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Press put the boot into new look F1
Press put the boot into new look F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Mar 2010   |  10:47 pm GMT  |  435 comments

Returning to the UK from Bahrain, it is clear from a scan through the newspapers that the new style post refuelling F1 has met with almost unanimous disapproval.

Judging from the 300+ comments we have had on Sunday’s story about the lack of show, around 98% of JA on F1 readers agree with the journos on this.

It’s a great shame for the orgamisers in Bahrain, as they put on as good a show as any race I’ve been to. The display of 17 world champions and their cars was breathtaking, something so audacious only a ruler who wanted to make his event stand out from local rivals Abu Dhabi could have dreamed of. And the paddock atmosphere was second to none.

It’s a shame that they added that dull new section to the track as it created a negative which wasn’t necessary and in the race it contributed to the spreading out of the field, which caused the race to be fairly processional.

I don’t think that this race was as bad as people are making out, but what was depressing even for someone as passionate about F1 as me, was the inescapable conclusion that all the races are likely to follow the same monotonous pattern.

And then we have the endless soul searching to find better ways of spicing up the show, like Bernie Ecclestone’s idea of short cuts, which is more at home in a video game. No sport rips itself apart like F1 at a time like this, with team bosses jumping on the bandwagon and calling for change.

There has already been too much change.

The press all seem to agree that the new look F1 is not a winning formula. Richard Williams in the Guardian said, “A sweeping one-two victory for the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in the Bahrain grand prix could not obscure the overall dullness of a contest in which, for the first time since 1993, the drivers were not allowed to refuel their cars.

“Even the new lightning-fast pit stops to change tyres failed to add to the excitement, partly because they were too brief to provoke much in the way of incident.”

And Kevin Eason in The Times said, “Far be it for us to worry you, but it might be wise to dig around in the garden shed and find that old tin of Dulux and splash a bit of it on the living-room wall around the start of the next grand prix in Australia in case you need something to watch if the racing is as dull as it was here in Bahrain.

“Well, perhaps that assessment of the first grand prix of the 2010 season is a bit grim, but it was difficult not to imagine the click of millions of remote controls around the globe as viewers started scouring the channels for an alternative sporting event a little more exciting, such as international conkers from Rutland or celebrity cheeserolling from Amsterdam.”

Oliver Holt, chief sports writer for the Mirror said, “Like everyone else involved with the Bahrain Grand Prix who doesn’t live in Italy or support Ferrari, Button was fighting a sense of anti-climax. The new rules banning refuelling that some had expected would improve the spectacle seemed to have made it worse. The race, frankly, had been a bore, a tedious procession largely devoid of overtaking.”

Meanwhile Jonathan McEvoy in the Mail wrote, “Jenson Button told us that now we would see if he was good enough to win his personal duel against Lewis Hamilton.

“Then again, we thought the Bahrain Grand Prix would provide a blockbuster start to this season of the ages.

“But neither the world champion nor Sunday’s race – if that description does not breach the trade descriptions’ act – lived up to the billing.”

Many of the papers had their number one sports writers out there this weekend because the event had such extraordinary billing, with the comeback of Schumacher and the pairing of Button and Hamilton at McLaren and Massa and Alonso at Ferrari. They felt cheated by what was served up and it doesn’t take much to create a herd mentality.

Ecclestone has spoken to PA Sport today and defended the show, calling for fans and insders to give the new format four races to prove itself,

“I don’t think it (the Bahrain GP) was much different to some of the other races we had last year to be quite honest with you,” he said.

“It wasn’t the sort of race that would excite most people I would suppose.

“But I think we ought to judge these things a little later on. It’s a bit early. We ought to wait until we come back from China.”

Meanwhile the Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy, made a reference to the fact that the race lacked spectacle but went into raptures about the result. The paper eulogises Alonso as “the Messiah”, talks of the “Alonso era” at the team and describes him as the driver who has allowed Ferrari to finally “cut the umbelical cord that tied Ferrari to the Schumacher era. ”

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  1. thef1geek says:

    I’m not digging that Poll very much James. There are other options to improve F1. Also, maybe the poll should have also had an option saying “Let us not rush into things after just 1 race of the season.” After all Bahrain has never been the most exciting track anyway. The season should start in either Spa, Silverstone, Suzuka or even Yas Marina is better than Bahrain.

    1. Tim Lamkin says:

      Agreed the poll is driven by what the media/opinions wants….it should have at least two other options…maybe three.

      1. Mike says:

        Like fixing the main problem and that is the incredible levels of aerodynamic grip compared to mechanical grip which is why the cars simply can not get close to a rival.

    2. James says:

      I agree. I didn’t vote as all of those options don’t seem great. I would say the best bet would be to not make teams use both tyres during the race. That would open up two new stratagies: no-stopping on the harder tyre or trying a two-stop with the softer tyres.

      Limiting the teams options by making them to use both tyres in the race forces them to do just one early stop in the race.

    3. Alex says:

      No, the season should start in Melbourne. Albert Park’s unique characteristics usually throw up a few surprises and a pretty good race. Tilke’s circuits rarely do.

      The FIA should wait until after China, and if we’ve had a series of dud races, introduce a rule to enforce a minimum of two stops. That’s the only realistic option to attempt a “quick fix”.

  2. Paul Douglas says:

    I wouldn’t do any of those, I’d have Bridgestone make the tyres more marginal. But since they on’t, and asking them to would be hard, I guess…Use only one type of tyre.

  3. Nick H says:

    I agree with the press, the race was boring!
    F1 have shot themselves in the foot with the refulling ban, refulling was brought in because of a lack of overtaking and action during races, to then ban refulling without solving the promlem of cars not being able to overtake because of the aerodynamic ake of the car in front is riddiculous.

    1. Kyle Brooklyn says:

      haha nick heidfeld is that you?

  4. Grietzen says:

    I cant choose between the options, the rules for 2010 had brougt exitement before the season started. I think the second stop could bring more exitement, but compared to the previous season the qualifier on place 11 doesnt share this thoughts. Also reintroduce refueing isnt an option, the cars are designed to take the full weight and safety is still an heavy argument. I think the best way is to use the tire componds of previous year, so there is more difference between both compounds.

  5. Boneshark187 says:


    What would the legality of changing the tire compounds (both hard and soft) so that the tires degrade more rapidly?

    This would increase the necessity for a second or possibly third pit stop?

  6. F1ART says:

    As you say “There has already been too much change”

  7. Jasper says:

    Alonso the Messiah?

    Haha, I can’t wait to see what bile ‘Dale’ spews over that…

  8. Steve Clark says:

    Perhaps the simplest fix would be to run single tire compound of tires that cannot possibly last a race distance and would require 1 or possibly 2 pit stops depending on how hard the driver is on the compound. After all do we not have two compounds so that the single tire supplier can get some coverage and promotional value out of the race? Is that not adding an artificial element anyway?

    IF there was a single tire compound I’m sure Bernie can have some influence on whether the TV commentators talk about a car making a stop for a new set of boots or making a second stop for a new set of Bridgestones.

    All that said what happened on the weekend is not that different from my years racing shifter karts. The standing start is the biggest adrenalin rush I have ever had and the first couple of laps a close second but after that the slow guys drop back and the quick guys disappear up the road. Much the same as Bahrain.

  9. Andy Bird says:

    There is only one way to properly improve the racing spectacle properly, and that is to introduce appropriate rule changes so that cars lose no performance when running in the wake of other cars.

    The problem has existed for over 30 years, but just gets worse and worse as the aerodynamics get more and more sophisticated.

    Obviously, nothing can be done for 2010, but it should the number one priority for FOTA/FOM/FIA to implement changes for 2011, irrespective of any consequent increase in costs.

    1. Martin says:

      Start a campaign for fan cars like the 1978 Brabham. This maintains the cornering speed, while removing the aero wake entirely. The rear wing could be a single element, quite flat, with the intention of providing advertising space.

      A thing to think trough would be whether to raise the engine height with the rule definitions as this increases weight transfer, making the handling worse. Not sure whether it would increase the mistake rate though.

  10. Scott Bloom says:

    I am going out on a limb to say I disagree with the consensus. I though the race had loads of drama, although not that much passing.

    First, I am more of a purist who tires of the sprint-like nature of a modern grand prix. This is because a driver can more or less drive the rails off a car, knowing he will be back into the pits once or twice. Nursing a bad set of tires and a changing dynamic load is an art form.

