Changing F1 race weekends

I hear whispers from the underbelly of the Strategy Group (which is not a rude description of someone involved) that there is serious effort going into looking at whether or not it would be a good idea to change the format of Formula 1 Grand Prix weekends. Such a move will probably have the traditionalists up in arms, but one needs to wait to see what is being proposed to really understand whether it has merit or not. The goal is obviously to provide a better show, both for spectators and for TV viewers. Qualifying as it is can be exciting, but there have often been Q sessions in recent years where the showdown has been a bit of a damp squib.

As I understand it, there is a suggestion that there could be something akin to a qualifying race on Saturday afternoons. The idea is that this would not only set the grid for the Grand Prix, but would also allow for more points to be scored. One presumes that the status of being “a Grand Prix winner” would not be changed by such an event, even if points were awarded. I am not sure why such a thing needs points, because the fight for grid positions ought to be enough, but I guess it would make the action more intense.

Follow that logic, however, and qualifying would have to be pushed back to Saturday morning. I am not sure that the knock-out structure of today will be dropped, but rather it could be redefined in such a way as to give the session more of a flow (i.e., without stops between Q1, Q2 and Q3) but with elimination of drivers being more like musical chairs. I am not sure how this would work, but it would mean that the cars would have to be on the track all the time if, for example, the slowest driver was eliminated every three minutes. It would be more complicated to organise and to police (and to report on), but with the current communications the drivers could be informed that they were out. However there would be a danger that they would get in the way of the others as they toured grumpily into the pits. Logically, this paring down process would stop at a certain point and leave a set number of drivers to go for pole in the final minutes, in order to maximise the excitement.

If there is to be qualifying on Saturday mornings, there would not be time for practice and so that would have to be shoved into Friday. I suspect that this would mean that the four hours that teams currently have before qualifying would be cut significantly, thus reducing the costs. Whether the cars would be seen more or less than they are now is an interesting question. The answer probably is that the appearances would be about the same, but would likely be more concentrated, which would be better for fans, with less empty track visible.

GP2 has the daft rule that the top eight finishers in the first race start in reverse order in the second race, which means that all kinds of make-weights can win the second event, depending on whether overtaking is possible or not. As I understand it, this is NOT being proposed for F1. It seems that the first race would be a 45-minute sprint affair, with cars using the same tyres as at the end of qualifying (as is currently the case). There would be no obligation to change these tyres and no fuel capacity limit. In other words it would be a flat-out affair, so that there could be no criticism about fuel saving and so on. With a 100km race, the cars could use up their fuel more quickly and go faster, thus creating more spectacle. The points on offer would be substantially less that those on Sunday.

I am not entirely sure whether having more points on offer during a race weekend would increase or decrease the likelihood of the championship going on longer, as a dominant car would collect more points. One impact of this would probably be to increase the entry fees if the maximum points for a driver for a weekend was, for example, 33 points rather than the current 25.

From what I hear the main race would be shorter than is currently the case, with a limit of 90 minutes, which would logically mean a reduction from 300km to 200km, which would in turn mean that the cars would run the same overall racing distance over the race weekend as they do today. There would be fuel use restrictions of 100kg (but with shorter races that would mean the cars going faster) and there would be a requirement for a change of tyres.

It all sounds like something that has been dreamed up by a committee, but there may be some merits in the ideas, if only to stop people being negative about the racing being restricted by fuel usage. Stopping the constant whining about this would be a good way to stifle the negativity that surrounds the sport at  the moment, which would be a fine idea.

There is much in F1 that is positive, but the negativity has been allowed to have a louder voice.

158 thoughts on “Changing F1 race weekends

  1. I would like qualifying to be each driver goes out on the track alone and sets one lap. This would put pressure on drivers to get the best single lap. If a single session is too short for viewing tastes, then maybe increase it to two 1 lap sessions and take the average.

    1. I, too, like the idea of a balls-out single lap run to set the grid for a qualifying race on the Saturday. It means there will be inevitable foul-ups which give a greater chance of the hotshots being out of position and needing to overtake within a limited number of laps. There should be no points on offer for the sprint race, the only prize is your finishing position determines the grid slot for Sunday’s main event. At the very least it will increase the chances of shaking-up the usual order and prompting more overtakes. It will only take a few races where the stars of the show are unable to pass due to aero/track issues before the powers-that-be are forced to make changes that improve the racing.

      1. Although it did give us the awesome moment where we had a Minardi get provisional pole position…

        I know it was fairly meaningless when taking the whole picture into account, but it was a great moment for the team.

    2. I like the current Q scheme fine… but my favorite Q sessions were when Mika and Michael went at it… everybody else got out of the way at the end, and the two of them took turns, down to the last second… each guy would sit in the garage to see what time the other one just did, and then he’d roll out to top it…the last one out often nipped the other by a hair. It required great parity between the two, but it was exciting to the Nth degree…

      Just so they don’t do something stupid and gimmicky, I’ll be OK with a change…

    3. Been there, done that between 2003-2005. Was a nice novelty for half a season or so but the current qualy system is far superior overall.

  2. I’m probably in the minority but I used to enjoy the one-lap shootouts (before they merged the friday and saturday times.) It was great seeing Webber in the Jaguar pushing above his weight! And we could actually see this in front of our eyes!

    Joe, if the race were to be shortened to 200km, the would the weight limit of full be decreased in line? If it wasn’t then the idea of being fuel efficient goes out of the window?

  3. Just a few short years ago I would have argued passoinately either way regarding changes in rules. Now they come so thick and fast that it seems change for change sake only!

    F1 had a good formula that worked well for the teams and, most importantly, yes really, for the fans. We are the people influenced by the winning cars backed by Mercedes, Red Bull, Renault, BMW et al. Is that not what it is all about?

    1. I for one would just like to see things remain the same for a while. Concerns over dwindling viewership and disenfranchised fanbases appear to have been ever present since about 2002 and in that time the only thing that hasn’t been tried is leaving well alone.

      Sticking to the same rules for a few years will naturally lead to shrinking gaps between the different car and engine designs as the law of diminishing returns makes it impossible to maintain a big advantage over the competition.

      Every time the rules get shaken up the performance difference between the cars is greater than the performance difference between the drivers and the grid simply stratifies by team. Lock the rules in, let the engineers work, watch the gaps close and enjoy the racing as the drivers themselves make the difference because the cars are similar enough.

  4. A Saturday race may sell a few more tickets to the benefit of the promoters. Not sure if I’m happy with reducing race day time/distance.

  5. I don’t automatically object to the plan for a Saturday race. Less practice – or at least more condensed practice sessions – but the same level of action worth watching makes sense to me.

    However I don’t see the point of a qualifying session to determine a grid for a race to determine a grid for a longer race. It just gives even more opportunities for the dominant cars of the field to make their way to the front.

    I’d be much happier with an idea that the “sprint” race grid was somehow set in a different format to the Sunday race grid. Not necessarily reversing stuff, but some other way.

    P.S. if they want to go really radical…no DRS for the sprint race. Then we’ll see how good/how much point there actually is to DRS…

    1. +1 – the ‘sprint’ race should be a qualifying one for the Sunday race proper with no points on offer. The need for the preceding qualifying session is redundant – the starting positions of the sprint race ought to be based on a reverse of the current WDC positions. So the WDC leader has to effectively pass every car other competitor through a Grand Prix weekend (whether during the qualifying sprint race or the Sunday race proper) to be the first car to take the chequered flag on a Sunday afternoon. I described such a format as an idea a few years back but this was deemed too much as ‘whacky races’ for some to stomach..

  6. I completely agree with this idea. The one hesitation I would have would be the reduction of the race distance on Sunday. I’m 36 and know that something has to change to attract new fans but also appreciate that you can’t dilute things too much otherwise it will lose credibility.

    If engine mileage is the issue then I would abandon Friday’s. You could also use Sunday morning to run a quali (always the most dead time of a GP weekend) for the main race thus making Sunday the “main” attraction. I would advocate a 75/25 split of points in favour of Sunday.

  7. Aww but then a Grand Prix wouldn’t be Grand any more and the record books would be rendered meaningless. I really think the problem lies in the economic inequality between the teams rather than the race weekend format.

    Maybe do something with Friday but please for goodness sake leave the rest of it alone.

    1. YESSS, the record books ! Good point ! Altering point system, course of track, Quali and surely somewhen race format will make all records obsolete, killing heritage.

  8. The first time that they have a half empty grid on a Sunday because accidents in Quali and sprint race consumed all the available parts it will be reversed to what we currently have. Sounds pretty half backed to me. Dilutes the Sunday race. How much more dilution of the show does Bernie want? Loss of free to air has hurt enough.

    1. This was my first thought as well. And, what about the mechanics that have to work all night to fix broken cars? And, the extra wear and tear on engines, brakes, etc.?

  9. I’m not against change. There is a danger though that the Saturday racing will become generally more exciting than the Sundays, or vice versa, with people possibly switching off for the ‘boring’ race?

  10. Thinking aloud…

    One thing that concerns me is the lessening (in time and length) of the Sunday afternoon race, but whilst one can argue that certain races need time to mature and come to a thrilling conclusion, it’s also easy to argue that some races go on for too long and would be more exciting were this not to be the case.

