Lounging about…

Here in the lounge at Charles de Gaulle, with the security checkpoint a fast-fading memory and no-one prowling around with a machine-gun, there is plenty of time to mull over life, love and the universe. Half the people in this lounge look like Gérard Lopez (so it is thus a good place to pitch Gillette Fusion Proglide Flexball products), but in reality none of them are the man himself. He remains the invisible man of F1. When you stop and think about it, being a team principal who only comes to a few practice sessions in an entire season is a fairly odd arrangement and not one that is overly good for any team. Strangely enough, the only person I do recognise in the lounge is Frédéric Vasseur (or ART/Spark fame), who may – or may not – become Team Principal at Enstone, if and when there is a takeover of the team by Renault. I could go over and ask but we have already spoken on the subject and he has made it clear that he would do the job in the right circumstances so, even if it is all decided, I doubt he is about to blurt it out to me. I am not one of those journalists who feel the need to start grilling people wherever and whenever one bumps into them. Anyway, it’s too early for that sort of thing, so I shall leave him to his matinal musings, unless he wants to come over for a chat.

Elsewhere in F1, the latest game of Charades is now finished and everyone guessed quite quickly that the Todt/Ecclestone team had chosen the word “bluff” for their turn. Now it is the turn of the manufacturers to have their go and, after several committee meetings,they have selected the phrase “tangled web weaving”, which will take everyone rather longer to figure out, as there are lots of creeks up which they may paddle and which may lead nowhere at all.

While all this is simmering away in the background, the troops are gathering once more in Abu Dhabi for the final round of the World Championship.  Going racing is always good fun, but given the points structure that we have these days, there is little to get excited about beyond whether Lewis or Nico will win the race on Sunday, or whether lightning will strike the F1 world and the path will be opened for an unlikely victory for Pastor Maldonado. All the championships are done and dusted and the only point of excitement is whether or not Valtteri Bottas or Kimi Raikkonen will come out ahead in their Finnish slug-fest for fourth place. You have to be a serious fan, or come from Pallas-Yllästunturin Kansallispuisto, to get excited about that. Whatever happens, Bottas is going to come out on top in image terms, because beating/nearly beating a Ferrari with a Williams is a much more worthy effort than vice versa.

Elsewhere there are some minor placing fights that will make the carbon composite suppliers smile, notably Maldonado versus Nasr for 13th. The Constructors’ Championship offers little hope of any great change, if one excludes the possibility of a McLaren 1-2.

There are times when one wonders whether NASCAR is smarter than F1 by making sure that every championship showdown has four contenders… And before the old curmudgeons dust off their typewriters and, with a hrmph and vague tsktsk noises, hammer away at un-oiled keys to complain to the nth degree about these flashy ideas from across The Pond (I must win a prize there for having a sentence with no fewer than three vowelless words – without even the letter y!), I should add that I am only half-joking. Why is F1 so stuck in its own mud (or should that be merde?) that it will not consider any kind of play-off format? I know that it was not like that “in my father’s day”, but a scoring system is a scoring system – and teams deal with the rules they are given. In any case, points systems have changed in F1 many times, so comparing the different eras is of no great value.

I saw on Twitter yesterday that Lewis was plugging his arrival in Dubai aboard his Bombardier Challenger 605. In the words of Shania Twain, that don’t impress me much… I’m coming in on an Airbus A380.

105 thoughts on “Lounging about…

  1. A perfectly timed article into my inbox to break the monotony of the business email over morning coffee, and if Lewis should be reading your blog Joe, I think the Shania Twain lyric may well be entirely lost on him, Shania not being in the Kardashian crew I don’t believe

    1. No you’re not wrong.
      In recent seasons he has developed a crippling condition in his wallet region every time he sees one of his cars disappear in a shower of carbon fibre shards.

  2. I’d be interested in hearing from Nascar fans about whether a Nascar champion feels like a worthy champion? I understand the concept just have that query.

  3. How about a twist on the NASCAR idea where F1 has a ‘Playoff’ (for want of a better term). Keep the WDC as it stands, but the top drivers after a certain point in the season get to fight out for a second award.

    That keeps the ‘purity’ of the best driver over the season winning the WDC while offering something to watch if it gets wrapped up in September. It would get even more fun if the WDC did go down to the final race or two with strategy as to who chases what title.

    1. I’ve had this idea – which might be total rubbish – about dividing the world into “regions” in the championship. So you’d have the races in America, the Far-East (including Australia), the “East” (Russia, Azerbaijan, Abu-Dhabi, Bahrain and maybe Hungary in one bunch) and the “West” (the rest of the European races) having their separate championships where a “regional champ” is crowned and points toward the world title would be scored according to the drivers’ overall position at the end of each “regional championship”.

      You wouldn’t need to rewrite the calendar either necessarily as the “regional championships” could run in parallel to each other.

      THEN adding a season-ending double-point race – outside the regional championships, where the title is decided – would be pretty exciting.