    Second, the drama was all there if you knew what to look for. We saw Alonso’s pass on Massa in lap one, and Sutil and Kubica coming together on the same lap.

    I am not sure what people would like, maybe Vettel should’ve slowed down to make it closer? If you missed the enormous psychological advantage Alonso obtained by making that pass, you missed a defining moment of the weekend.

    The haters and the naysayers need to wake up and enjoy the excitement.

    1. dulait says:

      I would tend to disagree Scott. Is it a tyre management championship or a driver’s championship we’d like to see?

      While there is a skill required to manage a car’s tyres throughout a race stint, how difficult is it to drive 2-3 seconds off your car’s ultimate pace? Especially in light of the fact that you’re unlikely to have to defend an overtaking attempt based on Sunday’s evidence? You may as well throw in a group of Nascar pilots for all the on the limit racing you’re likely to see on a Sunday afternoon. Michael Schumacher also alluded to this after the race.

      From the evidence to date, once the grid is determined, a driver’s raw speed loses all importance.

      On the other hand, if the current aero regualtions facilitated overtaking, then this skill would take on a whole new context. The driver could choose when to push and when to preserve tyres, safe in the knowledge that when he pushed, he would potentially be rewarded by a genuine opportunity to pass. But now, pushing mid stint and closing to within 1 sec of the driver in front only serves to destroy one’s tyres. Therefore the race outcome is already determined, unless a clever pit stop strategy can help you leapfrog your immediate opponent. But that’s artificial overtaking.

      The way it stands, you might was well brand it a qualifying championship.

    2. GiantRaven says:

      ‘Second, the drama was all there if you knew what to look for. We saw Alonso’s pass on Massa in lap one, and Sutil and Kubica coming together on the same lap.’

      I think the fact that the two moments you state happened on the first lap (in the first minute or so) of a race lasting almost 2 hours is shows how dull the race really was…

  11. Mark D. Johnson says:

    I think the biggest problem F1 has is that is is constantly trying to regulate excitement and passion into what has become a passionless sport, thanks to all the regulations. Every time the FIA introduces a new rule to “spice up the action” it all goes the opposite way. The same for rules which are introduced to “save money”, which only end up costing the teams more. The FIA just needs to back off for about ten years, open up the rules on specifications, and get back to the core triad of F1: take the best driving talent, the latest in cutting edge technology, mix it in with liberal amounts of money, stir it up and see what you come up with. The reason I began following F1 in the 1970′s.

  12. James, what do you think the reaction would be if Jean Todt suggested a standard aero package for all F1 teams? Would they throw their toys out of the pram again and try and breakaway again until Todt backed down?

  13. David L says:

    Problem was the tyres, and the fact the could easily do one stop strategies without any fears of the tyres not holding on. If the tyres were ruined after 20 laps or so, you would see more pit stops, people trying different things and chances to overtake when people gambled on taking new rubber.

  14. jw1980 says:

    In reality most of the races last year were pretty dull. It was only because we had new teams and drivers leading the way that there was so much interest, and occasional surprises such as Force India. Classic races last year would be Brazil and at a stretch possibly Belgium (although Fisichella never looked like passing Raikkonen).
    2008 was a far superior season. There were many memorable events such as Monaco, Canada, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Japan and Brazil.
    Could it be anything to do with the diffusers?

  15. Adrian says:

    I didn’t vote for any of the options above because I would actually get rid of mandatory pit stops and let the teams decide what to do tire-wise, whilst at the same time getting rid of the 2-step difference in the compounds of tires available.

    I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that if the teams had been using super-soft and soft then there might have been a few different strategies as the tires wouldn’t have been so durable.

    1. Snowy says:

      Well said, you are not alone. However we appear to be in a minority yet again!

      Common sense is so rare these days I’m in danger of joining the loons and suggesting it be renamed “rare sense”, “less than common sense” or anything that is the opposite of “F1 sense”!

  16. Mark D. Johnson says:

    By the way, James, good job on the unilateral, although I noticed the guys were very slippery with their answers.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks, you’ve got to try!

      1. Estophile says:

        You should ask RTL in Germany not to edit the unilaterals. All we get to see is a comment from the winner (but not your question) and the comment in German from any German driver that happens to have finished on the podium. RTL’s post-race programme is an hour or more long, yet they still don’t bother to show the whole of the post-race press conference. Still, I suppose they have to fit their compulsory multiple 7-minute advert breaks in somewhere…

      2. Mark D. Johnson says:

        You didn’t miss anything, The driver’s ignored James’ questions and said what they wanted to say instead. So the answers they gave didn’t have much bearing on the questions asked.

  17. bones says:

    Why aero rules are not changed? We have right now those extremely complicated front wings that make impossible for a driver to drive close to another car,why don’t force teams to have front wings like the ones F1 had until 88? They have to do something with the brakes too,how can you overtake if the other driver starts braking a second away from the corner?

    1. Martin says:

      The carbon brakes have two advantages:
      1: they weigh less which helps various dynamics including turning
      2: they can handle more heat so they last longer

      In a one off stop steel brakes are no worse than carbon discs as the brakes can generate enough friction to lock the tyres – if not get the driver to do more leg presses.

      The friction turns into heat and that is where steel disc start to suffer. The heat is a function of a speed and downforce. If you want to increase the braking distances, reduce the downforce. An intermediate step with the brakes could be to transition the cars from carbon-carbon disc to carbon ceramic as used by road cars. There could be some technical pay off for us normal drivers.

      I commented on another post here about generating downforce via fans rather than wings. This would allow the cars to follow each other. Unlike changing the braking performance, it would make passing much more of a straight line slipstreaming affair, rather than dive bombing. The fans could also help cooling, getting rid of the hot weather problems that Ferrari had.

  18. Dave from Melbourne says:

    I’d immediately enlarge the front tyres to that of last year (improving mechanical grip)which will leave the rear undertyred & oversteery.. Immediately remove double diffuser & give them a simple one element mandated design.. Immediately get rid of the snow ploughs and give them a reasonable sized fixed single element front wing (Both measures reducing Aero grip which would let the cars run closer). Get Bridgestone to bring as many different types of tyre as they can and let the teams use whatever compound they want with open slather on pitstops (no refuelling as that artificially “spices up” and hence ruins the racing)


  19. Tim says:

    I’m really pleased the organisers put on a great show and the paddock atmosphere was electric. We, in our homes want to see real racing and don’t care what the paddock elite experience.

    Seeing Nigel Mansell interviewed over the weekend reminded me of his great races and how I would shake with nerves at the start of each race. However on sunday, I feel asleep twice during the race.

    Going to give MotoGP a go this year cos F1 aint gonna change anytime soon

  20. Jamie Kirkland says:

    I don’t really think that any of those sugestions will improve the show that much as none of the promote on track overtaking (except for shortcuts but thats sounds more Mario Kart than F1)

    What is really needed is a complete overhall of areodynamics (again), and the regulations regarding this need to be much tighter to prevent the designers being too clever (like with the double diffuser last year).
    Its their job to stop their cars being overtaken, so its up to the FIA to stop them getting round the rules.
    However, i hope this isnt achieved by standardising aero components, i think f1 should be about the best engineering performance but without the entertainment suffering

  21. Dave says:

    In answer to the poll: What would you do to improve the F1 show?

    We need a nothing option. People had too high expectations, which arguably they, the media drove up themselves. They only have themselves to blame.

  22. Misu says:

    For the moment and for me F1 lost its leading position in the global racing scene. A category that is able to destroy the prosper of one of the most competitive racing fields ever is inevitably failed. Just check a lap from Schumacher any time when he had to push for an extra pitstop, look at how he was driving and compare the experience with his driving in Bahrain. OK, he is not in his form yet but its not down to him: these cars are absolutely inappropriate to drive them on the limit, there is only one point (Q2) when it _might_ be needed and possible in the same time to get out the absolute best performance of the package, the other tracktime is just muddling under way too suboptimal circumstances. And to make the situation worse, the problem won’t be solved, because it can’t be easily done, so unnatural actions are likely to be taken like forcing to make pitstops, etc. No, just pose the question: is it better now than it was late 2008? I don’t think at all. Then was it worth to throw out that big amount of money for the brand new cars and KERS and new wheelbase etc for something actually worse? No, I don’t think so. This is the problem.