    It would also mean more of a commitment for a fan who likes to watch as many of the races as possible to keep up with the action. Whereas missing quali is not a massive loss, to watch all the races under the proposed system requires tuning in – and not doing other things with your life – on both Saturday and Sunday. At least under the current system the race is a ‘special’ event.

    Maybe more ‘races’ is better for the casual fan who might tune in now and again, but in that case they had better get to work making the cars follow each other more easily and thus be able to overtake. And also distribute the funds more evenly so that there’s more equal competition and greater chances of on-track action and different winners. Otherwise, as you say Joe, it’s just going to be fastest-cars-wins, just over more, shorter races.

    On the whole, I wouldn’t be against the ideas as they’re laid out here, but I don’t think changing the race format alone will solve the ‘entertainment’ issues at hand.

  11. Agree with GP2 format of reverse is daft.
    For me there is one quick way to upset all and is a choice of FreeCompounds. Same old 2 choices available just able to mix and match.
    Imagine Lewis asking ‘what is Nico using’? Oh Lewis Soft on Front Left SuperSoft on Right Front, and soft on rears. Bet we can hear a crash or spin after that him thinking and working it out for his choice.
    The other is revert to 3 piece from wings.
    Saludos.

  12. Shorter races seems like a bad idea to me… they’re pretty dang short already….

    Giving the teams-and-drivers even less testing time seems insane to me… it gives even more of an advantage to the big teams who can afford zillion dolllar simulators and who aren’t giving the keys to noob drivers… so, I’m guessing the big teams thought that one up…

  13. I wouldn’t change qualifying, it’s one of the best new developments for me as a fan who just recommenced watching F1 after a decade of processional racing.

    1. I agree that the current quali format is the best we’ve had for a long time. It’s guaranteed to be an exciting hour and works well on TV. It’s also a lot fairer than single lap type formats, where weather changes can be very unfair.

      I’ve got no problem with change for the better. But surely we should keep what works? Current qualifying is both fair and exciting, plus the only alternatives come from rose tinted memories, as opposed to any fundamental problem with the system we have now.

      Personally I think the idea of a Saturday sprint race could be interesting. What I don’t look forward to is the predictable comments that will follow any changes. I’m already sick of reading comments on F1 websites telling me I should be watching WEC or MotoGP; maybe I’m just old and set in my ways, but that gets tired real fast!

  14. I’d like to have more racing on Sunday, not less, so I’m not a fan.
    Also, I believe qualy and racing are two completely different things and I like my drivers to be as complete as possible, so setting the grid with a race kills that.

    I honestly don’t get why the need to meddle with the format. Working on less aero grip, for instance, would work much better than having a 100km sprint race.

  15. This all sounds fantastic except for the shortening of Sunday’s race.

    Sunday’s are the one thing that F1 does very well for both a TV audience and the spectators in the grand stand.

    Improving Saturday’s and Fridays shouldn’t be dobe by reducing the racing on Sunday’s.

    For all those who complain about fuel saving, there’s plenty out there who enjoy the endurance style racing.

  16. I’ve been following F1 since the ’60s and I think the current qualifying format is the best yet. The fact that we typically only have be Benz boys capable of taking pole is the biggest reason so many find Q3 a yawn. I would propose that Q1 and Q2 remain as they are and that Q3 becomes a short sprint race to set the grid. Keep the race short enough that a set of the fastest option tires will go the distance. Fuel loads will be light and the entire qualifying package will fit a 90 minute TV window. Whether Q2 tires are carried over to the sprint or race day would be a function of sprint race length.
    BTW gang, single car qualifying has proven to be pretty boring.

    1. I can go with Davetoo idea. That could actually work and make the top 10 drivers really work and entertain on a Saturday . 10 lap sprint for Q3. I like that. You don’t compete go to the back of the grid would ensure a race is on.

    2. That sounds more feasible than many other ideas. The big fear of having an all out (even if short) race on saturday with 22 cars is that there’d be pile-ups and that would potentially hamper the starters of the main grand prix on sunday. And as others have said there is a danger the saturday race becomes the more watched spectacle.
      However, having it just as a top 10 would reduce the risk elements with fewer cars and, in theory, the more experienced competent racers on the grid into q3.

      But even this seems too sedate – assuming it’s be a rolling start (released from the pits or forming an order after a warm up lap) – why would e.g Kyvatt running in 7th place risk anything just to move up to maybe a best of p5..while the mercedes run away at the front and Vettel is happy to settle for p3 and wait til sunday… The cars might run closely but it would be too nervy and people would be advised to be cautious.

      On this point however, consider reversing the order…maybe it would be too tactical with people trying to just skim into the top 10 without being fastest in q2…which could hilariously back-fire and see drivers eliminated in q2 – so i would remove this potential fakery and just reverse championship order accordingly to those who made the top 10. (i don’t think this demeans the efforts of q2 because the aim is simply just to get into the top 10)

      This would make things a little more natural perhaps, and you would at least see guys pushing like crazy at the front to try and maintain their slot, while the likes of Hamilton would relish overtaking to come through.

      A 30 minute race (of suitably set laps)?..even less, a 15 minute all out sprint might suffice and hike up the pressure.

      This has its flaws. But just seems a fair mixture of entertainment and sorting out the best drivers on the basis of wanting to spice it up on saturday.

      But still, could sprint race winner be fairly termed as ‘pole winner’ ?-i.e – the fast driver around the race course on that weekend.

      Reverse grids always produce magic, but I agree they shouldn’t be automatically fabricated. It’s a tough one to balance

      Shorter Sunday races would lose the on-paper-prestige of a 300 k/m grand prix distance but probably would be much better to retain broadcasters and casual viewers.

      All these ideas sound good but none are without flaws..it’s a difficult one to get right without destroying the ethos of the sport.

    3. The problem with the idea of a sprint race taking the place of Q3 is that the ‘follow my leader’ nature of F1 currently means that the grid would, in essence, be set by Q2. Although I guess we’re talking about random starting positions. What about really spicing it up by having all the Q3 drivers in the same car – one of the circuits choice. So you could have 10 Fiat 500’s in Italy, Seat’s in spain, Land Rover’s in the UK etc. You could sell the rights to the car supply.

      I’d watch that.

  17. I expected to hate this, but I have to say that a move to 2 shorter sprint type races over two days sounds good to me. Also increases the chances of at least one wet race during a race weekend at some tracks! The main thing would be a reduction to tyre and fuel saving though. Not all races last season were dominated by this, but when we did get one I really felt like an afternoon wasted even for a diehard fan like me. The excitement of qualifying has dropped off recently too. Is this for 2017? I guess it is too big a change to introduce for this year

  18. Don’t like the idea of a sprint race on Saturday but agree qualifying probably needs shaking up.

    Qualifying one;
    All cars on track for half an hour, the ten fastest go through to the shoot out. The grid positions for the rest are decided in Q1

    Qualifying two;
    Each car has only one flying lap. Setting off in Q1 positions 10-9-8 etc

    Might not make much of a difference but variable weather conditions could lead to Lewis and Seb starting on the 5th row. Which is a battle through the field I’d like to see.

    As a to the fuel useage, give the engineers an amount of fuel to use per race and let them design whatever power unit they want

  19. The idea of a qualifying race at the expense of a shorter Sunday race would not be a step forward in my opinion. The current length of a Grand Prix is fine and throwing in an additional race would dilute the thrill of the main event on a Sunday. This would be more gimmicky that DRS, degradable tyres and even double points. The best way to improve the show is by more equal revenue distribution/cost cap which will eventually close up the field for closer racing.

    Here in Australia the v8 supercars have several races per weekend and it’s now got to the point where many believe that these are no longer essential viewing as you can’t sacrifice a whole weekend to watch and therefore people gradually watch less and less over time, instead of making a date at the track or on TV to ensure they see a main event for a couple of hours on a Sunday.

    1. Dear Joe, all
      Matt Perry- then add those of us who have decided that v8SC is not essential viewing because it’s predominantly on pay TV, the FTA highlights packages are rubbish, and, with the exception of Bathurst & Sandown, the races that are fully covered in FTA are boring….
      That is in addition to what you wrote.
      Cheers
      MarkR

  20. Sorry but am a traditionalist and I can’t see any merit in this idea at all. As far as I can think nearly all motorsport runs a qualifying and race format and the spectacle of WEC, WRC and MotoGP is just fine. In fact the racing in MotoGP is so thrilling it makes their qualifying seem pedestrian, but the point is the race action, the riders visible skill and bravery, unpredictability of the result and the overtaking makes for such an awesome spectacle it is something that F1 working groups don’t quite seem to understand. Cooking up artificial overtaking aids, aero that spoils the grip for the car behind, cars so wide that no overtaking takes place, and bumping over kerbs all the time doesn’t make for exciting racing to me. I certainly don’t want to see a qualifying race before the actual race. The power unit technology is great and road-relevant, but the aero concept is totally wrong for exciting racing and I just can’t see the drivers skill or courage in the way I used to – it all seems to come down to who makes a mistake – not very interesting. Formula E puts on a good show despite all its technological disadvantages so I think a new look at F1 is needed and not by the teams currently practicing in F1 because they will only serve up more of the same. It needs a sports-marketing led approach with lots of technology applied to traditional Grand Prix format to keep this die-hard happy.

