As interesting as strategies might be, I believe that nothing can top the drama of drivers in closely matched cars engaging in wheel to wheel combat on track. An overtake in the pits doesn’t have the high tension of on track battles.
Early in 2011 we saw late race battles for the lead as a result of tire strategy, about as dramatic as it gets. These varied strategies resulted produced cars close to each other on track with different levels of grip. However, as the season progressed, strategies among the front runners seemed to converge and gone were the dramatic late race charges and passes at the front. Even the midfield battles of the upper Q2 drivers’ preying on the low Q3 drivers went away when drivers who made it to Q3 would not even attempt a qualifying lap. Every team found roughly the same best strategy for the race when faced with the options presented.
That is not to say that the problem with F1 is that everyone is too good at what they do, but with the current rules, it certainly hurts the racing to a degree. Unpredictability comes when many variables of a race are out of the control of drivers and engineers, whose job it is to control all of the variables. The variable of gear shifting has been reduced to nil, eliminating the possibility of overtakes resulting from missed gears. Engineers have gotten tire strategy down to a science, and they all result in effectively the same strategy. Drivers are so good that they don’t make many mistakes, and the cars are all highly reliable.
Many most dramatic races we’ve seen in the last decade or so have been the result of the largest variable outside of the control of engineers and drivers, rain. Other great races happened because of big unknowns in tire quality (Canada 2010).
A possible solution? Have Pirelli provide some practice tires for free practice, some average tires just to let the teams set the cars up. Everybody qualifies on special qualifying tires. On race day, there will be two types of tires, the grip and durability of both kept secret to the drivers and engineers until the race itself. Drivers and engineers are forced to make race strategies on the fly. Perhaps a bit artificial, but not any more artificial than DRS or having the top 10 qualifiers start with used tires.
However, this would just be a band aid until the cars are fundamentally changed so that overtaking in an equal car is only highly difficult, but not impossible. F1 right now is like football/soccer with goals half as big and scoring is only possible when one team is fresh and the other is fatigued, but all players get tired at the same rate.