  23. Seymour Quilter says:

    Formula One has no one to blame but itself. The team meetings aimed at finding ways to spice up the show provided precisely nothing! The teams backed away from doing anything different or radical and this is what we are left with, a procession lasting for one and a half hours. This at a track you can overtake on, what will it be like at the normal dull-fests of Barcelona, Valencia, and Hungaroring?

  24. Robert McKay says:

    There’s no option for “improve the aero”, which is the real thing. All banning refuelling has done is remove the big sticking plaster we were using to hide the aero problem.

    Perhaps all that hype about 8 cars potentially winning and 4 world champions and two Brits versus 2 Germans and Schumacher back ignored the fact that most of the dry races in the past few seasons have been pretty much the same – deathly dull.

    Anyway like you say James the sport manages to tear itself apart most effectively. One race and the world comes crashing in.

    Its even funny how the sport manages to trip over its own feet. Case in point – everyone excited about super quick pitstops. So what do FOM do? Change the timing graphic to tell you how long they’re in the pitlane and only tell you what the stationary time was at the pit exit. Well way to go there.

    None of the options above are appealing to me. But regardless lets give it another couple of races to see how it pans out.

  25. Zed McGee says:

    None of the above solutions in the poll would work. Frankly, formula 1 has reach its technological limit quite some time ago. Combine that with uncontrolable spending and this demise was expected.

    You want better racing?

    Bring back the “real” steering wheel, manual transmission, double or even triple the braking distance, ban all pit to car comunication during the race, make the cars much, much harder to drive…put it all back into hands of drivers!

    I couldnt care less for all new technical gimmicks, “play station” controls, braking from 200 km/h to zero in blink of an eye and most of all false glamour and political circus surrounding this once upon a time great racing series…

    1. Stevie P says:

      I think removing pit to car comms could help a little, but you’d need to remove the telemetry too, to put it all back into the hands of the drivers. We’d have no commands to “ease off”, “save your tyres” etc, then… and more chance of someone pushing too hard.

      Would you still allow car to pit comms Zed?

      1. Zed McGee says:

        I dont remember which race was that from the last season, but what I heard in the radio comm from pit to Rubens was the last nail into F1 coffin.

        This are probably not the exact words, but you`ll get the idea : “Rubens. Dont try to overtake! DONT TRY TO OVERTAKE!”

        Pure and simple disaster…

        As for your question, yes, I would leave car to pit comms. “I am going in next lap”, “Need new front wing”, etc…

  26. Neil says:

    Please no stupid short cuts or medals for that fact, sick of all these stupid rules

    I don’t mind the odd boring race, as your always gona get that, but then you get a race like brazil last year come along which is brilliant, thats life, i just dont want to watch a race like bahrain every two weeks

    Everyone wants the fastest cars going flat out for the win during the race, not saving tyres and fuel

    They need to add compulsory two stops and the drivers can pick whichever tyre then want to qualify on just to save this year,

    Then on 2011, refuelling back, ban on double diffusers, reintroduction of kers,

    Something has to be done with qualifying also, Q3 seems to short

  27. Cabby says:

    Where is option 5 in the poll “there must be a different solution”

  28. Brampf says:

    The fundamental problem, and it has been the problem for a long while now is the reliance on aerodynamics. As long as a cars performance is so dependent on an undisturbed flow of air over the car there is going to be a problem when close behind another car. If the cars were more reliant on ground effect aero and tyres instead of air flow over the car they would be able to follow more closely.
    If Webber and Hamilton had been able to overtake the slower cars in front of them it would have been a classic race.
    Alonso said he was saving himself for a final 10 lap attack on Vettel, he would have likely failed regardless of which car was faster because of the difficulty following the car in front. If he could, it would have been an epic end to the race.
    Changing tyre rules, or banning refuelling doesn’t solve the fundamental problem.

  29. Adam Taylor says:

    Although the Bahrain race seemed very processional, there were a few reasons why it was made boring. I dont think that through making the rules, they would have realised the teams would only make one stop. I think that it would be a good idea to introduce a second mandatory pit stop, but I also think that it might be a good idea to introduce a maximum number of laps they should be allowed to run on set tyres, this would force drivers to pit. (ie 15 laps for soft, 25 laps for hard)

    Another reason the racing wasnt very good was the cars didnt seem to be able to get close to one another. This was possibly through lack of downforce and cooling problems following cars too closly.

    I agree with bernie that we should wait 4 races and then judge. I think the circuits will be less technical, less humid but with more overtaking opportunities.

  30. Dominic Johnson says:

    I don’t agree with any of you four suggestions for your poll. How about dropping the requirement to use both tyres? You might also bring adjacent compounds (super-soft and soft for instance) and allow the frontrunners to start on options, switch to primes if they want, whilst the 11-24 cars can do whatever they want and only stop if they think it will help.

    Also, perhaps a few teams aroun 11-16 (perhaps all the established teams bar the big 4) could put their two drivers on differing tyre strategies, just to liven things up. After all, Alguersuari briefly led the fastest lap charts – two stops may have been quicker.

    Why, oh why, didn’t F1 succesfully rein in the power of aerodynamics when it had the chance (mid-2008 when Brawn warned about double-diffusers)?

  31. Cupra says:

    I had so much anticipation coming into this season, much more than any other season since I started watching F1 back in 1996. From all the twitter and facebook feeds from many F1 celebrities, I felt closer to the action than ever before in the off season.

    Yet when the F1 circus finally reared its glorious head for the first race of the season, it was like someone pulled all the excitement from under you and left you with a snoozefest.

    It was a disappointing race to watch, there was very little in the way of ‘action’ and nothing to keep you on the edge of your seat.
    Vettel’s sparkplug incident was an upset that changed the race, and I certainly don’t think that a mechanical failure is the way that races should be won or lost.

    While I commend the skill and expertize of the pit crews, giving us sub 3 second tyre changes, it gives us, the spectators, very little to actually watch now. Strategy is all but gone in the pit stops now. You know you have to use 2 sets of tyres, so let’s just make sure that happens. There was so little difference in wear in the two compounds, that it didn’t really matter what ones you ran.

    There is a saying ‘If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it!’

  32. Craig D says:

    Well James, I didn’t want to select any of those poll options! As I said in the other post, I really think that not having mandatory pitstops, having the top ten start the race on their qualifying tyres (as we have now), but then in the race allowing any combination of hard or soft tyres to be used is the best way to go to add unpredictability to strategy and by extension the races (it will also greatly lessen the chance that the entire field pits in unison for a single tyre change). An unconstrained set of rules with flexibility and freedom for teams to make their own choice is the missing X Factor ingredient. Make it so!

  33. James… I’m sorry but that poll is pretty poor – because none of those alternatives can fix the racing properly. Perhaps this can’t be done for 2010 anymore, but… how about getting the Overtaking Working Group together again and develop a new radical step forward in the rules, into getting rid of the “dirty air” effect once and for all? Ground effects, flat bottoms, no wings, whatever it takes. That’s what needs to be done.

    All the ban on refuelling did was to further expose this flaw, that has been there for over a decade. The passes on the pits due to refuelling helped disguise this flaw. But it’s not like we had any more passing on track last year.

    As for right now, maybe make the tyres softer? If the cars didn’t hold off the tyres that well, we’d see more people encouraged to do a 2-stop strategy, against the folks on 1-stop strategies. That would be very entertaining because the people on 2-stop strategies would overtake on track. Unfortunately what we saw this weekend was already Bridgestone taking the supersofts to the highest tyre wear track on the calendar, and it didn’t work, so I’m afraid unless they now make a “super-super-soft” tyre midseason, it won’t happen.

  34. Mak says:

    The problem is simple; the cars fundamentally cannot follow and overtake each other. The radio transmission where Alonso was told *not* to get too close to Vettel for fear of overheating while running in the dirty air says it all. Also, no amount of messing with pit stops or tyres or refuelling or shortcuts will solve this problem.

    However, if we can assume that there’s some way to measure this dirty air phenomenon, the solution is simple. All you do is require that 2011 cars must leave a clean wake behind them to allow other drivers to follow, slipstream and pass. Trying to solve the problem by banning various devices (winglets, trick diffusers, etc.) is nothing more than a pointless game of Whack-A-Mole, because every time you ban something, the teams will just invent something new to get the downforce back. Require the cars to leave a cleaner wake and allow them to achieve the wake however they want.

    1. Helmut says:

      Really good out-of-the-box-thinking!

      It would give the teams enough freedom of action to come up with different technical inventions.