    1. Dear f160s I really love your comment.

      It is great to read a traditionalist who is happy with the new power units, and who also has a positive opinion of FE.

      I think your comments regarding aero design are spot on. With an aero package that doesn’t spoil the grip of cars behind, we would potentially see more overtaking that didn’t rely on artificial aids. Which is not to say that F1 has to be focused on lots of overtaking, just that a driver should be able to get right behind the car ahead for lap after lap without washing out his grip and dropping right off the pace.

      I am not adverse to change, the history of GP racing, prior to and including the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is a history writ large on change. I would hate to see shorter Sunday races, for me 2 hours is a sprint, or should be a sprint, and if we don’t currently have that I think we could achieve it with some rule changes without compromising the fuel efficiency of the PU’s or shortening the race distance.

      I’m going to take it a step in the other direction – I would like to see the occasional 4 hour race, Suzuka, Spa, Silverstone for example. Still shorter than WEC, and within the bounds of a viewing afternoon, or evening, but pushing reliability of the tech even further, and providing double the exposure for the teams, drivers, companies, and industries involved in F1.

  21. I’m not a traditionalist by any means but this seems pretty wacky. Qualifying, a sprint race, a shorter main race? I just don’t get it. Sprint races aren’t going to be much more exciting that main races because passing is still hard. Also, no one will want to risk destroying the car they need to use the next day.

    There is nothing wrong with the weekend format right now, especially when one considers that most in-season testing is banned. The teams need the three practice sessions. Qualifying is very exciting as well. Changing things around won’t save money either… the team is there already.

    Formula 1… always looking to solve made up problems while ignoring real ones.

  22. Oh great – so the powers that be have decided to lock themselves in a room again and try to dream up yet another new idea that the folks who avidly watch F1 – and those who don’t – would lap up. How about doing some market research for once, preferably a lot?

    Some change is definitely good. The empty track in qualifying was tedious, followed by one-at-a-time qualifying which was no improvement, whereas the current shoot-out is generally a success and makes for enjoyable viewing – even if the pole lap itself is frequently not the final act of the hour.

    I would be concerned with trying to secure too much viewing commitment over a weekend (in the manner of Sky Sports F1, but expanded to the entire TV market) by having a race on both Saturday and Sunday, with qualifying as a further session in search of viewers. Audiences will quite quickly fall (further) away if people feel that they have missed a race or session here or there, if they feel more and more disconnected from the sport and it becomes an evermore occasional treat. A qualifying hour on Saturday – optional for the casual follower, compulsory viewing for the avid fan – followed by the main event on Sunday, i.e. the status quo, is still relatively manageable but any more and only the real die-hards will remain so the sport could wither and die.

    Just one man’s opinion (and obviously without consulting the current and potential marketplace, which I wish the so-called strategy group would do from time to time). Change is not always a bad thing, but please be careful what you wish for.

  23. I often wonder about the merits of running 3rd cars for young-test drivers in 2 practice sessions on Fri with the 3rd practice on a Saturday morning strictly the two main drivers. Then after quali the 3rd drivers have a short race with their starting position being a reverse grid race based on the quali performance of the two headline drivers in quali. They can only use tyres from the 3 practice sessions

    A problem at race weekends is lack of track activity. 3rd cars with young drivers doing a reverse grid race on a Saturday for 30-40 minutes would add to the track time that spectators see F1 cars plus more

    The points can acrue towards the WCC

    The costs would need to be offset with savings and i have plenty of opinions there too

  24. Just make Gordon Murray and Ross Brawn the tzar twins of F1. They’ll sort this mess out. See? Positivity

  25. I think your idea for qualifying is a great one. I think as a spectator you want to see as many cars as possible for as long as possible. That’s what you’ve paid your money for. As for the strategy group proposals, I think the Grand Prix should not be shortened. I’d happily see the race length increased but I understand why other people would not want that.

  26. Joe,

    An interesting idea.
    Something I would like to see, is the 2 sets of free practise on Friday and Saturday, which the “third” driver has to do these, to gain mileage for his/her Super license. At the same time each of the 2 main drivers sits out one of the free practises.

    Now to combat the lack of testing and the problems the teams have with the new PU, why not allow the team to experiment with new engine bits / parts during those 2 free practise periods, but only the third driver is allowed to drive the car with that experimental engine in it. If the team want to use it then the Tokens come into play, if not then no harm done.

    The down side is the team and engine manufactures are show casing there product to the world in all its glory or screw ups. The third driver who does in most cases bring a small amount of sponsorship to the team get there time in the spot light, same with the sponsor, and the Fans get to have a look at them.

    It could solve a bit of the cost involve in the drop in testing, plus most third drivers do travel to the races, so the extra cost of shipping an additional engine is not that much more. I would keep the number of staff who travels to a set number also.

    We need to look at getting new fresh face kids / new drivers, let’s give them a chance, We need new range of sponsors and this could be a way for them to dip there big toe in the world of F1, and it would give the teams there demand for more testing, rather than the virtual type they currently do at increase costs.

    1. I like this idea for similar reasons to the idea that Troy has submitted above. Finding a way to get young 3rd drivers on track whilst preparing for their eventual (hopefully) graduation to fulltime driver.

  27. I am totally against a shorter race on Sunday just to save fuel. What is wrong with these people. Either enlarge the tank or reintroduce refuelling. If I am going to set aside my Sunday then its got to be worth it. If they shorten the race then I would rather do something else.

  28. I can without a doubt say that if F1 ever went to a 2 race format, Especially if they shortened the Sunday race I would immediately stop watching because in my opinion F1 should be about 1 Grand Prix race & not 2 shorter races in which the 1st may well devalue the 2nd.

    But since all of the polling, surveys & overwhelming fan opinion in comments sections etc.. show that a massive majority are against this 2-race idea you can bet there going to do it anyway!

    This whole push towards making things more & more artificial & gimmickry just to put the show above the sport is going to be the death of F1!

  29. I’m not so sure that having a 2nd race would help as the general trend for categories that do run 2 races tends to be that 1 always get significantly less viewers than the other.

    A few years back the Indycar series started running double headers on some circuits but the TV figures for the Saturday race were always so pathetic that its something they moved away from pretty quickly.
    Its the same with GP2 & GP3 one race (Usually the shorter Sunday race) always gets significantly less viewers than the other & I believe the same was true with the new 2 race DTM format last year.

    There is a lot of evidence out there which suggests that there is an element of what’s called viewer fatigue when it comes to the categories that do run more than 1 race & indeed even in longer endurance categories like WEC which tend to struggle to maintain viewers through the entirety of there races.

    1. I see the merit in splitting the races, to have ‘faster racing’, but feel it would not increase viewer-ship, as you describe above.

      I’ve always wondered why WEC didn’t try to have a ‘sprint’ series as well, 300km/2 hours, 1 driver per car. A bit like the old Can-Am series.

      1. I looked it up. Is there something in the water in Britain? But, since F1 is in hiatus, I’ll see your “damp squib” and raise you “Winner, winner, chicken dinner.” That’s an expression here in the southern U.S. that I still can’t fathom.

        1. I think that is means if you win something you can afford to buy a chicken dinner. Probably comes from the days before KFC…

          1. Which is also why, in Australian theatre, they wish each ‘chookas’ before the opening night. Because if it goes well and you sell lots of tickets you can afford to buy chicken dinner!

    1. Please tell me what a “damp squib” is. Thanks.

      An example of Joe’s masterful use of the full color pallete of the English language! As a Brit now living in the USA for a longtime I chuckle everytime I see him turn a phrase like this. Thanks Joe. Makes my day.

  30. It’s at times like this I’m grateful the engine manufacturers control the strategy group. They will knock this out, toot sweet. It is good that they are looking at ideas to spice up the show, but format changes are no different to the gimmicks they employ across the pond. How long until we hear someone suggest automatic cautions to reset the field every 20 laps?

    Fix the fundamental problems with car design that is crippling close racing and the sport will once again blossom. These gimmicks are merely a distraction from that very important truth that car design has destroyed the racing we desperately want to see. That is however the one reason I am not glad the teams are controlling the strategy group.

  31. Why not restricting the teams from monitoring the fuel left in the car during the race ? That would make them put enough fuel in the car to go the distance without asking drivers to save fuel…. Or allow only one engine setting during the race.

  32. My final thought: How will a qualifying race work out at tracks with limited to very difficult passing opportunities? Monaco, Singapore, Spain, Hungary all spring to mind.

    If you can’t pass to gain a better qualy position, what’s the point???

  33. Why not? I don’t have any beef with the way things are now but if they try something new, I’ll give it a fair chance.

    It’s not like they are proposing caution flags every 20 minutes like NASCAR’s truck series.

  34. I am no one to provide an informed opinion about the state of F1, but ever since Pirelli was brought in with the mandate of purposefully producing quick degrading tyres, F1 lost its soul, Joe, and became a heap of negativity for me.

    There’s hardly anything positive to say about Pirelli telling “we will bring super soft and hard tyres to this race, and medium and super hard tyres to the other”. Seems childish to me. F1 is about the best machines and the best technology – where does intentionally degrading tyre fit into all this? How can one be positive about such as gimmicky arrangement and call it F1 – The Ultimate Motor Sport?