  4. In looking to keep interest alive till the end of the season, surely the first thing is to champion this weekend being another race to be won on its own merits?, and not just a race win but a Grand Prix win! Even if on this occasion the only likely contenders are Hamilton vs Rosberg vs an upset, it’s still another notch all 20 racers, and a good deal more not in the championship, would like to have on their belts … because, of course, it’s still a World Championship Grand Prix. There will be no asterix against a driver’s career tally to say this one counted less because other matters had been settled long before.

    As for championship-winning finales, as an alternative to n-tuple points for final races, I’d be content with the amusement of a NASCAR-like Chase system if it was run simultaneously with the tally for full-season points — running a knock-out cup on top of the season-long points, rather than instead of, i.e. Kyle Busch won the Cup (and what a fine story that was as post-early disaster seasonsal comebacks go), but Kevin Harvick would have won the traditional style championship over the 36 races (incidentally, Joey Logano and his most-race-wins of the year would have been in contention for that at the last race, albeit needing to finish half the field ahead of Harvick.)

    But another not-unreasonable alternative is to have an ATP-like ranking system were every event counts for 12 months, so even if you can’t topple the present #1 this weekend, your results at every race count equally to knocking them off in a few races time, at worst always possible in somewhat less than a season’s time. (I used to keep such tallies, back-dated to 1949 FA/1950 F1, still have the workings.)

    Whether, like the ATP, some events ought to be deemed worth multiples of others is another discussion…

      1. I am flying into CdG on Monday, it’s good to know that I will not be severely delayed from catching my TGV.

        I look forward to reading my copy of GP+ en-route.

        1. I flew into CDG last Thursday, and out again on Monday. The only problems I saw were some roadblocks notably the big one on the border between Belgium and France. But CDG itself was business as usual. Security was just a bit more thorough but nothing spectacularly different.

        2. If I had the spare funds, which I don’t, I’d come visit Paris pronto… it’s got to be the safest place on the planet right now… I’m guessing hotel rooms are suddenly much more affordable, as many people will have wimped out for no good reason…

          I don’t know which place will suffer a headline-grabbing tragedy next, but it’s virtually certain to be not-Paris…

      2. > You should read GP+ this week as I am analysing the value of different
        > play-off ideas.

        I shall have to wait a month or two to read it in retrospect from the archives when I finally gladly submit to a GP+ subsrciption for 2016.

  5. I never get the “it used to be more exciting in the _old days_” sigh.

    People’s memories are selective. It will fast-forward through the boring bits and will make a highlight of a whole season. Pretty much what some talented YouTubers do for fun (but the FOM hunts them down on a regular basis). I can get really angry when someone sends a link to such video with a commentary saying “Look at how much better it was back then.” It wasn’t. You could put the same amount of exciting moments from 2015 in a compilation video as well.

    I mean I tried to watch old seasons. I couldn’t get through some of them. About the same number of overtakes, the same amount of crashes with apparently four cameras broadcasting an event. By today’s standards that’s nowhere near exciting. It’s always lovely to look at those cars, but the races were sure not any “better” than these days.

    I have ambivalent feelings towards what NASCAR does. The charades around it, the bells and whistles just make me sick in my stomach, but in my mind I know they have made a decision. They decides that they would be entertainment. Apparently, the France family is working towards all races and the championship ending with two cars battling for the lead inches apart, while the whole field behind them crashes and blows up in a spectacular fashion. All the teams and drivers know they are in the entertainment business and they act accordingly. In its own twisted way it is honest at least.

    I agree with what Rob Smedley said the other day. F1 needs to make up its mind. It either becomes WEC or NASCAR. Can’t really do both nowadays.

    1. One of my big problems with the NASCAR system is the mixing in the last part of the season of those still in it to win with those just making up the numbers ( or making mischief for those still in it) all in the same race. As we saw this year it’s a recipe for the hot heads and ” strategic” teams to get up to go good. It may be good TV but is it good sport.
      In the end I am a sports fan not an entertainment junky. If you do well and win BIG good on you.

    2. “I never get the “it used to be more exciting in the _old days_” sigh.”

      Like 1965, when Jim Clark had the whole thing wrapped up by early August in spite of missing Monaco to nip out and win the Indy 500?

  6. So was the double points concept for a GP a good or a bad idea in hindsight? The model of the overly dominant team winning several years in a row due to tech advantage is killer, be it Ferrari, Red Bull or now Mercedes. We need atleast 3 teams that can win on race day then we’d have some real car vs. car racing that would engage the fan base.

    1. Neither. Or both. It’s not a bad idea to value one race over another, but one needs to balance these. The double points of last years race was only to make the championship more interesting, rather than have a higher appreciation of that race. In F1 I can imagine that a Monaco race would be given more points, but then without the trcked way to manipulate a title.

      In the V8 Supercars (sorry, Joe, I keep getting back to that series) you see different point to different races: max. 75 point for a sprint race, 150 point for a main race, 300 points for an ‘endurance’ race. Each weekend consists of 1 to 3 of the before mentioned races. Everyone knows why and when these points are available, but also it puts emphasis on the ‘more important’ races, such as Bathurst.

