Before the introduction of the DRS and Pirelli tyres, there was a lot of talk about how Formula 1 could make itself more exciting. It seemed that every year (with such predictable regularity that you could set your watch by it), Flavio Briatore would try and make a case for reverse-grid races. The talk has largely quietened down this year, but one thing that I’ve always wondered about is whether Formula 1 could indulge in unique-format races.
This is something that commonly practices by other racing series. For example, the V8 Supercars have the Bathurst 1000, an endurance race where the cars are shared by two drivers. And Indycar has experimented with events such as the Firestone Twin 275s, which involves two seaprate races at the one circuit over the course of the race meeting. I had largely forgotten about it until I saw this image:
This is a circuit that is going to be built in Rio de Janeiro’s Ricardo de Albuquerque neighbourhood. As you can see, there is no clearly-marked start/finish line on the plan, and nor is there a clearly-marked racing direction. I am unsure as to which way the racing takes place; that tight hairpin after a straight on the right suggests it could be raced in one direction, but on the other hand, the two tight corners on the left-hand side could be used to slow the cars down for the final corner, meaning racing would go in the opposite direction. And then it occurred to me that this circuit may have been designed so that races could take place going in both directions (but not, you know, at the same time).
This year, Indycar introduced the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway: two races, with two separate grids (one controversially decided by a random draw, but that is to be changed for 2012), and half points on offer for each race. It occured to me that Indycar could use this format in Rio, with one race in one direction and the second race in the other direction. Each race would have its own practice and qualifying sessions. But then I asked myself: why should Indycar have all the fun? The Brazilian Grand Prix could be reformatted to have two separate races in opposite directions, with points being offered under the pre-2010 system to the top eight places. Of course, this would mean giving up on Interlagos (a sacrifice I am unwilling to make).
This idea opened the floodgates: could Formula 1 experiment with individual race formats? It would certainly be a way of injecting personality into some events (*cough*Valencia!*cough*). For example, FOTA could pick our Grands Prix – like Monaco, Silverstone, Monza and Spa – to be “Grand Slam” events, with double points on offer. Or, since the rules dictate that a race must be run “for two hours, or to the first lap over three hunndred kilometres”, a race could be run on a two-hour clock instead of race distance (Monza is over in seventy-five minutes, so why not go for two hours instead?).
So, is this a good idea, or should race formats remain identical?