The aftermath of Suzuka

The Drivers’ World Championship is now over and that is bad news for the sport, with another four races to be held. Already the number of journalists planning to go to India has dived. IF there is no title fight, there is not much interest in the individual races, and going through the wildly long-winded media visa process means that the Indian GP will have a much smaller international press corps than normal. It does not make a great deal of sense to make life difficult for the people who are going there to publicise your country, but the Indian love of bureaucracy is such that nothing is easy. There are serious questions still to be answered about the F1 freight because there is no time after the Delhi race to mess about with customs as the equipment is needed in Abu Dhabi. Given that the BBC is still arguing with the Indian government over a whole bunch of equipment that was sent in for the Commonwealth Games in 2010 is not very promising. Still, if India wants to waste the opportunities that F1 brings, who are we to stop them doing it? It is stupid, but than again they would not be the first nation on earth to be stupid when it came to dealing with F1.

The worry for F1 is that the last four races will get less coverage and that this will affect the overall number of eyeballs, which will then have a knock-on effect on sponsors. These days the money folk want to see very detailed assessment of the return on investment and if they see the numbers going down, they will inevitably argue that their contributions should also reduce.

As an indication of the problem it is worth noting that a lot of the F1 media in Suzuka spent more time on Saturday watching the Rugby World Cup rather than the on track action at Suzuka. The story that day was England versus France rather than Jenson and Lewis versus Sebastian Vettel. There is constant competition for space in the sports pages of the big newspapers and so when a championship is decided there is no real need for other races to be covered.

It is not a new problem and it got me wondering whether or not F1 ought to take a look at other ways to structure the title race to ensure that the sport does not suffer commercially if one team is too dominant. Purists will argue that the World Championship should not use any gimmicky points systems to prolong the excitement, but conversely it is the purists who will watch the sport whatever the rules so in fact what they have to say has less impact for the commercial people in the sport. What the wheeler-dealers need is a way to push up the number of diehard fans by trawling in new casual viewers. F1 needs to do a lot more work in this area, particularly with the younger generations who have very different viewing habits to the average F1 fan. The sport has been stuck in the mud in this respect for some time because of the Formula One group’s terror of the Internet undermining its TV rights structures. This will probably mean that in the end the TV deals will have to become Pan-European, rather than being done nation by nation. That is not necessarily a bad thing as a big TV deal is a big TV deal and as NASCAR has proved very large sums of money can be extracted from TV companies if they believe that the product will work for them.

NASCAR has a very long season and often this meant that the championship was settled before the end of the calendar. The points system was structured in such a way as to reduce the chances of that happening, with very little extra reward for winning races, although that had the negative effect of giving the reliable drivers a big advantage over the fast drivers who sometimes dropped the ball. F1 has tried various points systems to try to avoid this kind of thing but with Red Bull and Vettel being as good as they are this year, the system has failed. NASCAR’s system is different and I suspect that the title will not be sorted out until the big rigs roll up at Homestead-Miami Speedway, in Florida on November 20. Championship showdowns usually have the biggest viewing figures and the closer the title race the bigger the number of people interested.

There is an argument that, in this commercial age of sport, sustaining interest levels until the last race is a necessity, which is why so many sports these days have a play-off system that ensures that there is an exciting showdown at the end of a championship. The easiest way to do this is by using a knock-out system, as happens in most World Cup competitions (and reality TV). In the US they have the play-off system and this has been adapated by NASCAR with the “Chase for the Sprint Cup” system, that was introduced in 2004. This has been twiddled with a little since then, but at the moment it means that the top 10 drivers in the title race (plus two wild card entries) go forward to compete in what amounts to a new mini- competition for the last 10 races, with their points totals being reset, at a level that is mathematically unattainable by all the others. This means that while the rest of the field goes on trying to win races, the fight for the title is the main focus. It is a pretty sensible idea if one wants to avoid the end of season slump in viewing figures.

108 thoughts on “The aftermath of Suzuka

  1. When NASCAR went to the Chase system, I pretty much stopped watching it. They got what they deserved when Johnson and Knaus figured out how to game the system and won 5 or 6 in a row. A cheapened title and a boring result. JJ is good but he’s not that good.

  2. Pretty radical thinking Joe, attempting to adapt a Race for the Chase concept for F1.

    It only works for NASCAR because of their 36 race schedule, isolating the last 10 events for the Chase players. Plus they have 43 cars for every race, as opposed to 24.

    With only a max. of 20 F1 races I suppose you could isolate the last 5 for a playoff limited to the top 5 points leaders? Or one car from the top five teams, to create more interest? THAT would really create some team mate driver competitions!!!

    I really have my doubts about this concept as it will not give the top drivers/teams incentive to win races, but merely collect points as long as they are in the top five.
    Not to mention all the tradition objections people will raise.

    Bottom line I don’t think the system needles fiddling; if the sport survived the dominance of the Schumy era (admittedly with regulation tweaks to blunt Ferrari’s advantage) I think it will be just fine just as is.

  3. I’m reading this article as I watch an NFL match; playoffs are indeed a great way to keep interest while being a fair way of deciding the best in a sport. It rewards consistency for the majority of a season, and then rewards end of season form (after the toil of a season) under pressure of a knockout. It also means you have a very definite time and a date where you know things shall be decided, which is very media friendly and marketable.

    Then again I’m not entirely sure the casual viewer would mind that the championship has been decided if the races are exciting, I love seeing drivers throwing caution to the wind for a few races at the end. It is a chance to see their raw driving and racing talent, as opposed to much less tangible championship management skills.

  4. Embracing the internet? On one of the forums it was noted that Martin Whitmarsh called forum and internet chat users ‘sad people’ for discussing aspects of his team . BBC forum after Singapore apparently. I know you don’t watch it but it’s on something called youtube! 😉

    With that attitude I’m not so sure its fair labelling Bernie as the dinosaur holding things back.

    Nice work keeping the sad people entertained anyway.

  5. i don’t think we need a knee-jerk reaction – the last few seasons have been pretty close overall. this season seems exceptional.

  6. Why wouldn’t you add the finishing time gaps for each driver over the entire race series, the champion being whoever has the lowest cumulative gap time over the series?

    So for example a driver who won every race would end with a perfect score of zero seconds of gap. A driver who consistently came in 10 seconds behind the leader in every race would finish with a total of 200 seconds.

    DNFs you could treat in several different ways. Possibly the fairest being to take their gap at the moment they exited; or else be brutal and call it the gap from when they DNFed to the race finish.

    This system effectively turns the series into one long race. It’s very unlikely you’d know the champion until the final race.

  7. I don’t really like “The Chase” that NASCAR has, but I do like how they have points for laps lead etc. Maybe that is something F1 could look into. Having said that, having bonus points for certain achievements in F1 this year wouldn’t have changed the story; Vettel is probably leading just about every statistic that there is relative to performance.

    Joe, do you know if the teams have contingency plans in place in the event that they cannot get their gear out India fast enough? I mean if the BBC are struggling to get their gear out, it would seem there is a high chance that the F1 teams will have the same issues.

  8. It’s a little funny that viewers will switch off now the championship is over, in spite of Vettel having only needed 1 point. Why bother watching Japan if you’re only interested in who wins the championship and nothing else? It’s different for the indifferent journalists, who are paid to write about F1 (whether they do or not, and whether they bother to turn up at the track or not).