      1. Dear Joe, all
        In response to E.F Carson.
        As someone who lives in Bathurst, & has followed the varying tin top formulae since 1969, I think that the little that V8SC has in common with F1 swings more to the negative.
        In Australia, both have moved to Foxtel (pay TV 50% owned by Citizen Rupert), with a far more comprehensive coverage than that was provided with full FTA coverage in 2014. The 2015 FTA for both is over 50% of races on FTA are a 1hr ‘highlights package’ which were both so abysmally edited that I gave up watching after 2 rounds.
        As I flatly refuse to give any of my hard-earned to Jerry Hall’s new man bag, I have paid little attention to viewing figures for F1 on Fox, but, the v8 figures are, to understate, disappointing. As v8s & F1 are part of the same package, I would hazard a guess that F1 isn’t breaking records either.
        One other common feature is difficulty finding sponsors- Walkinshaw Racing has announced that it will field 2 cars next year, the ones funded by GM subsidiary Holden.
        V8s are a far tighter parity formula than f1- with an increasing number of components common to all chassis, very tight aero, and an engine parity process where engines from all manufacturers are dyno’d, power outputs assessed at regular intervals (every 500rpm, up to the 7500rpm limit), and, the total has to reach a fairly narrow total of kW. The engine formula is currently being ‘tizzed up’ to allow for smaller capacity turbos, along with the current 5 litre v8s (varying from DOHC 32 valve, to OHV 16 valve).
        Yes, it does have variable point scores, based on race length, but, I am not sure how this relates to f1 in any way, given that races are time limited to an absolute maximum. (The Bathurst 1000 last year finished well over an hour late, due to the race having to be stopped for an hour because of the track breaking up mid race)
        I really don’t think F1 can be both the ‘zenith of design & engineering’ and, a strict parity formula.
        From a personal perspective, I did agonise over paying for a Foxtel subscription, given the loss of full FTA F1, V8SC, NASCAR, plus the numerous other categories covered by Foxtel, for about 3 weeks. Haven’t missed it all that much.
        Also, one more commonality- the final round of both is fully covered on FTA. Like Abu Dhabi, the final round of V8s is on a crappy circuit- ‘Sydney Olympic Park’- a temporary circuit, with concrete walls, shaped in a square, totally unsuited, as far as overtaking goes, to a parity formula- until the tyres start to go off.
        When I first started following F1, in 1971, it was via a 2nd weekly publication, Auto Action. Now, I keep myself up to date with GP+, which more than suffices.
        I really don’t think f1 would benefit from following the lead of v8SC.
        Cheers
        MarkR

  7. I’m still quietly hoping that Toto Wolff will just announce a minute before Q1 on Saturday that the Mercedes cars won’t be competing in qualifying, will both have their engines and gearboxes changed and will start from the back with a full stock of perfectly new tyres and the wicks turned up as far as they’ll go.

    Do it, Toto. There’s nothing at all at stake but PR and, regardless of who’s on the podium come 4pm Sunday, a pair of Silver Arrows carving through the field would be *the* story of the weekend.

    1. Dear Joe, all
      Jem- what a brilliant idea!!! Seriously, I really like it. It would be interesting to see Lewis & Nico work their way to the front, an experience that would not be so familiar to them in these days of Silver Arrows dominance.
      I do have one idea that goes against the grain- the public perception may be ‘wow, they’re game, arent’t they’
      or……. It could backfire, and be considered a bit arrogant, & patronising to the other competitors. And, bad news gets better ratings, than the positive, joyful stuff’.
      Have to wonder that, if it backfires, and it IS the arrogant & patronising that grabs everyone’s eyeballs, then maybe the remainder of the drivers will feel a tad aggrieved. Nico & Lewis might have a bigger than average hard time getting past the whole field.
      And, it would STILL be a blast to watch.
      Cheers
      MarkR

      1. I love the idea Jem!

        I must take issue though with one comment that you made about how slicing through the field would be a new experience for the Mercs. I’d say they were fairly used to passing most of the other cars as they regularly lap them! I suppose they’d have to do it without blue flags though. I definitely reckon this would favour Lewis – is there a better overtaker in F1 ( or anywhere?). His finesse on the break pedal is extraordinary.

        I’d love to see it happen, perhaps if we all bombard the Mercedesf1 Twitter handle begging them to do it…?

    2. Jem – Hats off to you for a brilliant idea…Joe can you take it to Toto and Niki?

      It would be great too see how far up the pack they can get as it gets harder and harder for them to follow and pass.

      The only problem is that it will show everybody how dominant the Mercs really are..

  8. An amusing insightful and entertaining post as usual Joe, thank you.

    But the discussion of creating a revised scoring system to bring true drama and the possibility of 3 or 4 drivers winning the title at the last race ignores one vital problem: How to overcome the dominance of a single team that exploits the technical regulations to the max, and has a totally dominant car, along with supremely talented drivers?