    The modern energy saving engines though fit into the spirit of the sport perfectly. But there’s nothing else to be happy about, for me as a fan.

    But people like you, Joe, who see all this from the inside would obviously have a more correct perspective.

  35. Hi Joe, why does the strategy group/FOM/whoever keep fiddling trying to find a more entertaining formula? They just need to legislate production V8s, upright seating position, the world’s largest wings and rutted quarter mile dirt tracks. Speed, noise, color and movement. Several heats, lots of crashes and, with a bit of luck, some biffo in the pits between Franz Toszt and Ron Dennis. What more could you want?

      1. … and each driver has to hold a spoon in his hand with an egg placed on top of it. If the egg falls off, you have to enter the pits straight away to get a new egg…

  36. F1 is turning into a supermarket. We all know the feeling, pop in to get some basics and everything has been moved around, just to prove the manager has done something.
    Did anyone consult the mechanics who will have to get used to working through the night again, because cars can’t be expected to race unchanged between the legs. Parts do get worn, for instance clutches. Unless teams are going to be forced to use truck parts in future.
    Does Bernie believe we are all in a position to devote 2 days to watching the races? Qualifying might be popular now, but they are not watched by as many as the actual race. Missing a qualifying isn’t that important. Missing a race is entirely different. Perhaps the teams and drivers will not put as much effort into the No Points Legs. As Rosberg knows, getting every pole position in a year doesn’t make you a champion.
    Me, I’m looking forward to the cheerleaders doing the tyre changing from 2017.

  37. I would like them to use such an opportunity to separate the Drivers and Constructors championships.

    Have the Saturday race to sort out the Constructors points (read prize money) and leave the Sunday for an all-out, no holds barred, Drivers championship. The two halves of each garage genuinely competing for glory.

    Unfortunately the watered-down rule changes for 2017, probably mean nothing much will change in the competitive overtakes department.

  38. I like the idea.

    If this format was to be introduced, would it not make sense to use a high deg qualifying tyre for the 1st qualifying round? Perhaps a 30 minute session where each driver is allocated 1 set of super sticky tyres that last all of 5-6 quali laps. A brief pre-session coverage and post session press conference would make for a nice 1 hour Saturday morning session both for track side and couch viewer.

    This would go a long way to addressing the 5 second per lap improvement the Strategy Group have set as a goal. What made years of the past so appealing was the balls out banzai qualifying laps. Yet when it came to race time they were starting with in some years with 220 litres (162 kg) of fuel. It isn’t necessarily about producing a car that will consistently go quicker, but an opportunity to show the cars in the quickest possible trim.

  39. Would there be any merit to making the current qualifying structure worth something? Rather than a ‘seeding sprint race’ or offering more points to the drivers, what about offer a single extra constructors’ championship point for every car that makes it into the top 10 grid positions.
    I have no idea if anything like this has been done before but maybe this would make the mid-pack constructors really work to pick up every extra point they can. (It’s just a random thought, my apologies if it is too easily shot to pieces.)

  40. Artificially “improving” the spectacle is not my idea of what GP racing is about.

    Continually messing around with the format is a big turn-off for many, including me.

    Looks like I’ll have more free time on the race weekends now.

    1. I’m not sure this is artificially improving the show. I think it’s more about optimising car time on track.

      Let’s say an engine does 3000kms is it better having that engine test for 1500kms and then race for 1500kms or test for 500kms and race for 2500kms?

      Where I think we would agree is that Sunday’s race should not be shortened (and it’s interesting reading here how common that theme seems) However, what I also want and support is another sprint race on Saturday. Surely this is better than FP3 which is probably only viewed by a minority of loyal fans. The reality for me is a sprint race on a Saturday can be used to promote Sunday and will create far more on track action.

  41. Surely there’s a real risk of the championship being claimed during this Saturday qualifying race if points were on offer thereby diminishing the value of the main event?

    The best thing about attending an F1 event should be on Sunday. It all rather sounds like meddling and trying to fix something that doesn’t need to be fixed while once more forgetting about the problems that do.

  42. I like this idea – practically, it may lead me to turn on the TV on Saturdays because watching a race is more fun that watching qualifying. For the people attending live I think it’s a better package also.

    I suspect 2 shorter races will appeal to the younger audiences which I think is a step in the right direction.

  43. I haven’t been about for a while, but have kept checking the blog. Happy New Year Joe & everyone else!
    This idea, like so many over the past 5-6 years, seems to me to just be designed to dumb down F1.
    For what it is worth, and having followed motorsport in all forms, since 1965 when i was an 8 year old, i’d like to see the following:

    1. Grand Prix cars built without the vast amount of aerodynamic attachments, with wider tyres and bit wider bodywork. With a capacity of fuel tank that will allow flat out racing from flag to flag if needed. With at least 2 tyre companies involved and a customer engine available. Junk most of the electronics, and telemetry from pit to car and back. Minimum of 1 car needed for an entry and ability to buy cars from Constructors.

    2. Race distances of 200 miles to 250 miles. Thurs practice and friday qualification as well as saturday, so that if it is dry on friday and wet on saturday then Friday times set the Grid. Maximum of 6 mechanics for any tyre change, but tyres built to last a whole race. Qualification tyres. A programme of Sunday races starting at say 11 am, with the feature GP at 2 pm, and race after until 6 pm.

    3. A driver must have finished Top 3 or won 1 F3 race, or same with a new F2, to get an F1 Licence.

    4. Drivers wages cut to say £5m maximum per year, but encouraged to race other cars on a race day programme such as BTCC or Sports/GT.

    5. F1 cut to maximum of 14 races per year, starting in RA,BR or ZA in March and ending mid to end Oct in USA.

    That is just some of what i’d like and yup, i am a dinosaur! However, there is a problem that F1 is disappearing up its own exhaust….and quietly too!
    Just making everything to suit a generation with only 30 seconds concentration avalable before they change channel or look at the iphone again, will not save F1 or motorsport in general.
    Motorsport needs to be varied, to reach out and bring in families and to nuture attendance. Without doing that sensibly it will just be ” Rollerball ” in the end, and that end will not take long.

    Yes i’m being negative, but only as far as saying what is wrong, i would love to reach 80 or 90 and enjoy my motorsport and see a lot of it on the tv, i reckon when i was 13/14 there was more motorsport in general on the tv than now.

    Over the last 4-5-6 years, i’ve dropped a lot of stuff that was sacrosanct to me all my life. I used to buy 4 motorsport magazines/paper weekly/monthly, now i only buy one a month and it don’t take much guessing to know which one. The others have become like reading a redtop paper….just rubbish.

    This blog, written by an Old School Journalist whose musings i’ve followed for more than 30 years in a variety of media, is the only real connection i have with F1 now. Last year for the first time ever in my life, i didn’t even buy a Review…..and i watched only 4-5 F1 races from end to end, and then only at the Classic circuits and some of those were just highlights.

    My journey in F1 is really over as a fan and follower, as i find it mind numbingly boring nowadays. MotoGP…different story.

    I guess what i’m saying is that i love the blog, mainly because of how it is written and the humour and historic information that comes out, all of which i find great…..long may it continue! But the actual F1 stuff, i just seem to tune out now….Back in the 70’s i was bursting to find out about the new GP seasons, the new cars, driver changes, the first race, be it RA or ZA, and yet now, very sadly, more so than i can admit even, i find i’m just not stirred in the slightest.

    To me F1 grew to a point where it was terrific, and then started to slide, i’d say around 2000, and it just became a monster that has been eating itself ever since.

    Anyway, didn’t mean to depress everyone, especially Joe who has an ability to be excited about modern F1 that i find amazing and i’m happy he does as he provides more entertainment in a post here, than i get from a season of F1 these days!

      1. You know what i mean Joe! I have always had a huge amount of enjoyment from your writings, which amongst others included F1 News, and the old Globetrotter column! I have often wondered if you picked ” Globetrotter ” from seeing all those artic lorries with that sign on them, in the UK but also in Europe where they still seem to predominate!
        And by Old School i meant a real motorsport writer, like DSJ, Henry Manney, and the other great writers of the 60’s/70’s & 80’s that i followed. Back then there were so many really quality journalists, The Dood, Alan Henry, Pete Lyons and loads more….the last guy who emerged who has abilities like you would be Simon Arron in my view.
        Anyway, i love you stuff, always have always will. Keep it up! I don’t agree on some fundamentals with you, but i get where you are coming from. I get that you expect changes and embrace it….but i’m more ” if it ain’t broke don’t fix it ” and my complete love of every aspect of motorsports is founded in tradition and history……for me to call a series Gran Prix racing, and have no German or French race, but instead races in Abu Dhabi and Azerwhat’sit’sname?? is just a total travesty…..and that is were i part company with following this debased, greed ridden commercial series that has no sporting heart or soul these days.
        I’ll be a fan again, when these commercial ****** have finished with it, and i can have real cars, real circuits and real drivers back……and by real drivers i mean more Kimi’s and Alonso’s and not just a lot of pussies who are afraid to speak their minds!

    1. Damien: I have to agree with everything you have said above.
      But then I’m an old git, it seemed far more exciting in those days. Now it has to have a financial re-organisation before any tarting about is going to work.