    To some extent, it’s the fault of the newspaper journalists who effectively put down the rest of the season just because the championship is over. This flows on to the reader who then may not bother because the journalist isn’t interested.

    Maybe Bernie should put in a penalty system for journalists who don’t show up. I know it would never work in practice, but it’s a nice idea.

  9. As a U.S. based fan of motorsports, I have to admit that the NASCAR chase system is a big reason I quit watching NASCAR (among other things). It was just too contrived for my tastes. They also adopted it in NHRA drag racing, and I have also lost interest in that as well.

    In the U.S., anything that is not called NFL football is going to struggle for ratings once the NFL football season starts. IndyCar, NASCAR, NHRA, etc., all struggle for ratings after the NFL starts. I haven’t seen anybody come up with a decent solution to fight that. Obviously, F1 is going to have a bigger fight, with a worldwide market and a bigger variety of sports to compete against (we seem to be in our own little sporting world in the U.S. – kind of an isolated microcosm, in a way).

    So, the question is how do you keep it compelling? Well, I think the problem lies in the idea of trying to appease the “casual” fans too much, which is what I feel the NASCAR Chase system does. I don’t know if that’s the right thing – I think the key is to stay pure for the purists. Maybe it is a smaller audience, but it is a passionate audience. The casual fans are fickle, and will be on to the next shiny object they see. Why should we cater to people with the attention span of a housefly?

    One series that I think should be studied is the World of Outlaws sprint car series. They have an incredibly long season (60+ races from February to November) with very little TV coverage, but a rabid fan base here in North America. Why? Well, the racing is good, for starters – the cars are insanely fast, and they run on dirt ovals all over the U.S. and Canada, many of which are in small communities (several of the drivers even head down to race in Australia for the off-season). There is an element of danger – spectacular wrecks are pretty commonplace. The technology is surprising, yet within the reach of relatively low-budget teams. Parts failures are common, because they are being pushed to the edge. Most of the teams are single-car teams, which I think is appealing for the hardcore, grass-roots fans that are passionate about it (although, recently NASCAR guys like Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne have been spending a lot of money on two car teams that I feel are not in the spirit of the series – they are “outlaws” for crying out loud, right?).

    Even though sponsorship is critical to the success of the teams, there’s still a decidedly “un-corporate” small-town feel to it that draws people to every race. While there are touring series regulars, there are often local drivers that will compete (and win) when the WoO folks come to town. To top it off, after the race, fans can wander through the pits and talk with their favorite drivers. I think that’s where F1 and NASCAR have lost it – it has become too corporate and too “far away” from the average dreamer. These bigger series need to appeal to the 8 year old kid in all of us and find ways to keep us dreaming. Contrived points systems, unreal budgets, and total domination by the teams with the most money ruin it for those of us that just want to see some good racing.

    I still love F1 for what it is, but the racing itself can be pretty dull. Same goes for NASCAR or the NHRA. The big money teams always win. I want to root for the underdog, or maybe the one-off team that can only afford to race part of the schedule. Change the calendar up. To hell with predictability. Pretend for a moment that racing is not a business (I know, I’m really getting out of hand here) and get back to appealing to the core.

    For a completely different idea, I think if somebody wants to really change things up for the end of the year, a series needs to be split by region – i.e., North America F1 series, European F1 series, Asian F1 series, etc. Each series runs the first 2/3 of the season, and the top drivers of each series then qualify to compete in the World Championship – a 5 or 6 race pitting the best of the best from each series. The drivers and teams have spent the “regular” season racing against one set of peers, and then they get to deal with new personalities in the “postseason.” I think that would be fun, compelling, and give people more connection to the sport through somewhat local heroes.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough and probably didn’t really add anything. Thanks for your contributions to motorsport, Joe – I always enjoy reading your blog.

  10. Since your point is that F1 perhaps should learn from the experience of other sports, the experience of pro sports in the U.S. should teach that playoffs are a double edged sword.

    You have mentioned the recent example of NASCAR, which sought to learn from the success of playoffs of other American sports. While the concept of a wildcard team in major league baseball has been a great success at increasing late-season fan interest, there also are the unfortunate examples of the NBA (basketball) and the NHL (hockey).

    In those sports, participation in the playoffs is open to a sufficiently large percentage of teams that there is little reason to pay attention to the regular season unless your favorite team is one of the mediocre teams for whom playoff access is uncertain. In F1 terms, the analogy would be to recent versions of Williams and Force India. I’m sure we would agree that it would be unwise to aim for a situation in which the only people who have an interest in the regular season are diehard F1 fans plus those who live and die with the fate of Force India and Williams.

    It seems to me that the most successful examples of playoffs are those that involve about 25% of participants. For F1, this means 6 cars or 3 teams. Since success in F1 is much more stratified than in most sports, i.e., no notion of parity whatsoever, it’s unclear how a modified system would add any value. It would no doubt focus attention to the latter part of the season, but at the cost of attention to the pre-playoff races, as everyone knows that the finalists would be Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari. This might be beneficial if sponsors are fooled by an upward trend of late-season viewership. But how long would this fool them?

    The real solution to the viewership issue is to have greater parity such that more than the same 25% of the cars are competing for even a single non-fluke win year after year after year. And, no, I am not suggesting that the sport be watered down. I am only pointing out the F1 consists of just a couple or three major league teams. The great majority of cars provide no competition, not just in a single year, but year after year. Their main role is to fill out the field so that there are more than 6 cars on the grid. One might say that they also let us see young drivers some of whom will be promoted to the majors, but that is a distinctly minor league function.

    The real problem with F1 competition is that F1 is extremely stratified with just a very few actual competitors. We all know that non-competitors make up the greatest portion of F1 participants. The only reason their results matter is F1’s obtuse and secretive system of payments which assigns mysterious but important financial value to 9th and 10th place finishes. When that alone is the main reason for most of the teams’ existence, F1 is guaranteed to have a long term interest problem among those other than the diehards and the tifosi.

    A playoff would aggravate this problem, not repair it, by guaranteeing that only those teams with sufficient development muscle to be strong at the end of the season would have a prayer. It would kill any chance of another fluke success such as the recent Year of the Brawn, which IMO would be a shame.

  11. Too true about the rugby vs the race. Because one can now follow the lap charts plus commentary online, one no longer needs the pictures and audio commentary as much. The lap chart data often tells you more, more quickly, than even the best commentators can manage. So I also ended up watching the WC rugby on TV (which was very exciting) and followed the GP (which was not very exciting) with one eye on the computer screen. If, in 2012, one is forced to pay Sky TV for the privilege of watching races live, I may have to try and watch netball, bowls or curling on TV while following F1 online? A sad, but interesting turn of events after 40 years of faithful F1 adulation…..

  12. That last post kind of got me thinking. On a general level, I think that F-1 is taking itself a little too seriously. They thrive on exclusivity. Only the rich get to walk the grid. It’s become a sport for billionaires to mingle (much like polo). What attracts me to watching races is the three main ingredients; technology, talent, money. Stir them all together and see what you get. I watch the gamut of autosports, from F-1 to NASCAR to LeMans Prototypes to drag racing. Of all of them, the best race I’ve watched all year so far has got to be the Bathurst 1000 last weekend (Aussie V-8 Supercars). I didn’t breath for the last ten laps.