    It can only work if the cars are closely matched in performance, as NASCAR has done. If F1 manages to stabilize the rules and the trailing teams evolve into parity with MB, it will negate the need for an artificially manipulated scoring system.

  9. How about the top four finishers from F1, NASCAR and the WEC (feel free to add your own contenders…) fight it out in a (series of) decider(s).

    Isn’t that be what the Race of Champions should be?

  10. I can’t make up my mind whether to feel sorry for the engine manufacturers who invested some of their time to design an engine proposal and constructed a bid to the FIA or that they must have been aware that it was just part of the poker game by which they would only get a bit of publicity.

    1. They only had to formulate an expression of interest, not an actual bid. I’m sure it required some amount of investment in staff time and an examination of their resources, but not on the magnitude of a formal bid.

      1. Put together in a pub on the back of a coaster is all. Probably most enjoyable while the boss was buying…….

  11. Sure, at the end of the day a point system is a point system and many variants have been used over the years. But what is the point of a points system? I think that throughout the history of the world championship, the goal has always been to establish who the overall best driver was (and what constructor made the best race car), on balance, over the whole variety of circuits and conditions that the series faced over the entire year.

    I’m happy to entertain any and all changes to the scoring system, as long as they don’t lose sight of that purpose. But NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup is so random that it cannot possibly make any such claim, since by design everything must boil down to a single race (and in one race anything can happen). Whoever wins the cup gets the trophy, but one must count up the actual finishes manually (à la F1) to make an argument as to which driver/car balance was actually the best.

    I’m still looking forward to Abu Dhabi despite the championships being done and dusted; the minor placing fights between drivers and teams, and a beautiful circuit, plus the fact that it’s the last hurrah of the season, are enough for me.

    1. Nice post – it also explains why if we look at English Football as an example (a sport whereby the sporting credibility is on more solid ground), the League title always trumps the FA and League Cup competitions in terms of stature. One must respect the value of any competition, if this is sacrificed for ‘the show’, then the notion of a sporting contest is lost.

  12. I think that the thing that people overlook about ‘the good old days’ is that there was more tension because it really wasn’t over until the fat lady sang

    why was that ? because the reliability of the cars was more like 2015 McLaren than 2015 Mercedes and even a few laps from the end one wondered whether the guy with a comfortable lead was going to win !

    so the luck element was greater than today ….maybe that’s what we need more of ?

    1. +1 for the reality check.

      F1 has *often* been faced with a constructor who’s found the next big thing and destroyed the field on innate chassis pace.

      Sometimes that’s been mitigated by them not having the best tyres, or the best engine, or the best drivers. Because all these factors have been part of F1 since forever, whatever Mr. Newey says to the contrary.

      But often, they’ve had the pace to walk away from the field, and been limited only by reliability. (Which was somewhat disguised by the fact that as such, they encouraged their drivers to back off to protect the equipment once they’d built up a decent lead).

      We can’t go back to those days, but we need to understand that it’s in the DNA. If F1 is going to remain a technical challenge and not a spec series or pure manipulated entertainment, then (temporary) dominance by one constructor will remain the norm.

      The only ahistoric element is RBR’s demand that the rules be structured to make their own dominance a permanent structural feature.

  13. I liked the idea of reviving the idea of the old BMW M-Car title of 1979. Take the top 8 qualifiers, the top 4 finishers from the previous GP2 round, plus 4 guests, from other formulae – Indycars, NASCAR, rallying, WTCC, DTM, WEC, GP3, F3 etc – for one-off races. Use a car that doesn’t conflict with manufacturers’ commercial interests – an Ariel Atom, BAC Mono etc. Short races of 10 laps or so. Two laps each for qualifying. Have it as a support race after final qualifying on Saturdays.

    As a series, I would love to watch that, seeing how older hands from the WEC for example, pitted against current F1 stars and up-and-comers from GP2 and F3, as well as guys we’ve never seen in F1 before, like Scott Dixon or Sebastian Loeb.

    Find a sponsor, give it a decent budget, Bernie, and flog it to whoever wants to show it – the whole thing could be shown in a neat 30 minute package.

  14. To me “The Championship” is just a math exercise: a random number of point distributed over a random number of drivers at a random number of events. Whoever comes out on top isn’t that important to me. In my mind the biggest thing a driver can do, is win a race. So to me the Abu Dhabi GP isn’t any less interesting than the other races of the season.

    I could live very well with all races being ‘non-championship’.

    I do acknowledge that this might be a minority opninion and that from a promotional point of view a championship might be beneficiary.

    (still chuckling about the ‘mine is bigger than yours’ joke; thanks Joe)

    1. I’m not sure exactly when this happened, but it’s become normal for people to use “random” when they don’t mean “random” at all… what they actually mean is “arbitrary”…

  15. “leave him to his matinal musings, unless he wants to come over for a chat.”