    2. +1. Articulates all that I feel about F1, especially Joe’s blog – it’s the only real connection that I ‘feel’ with F1 now. My earliest memories; going to Brands to watch Villeneuve (the real one!!) and then again in 1986; same circuit – qualifying – Senna and the black and gold Lotus – turbo and qualifying tyres; Mansell/Piquet/Prost etc. THAT show was wonderful – it certainly didn’t require any artificial spicing-up – all eyes were on the track; not an iPhone in sight!

  44. The sprint race on Saturday will be a procession and not a race as hardly anybody will risk destroying his car in an overtake action with the race on Sunday in mind where the majority of the points are gained.

  45. Glad that they’re looking into this – I was actually thinking about the format recently and thought of the following idea:

    Friday – unchanged practice sessions
    Saturday morning – qualifying as per current format
    Saturday afternoon – 45 min sprint race, ideally no stops & grid determined in reverse championship order
    Sunday – full Grand Prix as currently is with grid determined by combination of sprint race result & quali lap e.g. Quickest quali lap = 1 ‘quali’ point, 1st in race = 1 ‘quali’ point, then lowest number of combined points gets pole for Grand Prix and so on.

    Only give championship points for Sunday Grand Prix & maybe a bonus point for fastest lap to encourage drivers to push to the end.

    I’m obviously biased as it’s my idea, but the only downside I see is that the sprint race in reverse championship order could have safety issues at the start, so maybe get around that with a rolling start?

  46. Interesting stuff. Have you heard whether the intention would be to keep the current fuel flow rate limitations in place?

  47. First race would be like CART (indycar) Marlboro challenge from 1985 to 1992, and qualification like in some video games, i think that reduction of main race to 200km is bad, races would be too short

  48. One of the major problems in Formula One is that there are no real “Heroes” of the sport. There isn’t a Schumacher, a Mika Hakkinnen, a Villeneuve or what more a Senna. The current drivers lineup are bunch of drivers that refuse to put up a fight because of fear of damaging the car or to save fuel for the end of the race. This is due to the fact that these guys were allowed to have a seat in Formula One so early and so young in their careers and only now we are seeing the effects of it.

    To me, Formula One is all about these things:

    1) The best drivers in the world, fighting for the championship. I don’t want to see or hear a driver being told to slow down just to save tires or fuel for the end of the race or to stop him from fighting with his teammate because it will look bad.

    Suggestion: Bring back refuelling, Allow communications between driver to engineer but do not allow the engineer to make decisions for the driver. The team and engineers will give all the facts about race status and car performance and let the driver make an assessment on his own.

    2) The greatest R&D for racing in all types of Formula, hopefully, that can also be implemented for the streets. I feel the WEC is way ahead of the game if you compare both WEC and F1 in terms of technological updates.

    Suggestion: Lets see what happens when you let all the teams loose in terms of R&D for a period of two to three years (See what McLaren did with the prototype racer that they just launched?). It seems like we are seeing the same body structure design in all of the cars but (“lets wait and see what the Merc has and we can just copy it”) with different stickers.

    3) Tires. Nobody wants a degrading tire. I will never buy a Pirelli P Zero because of the thought of how fast they deteriorate. Maybe the boys at Pirelli are smarter than me but to me, that’s marketing suicide.

    Suggestion: Stop with this color coding BS on the tire wall of each rubber and stick with either Super Soft or Hard compounds (again back to No.2). It just confuses the audience, particularly me.

    4) The lack of rivalries in both drivers and teams. We all like drama..

      1. Perhaps the saddest aspect is that the current crop of drivers have the most amazing skills, but very rarely are they allowed to show off their prowess.

        Data, strategies, aero and micro-managed PU’s diminishes their skills. Every time there is a wet race, everyone marvels at just how great the driver’s skills are.

        Sadly, the team management are the ones who force-feed us the mediocre races in between.

    1. Well they are not allowed to practice, like Schumacher, who was out there almost every day, the teams are scared pooless that the driver may say something that upsets a/n (increasingly rare) sponsor or offends some minority. So they are basically presented like gagged robots. Apart from Hamilton, who is close to not giving a sh*t now as he delves into his supposed friends lifestyles looking for something to do when he retires. (he’s gonna be so bored his bum will fall off and he will end up racing anything, probably bikes though, but he’s not “Guy Martin type” mad, I doubt he will do the TT.)

  49. When will they realise the more complicated they make the sporting side of things the more difficult it will be for the casual fans to follow it?

    I often enjoy the rolling of eyes and shaking of heads as I explain the tyre rules as they were last year. God only knows what it will be like this year with rules never mind the mess of qualifying into a mini race into a full race?? Bonkers

    You don’t see the Olympics talking about changing the marathon because it goes on a bit >.>

  50. How to improve the spectacle of F1

    1) Adopt aero regs from 2003 (IMHO – the best ever F1 season)
    2) But keep slicks (not those awful grooved tyres)
    3) Choice of engine config between current V6 hybrids or V8’s, V10’s and V12’s with KERS
    4) Stop hiring Herman Tilke to design new tracks. The guy has never come up with a modern day Suzuka or Spa and never will!
    5) Tyre war (Pirelli not invited)
    6) Re-fuelling
    7) Comprehensive F1 coverage on paid service on Netflix (or similar) and Free to Air Tv coverage of the bare bones (all races in full, but no quali or practice or extra content).

    But most important of all:

    **Ditch the notion of F1 needing to be road relevant as the be all and end all. Since when were the crazy powerful turbo’s in the 80’s road relevant, or the v10’s or v8’s? Where were Mercedes and Ferrari and Renault when the Toyota Pruis hybrid was launched in 97 (if they cared about the environment as much as they say) F1 should stop trying to appeal to the inner city green voting latte set. Most of these people don’t even own cars and don’t aspire to.

    7) Send me the cheque

    1. @Richard, agree mostly.I keep saying it over and over for years: F1 is fantasy motoring. It has nothing to do with normal cars on normal roads. Its meant to be the pinnacle of what is described as a car – they are race cars.

      Same goes with Moto GP or Supercross for instance sure they are motorcycles but what do they have to do with the latte set riding Vespas to the cafe? Relevance? Zero. Same as F1 yes they are cars, but they are meant to do different things. It’s entertainment and sporting / engineering / athlete excellence. Not a drive to shops or work in gridlock. They are two completely different exercises and uses of a car.

      Bottom line – F1 is meant to be a little bit of escapism every two weeks built around pushing limits of every element of the activity – design, speed, looks, aero, grip, endurance etc etc and should not be homogenized into he norm. There are much more ‘road car relevant’ categories like touring cars to show care road relevance for the various manufacturers if want to do so.

      F1 is meant to be a spectacle that you see, feel and hear…not watered down engineering exercise with cross over into a Prius. (Sorry Joe I know you drive one! lol)

      This is the reason that F1 has lost its way.

  51. Not quite “up in arms” but… why the stubborn insistence on doing anything and everything except what fans are concerned with: an uncompetitive field and high cost of attendance?

  52. Free for all qualifying, unlimited laps, with the proviso that a minimum of three laps must be completed in each quarter. The old 12 lap system was quite good with all the cars on track at the end. People pay a lot of money attending gp’s to see cars on track.

  53. Been watching F1 since around 2000 and of all the qualifying formats I like the current the most although the single lap also had its merits. The only fault with the current qualifying is it lines the cars up in order of fast to slow and it doesn’t take a genius to see what effect that has on the race. I’d keep qualy and the race format the same but have some sort of grid/time penalty mechanism probably based on championship position to make sure the fastest cars don’t start at the front. It would need to be a fairly simply rule and perhaps might need exceptions for races like Monaco but for sure starting the fastest car at the front is not great.

    Have to say I do fundamentally enjoy the F1 show on & off track, we could just do without CVC draining it, more spent on promoting and showcasing it and would be nice we had a bit more needle/rivalry between the drivers, oh and cars 4/5 seconds a lap faster to make sure it’s men driving these cars and not boys. + Please keep open cockpit…and put on free to air..

  54. I think the two race idea could increase costs significantly. The duty cycles of the PU and gear-train, diff, brakes, suspension etc would all change and need to be re-designed for different parameters. The increase in team member stress and strain from too many races this season would be accelerated so as to kick in after about ten race weekends. Thus team transport costs may double.

    All the parts of cars are designed to have a duty cycle and to last just long enough, as per the classic best design of old, that falls apart as it crosses the finish line (would that be a Chapman Lotus?) However now the “lifing” of all parts will need to be extended, and most likely this will increase costs.

    (Currently I believe its the tyres used in Q2 which must be used to start the race, a stupid idea! Much better to let everyone start on new tyres, maybe all to use the same hardness to start.)

  55. What about having FP1 as a reserve/young driver session? It’d actually make them useful, for development, testing, or a small earner for the team, and add more variety to Friday.

    So, reserve/young drivers get 1.5 hours, race drivers 4.5 hours of running per weekend. It would help balance the mix of experience and youth, given the current lack of testing. Or make it 1 hour vs. 5 hours. Small steps..

  56. Another change this year is the addition of what would equate to qually tyres of the past. Now teams are to be allowed a complicated selection of what seems to be an enormous number of tyre sets throughout the three days. Will the teams pay more for tyres this year or will Pirelli absorb the cost?

