all of the aero changes for 2014 & instead opted to continue with DRS.

  10. Estesark (@estesark) said on 27th June 2013, 6:39

    I have a question on the methodology – have you taken averages of averages, or averages of votes?

    Here’s why it matters: imagine two races – let’s say the 2013 and 2014 British Grands Prix. If only one person votes in the 2013 Rate the Race feature and gives it a perfect 10, while a hundred people vote in the 2014 feature and give it an overall score of of 5.00, then the average of the averages is 7.50, but the average of the votes cast is only 5.05.

    I know the situation here isn’t anywhere near that extreme, but I know there are more people voting now than in the past, so it does make a difference. I’d be interested to know which you’ve used. The latter method, averaging the votes rather than the averages, is generally considered to be a more accurate measure.

  11. Manule said on 27th June 2013, 7:27

    What I find particularly interesting is how high the 2011 season is rated, it is surpassed only by the 2012 and by a very narrow margin at that. Considering how everytime Vettel wins there is always an outcry from someone ‘Oh no, back to the 2011 borefest!’, it is surprising to find that on the basis of the ratings that season was no more borefest than the last year’s. 2009, which in my humble opinion was a real snoozefest with the winner decided by the FIA before it even begun, however, is rarely mentioned as an example of a truly bad season. It appears that the ratings given during each year are more objective, because these things look different to many in the retrospective, quite possibly because of who the respective winners were.

    So, these stats do tell us something, but perhaps less about the quality of the show and more about the audience and how its subjective perception changes. There is one clear indication, though, that something is wrong with this current season, and this is the best statistical proof that the Pirelli went too far this time.

  12. Kelsier (@kelsier) said on 28th June 2013, 6:09

    I have not enjoyed this current season as much as I normally do. Its tyres, DRS, Controversies, TVcoverage that wears you out. But its also been the disappointing results for me, McLaren’s competitiveness, Rosberg loosing out in the standings from reliability even though he outperformed Hamilton, Kimi slipping down in the standings, “new” teams still being new teams, etc etc…

  13. iAltair (@ialtair) said on 30th October 2013, 12:15

    Shouldn’t there be a category like this:

    Pre-2009 season (Without Vettel)


    Post-2009 season (With Vettel)

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