    A wise political journo put it thus – – “I have been calling his (a cabinet minister’s) private number since seven this morning (to persuade him to appear for an interview); if there really was something happening, he would be the one calling me and not vice versa”.

    And is that shania twain the porn star? surely not, no way jose.
    btw I must add that I do not, NOT, visit porn sites in the middle of my working day.

  16. “Whatever happens, Bottas is going to come out on top in image terms, because beating/nearly beating a Ferrari with a Williams is a much more worthy effort than vice versa.”

    Joe, you put that in just to goad Kimi’s immesureable army of fans! 🙂

    [actually neither seb’s nor kimi’s ferraris are able to overtake a williams because the williams has much greater straight line speed, yet kimi has managed that task a few occasions more than seb, usually in the first few corners]

  17. OK, I’ve been thinking for years that F1 needs to do this: change the points scoring system so everyone gets a point, right down the field. This is a bit like NASCAR. The “point” is that F1 is so competitive and why as a business would you sponsor a lower team which has little or no chance of ever scorning a point? Where’s the kudos in that as a sponsor? Sponsorship is so hard to come by these days (even McLaren can’t get a title sponsor!) and points scorning across the field would attract new sponsors and keep existing ones – “hey our team had a good race today, we scored 2 points (for 24th place or whatever it is). No need to worry about the new points system rendering it impossible to make point-scoring comparisons across eras. That notion died a notion a few years back when the current 25 points for a win etc. was introduced. And if you really want to compare eras (which you can’t) you can apply a statistical weighting as I’m sure people do. So there. My first deed as the new president of the FIA/commercial rights holder of F1.

  18. For a much closer competition the current ethos of give the most to he who has most already needs to be changed. This kind of extends into the points awarded as well. The winner should get 20 points if there are 20 drivers, 2nd 19, 3rd 18 etc etc so that even the first DNF gets 1 point. Then the difference between points would be very much closer as the season progresses, the previous winners would be easier to catch.

    1. The problem I see with giving points down to last, and in particular if they are 20,19,18… is that it takes away the value of overtaking. Why would a driver take the risk to get past another if there’s only one point in it?
      The thing I like about the points system is it encourages you to be up the front. In the old days (particularly when you only kept your best X results) it was better to be fast than reliable. The problem is that the rules now say you have to be reliable or you get so heavily penalised that you are not going to win much, which means the fastest cars win everything, instead of just the races where they made it to the end.
      But if the points were changed I would suggest we may get a closer championship but less interesting races.

  19. Leave the points as they are, allow in season development of engines at Grand Prix but limit the number of engines at a higher number than at present. The engine manufacturers are spending the money and developing them anyway for next season so the token system is pointless. That way there’s more chance to catch up during the season without the use of qualifying engines. (this could be policed pretty easily – You race on the engine you qualify with as per tyres)

  20. It’s not everyday that I read your posts, Joe, with two non-F1 Canadian references in the last paragraph. Enjoyable right to the end of the season — I am going to miss my regular morning F1 read during the off season.

    BTW, my wife and I are looking forward to seeing the newly installed Empress of Ireland disaster exhibit in Halifax next month. They are calling the sinking of the ship Canada’s Titanic that no one knows about; the story being overshadowed by the start to WWI to months later and the earlier, more spectacular, sinking of the Titanic. Knowing your family connection will make it a little bit more interesting for me. Thank you for that.

    Happy holidays — Brian from Canada

  21. In relation to Jolyon Palmer, how safe is his seat for next year? As i understand it, his reserve driver contract included a clause guaranteeing him a 2016 Lotus race seat if he produced a certain amount of money by a certain date. This clause must have been satisfied, hence, he was formally announced as a Lotus driver for next year. Is there any danger however, of this contract being null and void in light of the Renault takeover? He seems to have done a solid job this year and I hope he gets his chance. Whether next year’s car will be good enough for him to do so is another matter altogether……..

    1. /As i understand it, his reserve driver contract included a clause guaranteeing him a 2016 Lotus race seat if he produced a certain amount of money by a certain date/

      You might have forgotten that a free seat was also needed, as he would not be able to get any of current drivers out of their seats.

  22. Joe, have you any info on the companies house filings (x2) this week for Lotus? I’m in Abu Dhabi already and can’t download the PDF’s. Also, Lotus garage looking quite deserted today while everyone else is up and running.

    1. It looks like they are still removing liens on property and assets. The word is that the whole process is being slowed down because Renault is one of the manufacturers and some of those within the Formula One World Championship Ltd empire are not very happy with the engine situation and so there are delays. I see that Autosport has been told that dear Mr E paid the bills, but I guess one can pay with one hand and withhold with the other. He doesn’t want to lose any teams, but he doesn’t want the manufacturers being completely in charge…

      1. > some of those within the Formula One World Championship Ltd empire are not very happy with the engine situation…

        Yeah, right. Maybe someone needs to ask them how much happier they’ll be if Renault tells them where to go, and walks into the sunset on Sunday night….