    The current tyre usage regs seem pointless to me, I prefer letting teams fit what they want then we can see some tyre strategy. No enforced pit stop, if they can go the whole race on one set then do so, but they will be touch and go at the end.
    But the audience and most major F1 figures appear the have ADHD and need an attention grabbing sensation every few seconds.

    1. /teams are to be allowed a complicated selection of what seems to be an enormous number of tyre sets throughout the three days/

      Number of dry tyres for a driver is the same as last year: 13 sets per weekend.

  57. Pleeeeaaaassseee……… Do not touch the REAL F1 RACE DAY duration/format.
    Different Q type sessions might be an option although the present Q sessions work for me… Do not diminish the importance of an F1 race…..

    1. Thy have the opposite already in FE! Fan boost! Pathetic. Maybe they will add fireworks to go off each time the leader completes a lap.

  58. I don’t see anything wrong with the current set up. However, if we are jazzing it up with razamataz: places pulled out of a hat determine quali race grid. 30 min quali race on Saturday afternoon to determine race quali positions, no points awarded. Race on Sunday, as current distance/time with current points.

    Although how any race chanes will enhance the spectacle at Yawnaco, sorry Monaco, remains to be seen.

  59. Wasn’t something very much like this suggested during the (First) Turbo Era? One insider back then reckoned the best vantage point for watching the “qualifying race” at Monaco would be Nice.

  60. Less is more. If the calendar was to remain at 21 meetings that would be 42 races. 21 Saturday and Sunday races. Think about it.
    I’m one of those fools who watches every session live, along with as much IndyCar, WEC, Touring Cars, junior single seaters, bikes etc, et. as possible. I also have an unhealthy love for NASCAR, and frankly the good old boys series is starting to meld one race into another for me. F1 would be in danger of doing that to itself with double headers.
    The sport needs an influx of new, younger fans. If you think they’re going to give up 20+ weekends a year just to catch F1 you must be Barmy!
    I suspect that most of us who read this blog adore F1, but it is hard to argue that more racing, irrespective of quality, is going to keep hold of/bring in more fans.
    It’s all just rumours at the moment, but I can’t envision this proposal being good for the long term health of the sport.
    As for the WEC, I’ve always been a fan of endurance racing over F1, and yes the racing is top notch (until one of the manufacturers gets bored, pulls out, then the series collapses) , but even with the 6 hour full on sprints, I’ve encountered F1 fans who find it boring, mainly because of the length.
    Less can be more

  61. Reducing Sunday race distance is a terrible idea as it dilutes show.On a lot of tracks 200K races will take around 1 hour which is way too short.
    Current qualifying system is the best I have ever seen in any form of motor sport.Saturday 30-40 minute races will be a procession.
    F1 problems are
    1Mercedes dominance.In the last 40 years no car that was totally dominant for a year has maintained or even increased its dominance for all of the following year.If this goes on for a 3rd year it will nearly kill the category.
    2Too much aero=Too little passing.Proposed new rules only seem to make this worse.
    3CVC and Bernie greed.Taking too much money out of sport at the expense of the teams and caring only about this year’s cash grab rather than where the sport will be financially and competitively in 10-20 years time.

  62. While I fully respect the idea by the group who thinks about F1 much more than an old fan does, I think the qualifying race and shorter Grand Prix race format will not improve an F1 event because in the worst case majority of the field could be out of contention before the Grand Prix race through possible crashes and accidents in the qualifying race. Instead, introducing a mandatory set of qualifying tyre (like the ones used until 1991) to the current format would be a moderate but effective measure.

  63. If I may…

    Quick plug for the Bathurst 12 Hour GT race held at the iconic Mt Panorama track, 05-07 Feb 2016. There will be live online boradcasting – I won’t submit the link here, but it can be found by searching the event an online broadcast. I think the last few hours may be shown on local tv.

    I know it isn’t F1, but I for one am cold turkeying for some motor racing action whilst I wait for F1 Round 1. Last years Bathurst 12 Hour was a good race, lots of local and International drivers, two of the winning drivers being ex Playstation racers who had made the switch (sometime previously) to live sport via the GT Academy.

    For an F1 connection Mika Salo will be a co driver of a Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.

    I hope it is okay to mention the race – if not, my apologies for submitting these comments.

    1. Dear Joe, all
      Adam, as a resident of Bathurst, thanks for the plug.
      The entire race will be broadcast on FTA, by the Australian ‘7 Network’, as it was last year, which was a cracker of a race, especially the Nissan GTR’s surge to victory in the last 30 minutes.
      V8 Supercars, in 2015, scheduled a ‘test day’ in Sydney, 200km away, on the same date, thus preventing the V8SC drivers from entering.
      This year, ‘Supercar Events’ (a spinoff of V8SC) has taken over the running, so, the v8SC contracted drivers are back.
      Incidentally, the GT3 lap record is 3.8 sec faster than that of the V8 Supercar category.
      The forecast for next Sunday is 23deg, with an 80% chance of showers, which will add a bit of a challenge to strategies. Given weather patterns of the last couple of weeks, there is a likelihood of the Mt Panorama trait of rain at the top of the track, and none at the bottom, which sorts the men from the boys.
      As does the 174km rise and fall of the circuit, 90% of which occurs in about 500m, both going up, and going down. The cameras don’t do it justice. Correct me if I am wrong, but, I believe this is well over double the elevation changes at Spa.
      And, don’t forget the unique Mt Panorama phenomenon- the Kangaroo on the track. Despite Bathurst Regional Council’s attemp to address the problem prior to last year’s 1000km event, one of Skippy’s relatives made a guest appearance in practice. As was the case in the 2015 12hour, and, the 2014 1000 races. As a point of interest, in the 2 cases that I can recall, the 2014 1000, and 2015 12 hour, where car-macropod collisions occurred, the cars both required pit time to repair damage, whereas, the animals bounced away! The cars would have been doing (est)130-160kmh.
      Apologies for being off topic, but, hey, Adam started it.
      Cheers
      MarkR
      Race start is 0545 Sun (local) or 1845 Sat in London. The web feed is via the race website.

        1. Dear Joe, all
          Well, Joe,,if ever you return, I will happily shout you dinner at the best restaurant in town, as a thanks for providing us with such an excellent blog.
          Likewise, any of the folk who comment- if you ever decide to come to Bathurst, happy to play host.
          A few interesting factoids about Mt Panorama.
          1. It has its own personal legal act- The Mt Panorama act, specifying how many race meetings can be run each year. I think that it was enacted to knobble a move to ban racing at the Mount by a few of the toffs who own houses on the circuit- (and, who had purchased them knowing full well that it was a motor racing circuit)
          2. The circuit was constructed as a depression era employment project. What was actually proposed was a ‘tourist road’, which, strangely, required a road going up, and another going down. For some reason or other, it didn’t dawn on the public servants who signed off on the project that a single two way road to the top would suffice, and the mayor at the time forgot to mention that his vision was for a race circuit all along.
          3. For those who fancy a peek, go to the Mount Panorama website, click on ‘Take A Fast Lap’, and, open the video that comes up- a fast lap via in car camera mounted on the nose of a Formula 1 McLaren (2008 vintage, I think) piloted by Jenson Button. The only vehicle ever to lap Mt Panorama in less than 2 minutes. It makes Albert Park look like a joke.
          Cheers
          MarkR

      1. I remember watching highlights of the 1000 a few years ago. “THIS COULD OBLY HAPPEN IN AUSTRALIA!” screamed one of the colemantators as a kangaroo got loose on the track.

        O RLY?

  64. It has just occured to the cynic in me that maybe the idea of a Saturday race is to help pitch pay tv. “Double the racing for the same price, each race is now 50% cheaper”.

    I always thought quali was racing anyway, in the same way that foreplay is still sex, even if it is not the headline event. That is not meant to sound as old fashioned as it possibly does, Quali and foreplay are damn important, I’m not underselling either event!

    I agree with the many comments that point out that the Strategy Group suggestions do not appear to be based on any understanding of what the fans or audience actually want. As usual it just appears that people at the top of the food chain are itchy about the spectacle not being good enough and looking for novelty to appeal to the masses, without perhaps knowing who the masses are or what they are asking for. Hell maybe we should feed a few Christians to the lions on the Saturday, or interpret the organs of a goat to determine the weather on Sunday morning. All in the name of entertainment of course.

    Of course I could be wrong, and shouldn’t assume that I know what the fans want. Like most of us, I have read many comments from Joe and his followers (us) on this blog over many years. Perhaps our community is out of touch in our own way due to our particular brand of loyalty, like minds congregating etc. Maybe the Strategy Group is reacting to the F1 survey or F1 petition I believe we saw last year. If this is the case I would like to see any changes prefaced with words to the effect of ” X (ie significant %) of respondents to the 2015 F1 survey said they would like to see (insert fan suggestion here), and in response we are considering (insert Strategy group proposal here)”. Unfortunately that seems like such a radical approach for F1, but imagine the difference it would make.

    Maybe the proposal is a knee jerk reaction to falling viewing numbers without wanting to deal with the elephant in the room that the switch to pay tv and the lack of online viewing represents to some of us. It may be inevitable to some, but the viewing figures are suggesting resistance is impacting.