  13. It happens in most sports. Sometimes, championship are decided too early and so what ?
    If Sponsors put less money, they’ll put less money. I don’t see the problem actually.

  14. I agree with the point above that there is an element of journalists just deciding it doesn’t matter rather than the public really turning away. You would think the Hamilton/Button rivalry would still be of interest at this point.

    Another challenge is all of the remaining races except Brazil are new, possibly transitory, and definitely not standalone classics like Spa, Monza, Silverstone, Suzuka, Monaco, and increasingly, Montreal and Singapore. Golf and Tennis avoid these problems by having the several decades-old major tournaments and not having a world championship. If more of the individual F1 events gain classic status and stay around for many years, that would help somewhat.

  15. Here’d be something interesting. With a title wrapped up early….perhaps in the future a mandate like this can happen. Put everyone in a Red Bull and see who’s the best.

    Back to one of your suggestions…I think F1 can be made more compelling if they went away from the “spec” aspect of it, and went back to the way it was in the early to mid-80s with many engine types. I’d also would love to see just a simple few pages of rules and regs for the cars. Let’s see some real innovation again in F1. Four electric motors per wheel KERS and a 4-cylinder turbo vs. V10s and V12s etc, etc…you get the point. When you have the brain power that is in F1 always looking for grey areas…I say remove the grey…remove it all. Make a car with a standard weight, height, width and let the boys (and girls) use their imaginations.

  16. Most people have watched this season knowing exactly who is going to win the world championship and most people who are F1 fans tune in to watch exciting racing so I don’t think the fact that Vettel has won the championship will change much. If anything the quality of racing is likely to be better now that everyone can race freely without the pressure of the championship. There are some very interesting battles, eg Lewis v Button (in the sense of Lewis must want to get some better results that Jenson in the rest of the season).
    We have been spoilt in the past few years with the championship going down to the last race. It would seem unfair and impure to conjour up some sort of play-of for the championship. The best man and car has won this year!

  17. There is no way a championship should be extended artificially. Just last year we had a very competitive season and now we have a problem? The only problem is that McLaren and Ferrari have not been strong enough or consistent enough or both to challenge Vettel’s Red Bull.

    By the way, I believe many British fans still enjoyed Button’s win yesterday, the problem was that Andy Murray was thrashing Rafael Nadal in Tokyo at the same time to split the audience. I couldn’t believe that the Japan Open tennis final and the Japanese Grand Prix were held at the same time. Something should actually be done about this.

  18. NASCAR can be considered entertainment racing, which is why it can just about get away with The Race for the Chase for the Quest for the Cup for the Thing. Formula 1 has always been about who has the fastest car, so introducing gimmicks to artificially make it more interesting doesn’t usually go down well. Look at the reaction to the introduction of DRS for example.

  19. F1 has tried various points systems including dropping a drivers lowest two points scores, so Button would loose Silverstone and The Ring, the battle would still be on…
    Didn’t they once split the season into two halves and let you drop the worst result in each?

  20. F1 is an innovators sport, if you wanted a driver sport, you would put them all in the same car.

    Either you leave some purity to the engineering race, or you add sprinkler systems, and maybe a dance off and Karaoke contest with a public vote and Simon Cowell

    Personally I would rather they made the races good races, and entertained with 2 hours of quality motorsport (and not all rounds deliver this)

  21. Surely the problem with F1 is that it’s a ‘knock out’ championship from the very beginning of a season with only 2 or 3 teams capable of winning a race let alone a championship? Perhaps something simpler like success ballast might be something to consider?

  22. And under that system spots 1 thru 8 of the top 10 would be locked up long before the summer break, leaving a month or 2 in the middle of the season where nothing of consequence was being raced for in the ‘title battle’ other than the Renault/Sauber/Force India/etc squabbling over 9th and 10th.

    That wouldnt make thrilling viewing for the unwashed masses either.

    The only way to prevent that would be with a truly insane scoring system, for example 100 points for the winner down to 75 for last place – giving a true Nascar system where the actual race result is irrelevant.

    If F1 can deliver good racing for the remainder of the season then people will watch it. If that cant happen then that is the problem that needs fixing – not the scoring.

    The biggest problem is that most of the media have absolutely no idea how to present and promote a standalone race with no title implications.

  23. I am not sure things should be changed. This season has clearly been Vettel’s with a complete domination. In no small part, this is due to lack of immediate (that is, from the start of the season) competition from others like McLaren or Ferrari and more importantly, his teammate. If Red Bull are true to their word – and we have no reason to doubt that after last season – then if Webber had more points, we would still have a championship battle on our hands, especially since McLaren and Ferrari caught up and they would have taken points away as well as Webber.

    I take nothing away from Vettel – he has done a great job. But it has been made a bit easier for him this season.

  24. To be honest, sure the championship has only just been decided but even if Vettel left F1 after singapore he would still be easy favourite for the title.

    After Spain it was pretty bloody clear that it was going to get boring.

    Point is, with McLaren not looking to be picking up pace until this weekend and Webber learning more and more ways to end up the damsel in distress and then the guy who saves her in the same race the title fight wasn’t going to be interesting.

    I was hoping that Vettel wouldn’t win, I don’t like him, I don’t like ihs finger, I don’t like his ‘jokes’ or his mannerisms, I don’t think he has been challenged by anyone of note in F1 or previous series and when he has been he has failed miserably, I think he gets way too much praise for winning races and sitting the car on pole when he has the fastest (6+ tenths-1 second) faster than anyone else car and his teammate is can’t work out how the tyres work.

    I don’t like him at all, not with green eggs or ham said sam I am…..

    BUT even I could see the championship fight was going to be incredibly short lived unless a team massively improved which was always going to be the suprise that never happened.

    Easy ways to make the championship fight better
    – 10 8 6 5 4 3 2 1… 1vs2 ge the same points diff as 2vs3. Currently 1-2 is 7 and 2-3 3. So the difference is 2.3333333 times the size.
    – Only allow guys like Rory Byrne and Adrain Newey to be in F1 is there is another top level guy there

    It’s really stupid.. just let it be and make the regulations good for all..

  25. The problem surely is that only McLaren (among the championship contender teams) have had 2 drivers with roughly equal ability, opportunity, and support. Maybe Webebr really has struggled to get a grip of the tyres this year but maybe the support has simply been lined up behind Vettel, just as Alonso is the sole supported chamiponship driver at Ferrari. If Webber had been able to get on closer terms and actually win a race or two, we would likely be looking at a title decider within the last 3 races at most. So for me, in-team equality (team orders) is the issue that needs to solved very clearly.

    I can think of several contrived or convoluted ways to end team orders but think the simplest option would be for teams to have split sponsoship (ie the 2 cars and drivers overalls would carry different sponsorships) and some technical walls, so that in effect we have teams of 1 car each. Switch to a rule allowing 3 cars per constructor to mitigate a little against there being a dud set up (driver or anyone else in that 1 car team underperforming) and hopefully this will mean at least 2 ‘teams’ and drivers will be competing until the end.

  26. what about this “radical” idea…

    Get rid of the commercial people and have a motor race!

    I was at Suzuka Joe, camped down at T1 as I was last year in the pouring rain.