      And it would provide the drivers great opportunities of driving close to other cars and of overtaking.

      More great action on the tracks, together with interesting development of the cars is the essence of F1.

      Please, no more artificial rules such as mandatory two stops, tires with less grip, short cuts.

      Least but not last, we need rules that encourages the teams to use different strategies during the races. Races that are unpredictable in strategies are so much more interesting.

    2. dulait says:

      Mak, probably the most sensible suggestion I’ve heard to date. How practical it would be remains to be seen, but I like your angle on this one.

    3. Ohm says:

      That’s what I was thinking! (not to steal your credit though :p) I’m sure they can measure the wake in wind tunnels.

      I would go even further and say there should be no regulations that say there has to be a wing, this bit of the car has to be this size or this hole is not allowed, but like Mak suggested, let the teams come up with whatever they come up with as long as the design doesn’t exhibit that wake or other aerodynamic effects that discourage overtaking, as defined by the overtaking working group (OWG). That way, cars could turn out to look very different and that sounds pretty intriguing for me.

      And as a low-cost alternative for less-well funded teams, the OWG could come up with a ‘basic’ design that is tested to know that it doesn’t exhibit the negative aerodynamic effects so the smaller teams do not break their bank on something new which is forced upon them.

      Anybody agree/disagree?

  35. Stu says:

    Seeing as I remember F1 in the era when there wasn’t any refueling and was plenty of action/overtaking then I don’t think it’s this that is causing the problems. Certainly one of my big criticisms of the fueling era is that too many people used it as an excuse to pass in the pits…

    I think the biggest problem at the moment is the aero packages, there is so much dirty air coming out of the back of the cars that no one can overtake. What happened to the days of slipping someone, then pulling past at the end of the straight with some last minute.com braking?!

    As a huge fan of f1, I have to say this season is really not looking good. I know it’s only one race old, but given the evidence it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I’m not entirely sure another pit stop will solve it either.

  36. max says:

    Why not put more bias back onto tires and engines and less onto aerodynamic downforce, isn’t that why drivers are finding hard to overtake, James?

    love to here your thoughts. Max

  37. Jasper says:

    Part of the problem was this was probably the most hugely anticipated F1 season in history and nothing less than a first race of the calibre of say the 2005 Japanese GP would have satisfied people. Also I doubt the British press would have been complaining if McLaren’s 2 British World Champions had scored a 1-2 finish. And the fact Alonso headed a Ferrari 1-2 probably didn’t help either. I can’t imagine the Worldwide reaction was anywhere near as extreme as the British press?

    Good point about the new section James, it clearly didn’t help the show!

    I’m sure Australia will give us a good race. And surely with these rules even Canada later in the season never fails to give us a great race. People are seriously overreacting! Reintroducing refueling is not the answer, these cars are too dependent on aero thats the problem!

  38. Graeme Brown says:

    None of these options will work. Two tyre stops or restricting tyre choice won’t change the fact that all the cars will be on the same strategy throughout the race. That would be fine if overtaking was possible, but with the current aero it’s virtually impossible. Refuelling isn’t practical in 2010, neither are major aero changes mid season in a sport which is trying to cut expenditure, and shortcuts is just silly.

  39. Foobar says:

    The poll is poor: The way to embetter F1 is to have ‘less mandatory’ and instead go for ‘more freedom’.

    As for short cuts, in my opinion they are asinine and would introduce a higher risk to drivers…

    There’s no room for (cheap) innovation in F1 anymore, it’s become an average industry giant: Minimum economical risk for maximum profit guided by strict rules to ensure stagnation…A combination which is killing the spirit of the sport.

    Perhaps if they’d picked a fresh perspective as president in FIA instead of an ol’ F1 work horse…

    Sure, F1 churns money…but it could be…nay…it should be so much more than mere heartless money making machine.

  40. Marc says:

    Great post James. I think you should take the comments from this post and invite yourself to the next FOTA meeting, seriously!

    It’s a tough call to make rule changes after only one race but I’m stuggling to see how the current F1 cars carrying that much fuel for a race distance can ever be interesting. The cars looked like they were on a afternoon drive looking after tyres etc.

    F1 as I seem to recall Martin Brundle saying is about sprints.

    My solution would be bring back refueling. I’m sure some teams would complain but at least everyone would be in the same boat.

    1. James Allen says:

      FOTA pay close attention to the site and its comments

      1. Frankie Allen says:

        FOTA had a very good idea of what we saw unfold in Bahrain, but still it happened. Unless FOTA act rather than acquiesce, the sport will always be at the mercy of the Mosleys and the Ecclestones.

        Most of this is very simple, where the rules should only govern the main aspects of cost and safety. Where practical, remove any rule that negates racing. Don’t penalise fans because their driver has to have a gearbox change. Use clever rules that have similar cost reduction without impacting the race. You could even have gearbox penalties only applying to the constructors championship, rather than the drivers, just minimise the impact upon the racing. Change / implement any rule which can improve the racing. The sport seems so cluttered with regulations designed to avoid racing.

        These adaptations will improve things but the big question still remains with over taking. Only a couple of ways to go, increase the drag of the cars such that slip streaming becomes an option or open up the rules. Subsequent to Senna’s death, ground effect has been unwelcome. I think this area may require to be looked at, as this can offer a solution. Maybe not the full hog, but a half way step may be possible. I know this could have a big impact on safety, but I have seen far worse accidents subsequent to Senna without a scratch. If the problem is turbulence, let the rules specify the acceptable level of turbulence rather than the fill level of the ashtray. Then give the teams carte blanche to find a way round the issue.

      2. thef1geek says:

        FOTA should be the last people to be making the rules. It is crazy to think the people who enter the competition are the ones that decide how they play. It’s the FIA who should be reading blogs, asking fans etc.,

      3. Ohm says:

        Thumbs up! Though I do think it wouldn’t hurt if FOTA AND FIA reads and FOTA suggests ideas to FIA and FIA have the final say.

  41. Nikki says:

    First and possibly last time I’ll say this, but I actually agree with Bernie. The race wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but we had all built it up so much that that was always going to be the case.

    It seems ridiculous to be condemning a season that has only seen one race. I enjoyed the first half of last season, was vaguely bored by the middle and got excited again by the end. That’s just the way F1 goes. It has more of a risk-of-boredom factor than any other sport I’ve watched. But the moments it DOES give you, like Brazil last season, Spa the year before, Australia 2007 AND 2008, Alonso vs Schumacher in 05 at Suzuka…they’re priceless. It’s a shame they don’t happen more often, I totally agree, and I believe that IF the rest of the season follows in the style of Bahrain then we may have a problem.

    It’s one race, on a circuit not known for it’s “thrilling” show, lets see how it goes in Australia where it’ll be cooler – and Malaysia & China where we might see some rain spice things up…just seems a little soon to be as downcast as everyone is right now.

  42. Peter says:

    What really disappointed me was that with the new rules I thought we were going to be seeing the drivers driving at their most intelligent. In reality it was so easy for them to control the tyres.

    It was such a poor race but lets remember that it was at Bahrain which has provided not one good race in its 6 year history! These new tracks are doing as much damage to f1 as the regulations. It is a track which I hope never sees the light of day again.

  43. charles fox says:

    Should add an extra option to the poll, change tyres – firstly back to last years greater front mechanical grip. and possibly widen the compounds, make a 2/3 stop possibly on fast super softs/softs that make a second or 3 a lap and last 10 or 13 before being useless.

  44. Matthew Atkin says:

    I voted to reintroduce refueling after the “show” we got in Bahrein but, quite honestly, something more needs to be done, something that everybody involved with the sport is missing. The lack of overtaking has been a big problem for years now; I think I started watching at the tail end of the overtaking days, the late 90′s-early 00′s. I still remember the awesome Hakkinen-Shumacher duel around Zonta, and when Ralf Shumacher and Barrichello passed each other three times on the same lap at Silverstone. The best pass of all last season was the Glock/Trulli duel at Imola. Maybe there needs to be a regulation that restricts regulations to those same early-decade specifications?

    Or maybe it’s the drivers, who knows? The sport needs another Gilles Villeneuve, Montoya, or even Sato; those guys could make passes that everybody else would think impossible, and they were often the highlights of the race.

    I don’t know what the full problem is; I doubt that anybody does. But I don’t think that the sport can change anymore than it already has in the last decade. I don’t think it should. Instead of trying to solve the issue, people should look at every single change in the rules and regs that have been made since the overtaking era ended. Maybe then it will be possible to see where things went wrong.