    On another note maybe all the Rolex wearers Bernie sees as true believers need something to entertain them on Saturdays as weekend life in retirement villages and mansions is too boring. When one has others to do everything for you I guess you might have enough time on your hands to watch motor racing all weekend. I am lucky that my wife and daughter will let me trade “Dad motorsport watching weekends” for other family orientated weekends – as a stay home dad during the week I get a little more weekend freedom than most – I appreciate that most of my contemporaries do not have the luxury.

      1. Point taken, quite correct.

        In Australia at least they would get away with pitching “Twice as many races”.

        I think some countries have tighter advertising laws though. Down here they can still use the “… gives you wings” tagline but I believe elsewhere that might be quite correctly deemed false advertising.

  65. How F#@king stupid is everyone in that paddock Joe? They look to change everything but the bleeding obvious, which is: make overtaking more possible and make the field more competitive. The problem is ruling by democracy when all the voting parties definitely do not have F1’s interest in mind, but instead their own.

    Someone has to grow some balls around there and say “well, you might leave the sport, you might not, but either way we aren’t going to let F1 regress… with or without you. Oh, and good luck finding another series that will give you the return F1 will”.

    1. In case you did not notice, the whole paddock does not sit on the strategy group… And it’s not democratic at all.

      1. Thanks for the insight on the strategy group. Last I checked a democratic voting process was used to bring about change, as opposed to a nice little dictatorship.

  66. The question is – is this Saturday race supposed just to ‘shake the order’ or to give more entertainment? Because most of comments aims at ‘shaking the order’.
    Qualifying format works well (there was a problem once, when Pirellis seemed to deteriorate too fast), and we still need to see how it works combined with free tyre choice introduced for this season.
    As it regards more entertainment, there is significant risk that additional race – be it sprint race, quali race, junior drivers’ race, whatever – would mean more crashes and more costs to the teams.

  67. Here’s a simple way to sort the sport out – just get rid of the fuel flow limit and/or 100kg limit. And the PU’s whilst they’re at it.

    No need for any mental ideas ruining 60 years’ worth of tradition.

    How is this even allowed? Imagine if in football FIFA just decided that there should be a 20 minute ‘blitz’ match, then a 60 min grand match instead of a 90 min match… it’s ludicrous.

    FFS

    There was NOTHING WRONG WITH IT pre-power unit era. When will they learn that the vast majority of fans are turned off by the engines (70% according to James Allen poll today) and this is killing the sport. It’s dying guys, a long, drawn-out suicide.

    I’m going to stop watching F1 soon, after 30 years. It’s ****ing ridiculous. What a shame.

    1. I am sick of hearing people moan about the new V6 power units. I have enough issues with noise hazards, aside from risking my hearing at a GP weekend.

      What was it about the screeching naturally aspirated engines, that so many fans regard a return to as some kind of panacea for fixing all the problems they have with the sport?

      I’m not an engineer, just an F1 fan. I think the new power units are remarkable and impressive. The efficiency compared with V8s etc is phenomenal. If I could make one change – I’d completely deregulate the amount of energy that can be harvested from both the heat and the regenerative braking. I’d also completely deregulate the storage and deployment, as that would give more opportunity for small teams founded on solid engineering (eg Williams) to innovate and potentially beat the factory teams.

      However the most significant change to assist with the latter is … None! Everyone knows stable regulations bring about closer racing, but instead virtually every contribution to a discussion on F1 is proposing dramatic changes of some kind.

      I suspect these new ideas are the result of the change in free to air TV in key F1 markets. In the UK I suspect the switch to C4 will make drive down viewing figures. The BBC was good not just for the lack of adverts, but their multi platform presence. It was neat to watch their live races with a phone and iPad looking at other information, and the BBC supported their coverage with an excellent website. I don’t believe C4 will put such resources into creating a comprehensive one stop F1 shop.

      I really think that if F1 was on free to air TV in the key European markets, there would not be so many perceived problems nor so many unnecessary remedies prescribed.

      1. Sorry Guy, have to really disagree with you on the engine point. As a longtime motorsport enthusiast, i have spent many a happy day in forests and mountains and villages around the UK & Europe, and i can assure you that the quality of sound is something that only adds to the spectacle of the sport.
        For example a Cosworth BDA powered Mk11 Escort at full chat, provides an orchestral experience of sound and instantly pulls the hairs up on the neck!!
        Having watched the Historic FIA rally series trundling round stages after the main WRC event has gone by, the differences of sound are very clear. The current WRC spectacular that they are, really just pop, crackle and bang….whereas the old FIATs, Stratos and Escorts etc, all have different tonal quality and that adds to the excitement…..also you hear people saying that an Escort is coming, when it cannot yet be seen, or an Opel or whatever, but with the WRC they just shout that a car is coming….you see they all sound exactly the same!!
        With F1, there is no doubt in my mind, or hearing memory, that the most beautiful sounds i ever heard were those of the Matra V12….nothing could match the banshee wail of one of those….although i loved BRM & Ferrari V12s as well, and the short lived Tecno too. Alfa Romeo V12s were nice as well, The DFV also had a nice sound, but although the 1500 Turbo cars looked spectacular, i was never a big fan of the noise quality of them. The V10s sounded ok, but the 2400cc V8s were not satisfying for me at least….the current 1600 V6s just don’t do anything for me, they sound dull and uninspiring. So, it isn’t a case of no noise is great, in my view, as the right noise is what is needed…..as an aside, F5000 Chevy V8s were grand, and Can-Am 8100cc Chevy V8s not only sounded good but made the ground shake too!!

  68. I don’t see anything particularly “wrong” with the current format but, if we’re throwing-up new ideas, I would say :

    Remove all F1 tracktime from Friday and instead use it (Friday) for support races etc. Friday is often a dull day and many people cannot attend due to work etc.
    Saturday to be used for four one-hour practice sessions spread across the day. Plenty of on-track action to drag in the spectators.
    Remove Qualifying totally and have cars start the race (length unchanged) in order of Fastest Lap from prior race.

    Why remove and replace Quali ?
    1, It would mean that drivers would continue to try to do super-quick laps in the race irrespective of their position on-track as they would know that it would possibly mean a better starting posi at following race. Less cruising…..
    2. Some drivers may even think about pitting for new tyres and sacrificing a point if they feel that they then can jump other cars on the grid for next race.
    3. It would increase the overall spectator interest/excitement level during races where, due to the nature of the race, it’s already become clear what the order of finish will be.
    4. Cars that retire early in a race will (likely) start from down the grid on following race thereby creating a penalty for retiring and added interest/excitement as those cars try to come back thru the field.

    1. That’s what they do for the second race of a BTCC meeting and leads to to unedifying “spectacle” of Jason Plato creeping around at 10 mph until he’s got enough clear track in front of him for a “qualifying” lap. And the spectators praying for rain before he gets it…

  69. We shouldn’t be afraid to hear new ideas aired, but equally not afraid to grind them to dust if they truly don’t stand up to scrutiny. How often do proposed solutions not only fail to help but even contradict the diagnosis of the perceived problem? — and that from insiders, let alone ideas from outsiders and the trumpted majority (real or imagined / self-proclaimed).

    Personally, I’m not in favour of a qualifying race for various reasons already put forward by others above, not least, points or not, how does a qualifying race not risk increase rising costs via the increased opportunity for racing collisions that need repairing for the main event?, and would this also not risk the thinning of talent at the front before the main race, with more frequent pit-lane starts necessary? A successful drive through from the back is entertainment in itself, but can be at the expense of competition for the major placings.

    Whether or not points for qualifying makes the championship more likely to be over sooner, in addition to the undesirable possibility of them being decided by a qualifying race itself, depends on place-point gaps &or ratios, in turn possibly depending on various factors, e.g. how far down the order scores points; how many racers are consistenly fighting for the big points; how relatively big a penalty is not finishing, or not starting.

    And havn’t sprint races *before* the main event been tried years back by one of the junior formula who later, due to a lack of action from the sprint race, changed to running it after the main event and, crucially, after the main points had been awarded, so that there was less to be lost in a collision and therefore some actual overtaking attempted? Maybe that’s the answer — sprint race *after* the Grand Prix to determine *next* weekend’s start order… maybe not.

    If there was anyone racing side-by-side for qualifying I dream of it being the actual GP2 feature race, the front few thereby gaining spots at the back of the F1 grid in addition to points for the GP2 championship (leaving the rump of the GP2 field to contest minor GP2 points in their following sprint race), but of course that would require the cost of bringing an extra car for every F1 team, or at least for the pre-determined top handful of host teams.

    I’m not convinced the main event wants to be any shorter either, although it could reasonably be standardized to time rather than distance, say 100 minutes, or 98 minutes at end of sector 2 and complete that lap plus one. [unless and until F1 gets to inherit the remains of the Indy 500 one day — but I’m dreaming again].


    Anyway, I enjoy the current qualifying and think it works quite well enough, and note that there is No Such Thing as a system that will provide bangs and sparkles every time, but I’m all for trying out a short, sharp, time trial for the final ten running one-by-one in close (but not too close) succession — fastest in Q2 gets to decide whether lined up first-to-last or last-to-first on the grid, set them off one-by-one like the TT but more like every 7 seconds (10 second gaps being too long for ten runners for most circuits) and have them timed over a single two or even three lap run to set race grid positions. How’s that?