      2. Joe, re. engines, do you have any insight into Red Bull’s engine plans for *2017* (sic), given the apparent rejection of the non-hybrid 2.5 litre V6 plan?

          1. Thank you for the response.

            I’m having a little trouble parsing the apparent ambiguity.I think I shall choose to imagine that you are informing us that RBR don’t as yet have an engine…

  23. I think Niki trumps Lewis there with his Global 6000 and a 7000 on order, oh and he fly’s it himself as well.

  24. I have to say that despite the enticing thought of a guaranteed shoot out at the last race as offered by NASCAR that the actual experience is a bit of a mixed bag.

    British Speedway operates a similar shootout type arrangement and I have to say it really is awful to watch your team (Poole) pretty much dominate the opposition for a whole season, go into the shootouts a dozen or more points in front, only to see one bad night away hex the whole season’s efforts.

    I would suggest the problem for F1 lies elsewhere, e.g.

    a) The points system has been stupid for years. Agreed we need more drivers scoring points, but surely a 15-12-10-8 etc allocation would make a lot more sense, plus a point for qualifying and another for fastest lap?

    b) There are now so many races in the calender that with the restrictions on upgrades the season is effectively decided by about the 12th round. Perhaps they need to do what the PGA do and have winter & summer tours!

    c) The cars need to be dramatically simplified without losing the engineering challenge. What I mean is dump the flappy paddle gearboxes (proven tech), the complex telemetry (proven tech), the carbon fibre brakes (proven tech), the ridiculous front wings, the DRS, the KERS, the stupid tyre rules and make the drivers work for thier wins again.

    1. Point C is brilliant.

      John M: “c) The cars need to be dramatically simplified without losing the engineering challenge. What I mean is dump the flappy paddle gearboxes (proven tech), the complex telemetry (proven tech), the carbon fibre brakes (proven tech), the ridiculous front wings, the DRS, the KERS, the stupid tyre rules and make the drivers work for thier wins again.”

      Hybrid engines in F1 are the correct thing today (perhaps not in the future) but racing has to discard solved problems.

      1. Agree with all points but would change qualifying to nil points (after all the advantage in pole is so absolute it doesn’t need further reward imo) and make fastest lap 1/5 of the winning points haul (in this case 5 points). I would also only allow 3 radio transmissions from pit to car:
        1. Box
        2. Pull over immediately
        3. Are you OK

    2. What percentage of very high end sports cars do you think are sold to day without some form of paddle gbox?
      The high end manufacturers want as much “surface similarity” between their rod and GP cars as poss. The people, particularly in the new markets, with the money for new very high end cars seam to want all the toys they can get/show off on their cars. They tend not to be the traditional wind in your hair
      gear stick in the hand buyers.

  25. The second paragraph…. brilliant! 🙂
    The race may be a damp squib in terms of nothing being at stake but pride, but for once my wife is excited and will be joining, thanks to the Enrique concert. Sadly I think that sums up the motivation of most of the AD crowd…

    1. Surely, LJW, being in Wales you realise that the Welsh language has more vowels than English, so whilst Ynysybwl might look vowel-less to an English monoglot, a Welsh speaker will easily recognise the 4 vowels in it.

  26. Would’nt it be great to see the top 6 finishers in equal machinery go all out for a sprint race to win the title as best driver

  27. That the final race of the season is meaningless upsets me less than the many unexciting processionals the rest of the time. Rules that hinder development of the motors, make it impossible to follow and pressure an opponent, and the mal-distribution of the sport’s wealth have all diminished the ‘sport’ to the point I am sure the reason I keep following is that I grew up following F1 as an immigr’rnt in the US. Wouldn’t dream of telling the youngsters F1 was cool.

  28. A little off topic (and late), but is Tag’s departure from McLaren to Red Bull not massively significant for it’s implication from a shareholder point of view?

  29. Give us an inside perspective, Joe. When the racing stars talk to you, do they remove the mirrored specs? Can you directly look them in the eye?

    And why doesn’t anyone tell drivers that nobody believes a word spoken by a bloke wearing mirrored specs?

      1. I try to be honest, RICCBATT. My name is Phil Beesley and anyone who tried hard could establish my identity from information in my posts. I have never worn mirrored specs.

  30. As an American F1 fan that watches Nascar I can tell you that a “playoff” format work out far better on paper than it does in real life.

    Indycar is the best motor racing championship out there that nobody watches.
    it has a straightforward points system; ( 2015 excepted) and for the last several years the championship has come down to the last race of the season.

    Very exiting in spite of no audience.

    How have they achieved this? Parity.

    The induced parity by going the spec car route. Obviously going to spec cars is not something F1 should do.

    So how does F1 get more parity in the sport to keep people exited?

    A cost/budget cap.

    Baseball excepted, every major US sport uses a cost cap to ensure competitiveness amongst the league teams.

    And it works.

    In F1 would that mean total parity between the teams? No.