    1. Ohm says:



      Although you still couldn’t point the finger to a particular thing….which means it probably isn’t the rule changes that is decreasing overtaking but something progressive like…aerodynamists getting better at their job!

  45. Peter says:

    As well as scrapping Bahrain Bernie can get rid of Singapore, Abu Dhabi (I know it will never ever be a good track and will never gain soul) whilst he’s at it. Strangely I would prefer keeping China merely because there’s always the chance of a wet race there.

  46. Martin P says:

    Bernie has said the very thing I feared most… “we have to give it a few races”.

    That’s the worst thing he could have said and it’s confirmed my resolve to not watch the race live until europe at the earliest and to cancel my trip to Spa. I honestly can’t reward our views being dismissed or ignored so easily by giving my time or money to F1.

    I’m surprised at Bernie, he’s losing his touch. The press are bang on for once.

    Certainly amongst contributors here there isn’t a “herd mentality” or “bandwagons”, it’s genuine concern for a sport we all love. It only takes one season like this to decimate the value of sponsorship & TV coverage, which could take years to recover from.

    I get a sense though that many people (yourself included) think it’s not as bad as people are saying. But please can I ask you take a pause for one moment and look at it like this;

    You and your colleagues have had a great weekend with sunshine, glamour, catching up with old friends, other races to watch, World Champions to meet and on top of that – doing the work you love. Take away the dull feature race and you were left with everything else that was fun and exciting about an F1 weekend.

    The rest of us had Andrew Marr On Sunday followed by Eddie Jordan in frighteningly tight white jeans. Take away the dull race and all we have is the horrible image of Eddie Jordan’s pants (no folks, don’t do it… don’t visualise!!!).

    Something needs doing before Australia and it needs announcing this week, not in a few races time.

    1. k miles says:

      I AGREE 100%! have you heard mr money crazy’s latest comments?! “There are lots and lots and lots of things that could happen to make the racing closer and better.” eerr like what, a saftey car in OZ?!
      BERNIE is just a GREEDY OLD MAN! FOTA should go their own way and leave money grabber once and for all!
      Schuey was right when he said all bernie would have seen is pound signs when he came out of retirement! somethings needs to be done BEFORE OZ!! and refuelling should be back for NEXT YEAR at the latest!

  47. Paul Kirk says:

    The poll re “what would you do to improve the F1 show” dose not have enough/right options to choose from! e.g no mention of taking steps to improve passing abilities of the cars.

  48. Jeremiah says:

    Make the cars 1,5 meters shorter and also narrower, eliminate aerodimamics and go back to classic venues.
    However if anything goes against the interests of Ferrari, Lou will oppose these things. Anyway, my feeling is that Fast Fred will win no matter what the rules are.
    But I agree with James and the rest that we have to change things dramatically for F1 to be exciting

  49. Adam Jackson says:

    As we seem intent on making this great sport exciting in an artificial manner, why not make the drivers choose the laps they want to stop before the race, that way we wont have all stops done within a 4 lap window? Just an idea, I agree we have to give it a few races but im not looking forward to Valencia and Hungary!

  50. P Byrne says:

    17 world champions and their cars was breathtaking, something so audacious only a ruler who wanted to make his event stand out from local rivals Abu Dhabi could have dreamed of. And the paddock atmosphere was second to none.

    It really annnoys me when the commentators and journos bang on about how great the ‘facilities’ are, how big the paddock is, how swanky the hotels are.

    Do the viewers at home give a flying fig??

    Bernie berates a great circuit like Silverstone, with it history and fantastic complex of corners and denigrates it’s facilities because they’re a bit old school. Same with Spa, Montreal etc.

    The fact is that most of the new circuits – despite the zillions poured into them are souless – Valencia, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain.

    I also think it’s sad that the rulers of the middle eastern states that host GPs seem to be having a pissing competion to see who can have the most ‘impressive’ (tacky) venue.

    I’m looking forward to Oz because that’s a track with some character, soul and street-grittiness. It may not solve the static format of the race but I’ll wager the track – somehow – will mix things up more that Sundays desert dud-fest…

    1. James Allen says:

      I totally respect your position on this, I’ve always avoided talking about what we the insiders feel about facilities etc because the fans don’t care about it. However here my point was that the Bahrainis had gone to so much trouble to get the champions and their cars there and it’s really tough on them that all anyone will remember Bahrain 2010 for is the outcry over the boring spectacle, triggered by driver complaints.

      1. Phil says:

        It’s a shame they didn’t squeeze the former champions back into some nomex and get them to drive a few laps.

        That would have been so much better than what I sat through.

        I hope it gets better before Silverstone otherwise I’ll have 3 w/e tickets for sale!

    2. stanton says:

      Absolutely spot on, couldn’t agree more.

    3. Stevie P says:

      Well said Mr Byrne!

      1. P Byrne says:

        Well it’s nice to see some people agree but I didn’t mean to be having a go at James per se. Eddie Jordan – bless his cotton socks – is the worst offender, partly attributable to his man-love for Bernie (and all things fiscal).

        I’m reminded of something I heard Nigel Roebuck say in a podcast after (I think) Abu Dhabi last year – that he was sick of all the talk of a ‘can-do’ attitude, that it could be more precicely described as a ‘can-pay’ attitude…

      2. ColinZeal says:

        Absolutely! All the track facilities in the world do nothing for the fan at home in front of the TV.

        The collection of world champions was a nice idea but was nothing more than a short photo-op which did nothing for me sitting on my couch other than fill five minutes of the pre-show.

        Tracks and on-track action is all that we care about. The newer circuits may have wonderful facilities but it does not translate to wonderful racing so who cares? other than the business men guzzling champagne (or rosewater) and checking out the grid-girls of course.

      3. Stevie P says:

        Ooooh, I think James has explained the context of his references to off-track activities… and he respects your \ our opinion, else he wouldn’t be doing this site – that’s why it’s so good (here), generally great posts, no bitching and insightful articles, which we may comment upon; I’m glad to see that FOTA look in too and maybe can pull the valid or useful points from the fans postings to use within the sport.

  51. F1 Kitteh says:

    The way I see it the causes can be boiled down to:
    1. Aero that doesn’t allow close racing.
    2. Soft tires that last too long, performance gap not large enough between the option/prime to justify extra stop.
    3. Banks of computers and sims that allows all teams to work out precisely what the optimal strategy is, of which there is only one.

    1. What about that handford device they had in CART a while back?
    2. Softer less durable softs/a bigger performance gap between the two types, take out the requirement to use both tire types.
    3. Cut the in car telemetry or computing power teams can bring to track (that’s cost cutting for ya).

  52. Richard Hoyland says:

    One of the major issues for me is all the restrictions (engines, gearboxes, tyres) which mean that teams and drivers have to nurse their car around for fear of using more than their allocation and facing multiple grid penalties. How is that racing? In no way should the spectacle and excitement of F1 be at risk due to these extreme cost cutting measures.

    Oh and cars lapping at times not much quicker than GP2 is quite frankly embarassing.

  53. AndrewC says:

    Let’s hope it was a one off, although listening to the drivers who were interviewed on Radio 5′s F1 podcast that sounds unlikely.

    If the next couple of races are anything like Sunday’s I certainly won’t be watching the rest of the season.

    Can someone please explain to me how on earth anyone ends up commissioning a new racing circuit and fails to mention ‘drivers must have plenty of overtaking opportunities’ in their spec.?

    Ecclestone’s ‘short cut’ idea is excellent, though. I think the cars should also be equipped with reverse facing custard pie launchers. Also, can the drivers have big red light up noses and spinning bow ties.


  54. Steve says:

    If they really want passing in F1 it is easy, get rid or seriously reduce the size of the front wing.

  55. Rishi says:

    I would definitely refrain to introducing knee-jerk regulation changes at this stage in the season. I thought Jacques Villeneuve had a point when he said that there wasn’t much on-track drama even in the days of refuelling and I think this wasn’t too dissimilar to many of the races last season.

    I also think part of it is just a “getting used to” process. For fans of my generation, our consumption of grand prix racing has only ever been in “refuelling” form. So we’re going to have to think about racing as less of a sprint and more of an endurance with the drama coming at the beginning and end punctuated by quite an uneventful middle of the race.