    I was disgusted with what happened, or lack of, in Q3. All these decisions to “improve the show” are commercially driven, which in my opinion, end up detracting from what should be pure and simple racing… But as you said, as a purest my vote counts for nothing!

    BTW, great job by whoever was stewarding. A few bit of argy-bargy going down as racing incidents. As they rightfully should be. I vote get him back for the remainder of the year!..hmmm But as I have discovered my vote doesn’t count!! lol

  27. Surely the points system has prolonged the world championship this year way beyond what you would expect from the dominance of Vettel? He has finished every race and only once not finished on the podium (4th), he has won 9 races, he has been totaly dominant and yet he still only had 20% of the races left to run, Mansell in 1992 had 31% left. Any further adjustments to prolong the season would just have to punish the best team/car/driver…

  28. Joe,
    are you really suggesting to dumb down the scoring system to please the channel-jumpers?
    You, who recently wrote about what happened with pro wrestling, where attempts to please everyone effectively have destroyed the sport?
    You are on a thin ice indeed!

  29. Full marks to Gary Corby for that bit of thinking outside the box!

    One long culmulative race for the World Championship would mean that the guy running in 13th place would desperately want to close on the guy in 12th, that less than perfect cars would be returned to the track several laps later to lessen their ‘retirement penalty’ and that the race winner would be less able to cruise to win in the slowest possible time.

    It’s very clever! [Although I fear it would result in the title going to a Newey car at the moment!]

  30. Best not watch any football then, as we all know that Barca will win the champions league/La Liga and Man Utd will win the premier league. In fact best not watch any football once a top team goes a couple of goals up…

    Oh and for that matter, lets not watch MotoGP either, as Stoners got that sewn up, and if he’s got a decent bike he’ll probably win it again next season too.

    Of course the above is silly, but so is the reaction that because the F1 world drivers championship is decided that people won’t watch the sport and papers won’t report on it.

    This smacks of certain journalists getting upset that they’ll have to be a little more creative in what they produce, as the sport hasn’t produced another cliff hanger.

    @Mike in NY, if they give that much freedom in the rules the cars would be considerably different in performance, and that leads to boring races. One of the major benefits of the current regs is that it’s close at the front. Yes Vettel hasn’t made it look like that, but really without him (he’s performed exceptionally well very consistently whilst have rivals haven’t), the championship would be a fight between the top 4 still. No one would be whinging then and no one would suggest silly systems like ‘The Chase’.

  31. I think the way Vettel was driving this year, no points system imaginable could have stopped him from winning the title at Japan/Korea.

    9 wins, on the podium every race bar one, which was a 4th place. Nobody can match that.

  32. Howabout nIcking an idea from Indycar for when you have redundant races at the end of a season, give out 5 million dollars to the race winner but from a reversed grid. Play offs would be awful but there should be less rigidity to the race format when you have dead rubbers. Given how awful qualifying has become qualifying races could be used. It would be a good opportunity to race some of the reserve/young drivers.

  33. What about simple weight handicapping, Seb’s car would be getting heavier all year,closing the top 5 teams up towards the end of the year

  34. If there are any journalists with passes going spare for the remaining races I’d be only too happy to take their place!!

    (Joe, I can help you with your Indian Visa if you need it, I work out there quite a bit)

    F1 Chase system would make some sense I guess, but like others have commented the issue of the title being over so early isn’t too frequent. If it lead to more races at lower prices I’m all for it!! 38 races a year Nascar style would be insanely good. The problem is development. In Nascar, as I understand it, there is very little development over a year in terms of aero, engine, etc. Nascar has many constants which facilitate the high number of races and chase mentality. F1 is changes race by race, a car can begin the year off the pace and end the year winning. In a Chase system, they would be out of the running.

    Still anything that promotes F1, and maintains the public attention is a good thing.

  35. “The worry for F1 is that the last four races will get less coverage and that this will affect the overall number of eyeballs, which will then have a knock-on effect on sponsors.”

    Well that’s what’s going to happen in the UK next year, with an estimated loss of £3.4 million per race in sponsorship brand awareness, (as calculated from the 2010 figures) … But some hacks either support the Sky deal or ignore it completely, presumably hoping to get a seat on the Sky gravy train.

  36. Re trawling for new, casual viewers:

    As I have said before, albeit not necessarily here, as things stand that will not happen with Sky, not if one is a Sky Virgin, not least because it is subscription TV. As such, there is not nor can not ever be a casual viewer to what ever channel Sky uses to broadcast F1.

    Even for a Sky basic package subscriber, all they will see, if they even bother to press the right button on their handset, will be a notice telling them how to make contact so they may subscribe.

    F1 it seems, is doing its damndest to alienate true fans.

    Like others, I stopped watching NASCAR when it adopted the Chase system. As a diehard motorsport fan, such a system is far too contrived for my liking.

    As an aside; on F1 becoming “Green”, not that it ever was, but, how can it ever hope to be taken seriously, when a team, in this instance Red Bull, can charter a private plane to fly out a replacement front wing.

  37. Well, initially I was thinking about the possibility of granting more points, like couple of points for the free practice, couple of points for qualification and some points for fastest lap, highest speed trap, etc. but this may end up being a nightmare for a spectator to grasp.

    On the other hand, it may be an incentive for each team to try to do their best, for example, Sauber will know they’ll earn some points for the highest speed trap, etc, so they will push in this area.

    The result could be more unpredicted scenarios, again, for example, Vettel wins the race, but he knows that he has to push til the end, as Button will snatch some points for the fastest lap, while Alonso have been on the top for all three free practice sessions, and this could help fill the point gap.

    I don’t know whether this makes some sense, for sure the points awarded should have proper weight, etc … I just thought that I should share this.
    Because this season haven’t been the most exciting, at least for me, not to mention the DRS thing ….

  38. I wouldn’t say ‘the system has failed’. I’d just say that sometimes a driver/team combination is particularly dominant and they’ll walk the championship no matter what the points structure.

    On balance, a very dominant team allows its rivals to start developing earlier for next year’s car as they start to give up on the title, thus enabling them to get the jump on the dominant team

  39. Being one of the die-hards Joe, I’ll watch every race regardless of the title status, but you are correct that my opinion is less significant than that of the wider audience.

    To resolve (or reduce) your problem however, I’d suggest a sliding scale for points throughout the season – earlier races being worth less.
    Usually even the dominant team will receive a strong challenge (or two) in the mid/back end of the season, so a bigger points reward from mid season could close the gap.
    With the biggest haul of the year up for grabs at the last race, you might find the title fight bitter to the very end.

  40. Joe, I understand your thinking but while trying to put my purist bias aside, I definitely think this would be a step too far. The more of these artificial rules are inserted into F1, every year, F1’s identity is further diluted, and that surely can’t be a good thing in the long term for F1’s brand. What is F1 anymore anyway? Is it an entertainment show? Is it a pursuit of technology? Is it sport? Is it a business? I suppose you can argue it’s a little bit of each, but with so many confusing rules changes over the past decade, these components have been clashing against each other.