    P.s. am I the only one just a little disappointed to reflect that “Underbelly” isn’t afterall the codename one of Joe’s informers?!

      1. ‘Underbelly’ sat in a dark corner of smoky ballroom, scanning the crowd for his contact. All the usual players were present, and they were up to their usual tricks; exchanging pleasantries and pushing hidden agendas. A short, aging, white-haired man approached from the bar: “Flavio! You dirty old bastard! Is everything going to plan?”. Bernie Ecclestone was fond of Flavio Briatore, and was one of the few men who didn’t refer to him by his codename, which was given to him as a result of his seedy nature, size, and the unmistakable odor of his unwashed belly creases. Some people even referred to him as “Jabba” or “The Hutt”.

        1. That was funny. I literally laughed out loud. Xxxxxxxx really was/is a cliche of a sleazy bad guy from fiction. If one heard he was involved in people smuggling or global drug trafficking, it’d barely raise an eyebrow in the paddock. People would just say, “yeah, that seems about right.”

  70. Joe,

    F1 is so far away from it’s traditions that I’m surprised to hear they are up in arms. A tradition of open competition in which every competitor has the opportunity to to qualify for pole in an hour qualifying session was always interesting to my recollection. It seems today that there is no belief that the competition between drivers and their teams can or should call the tune, so to speak. There are so many people who have a better idea to entertain. Unfortunately, none of them seem to address what used to be a sport.

  71. Changing Q3 to a 10-12 lap race of the 10 surviving cars? Yeah, that could possibly work. But otherwise, the present qualifying system is fine.

  72. I actually like the idea of a short, flat out, no limit qualifying or exhibition race on Saturday afternoon, but I am not much in favor of having this be a points paying race (unless reverse grids were being implemented, because you want to discourage teams intentionally sandbagging to get a higher grid position for the main race). If points were awarded, I think it should be to the driver only. This race should also be on a control tire, so everyone is either on the same dry or wet tire.

    I’m totally OK with the current system though. The performance gaps will close over time and exciting races will return. Patience.

  73. There’s an old saying – if it aint broke, don’t fix it.

    There’s nothing wrong with qualifying. There can be nail biting finishes. The only changes I would put in, and these are really only slight, is that if you qualify in one Q session, you must put the car out in the next Q session. It’s not a big change but it’s the only thing I can see that needs changing. And I’m not a traditionalist.

    They might want to instead look at ways of making the racing during the race itself more competitive rather than tinkering around at the edges like this.

    1. Yeah, I think you’re right… the more I think about it, the less I like the ideas Joe passed on…

      Just take off a bunch of aero, add a bunch of hp, and let them go at it… it will make the drivers matter more and let them do more…

      Mario’s been saying that forever, they should listen to him…. but they won’t… dunno why….

  74. Maybe I am a traditionalist but the idea of a two race weekend sounds horrible to me. The series that have this really lose the impact of the ‘event’, because it’s spread out over two days. There is one Grand Prix and one only.

    There has always been complaints about qualifying, from the two day format of old, the single lap format or the current one. Maybe we can just accept that this is a lead-up part of the show, and sometimes the warm up act is great and other times not so much. But don’t fix it by getting the main band to come out on stage during the support to help them out.

  75. What do F1 wish to sell? A weekend event or a big Sunday race? What are the roles of F1 weekend support races?

    If you haven’t decided what the weekend is about, can you seriously mess around with the timetable?

    MotoGP has a regular weekend calendar, but I don’t think it would work for F1. MotoGP follows the history of bike racing: Senior class and juniors.

    Does GP2 have to track F1? Is the class so boring that GP2 can’t put on exciting races in Europe?

    Apologies for so many questions. But if you don’t know what you wanna do, you are unlikely to succeed.

  76. Qualifying races are often used on dirt ovals (“speedway”) such as Sprint Cars as part of their entire evening format. NASCAR uses a qualifying race format for the Daytona 500 and will adopt one for four races in the second-tier Xfinity Series (Bristol, Richmond, Dover, Indianapolis). INDYCAR has used one for Iowa in the past.

    For F1, qualifying race formats would probably fit similar to the INDYCAR model used when Iowa had the format or the sprint car “dash” format. Each car would run one “hot lap” Saturday. The top two cars would be guaranteed (should nothing happen) a slot in the feature qualifying race. The cars that finish in the odd positions are then given one 20-minute race to determine starting positions, with a four-car inversion. The top three cars in the race, plus the driver who makes up the most positions in the race (“passing points”), join the pole winner for the feature, with the top three and the driver with the most passing points but not in the top three also advancing. The same goes with the second heat race, given to even-number positions. The first two positions go to the drivers who qualified first and second, then the top two drivers in the heat race will start by finishing order of their heat races (3rd, 5th for the top two in the first race, 4th, 6th for the top two in the second race). If the pole winner in each heat race wins, then only the second place driver will be determined by the heat race. Positions 7-10 (and 5th or 6th, if necessary) will be determined by passing points, with the passing points for (5th), 7th, and 9th determined by how many cars were passed in the heat race, and (6th), 8th, and 10th likewise in the second race. The “dash” will be a 20-minute race where the finishing positions determine the top ten.

    The other thing that makes this format exciting will be drivers having to race, not go for just one fast lap. Instead of 20 minutes trying to find one fast lap, a young driver can gain experience by 20 minutes of full-race experience, and if successful, another 20 minutes of the full race experience. By the end of the second day, a driver can gain up to 40 minutes of racing experience in heat races before the feature. Experience gained in full race conditions will improve the car and the driver that hot lap qualifying will not do.

  77. If someone decides to only go to the GP on Sunday, they’ll end up not getting much of a show or good value for their money. Everyone is so concerned with running the same overall race distance as they do now even if it means a reduction to 200km for the GP with the proposed race changes just so the power unit and other component usage can be minimized.

    Ultimately, the race fans are going to end up getting short changed. Decent seats already cost a good bit of money and the race fans could up getting even less if they don’t go to the whole weekend.

  78. I like the idea of Q1 & Q2 staying the same, but Q3 being replaced by a sprint…but only if they do something about encouraging racing and close battles. The sprint should not be about managing anything other than your position i.e. trying to improve it.

    Free tyre choice with no impact on race allocations, minimal aero allowed so cars can follow closely (maybe a sprint setup, or just do this anyway for the whole of F1), no fuel limit, no rev limit, minimal telemetry allowed (e.g. only diagnostic/’is my gearbox going to blow up’ stuff), drivers free to choose engine modes, no DRS.

    Just the cars being pushed and the drivers showing their skill.

    Of course, in the race itself we would like to see more mechanical grip/less aero interference; less managing fuel (maybe allow them 105% of the fuel that should get them through a race distance under ideal conditions – should encourage frugality of engine design but still allow some creative use of the engines occasionally) and less managing of tyres.

  79. 1. Reverse starting grid (the pilot with the most points start last), and
    2. two lanes in some sections of the circuit (for surpassing.)
    that would be another show. Imagine Monaco.

  80. Hello Joe I have just read some comments about some changes in F1 for saturday. Let me give you some feedback.

    I was a colombian fan of JPMontoya when he was a pilot in F1. Now I watch F1 sometimes, because it is a kind boring for me, because there is not any colombian pilot and mainly because Hamilton win too many races.

    That is why I always think what change could make more exciting this F1 show.

    This is my idea: For me, the more exciting of this show is when a car overtake other. So, in some parts of every circuit ( let me say 200-1000 meters) split the circuit in two lanes that can no be crossed by the competitors. The starting grid is arranged in the inverse of the GC. So, the first pilot start last. Those zones with two lanes are for overtake the other cars. Could you imagine these zones in Monaco? That would be exciting.!!! Of course it is not easy and straigthforward this impelemtation. This would change this show a lot. In saturday, they (F1) can change whatever they want.

    Think about this idea.

    Regards,

    Eduardo Porras

  81. I actually don’t understand why there is so much navel gazing at the moment.. I have been following the sport for more years than I care to remember but it is way better now than say 2000 to 2004 and I don’t remember the same level of criticism then. The fundamental issue remains the share of income and you only need to look at the English Premier League this year to see the difference when the small teams suddenly have a pretty even distribution of an increased pool of money.

    I like the new power units where you can distinguish the sound of the different engines but I would advocate that the teams MUST be mandated to use the full 100kg fuel allowance. It seems ridiculous that there is so much talk of fuel saving and and slower lap times when the teams are not even filling the tanks in a lot of races. A very simple and cheap way to make the cars faster and stop one aspect of negativity!

    I believe changing to a sprint race and a shorter GP will initially attract a lot of interest but eventually will dilute interest as fewer people will give up their entire weekend 21 times a year.

  82. we’ve been talking about qualifying, and thinking back especially to when certain people who had got into the top 10 didn’t take part in Q3 at all to save tyres, or when the top guys did 1 lap in Q1, knew it would be enough to go through and then stayed in the garage for the rest of that session

    The “improvement” we came up with was to keep the 3 sessions, but each driver must do at least 2 timed laps per session. the fastest time from each session is then agregated, and positions are ordered by the lowest total time.
    Drivers with 3 times will be positioned before those with just 2, etc
    Each driver has a limited set of tyres to use over the whole weekend, and you have to start the race on the same tyres as you finished qualifying on.

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