    However if, during the European races a little down the line, we decide things definitely need changing then we would also need to decide what the change is. Do we need to reintroduce the strategic element or do we need more on-track overtaking? Hopefully the banning of the double-decker diffusers next year should help with the latter; the idea a few posts down about making the compounds similar could work at a strategic level, so maybe that combined with banning DDD will work in 2011.

    So what to do for 2010 if we find something has to be done? As a leftfield idea, maybe we could do something about the time of races. A lot of drivers were understandably conserving their tyres, engines, fuel etc. But maybe if by simulation you come up with an optimum race time that the drivers have to complete the full number of laps by then they will have to go quicker to get all the laps done and this may lead to less conservation, greater tyre wear and exciting racing at the end of grands prix (or, alternatively, teams trying different things on the strategy front). A variant of this theme would be to ensure the drivers did a significant proportion of their laptime within a given range (2-3 seconds say) of their best times in qualifying. Admittedly, these would be mad to police and hard to explain to fans though.

  56. Silverelise says:

    I voted on make two tyre stops compulsory…but i dont think its the answer, F1 needs to scrap the restrictions on design and engines and let the engineers rule and be creative, and reintroduce a tyre war! having 2 or 3 makes of tyre would add an exciting element to every race! You know it makes sense!!!!! Please have a word!!!!

    1. Stevie P says:

      The problem with scraping the restrictions is that the costs go through the roof and we end up with fewer teams… plus, it takes “the sport” further away from the humble viewer… and in this credit crunch world, we don’t want the costs to go through the roof, do we? It then becomes a “who has the most dosh wins” series; you can employ the best drivers, best engineers, best designer etc, etc.

      Most sports (rugby union and football in particular) seem to be having this issue of “winning versus entertainment”, especially since more money has gone into them.

      F1 has always been about technology (clever, innovative ideas) AND racing, whereas other categories of motorsport have been purely about racing.

      The designers are in their own “race” against other designers, remember.

      I too, would like to see another tyre company return to create competition there… but that’s not gonna happen. Even Bridgestone are pulling out at the end of this season.

      The only way to improve racing, I feel, is to remove the reliance upon aero, but then you lose the technological aspect of F1 and thus it won’t be F1 anymore.

      Sometimes you get a dull race in MotoGP, but they’re the exception, rather than the rule… Why? Well, I think it’s because the machines are much smaller, thus different lines exist around the track without losing too much pace AND the riders have a bigger say in getting the machinery around the track.

      Hold on, I’ve got it… douse every track in water! ;-)

  57. Thomas says:

    Why can’t we go back to the old style of racing (upto 2001)? Allow them to run whatever strategy they want. 1, 2, 3 or maybe no fuel stops – whatever they want to do. I used to love watching the first stint of the race not knowing who had what on board at the start.

    1. Ohm says:

      So you mean, go back to re-fuelling but ditch the compulsary pit-stop? Well..wouldn’t that mean we will pretty much have the same situation as before where all the front runners do 2 stops?

  58. Geoff Ranson says:

    I’m a huge F1 fan and will defend it to the hills but that race was one of the most boring, uneventful one I’ve ever had the displeasure to watch. No overtaking, no wheel to wheel battles like the old Schumacher/Hakkinen days. What’s next, the drivers pick a number from a hat, drive round for x number of laps finishing in formation?! All this technology and driving talent but when it comes to exciting racing the BTCC for example has more action in 1 lap than an entire F1 race at the moment! Really hope it does get more interesting or I for one will be looking for something else to do with my Sundays.

  59. Geoff Ranson says:

    I’m a huge F1 fan and will defend it to the hills but that race was one of the most boring, uneventful ones I’ve ever had the displeasure to watch. No overtaking, no wheel to wheel battles like the old Schumacher/Hakkinen days. What’s next, the drivers pick a number from a hat, drive round for x number of laps finishing in formation?! All this technology and driving talent but when it comes to exciting racing the BTCC for example has more action in 1 lap than an entire F1 race at the moment! Really hope it does get more interesting or I for one will be looking for something else to do with my Sundays.

  60. Jake says:


    I would do none of the above. Heres what i would do:

    1. Bring more marginal tyres, it should be almost impossible to do less than two stops.

    2. Increase the Pit Lane speed limit. This would lower the penalty for coming into the pits and encourage teams to take more aggressive and varying strategies. With more drivers on different tyres with different levels of wear, more overtaking is likely to happen.

    What do you think of these James? Would they help? COuld they ever happpen with safety?

    Also, another rekated question. How much effect have the double diffusers had on the ability to overtake and why?


    1. “Increase the Pit Lane speed limit” seems like a good solution.

      However, an additional points structure would have to be implemented. For example, lose 5 points if you kill a mechanic, 10 points if it’s another team’s mechanic, 15 points for a team boss. Gain 50 points if it’s Bernie. That sort of thing

      1. Ohm says:

        Gain 50 points if it’s Bernie <– XD YES!

        Although if you bring more marginal tyres, maybe teams could just tell the drivers to save their tyres even more!! :p

  61. Thomas says:

    I just hate the artificial stuff. As a fan, I want to see F1 with competition between team, drivers and strategists. I want to see the drivers battle at full speed and testing their cars and their own limits. Forced pitstops, forced running two compounds .. that stuff is just annoying.

    Back in 08 we had an absolutely fantastic race. Hungary; where just seeing Lewis and Felipe driving pretty much over the edge for an entire race created such a thriller of a race that it stands as my favorite of all time.

    Processional races, no running on the limit, no excitement with the strategy and even less overtaking. Makes for quite a lot of yawning.

  62. i have watched f1 since 82, that was poor. i fell asleep on lap 12 and thats the first time in my life thats ever happened. in two weeks time im gonna paint the hall and watch that dry

  63. CPR says:

    I don’t think the listed options are very good because only some could sensibly be done this year, I feel – I don’t see reintroducing refuelling or letting drivers take short cuts being possible for this year.

    On a brief aside, my impression is that Red Bull had the best setup for the race (presumably by design) – optimise the car for the soft tire, do good qualifying, make sure in lead on first lap and then just bring the car home. McLaren on the other hand seemed to have gone the opposite route. In the next race, I wouldn’t be surprised to see all the top teams go down this route.

    For next 2011 I have a couple of simple ideas: DD already banned, so I think further aero changes on top of that aren’t needed. For tires, more marginal ones with a wider operating temperature range would be good – so that when they get hotter when following another car, they don’t drop off in performance so much. Similarly, though I don’t know if a sane way to verify it exists, if the cars were forced to run with a much larger margin of error on engine cooling, then overheating when following another car would be less of a problem. Also, I think allowing teams to use more engines and gearboxes over the season would be better – the “safety first” (strategy-wise) approach of equipment across multiple races is bad for risk taking (ie pushing hard and trying to overtake).

    Following on from that last point, for the new engine regulations in 2013, I think we should go back to one engine/gearbox a race. But, with engine suppliers forced to supply a set of engines for a whole season for a similar price as today – ie much lower cost per engine. And of course, with the engines having to be the same spec as what the works team get.

  64. Rob R. says:

    This poll is desperately missing a “none of the above” option. None of those are any good. What we need is more technical freedom focusing on mechanical grip, less aerodynamics, get rid of the engine rationing, and better circuits. Those aren’t changes that can be brought in immediately.

    In the short term, I would ask Bridgestone to do what the blog owner said yesterday, bring closer compounds. And get rid of the ridiculous quali tyre rules.

  65. Peter B says:

    Turbulance makes it impossible to overtake. Get rid of the wings you get rid of the turbulance. Lets get back to mechanical grip.
    Sorry I forgot thats the main billboard for advertising…silly me.

    If you allow cut throughs then go the whole hog. Machine guns and death race anyone.

    Lets have a complete no rules formula. Provide an outline box for any sort of car to fit in. just one sort of soft tyre to use. Be interesting to see if weight was not a problem but armour plating was.

    Quite frankly I wont be going to the GP at Melbourne for the F1, but Formula5000 will be there. Awesome machines. This year has proven a total bore and will continue to do so. Bring on the politics, so much more interesting.

  66. Kevin Cassidy says:

    i find myself agreeing with bernie that it is too early to judge the season yet,

    There seems to be a constant change in the rules so it is very hard to analyse what works and what dosent before the rules change again

  67. Henry Manney says:

    I’ve been following the sport since the days of Watkins
    Glen and it’s become a travesty which places monetary gain
    above all else.