    What I mean is, this mentality of trying to optimize the rule book every single year has to change. I am definitely not on to live in this past, I have liked some of the new rules (am a big fan of DRS for example), but over do it, ignore F1’s tradition and you’re going to weaken the brand. Changing the way the championship has been decided for its entire history into a playoff system, would be yet another major blow to its identity. Can you imagine the outrage if the English Premier League would ignore over 100 years of history and change the league format, into some playoff thing like this? Football is this popular because it’s easy to understand. F1 is increasingly ever more difficult to understand and keep up with the rule book changes.

    I don’t know the viewing figures, but suspect the Chase hasn’t increased NASCAR’s popularity wildly?

  41. British Superbikes do the same sort of thing. It provided an immense title decider yesterday. It’s the sort of thing you like to see in other sports, not necessarily your own, because at the day it is a gimmick. For example Shane Byrne, one of the strongest competitors in the lead up to the “play-off” bit, has one or two weak weekends in the actual chase and then is out of the runnning.

    On one hand you’ve got F1 trying to improve it’s commercial aspects with more races and longer seasons, but on the other hand the potential to create a “playoff” system that results in the actual “meat” of the season being very short.

    If you wanted to follow that sort of path how about this. 2 F1 World Championship “seasons” per calendar year. 20 races in the year, 10 races in each “season”.

    It messes with the usual statistics horribly, although most of the changes in recent years could be said to do the same (e.g. points system), and besides, historically the world championship was run over much shorter seasons than currently anyway. I’d rather have a full but very short “season” than a very long season that spends two thirds of it weeding out the people you know aren’t going to win anyway and then just resets it for excitement.

  42. The purists will watch the sport whatever the rules, will they? If that were true, my friends and I would still be watching F1, rather than giving up at the final straw of artificial overtaking on top of all of the other silly sporting and technical changes of the last few years.

    Of course, I am fully aware that the stakeholders do not care about losing six viewers if they believe that their fiddling may attract 12 new viewers in lieu.

    I just hope for the sport’s sake that those 12 casual viewers stay with it for 30 or 40 years, visit Grands Prix each year, and buy the merchandise.

  43. I’m sure tv viewing figures have been down for the group stage matches of the Champions League in recent years. Certainly attendances have been for the traditional English entrants at least. The media & other commentators constantly put this down to the nature of how easy it is for the ‘big teams’ to make there way through as one of their groups top two, to the extent now that full strength sides aren’t always fielded in the early stages of the tournament. If the title was decided by a play-off event (and in UK league football, play-off events are only used to decide the last position of promotion or relegation), the public would have little incentive to pay attention to the first stage of the season. Sure the CL final has amazing viewing figures but would an F1 race decider see the same lift and if not would it make up for viewers lost en route? Especially considering that from 2005 onwards, the race for the drivers title has been up for grabs up until at least the final 3 races in every year anyway…. and the final one in several iirc.

  44. What? OK, so F1 hasn’t been a “proper” sport for awhile now, but to introduce an artificial system just to keep interest alive until the end of the season… Well, I guess NASCAR really does rule, doesn’t it?

    So, if we’re going to go down this route, what F1 needs to do is have two Champions. There will be a “series” Champion and that’s the driver/constructor who wins the Championship for the whole season – except for the very last race…

    The actual World Champions will be decided only at the last race of the year. Whoever wins that last race will be the True World Champions. Exciting… Right?

  45. If the championship is won early – oblige the winning team to build 24 identical cars and have everyone in the same car for the final races.

    Trust me – people would watch.

  46. With all the rule tweaks in the world, Sebastien Vettel has been untouchable on the race track all year – he has thoroughly deserved his World Championship. We had a 4-way title decider last year in the last race of last year, in Abu Dhabi, and it was one of the most dire races I have ever watched. This years racing is more exciting to watch, this will draw in the viewers, not an artificial jigging of the points system.

  47. Joe, doesn’t this once again come down to the fact that there are too many races thus allowing for the chance of either/or the WDC & WCC finishing early like it did this year? With fewer races it prolongs the race for the titles thus getting the worldwide viewership & press coverage that Bernie wants. Certainly he loses the fees for hosting a grand prix but [in the overall picture] doesn’t he lose more if sponsors decided to either reduce or end their sponsorship in the sport?

  48. I enjoy the technical battle between the teams at all levels on the grid. Having teams consisting of hundreds or even thousands of people constantly striving through a development year to get their car 0.2 of a second per lap quicker than their rivals is incredible.

    Having some kind of system where the final race of the year was the decider would mean that the teams would work right up until the final race to perfect their technical package. That could also mean that the following year the new cars are not as developed at the beginning, leading to car related dramas that are unfortunately rare these days.

    Maybe keep the points system as is but use the overall result only to allocate grid slots for the final race. Make the drivers shoot it out for the World Championship in one weekend with no quali on Sat but Race 1 which allocates ballast for Race 2 on Sunday.

    Perhaps keeping the constructors title as it currently is, based on season long points but with an extra large allocation from the final Sat and Sun races.

    Could there be a two division constructors championship with the newer teams fighting for something other than pride, and the more established teams that are having a bad year working to stay in the top division?

    I’m glad I don’t have to decide on any changes as it is interesting to think about alternatives, but we must be careful not to over react to what was an exceptional car/driver/team performance in 2011 (with more to come this year for sure)

  49. Slightly off topic I know, but could someone please tell me when Sebastian Vettel actually becomes world champion. I realise he now has an unassailable points lead over every one else but I assume he can’t actually be World Champion untill sometime after the last race of the seasion
    Andy

  50. F1 has not had a thrilling championship since 2007 with Hamilton Vs. Alonso Vs. Raikkonen.

    What made that season special was the emotion. Everyone had an opinion about what was happening. Even reading this blog made me emotional as certain drivers and circumstances were discussed. I could hardly wait until the next race to see who would win.

    2006, Schumacher Vs. Alonso was also fantastic. Pure tension as two drivers battled it out. 2008 was also really great as Massa and Hamilton fought for the title.

    However, 2009 – 2011 have seen fantastic races but no real passion.

    For F1 to be successful it needs two drivers with a dislike of each other to be fighting for the title.

  51. Mike in NY. If you deregulate F1 development then the richest teams will just be further ahead, surely?

    I think what is really required to even the grid out, and therefore extend the championship interest, is a reform of much of the previously mentioned secretive ‘prize’ money system. These days, Ferrari effectively get a bonus for being painted red even if they’re a bit crap and/or play nasty (“Fernando is faster than you”). It’s just so incredibly archaic, I can’t see much changing until Bernie pops his proverbial clogs though.

  52. Well this was a wordy one both original (sorry Joe) article and responses. As others have said this just happens sometimes – look at the Schumacher dominance with Ferrari – doubtless Bernie will mess about with the rules in due course if RB continue to dominate. As to people turning off and the sponsor’s reaction that’s not going to do Bernie’s Sky deal much good is it when – if as I suspect – numbers drop dramatically for all be sky races BBC do not cover live.

    As to the Indian GP if they want to screw up the following one with red tape presumably they won’t be getting any more………..

  53. The problem in F1 is that if one team has a distinct advantage over the others because of the nature of its technical development (e,g Brawn, Red Bull) then its sometimes impossible for the others to catch up during the season.

    Your idea sounds interesting to combat that aspect of the sport, although given the way the teams reserve their resources at the moment – whether it’s not going out in Q3 😦 or conserving fuel/tyres/engines etc – I can imagine them doing the “minimum” to get themselves through to the next stage of the Championship – pretty must as they currently do in Qualifying.