    But I think that F1 fans would be surprised at the degree of parity and competitiveness between at least the top 5 teams, that a cost cap could bring to the sport.

    in 2015 the estimate is that the top 4 teams spend 420-470 million euros. Basically more than double the budget of the next biggest team (Williams) of about 190m euros.

    I would set a cap of about 240m euros. With a customer engine cap of 10m euros.

    Yes, the big teams would all spend the max straight away. But every other team on the grid would be far closer proportionally budget wise than they are now, and I believe that over time you would see it reflected in their competitiveness.

    Yes, there are details to the basic idea that would need to be addressed and worked through. Teams that are engine manufacturers would need to separate the costs of the race team form the engine side, etc..

    But the basic idea is sound and works in many other sports to increase competitive parity between teams.

    And yes budget caps are enforceable – other sports leagues have no problem making them work, and F1 is no special snowflake in this regard.

    .

  31. Ive long since felt that playoff ideas should be explored in F1. The constructors championship rewards season long consistency. That should remain. However, the drivers championship currently rewards the exact same thing, and the problem with rewarding consistency is that it’s boring if someone is much better. I use the example of football. The premier league has the potential to be decided in the final day, if it is, you have an amazing spectacle. If ots decided with 4 games to go, the last day of the season can be quite dull for the casual fan, with few games with anything at stake.

    The champions league on the other hand rewards some consistency and some good results, but it all builds to a single sporting spectacle. People who don’t watch much football will still tune in to a cup final. In much the same way that the F1 drivers championship shouldn’t simply allow a single driver to run away with it, instead it should come down to a scenario where the top drivers from a season truly battle it out in a single sporting arena and the winner is the winner. So what if a car breaks down, or someone gets a puncture and even though they at have been brilliant all season they end up losing. THATS GENUINE SPORTING DRAMA!!!

    The last race decider is something I think every season needs. the drama of Mansells tyre exploding, the magic of Alonso somehow being in championship position after a single lap and Vettel seemingly beaten and down and out, only to see Sebastien drive like a true champion to turn it all around. Or Felipe crossing the line having absolutely crushed it in his home town, only to see the championship go by a single point in the last corner! These are the memories and history which F1 fans should be celebrating, not worrying about Making sure the championships integrity is maintained!!! The champion is the champion, and if there’s a debate about whether he deserves it then so be it, it’s a far more interesting debate than the one about it all being about the car!!

    1. Wrt playoffs, I’m looking forward to Joe’s GP+ article. But one thing which is very different to many of the sports that use playoffs and motor racing is that in the other sports any event is only taking place against one opponent, and is largely not equipment dependent. It’s a head to head. Yes you can dominate the season and then lose in the playoff, but a team having a bad day is still about the performance of the players.

      Motor racing is against the whole field, not just the others in playoff, and is highly equipment dependent. If one of the contenders is take out of the race by someone else’s accident what then? Or a component failure? These things are out of the control of the drivers, and do not balance out in the playoffs as they usually do over a season.

      While I agree that a last race title decider is fantastic, I’m of the view that they are far more memorable when they don’t happen every year.

  32. What about a points championship based on losing points! Everyone starts with a set number of points, defined by a lottery, and as each race passes what ever the number of points you would have gained, you lose from your total. At the end of the year its the same calculus, how many points do you have remaining? Points gained beyond zero are golden points which puts you in the race off for the big prizes. It’s so stupid I cant believe I typed it, but its always fun to play with mind experiments.
    A further idea is inspired by the classic LeMans start which might engage the otherwise disinterested, men running to their car after the starting gun, but enhanced. The start of a race should start with a fishing competition (speed fishing) then move on to pole vaulting, leading inevitably to the bear wrestling. At this point I should mention that each race starts with about 200 drivers and by the time they get to the cars there are fewer then 200, something to do with wresting bears. Suffice it to say, its better to be slower to the bear part of things.
    Heres a real idea… when the hybrid engines were announced I thought there should be one further championship to fight for, something the British might call, the award for green, we Americans would call it a green award. 10 million dollars goes towards the engine builder that finishes each race and does so with the smallest use of fuel. I hate these fuel efficient engines so I now see this idea as justifying the whole nauseating hybrid enterprise and allowing for a better non hybrid engine to enter the sport, one which can not win anything green, but will win lots of fans.
    The Challenger series of planes which use the GE engines are so whisper quite you would not believe it. I love the 380 a lot as an engineering achievement, even though it looks like a financial blunder, but a Challenger is a dream to the ears. Ask Lewis to get a flight back and enjoy the silence. The Challenger with those engines is an engineering triumph like no other.

  33. If research, engineering and consistency aren’t rewarded, why go racing in the first place?

    Sorry, I don’t see the point in dumbing down to the slowest/worst team so they can look good.

    Mercedes got it right and have reaped the rewards, it is wrong to criticise them for doing a good job. Red Bull got it right four years in a row, I didn’t hear too many squeals from Mercedes/Brawn at the time.