    The lack of a US GP, lack of a French GP, as well as other
    problems, all serve to make F1 look like a girl who has forsaken romance in order to sell her favors to the highest
    bidder. We all know what such girls are usually called, and
    it’s not a complimentary term, at least not in polite company.

    If nothing else, I believe that the name of Mr. Ecclestone
    will live on past his physical being, in infamy because of the damage he did to a once-great sport. Money cannot buy
    you favorable mention in a history book, Bernie …

  68. Tom says:

    I’m not voting for any of those, God help us if they’re the only options. It’s the aerodynamics. But some softer tyres and a bit of imagination will help.

    During the race, what were the roomfuls of strategists doing, hunched over their laptops? Didn’t a single one of them suggest a second tyre stop?

    It’ll all blow over, and the Chief Self-Important Sports Writers will move on to their next crisis. They don’t demand changes to football rules every time there’s a sleepy lunch-time Premier League match with no atmosphere.

  69. Jonathan says:

    Unfortunately the poll will be a little out, I think.

    I would re-introduce refueling, but there’s no way that’ll happen this season, with cars already having the fuel tank size, so I had to choose ‘two tyre stops’

  70. Handsome Nick says:

    I beleive the F1 format is fundamentally flawed. All the cars are designed down to the last milimetre by the most powerful computers on the planet to the tightest set of perametres imaginable. They are propelled by engines that roughly produce the same power, and are totally reliable. They all run the same tyres. They are driven by drivers that all came out of the same mould. And finally, they are driven around circuits all designed on the same computer.
    Is no wonder that having decided which is the fastest on Saturday afternoon, they all proceed to follow one another to the chequered flag?
    I can’t see anything that will rescue this season, but sincerely hope to be proved wrong.

  71. Craig says:

    Can’t agree with Bernie on this one, the format needs changing now. If the Red Bulls had run without problems this “race” would have been the most boring and processional for as far back as I can remember (I’ve been watching since 1979, so have a few to compare against). Qualifying and race format need a radical shake up, tinkering with compulsary tyre stops isn’t going to cut it. It’s time for big changes such as stopping putting the fastest cars at the front of the grid and then wondering why they disappear into the distance without overtaking!

  72. Irish conor says:

    Now if it was up to me the first thing I would do is find multiple tyre suppliers to add diversity with maybe tyres being better at certain points in the race a la 06. Then make the brakes less powerfull to lengthen braking distances which gives more chance to outbrake someone. Then cut downforce by at least 50 per cent and make the tyres narrower and less durable and bring back refueling. Conservative driving should NEVER be rewarded. Also I think at gp weekends there should be something along the lines of a road going supercar that all drivers lap in to see who is the fastest with that counting to a point when toted up at the end of the year.

  73. david z says:

    There is a fundamental truism in F1 and that is that a faster car and driver will pull away from a slower car and driver.

    Therefore no matter how closely they are matched, if you put them on the grid in order of how fast they are, which we do via qualifying, then theoretically, nobody would ever catch anybody

    It’s really only outside influences that allow any overtaking at all, such as pitstops, tyres that wear out or mechanical failure.

    if you really want to spice up the show change the starting-grid order or install sprinkler systems and make it rain!


  74. Drewe says:

    James – I don’t think any of your ‘solutions’ will help. We need to reduce aero so people can pass. Drivers are too good to wear their tyres so there will be no lurid slides and crazyness – this is the pinacle. We need to reduce aero so Button doesn’t sit behind Schumi and Webber who could destroy them both in the mid section still be stuck behind them both again. The issue remains same as the last many years – the cars can’t race close, so you have to have a MASSIVE advantage to do anything.

    Immediate ban on double diffusers would solve a bunch of it, and how about, at Monaco no rear wings either :D

  75. Sebee says:

    What amazes me is that the most briliant racing minds are not able to figure this out once and for all.

    We don’t need another poll, or another survey. We want track action. We want to know that any second now something exciting may happen. We don’t care how they do it, just get it done FOM FIA FOTA or whomever has a solution worth listening to.

    P.S. With all this negative talk about tire wear, width, blistering, etc. Bridgestone is out fo sure. Making them less durable will not send the message they want to send.

  76. Gord says:

    Two compulsory stops probably won’t do anything, as the drivers will probably all use the same strategy.

    They should re-introduce refueling, or better yet change everything back to 2008, which was a vey exciting season.

  77. Rich M says:

    What I find hard to comprehend is despite many clever people in F1, when they change the rules, the consequences don’t seem to be thought through.

    I think it really was short sighted to get rid of re-fueling when it was not necessarily unpopular to fans. The argument about the cost of shipping the equipment never held for me – surely its not that expensive in the grand scheme of things – i.e. compared to developing a completely different type of car for 2010.

    In this instance, the problem appears to be the combination of drivers not having fresh rubber (i.e. so they protect their older tyres) and the fact that the aero regs (read diffuser) don’t allow the cars to get close enough.

    It will be a shame if they have to make 2 stops compulsory since it takes away some creativity, but it really does seem that the races will be processional otherwise.

    I hope the teams put the sport first, but I can imagine some selfish low-grid team will veto a change. Though I note Williams have given their support for the change.

    Lets hope they can think of some more effective measures for next season (in addition to new diffuser rules).

  78. Grant says:

    It’s not the absence of refuelling that’s the problem. GP2 had two far more interesting races at the same track on the weekend and there was no refuelling in those. If it’s the diffusers that are making it so difficult to pass then they need to go, we’ve just got to sit through a season waiting for that to come in and pray that nothing is thought up by the teams to replace the double diffusers.

    I wonder what would happen if drivers were allowed to opt out of their one pitstop? Would we see people go the full race distance on one set of tyres?

    Shortcuts might make for more interesting strategies if it tempts more people into two stopping or experimenting (as Sutil was) with different tyre strategies. It has the obvious downsides of almost completely eliminating overtaking on track and requiring shortcuts to be built in though. If it were introduced, which would be very surprising indeed, I’d be interested to see whether drivers opt to save their shortcut usage until the end of the race in the hope that the shortcut might be better rubbered in by their rivals by then.

  79. Andy says:

    I don’t know what the answer is to improving the show, but I don’t think any in the poll will really help.

  80. Dave says:

    Hi James,

    Thanks for the summation. I feel there must be more done with revisiting the regulations imposed over the last few years. The greatest problem is not refuelling but the cars inability to follow closely enough in dirty air. This was attempted to be resolved prior to the 2009 season however the FIA’s inability to clarify rules and enforce them has led us right back to where we are.

    Is there a way of measuring the amount of turbulent air being released from the rear of a car? If this were the case giving the teams greater freedom on development but limiting the flow of dirty air out of the back of a car would hopefully keep all parties involved happy. The engineers would have freedom; the FIA could say they are improving the ‘show’ and hopefully us the fans would be able to see some decent racing – driver against driver.

    Another question – in your opinion are the cars too sterile these days? In other words has too much been taken away from the driver? Webber made the comment recently that the cars in a lot of ways are too easy to drive – are there areas to put more onus on the skill of the driver that can be looked at?

    And finally – please call up Bernie and convince him to drop some cash into 2010 broadcasting standards. I live in Australia and we rely off the BBC feed. The problem is that; one – their commentary is often inaccurate and two – there is no scope to see additional information. The TV’s these days can handle multiple camera’s; live data etc Surely that is one immediate way of bringing more of the race into peoples living rooms which should be quite easy to update and implement.

    By the way good to see you on One in Australia the other night – a welcome addition!

  81. I don’t think any of the above options in the poll will help, to be honest. What we need are circuits that are wide and varied enough to encourage overtaking, more adventurous strategies (which may require the abolition of the two-compound requirement) and for people who are on interesting strategies not to get their afternoons destroyed by the half-way point of the race.

    I appreciate that none of these are short-term solutions (with the possible exception of the last idea), but they’re what F1 needs to sort this out.