    Maybe if they stopped limiting everything it would more “balls to the wall” than “good housekeeping” and your idea would be a go-er! (no medals though ;-))

  54. I can’t help think the best way to keep interest alive while keeping the purists (like me) happy is to just have increasing points for the races as they go through the season.

    With later in the season races worth more, a driver who looks out of it early on can still grab big points and get themselves back in the hunt. The best thing for me is it’s the same for everyone (not just the top 10 as the Chase is).

  55. Not a bad idea Joe. (Note: I can agree with you Joe unless it regards Lotus)

    Once the title is wrapped up, how about reversed grids?
    It’ll keep the sponsors happy too?

  56. Hi Joe, by reading the headline and jumping straight in ala monkey news style, here goes.

    Why does championship over with 4 races to go necessarily bad?

    If S Vettel can go out and race and win now it would be great, it will put him in good stead when some more real racers return next year. It is great to see Jenson ruling again, seeing him rule Suzuka was fantastic, leaving the Red Bull for dead. Nearly watched the whole thing!

    With the big champ hoopla this may generate, perhaps people might actually tune in if they can see some real racing.

    I love the idea of a micro V12 that pumps out 120 db and meybe like 1kw to a subwoofer. The rest electric.

  57. I’d love to see races on the “classic” tracks like Monaco, Spa, Suzuka, Interlagos, etc. be give double points for winning or something. Sprinkle six of those throughout the year and suddenly it’s not so easy to wrap up the championship early.

  58. Till the 80s, most years had a ‘best n results’ rule, preventing early leaders from sitting on their points lead and going for positions. There was also a ‘Best n from first x/2 races, Best n from second x/2 races’ formula some years. That might not be a bad idea either.

    Anyway, the point I was making that the ‘all points from all races’ formula has only been used in the last 20 years or so, it’s not some holy cow of the sport.

  59. Radical solution for the coverage: insist major sponsors also advertise around coverage. Even a quarter page would do wonders for editorial interest. Block book this centrally, and it would be a very good deal.

    Aren’t these other correspondents actually paid to cover F1, though, and not watch the rugger? Guess matters not, if won’t be printed.

    Gary Corby’s idea reminds me (hope i have this right) of MSC being a country mile ahead at Monza, and his lap times gave chance that he might break a longstanding overall speed record. The numpty backed off. Don’t recall any much specifics, but i can remember being seriously annoyed, yelling as his sectors dropped to cruise. So i like Gary’s idea. Maybe it could be a points multiplier. I like this even more because it puts some pressure back on what have become incredibly reliable machines.

    Playing with my hobby horse again, non-championship race meets, with extended rules, third cars, applicant teams, would be an interesting filler for after the main battle is decided. Use the track time. Several others have noted here that the grid is getting a bit long in the tooth. Would i pay to see test drivers in the field? Not directly, no. But i would pay to see how the top teams make it through a denser field, and most certainly would pay to see the effect of the upward pressure this would place on the established drivers in comfy seats. Though now we have a first past the numerical post lock – down, that surely puts everyone on their toes, none of this taking it easy with the differences mid season lark. Instead of fretting about the front grid dominance, we now give the midfield reason to push.

    I just realized my proposal is a bit like films which end in bun fights. Blazing Saddles and They Might Be Giants come to mind (the second doesn’t end that way, does rather well before fade to black) or Casino Royale, in another way. So my earnest proposal is that we award not points, but those Bernie Dolls Joe pictured in Suzuka, and some kind of kindergarten teddy bear wielding playoff is arranged. Whoever ends up with the most Bernie Dolls, gets the prize money.

  60. Firstly it seems to me that above in the first paragraph, Joe illustrates (and with a stretch, possibly defines) the difference between genuine fans of the racing, who will watch every race for the thrill and interest of it regardless of any points system and those that have a commercial interest in it; obviously this includes news journalists for national or dailies but hopefully not the specialists such as Joe, JA and co.
    However the possible civil disturbances around the race in India may bring those absent news journalists back again.

    If one wanted the championship to go all the way through the season the opposite points system to what we have would be required. ie Not a big gap between points awarded but no gap. So the winner would get 10 second 9 third 8 and so on. This way you would not end up with ridiculous and impossible unbridgeable gaps between the leaders in the championship, but with a whole bunch of possibles all very close on points. Yes it would be very possible to win the championship without ever winning a race just as it used to be, nothing wrong in that at all; unless you subscribe to an elitist view that winning is everything. Bernie seems to hold this type of view with his oft suggested medal system, which effectively means only the top three teams need bother to race.

    If sponsors did reduce their input then they might find the answer to that old question of which half of their money is wasted.

  61. Hi Joe,

    Been thinking about this issue for a while and thought of a possible solution. You have a 21 race season, roughly divided into 7 European Classics, 7 Northern Hemisphere, and 7 Southern Hemisphere races. Then you have 3 mini championships centred around these sets, so a Euro Cup, Northern Cup, and Southern Cup, if you will. There is still the World Championship decided on overall points, which remains the big crown, and links to the constructors championship.

    This would act like league/association cups in football, giving you something to “win” even if you are out of the main race. With some clever structuring, you could have one mini championship played out in the first half, perhaps the Euro Classics, and the other two decided right at the end. Should eliminate start of season dominance factoring into the mini championship deciders at the end of the season.

    More battles, more trophies, more interest! Plus you could generate more local interest surrounding the relevant mini championship. In the case of next season it would be the United States GP and the Brazil GP right at the end deciding the Northern and Southern cups respectively.

    Just a thought…

  62. Andy and Joe – surely Vettel already is world champion

    by the way it seems there are now 2 of us! – I was not Oct10 8am – I’m Spartacus etc..

    1. Michael C

      If he was already World Champion I would have written that, wouldn’t I? Legally-speaking he is not World Champion until he is crowned.

  63. Instead of tinkering with the points system, how about introducing a handicap system into the race. For each point you have in the championship, you have to carry a specified extra weight – that should slow Vettel down a bit! Actually, I guess you would have to base it on average points per race, otherwise the cars would get slower as the season progressed. It would also have an interesting, and variable, effect on downforce, grip, tyre wear etc . I’m surprised Bernie hasn’t suggested this already!

  64. The cars are too reliable. No amount of points fiddling will sort that. Bring back some corporate Darwinisim, remove budget caps and welcome the best engineering minds into the big budget sweetshop. Until drivers are afraid of flat through eau rouge F1 has lost a bit of its allure.

  65. The difference between F1 and NASCAR is simple: in F1 every driver is fighting for every square inch of asphalt and in NASCAR there are 43 drivers fighting for the won. So it is what you prefer. I for one like the chase cannot see what’s wrong with it and one day it will become clear how good Jimmie Johnson is.

  66. Personally I still like the idea Bernie had a few years ago (and endorsed by Robin Miller of Speed TV/Versus). Whoever wins the most races is the champion.

  67. what really got me thinking this year was the fact that coverage on f1 dropped drastically in the german media, even though vettel was winning everything, and was on his way to become the youngest double world champion. additionally, there were at one point six german drivers on the grid.
    this is especially true for the mainstream media, were formula one almost didn’t take place, apart from rtl, which broadcasts the races. for example, spiegel online, germanies largest internet newspage, used to have an article as well as a compilation of international newspaper quotes on its front pager for every race. this year, they hardly did that.
    if you take into account that formula one was incredibly popular during the schumacher years, something is really wrong.