  34. It all comes down whether F1 is a ‘Sport’ or ‘Entertainment.’

    If you’re choosing sport, then you have to accept that the championship will be decided before the last race of the season. This is because someone has simply done a better job that the rest. That’s just sport.

    If you’re going down the route of entertainment, then no matter who is better and worked harder, you will fix it so there it always goes down to the last race oft he season. Yes, you can say that you’ve worked hard to be able to be in the playoff and that playoff then comes down to a sporting contest.

    And thinking about the days of Senna & Prost at Suzuka in 88 89 & 90 when the Championship was decided, these were the 2nd to last race of the season and everyone (Ok, not everyone but you get the idea) now talks about those days as being the pinnacle of the sport.

    F1 has to decide what it wants to be be. If it can’t, then it shouldn’t complain that Mercedes has done a better job than everyone else and it’s up to the rest to make it more of a contest next year.

    That’s sport. If you want to see drama, watch Columbo (although you already know who did it at the start…)

    1. >> It all comes down whether F1 is a ‘Sport’ or ‘Entertainment’

      Well, that’s the whole problem, right there… you can’t just pick one. If life was neat and tidy, then you could say it’s just one or the other. But either answer by itself is both right and wrong… because the truth is that F1 is both Sport *and* Entertainment.

      That one simple fact is precisely what makes this hard. The difficulty is not the “Sport” part, nor is it the “Entertainment” part. What makes this hard is the “and” that connects them.

      Pretending we can turn that “and” into an “or” is just creating a lie.

  35. For myself I am a big fan of the idea of points all the way down the field (for a finish). It seems rather idiotic to impose an arbritary cuttoff at 10th place when the 11th/12th/13th places have probably worked just as hard and incurred all same considerable expenses and heartache of getting there and going racing!
    The current points distribution has such a bias towards the front of the grid that it can hardly be called a fair reflection of performance, time and effort of the teams. IIRC a few years back when points where awarded only for top six finishes, one team (possibly Sauber?) managed to finish one or other car in 7th for something like 23 out of 27 races – but for this heroic effort they were rewarded with not a single point!

    If points were allocated throught the entire (finishing) field this could also also be an easy fix to fairer distribution of prize money – a million or two is probably only pocket change to Mercedes or Ferarri but could be a life saver for Manor or even Lotus. Of course I understand completely that it will never happen because the ‘grandee’ teams would vote it down instantly!

    A big element of the excitement of F1 used to be about inovation and cleverness with smaller shoestring teams being able to trounce the big boys by being smarter or finding some technical innovation or regulations loophole. Everyone holds up the Chapmans and the Tyrells of this world as examples of great innovation and creativity (not to mention bordeline technical illegality!) but unfortunately these days it seems it is cheaper and easier (and lazier) to hire a few lawyers – not often you get the chance to say ‘lawyers’ and ‘cheaper’ in the same sentence! – and argue in the ‘unfairness of it all’ in court rather than put the thinking caps on and find your own dodges.

  36. Perhaps I have a warped sense of humour but I’ve just seen the press release that Jean Todt is to give the MSF Watkins lecture this year – it made me wonder if he will tell that audience that more people die on the roads every day as well …

  37. In case we start calling the winner of the last situation “world champion” we would have had the following “world champions”
    2015 to be determined on Sunday
    2014 Hamilton
    2013 Vettel
    2012 Button
    2011 Webber
    2010 Vettel
    2009 Vettel
    2008 Massa
    2007 Raikkonen
    2006 Massa
    2005 Alonso

    The Nascar idea begs the question why to watch (and pay for) the rest of the season if all is decided in the final centimeters of the last race? You realise that “one day wonder” Pastor Maldonado could be a world champion? Think about Singapore 2008 style type of cheats that can steal away the title, and just agree that its a step in the wrong direction.

    I always thought that NASCAR = Non Athletic Sport Centered Around Rednecks

  38. Sorry I’m late to this thread, as I’ve been driving for the last 36hrs (Côte d’Azur to NW England), but…

    “if one excludes the possibility of a McLaren 1-2.”

    I’d hoped that Toto might declare that both cars had engine problems, and replace the whole power-train on both cars (ICE, MGU-H, MGU-K, etc.), take all the penalty points, and start both cars at the back of the grid (even further back than McLaren). Make it an exhibition F1 race for the two of them – they (team and both drivers) have nothing to lose, and it would make fantastic viewing…

  39. ‘his 605’, and ‘an A380′ is the difference, but I agree it of no great import. It does matter to some tho’, illustrated well in a quote from Tropic Thunder, ‘no frequent flyer b***h miles for my playah’
    The Americans have an eye (ear?) for the uncomfortable truth of a game of p***ing up a wall…
    All the best Joe, I like your stuff

  40. Joe, I hope that you, and everyone else in attendance, have a fun but safe end to the season. It will be nice if the only thing to write about on Monday is an entertaining and thrilling race. Well aside from whatever you end up jotting in the green notebook anyway.

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