  68. At least the title race being over will mean those that can’t afford Sky next year can get some practice in not watching F1 over a weekend. I got up early to watch Japan but at the end decided it wasn’t really worth the effort and I would have had more fun going for a 10k run in the pouring rain – how the BBC pundits rated this a great race is beyond me, I wish I had their rose-tinted spectacles…I will be going for that run instead of watching Korea…

    The real issue is that Red Bull appear to be following Ferrari’s tactics of putting all their weight behind a lead driver which means that in the event of them producing a winning car provides fans with a one-sided championship with no “fight” finishing long before the season does…who really wants to watch that?

    The true measure of great drivers like Senna is that they wanted to measure themselves directly against the best (Prost), not run & hide away in some cossetted environment protected against competition, only this will produce true box office for F1 (& Sky).

  69. Joe,

    The only problem here is the fact of Red Bull’s domination. In the last six years, this is only the second time the championship has been decided early. And one of those (2009) was decided in the penultimate race.

    The points you raise are extremely valid, (I was thinking about when total points were calculated on ‘best of’ basis.) Fighting for TV coverage is an extremely natural emotion, however, trying to sledgehammer every single person around the world into watching something they don’t want to watch is wrong because it will never be achieved. Much like race drivers, there will always be a new generation of young fans switching on for the first time and going “Wow, how amazing is this!” Like me when I was five, catching Gerhard’s crash in Imola was something that got my attention (hey, I was only five and didn’t understand the severity of what I was witnessing. Plus he was called Berger! I’d been to McDonald birthday parties and thought it odd that someone was named after a type of food, and from then on, was the only name I could remember for a while.) I tuned in race after race to see how well Gerhard was doing. (He won the Canadian Grand Prix on my 8th birthday!! What a great present!)

    However long and boring that last paragraph was for you, Joe and everyone (sorry!) my point is that the majority of fans come to a sport naturally and develop a love and passion over time. Much like a good lady or gentleman, depending on your taste. If it(the sport) or she (the lady) is flashy and attractive and gains your attention with all manner of tricks but there is no substance underneath, LUST does not turn to LOVE.

    But hey, much like a good relationship, you survive through think and thin…

    …most of the time.

    Thanks for reading

    Peter J

  70. Hi Joe really like the blog and the writing over the years. When a sport tries to make itself appeal to an audience group that does not really care that much we get disaster. The chase is a fake joke so as is the NHL in Arizona.

  71. Na$car would have tacked another 150 lbs of lead onto the Red Bull about mid season to make them more competitive with the rest of the field.

  72. I find the sports reluctance to embrace the Internet and media prehistoric. In an attempt to attract casual fan friends to the sport I often send someone a YouTube link of an interesting pass/crash of the weekends race only to too often find fom have removed the link by the time my colleague tries to watch. The BBC iplayer is nor available in Ireland even though I watch the races on BBC. the most annoying thing is not that fom employ men in suits to trawl through YouTube removing videos, but that they do so without offering any alternative. your thoughts mr saward?

  73. interestingly Jonathan Palmer introduced this kind of points system play off in the British Superbike Championship last season, following a rather tedious season the previous year where the championship was decided very early and clearly sponsors/tv werent happy with the lack of interest.

    so this weekend, the last races of the British superbike season 4 riders were still in contention, and it wasnt till the last race where it came down to the final two and was literally a who finished in front who won scenario, and it came down to the last lap, last corner, last half metre and the championship was won by about 6000th of a second.

    which even though I hate the concept of artificially fixing a championship (Im a purist the best driver/team must win over a season IMO) in such a way, have to admit it produced drama/tension/cliffhanging excitement, the last two laps where places, and the championship, were being swapped every corner are the best two laps of any racing I think Ive seen domestic level, maybe even international.

    now whether F1 could engineer such a finish even with a stacked points system, Im not sure. lets not forget Abu Dhabi last year, tedious anticlimatic did more to damage peoples impression of the sport (heck it gave us Super Mario F1 DRS kers and tyres that dont last) than any early championship finish might.

    and the problem is rather than an early championship decider taking interest away at the end of a season, the fixed points system removes interest from the start instead , why bother sending reporters to cover a sport where its not until its 3/4trs over that the championship contenders come into play.

    it also means as a spectators theres no need to follow early races closely anymore because they actually have smaller impact, so why bother getting up early to watch Australia, Malaysia, China or the snooze fest of Bahrain, why even as reporters cover them in depth.

    so I think you have to be wary of the consequences of changes like that.

  74. Why not have one championship race and let all of the drivers draw for car numbers out of a top hat?

    I’d love to see what Trulli could do in an RB7, or if Alonso could get a good result in an HRT.

    /sarcasm

  75. Fiddling with the points won’t make a bit of difference to someone winning a championship (ok, technically getting enough points not to be beaten in the championship) before the end of the season. If you look back at Schumacher’s dominant season, which led to the points being changed to 10-8-6, the newer points system would have made the difference of Schumacher securing the title a single race later. Many people hailed the new points system, and the current one when it started, but in both cases the change in points didn’t change how the championship unfolded.

    When one driver dominates and (note: important bit coming up) there is no clear and consistent challenger, then the season will be decided early. The number of points on offer is then irrelevant. The only solution to that problem is to have the championship decided over a single race.

    The only system I’ve heard that would make a significant change, would be Bernie’s medals. I am not a supporter of the idea as it is more likely to end the race for a championship sooner when there is a dominating driver.

  76. I see a lot of disagreement with my position on deregulation. Rich teams will always be able to spend a lot to gain speed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can corner the market on great ideas. Who’s to say Force India or Williams can’t come up with some crazy design the big boys at Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull could come up with.

    To be honest…screw innovation entirely then….put true stick shift manual gear box back in the cars and get some heal-toe action back in the game. Let’s see some skill then.

    1. Mike in NY,

      That is like saying that pilots who flew Spitfires were better than pilots who fly F-22 Raptors. Technoloy moves onwards and F1 drivers must adapt. The good guys are still the good guys even if the machinery is different.

  77. @ joesaward

    > Mike in NY,
    >
    > That is like saying that pilots who flew Spitfires were better than pilots who fly > F-22 Raptors. Technoloy moves onwards and F1 drivers must adapt. The
    > good guys are still the good guys even if the machinery is different.

    Agree about the “better” part. But one imagines the Spitfire drivers were more colorful. (I wonder if that’s an illusion too.) Colorful does have something to recommend it, provided it’s not the obnoxious kind. Are any of today’s F1 guys true characters?

    Can we all agree the Spitfire is far prettier than modern equivalents?

    Speaking of which… I attended a Pebble Beach auction a few years ago when one of Gurney’s ’67 F1 Eagle was up for grabs. Went for a paltry $600K, which I thought a steal. My bride agreed it belonged in our living room, said the sofa could move to the kitchen to make room. Too bad we were $580K short…

  78. The answer lies in the parity of the cars not the points system. As we saw on the weekend, there were a variety of drivers and manufacturers who were potentially in contention for the win. Tinkering with rules only means its easier for one party (Brawn, RBR, etc) to steal a mark on their adversaries.

  79. @ Adrian Newey Jnr

    > The answer lies in the parity of the cars not the points system. As
    > we saw on the weekend, there were a variety of drivers and
    > manufacturers who were potentially in contention for the win.

    There are several places where “parity” might fit, but F1 is not one of them. Barring a miracle or a crash-a-thon caused by foul weather, 18 of 24 cars have zero chance of even a solitary win, let alone fighting for a championship. Face it, F1 uses a minor league horde to fill out the grid beyond its very few major league cars. F1 is effectively 3 different tiny leagues pretending to be one.

  80. Joe sorry (no I’m not) to be pedantic but what I meant is that he is already the current world champion anyway (back-to-back etc) – on second thoughts I am being pedantic but that is the point I was making

  81. So most of the F1 media were more interested in the rugby than the F1. Says enough doesn’t it. Probably the same idiots droning on about Lewis losing his mind.

    As a fan of F1, I care about the races as much or even more than the WDC, which to my mind should come from winning races. So what if it gets wrapped up early, it doesn’t mean all the remaining races are meaningless or the action will be any less exciting. As for the casual viewer, are they going to care about the WDC situation when they channel hop and end up on the F1? I think it’s nonsense that the system needs looking at. The problem is that apart from Brazil, all the remaining races are, due to their nature and location, crap ones.

  82. wouldn’t have made a difference this season , but personally I would like to go back to the system of being able to drop your worst results

    I believe that the risk/reward balance is not correct at present eg do you risk trying to overtake the leader when you have 2nd place points in the bag ; if you knew that you could drop the result if you failed to finish the odds could change in favour of going for it

    something like best 16 results out of 20 would probably work

    when button won the championship in 2009 his car advantage disappeared mid season , so he carefully picked up the points where he could and ambled home ; if memory serves [ it doesn’t always ] there was only one race during the second half of the season where he appeared to feel that the odds were to go for it ; with the 16 from 20 rule that would not have been possible

  83. The NASCAR Chase is reason enough this week for Sports Illustrated to put a picture of Jimmie Johnson on the front cover. Yes the article is about can the #48 make it six but still, this time of the year the Chase is in direct competition with the MLB. Lowe’s must be laughing all the way to the bank.

  84. People need to be able to differentiate sport from scripted entertainment. You are not going to get 3.6 laughs per minute from the interview of a sportsman just as you are not always going to get a climax at the end of the penultimate episode -sorry race- of the season.

    We had enough messing about with the championship points system when Schumacher winning too quickly was deemed to be a problem. As a result we have a system that benefits consistent podium finishes rather than having as big a gap between the place that we once had.

    With F1 in the UK disappearing on to Sky who other than the die hard fan is going to pay to watch it. I have missed maybe 6 races on TV since 1978 and I have no intention of paying £60 a race to get Sky.

    If I miss those races why would I watch the other 10. For many years I have complained about my local track – Knockhill – putting races on when there is an F1 race. If things continue as they are I will be seeing a lot more races in the flesh next season.

    When people have said in the past that they were going to quit F1 for one reason or another I have always said I would never let Ecclestone and Mosley drive me away from my sport. I guess I could have been wrong about that.

  85. Joe,

    I’m sure you expected this amount of comments from your readers.
    And I agree talking/thinking about these things IS stimulating.

    And I am always gratified with your idealistic approach to alternative thinking.
    Except for that New York F1 race idea. If it ever happens (including the latest New Jersey fantasy) it will be my pleasure to buy you dinner in The City.

  86. I’m afraid I totally disagree with this idea. Yes, I hold my hand up to being a purist, but I don’t like the idea of end-of-season play-offs/shoot-outs in other sports that I follow a lot less too – like British Superbikes or Rugby Union.

    One thing is that usually in these sports the battle for championships/promotion would be very tight even without the play-offs. In the English Football League One last season, Southampton and Huddersfield Town had an almighty battle for automatic promotion; Huddersfield broke the club record for unbeaten wins but were beaten to 2nd by Southampton and then lost in the play-off final to Peterborough. Obviously the team knew the rules and have to both live and die by the sword but I thought it was a very unfair way to finish what should have been a season worth celebrating.

    In an F1 contest a similar thing has happened; this is the first time since 2004 that the season has been wrapped up well in advance of season’s end. In between, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 all went to the wire. So it’s not – yet – as if dominant seasons are par for the course in the sport. In mitigation, you have written something thought-provoking and the viewing figures may well need addressing when a title is sealed early, but I still agree more with your suggestion of solving this via opening up to the fans and general public via internet etc. The increased overtaking/on-field drama in 2011 should help but failing that maybe we could have a Flyaway Trophy for those who do the best at the long-haul races. It’s an awkward example but the general point is maybe a trophy that keeps things competitive but doesn’t detract from the overall, season-long championships would be the solution if one is needed – rather than some sort of NASCAR-style Chase.

    1. Rishi,

      If you read what I wrote you will see that I am not saying this is what F1 needs. I am saying “Perhaps the sport should consider new ideas”

  87. Rishi,

    > In an F1 contest a similar thing has happened; this is the first time since 2004 > that the season has been wrapped up well in advance of season’s end. In
    > between, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 all went to the wire. So it’s not – yet –
    > as if dominant seasons are par for the course in the sport.

    I agree. At the same time, I must admit that each change to American football and baseball re: the playoffs watered down the meaning to the regular season to some degree, and with each proposal enacted I saw the ruination of the sport. But when the enactments had a year or three under their belts, I had to admit I was wrong and that much was gained while very little was lost. While I still view The Olde Days when there were no playoffs beyond the series between 2 distinct leagues as being noble, heroic, and pure, I do so while admitting that I suffer from Ye Olde Fart’s Disease…

    > … I still agree more with your suggestion of solving this via opening up
    > to the fans and general public via internet etc. The increased
    > overtaking/on-field drama in 2011 should help but failing that maybe
    > we could have a Flyaway Trophy for those who do the best at the
    > long-haul races.

    You realize, I’m sure, that this idea is tacit admission that it’s not really a World Championship series at all, but rather the English (plus Ferrari, a few Germans and a solitary French) Championship. Not quite the same thing as global, much like baseball’s World Series…

  88. Steven Roy

    > With F1 in the UK disappearing on to Sky who other than the die hard
    > fan is going to pay to watch it. I have missed maybe 6 races on TV
    > since 1978 and I have no intention of paying £60 a race to get Sky.

    How much? (This is a real question. I don’t know if you are exaggerating for effect or telling a truth.)

    > If I miss those races why would I watch the other 10…. [stuff deleted] …
    > When people have said in the past that they were going to quit F1 for
    > one reason or another I have always said I would never let Ecclestone
    > and Mosley drive me away from my sport. I guess I could have been
    > wrong about that.

    If someone with your historic loyalty to F1 can be driven away by the prospect of getting “only” 10 F1 races on your own terms, then surely it will be no mystery why the great majority of American race fans (who get only 4 in a convenient way and who have a variety of very convenient alternatives for seeing truly fast drivers at work) don’t put much stock in F1.

    Personally, I am surprised that so many Brits seems so quick to turn away from what historically has been not so much a World Championship as it has been an “English cottage industry plus Ferrari Championship” (with a recent influx of Germans)…

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