  82. johnpierre rivera says:

    hey james

    well one thing is for sure, whenever and whatever F1 does, it always produces the most controversy. maybe that is why so many people are fanatical, and follow it like junkies, including myself. i can’t even remember how many nights i have stayed up to be able to read the new post on all the british websites (i reside in los angeles). i would like to say right from the outset, that i never bought into the re-fueling ban anyway. the arugment that it will cause more passing along with a greater points spread to me seemed based on wishful thinking. to put it another way, what better system than 2 or 3 short sprints will cause driving on the limit. and as far as making the show more exiting. what part of every time a driver comes to pitline, there was the possibility that some unforeseen event could and did rule the day, good and bad. massa driving off with the fuel rig, kimi driving through fire, micheal catching on fire, micheal and ross having a perfect pit to overtake seemed never ending, alonso, up to third in belgium with a dog of a car, only to be sidelined by a wheel spat. you get the point… bernie and fota really should just stop messing with what has been some of the most exciting racing for the last 5/6 years. they should concentrate on the cost and that is it period, and getting back to america. now what re-design the cars for 2011 for re-fueling, change everything again and spend all that money again. and so now mandatory pitstops? or tires that go-off quicker? how does that sound, “we supply the tire for F1, the pinnacle of motor sport, and our tire doesn’t last that long.” (whatever) when are people going to get the point about these cars. what has made them unable to pass is the down-force. if everybody really wants to see passing, then get rid of the wings, and double defusers, and stalling out rear wings, for that matter get rid of engine mapping, traction control, every single drive-aid should be dumped, put the gearshift back in the car, etc. now obviously that can’t happen, but i feel it is disingenuous to complain about passing, when the fia allows a double defuser, or mclearn’s clever wing idea. it seems to me that the sum of the last 20yrs is the culprit, but no one wants to face it. one could argue that the computer ruined passing forever. anyway, i like the cars the way they are. i think that their evolution is just a reflection of the times and that is just the way it will always be. despite the way f1 cars are designed it seems to me that there is plenty of passing when it matters. nico at singapore, hamalton it seems almost everywhere on anyone in his way, alonso in the final laps against massa when their cars touched, but like hamalton, he is a great passer. kimi on webber at monaco a few years back, button last year in brazil, micheal and mika way back when. lastly i agree with the few who have said, give the new regs a chance, it is only the first race and if mclearn and mercedes find a little more pace then it will be a lot more excited at the front.

  83. Fausto Cunha says:

    I watched the all race and i think it was very dull, after all the excitement of pre-season expectations have fallen a part.

    The lack of information on the screen specially in qualifying also didn´t help.

    I always loved the secret arround the fuel that teams were carring for the first pit stop, that unknown question about who was going to pit first.

    I only agree with the refueling on safety reasons.

    The Cars started the race on full tanks laping arround 9 seconds slower than the pole and the field will always spread, by the time the drivers are able to exploit their pace on lower fuel the gaps between drives will be so big that will make no diference.

    The fastest lap on the race was arround 5 seconds slower than the pole lap.

    I hope i´m wrong but like Alonso said we will have races decided by qualifying, the start and the first lap.

  84. StefMeister says:

    I can see evryone voting for reintroducing refueling sadly as thats something that won’t make a difference.

    Its funny how people have complained about F1 been boring for years & calling for a refueling ban. They ban refueling & 1 race is dull & they immediately blame the fueling ban & continue complaining about things been boring.

    Would refueling have made yesterdays race any more intresting, I doubt it.

    I think a lot of the problems stemmed from the new part of the track, The new section also produced 2 boring GP2 Asia races this weekend when the same cars/drivers on the old layout 2 weeks ago produced 2 fantastic races.

    Refueling or no refueling won’t make a difference as long as the cars cannot follow one another closer than there able to. Even when we had cars racing hard to try & pass (Rosberg on Vettel, Webber on Button) they coudn’t get close enough to even think about passing & thats clearly nothing to do with the refueling ban.

    I’ve been watching F1 since 1989 so have witness no refueling, refueling & now no refueling again & I still maintain & always will than F1 was better Pre-1994 when refueling was not allowed & all the stats for overtaking Etc… back up my opinion on that.

    Was Bahrain this year dull, Yeah but I don’t think any kneejerk reactions such as mandatory tyre stops (Which havn’t worked to make the show better in DTM or V8 Supercars & ruined the racing in A1GP) or reintroducing refueling will help because the biggest problem is the cars been unable to follow & things like rev-limits & engine parity making the car engine performance too closely matched.

    Keep the refueling ban, Find a way of getting cars to follow closer, Give teams more engine performance freedom, Drop mandatory tyre stops & let them run whatever tyre compounds they want & let them pit as often or a little as they want & I guarantee we would start to see better racing!

  85. michael grievson says:

    Hi James. Your poll should have one more option? Extremely limit aero packages and develop cars using mechanical grip.

  86. Jodum5 says:

    As mark webber mentioned on his twitter page – “Quit d*cking around with the thing”. Why’d they get rid of one lap qualifying? Why’d they get rid of no tired changes after 2005? They should leave everything alone for the year and see what’s what. Or actually, allowing for more than one tire supplier would be helpful. Combine multiple tire suppliers with testing restrictions and we should be all set. Oh and to manage costs, they should make the tire suppliers signatories to the resource restriction agreement.

  87. rpaco says:

    For the rest of this season allow only one type of tyre. No compulsory stops, but as many as needed. Bridgestone may be persuaded to stay in if they have to spend less on producing different tyre specs.

    Next year reduce aero, but make it more complicated, only allow one closed section on the rear wing plus one movable flap, these may overlap/increase/reduce front projected wing area (hence drag) by 100%/50%. Single diffuser only. Front wings again one closed section and one movable flap each side up to 15 degrees unlimited times. Allow aero smart surfaces for a limited area.
    KERS to be encouraged with energy storage and transfer levels doubled. Allow conductor cooling, with Liquid nitrogen. Standard KERS package to be available for purchase based on uprated last year’s Ferrari or McLaren system.

  88. dipietro15 says:

    No one may be buying my conspiracy theories, but the New York Times, not exactly known as a rag paper, thought the race had everything you could have asked for and more: http://formulaone.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/a-ferrari-1-2-victory-in-bahrain/

    Maybe the people have spoken, but I haven’t missed a race since 1993 and I’m having a hard time understanding what was so particularly boring about this one relative to the 200+ others I’ve watched.

    I see F1 as akin to football/soccer – there’s not a lot of action, but when there is it really means something. Sometimes there is only one truly dynamic moment in a season – I can live with that.

  89. Hans Westbroek says:

    I’m afraid I have to agree with the press on this one. The race was tremendously dull. I think, though, that the track has much more to do with it, then any changes to the tech or sporting regs. The FIA really need to re-think track layout. Bahrain has never been particularly exciting, and the new addition to the layout made it worse. With today’s aerodynamically-dependent cars, track layout remains a key point of the show that is not addressed, except on safety grounds. One thing that confused me about the race was the spread in qualifying times. Gone are the days when a couple of tenths represents the top ten or more!

  90. Darren says:

    “I don’t think that this race was as bad as people are making out, but what was depressing even for someone as passionate about F1 as me, was the inescapable conclusion that all the races are likely to follow the same monotonous pattern.”

    For some reason, expectations have increased dramatically since 1993! Yesterday’s race was comparable to a quiet early 90s race IMHO.

    I don’t like the way people react to “quiet” races. The last thing we need are knee-jerk reactions to the Bahrain GP – it wasn’t that bad!

  91. Richard Craig says:

    My opinion is pretty much that expressed by James yesterday.

    1) Remove the rule mandating the use of two tyre compounds in the race; if no-one wants to see this restriction lifted, at least stop the farce of having two steps between compounds
    2) Agree with Martin Whitmarsh: persuade Bridgestone to make the tyres racier. He almost seemed embarrassed that the option tyre was lasting as many laps as it could have done yesterday
    3) Remove the stipulation that top 10 qualifiers have to start on the tyres they obtained their fastest lap. At least that way you open up the possibilities of some runners in the top 10 choosing to run a different strategy

    We know the aero regs are really the main culprit, but all of the above can at least be implemented hastily. Changing the design of the cars cannot.

    Finally, the teams need to be more adventurous in their approach to racing. For example, if 3) is adopted (teams no longer need to begin the race with the tyre used for their best Q3 laps) then I would hope that we wouldn’t simply see all ten teams begin on the same compound. However in the era of data analysis, modellling and simulation I fear this is wishful thinking to expect the teams to do something counter-intuitive to what the simulation says is the quickest strategy.

  92. cj says:

    During the BBC coverage I saw Martin interview the Sheikh who said “as a motorsport enthusiast I just hate these places with long braking areas and 90º turns”.

    Having just watched both the the IndyCar highlights from Brazil; a brand “new” street track which had just a couple of “long braking areas” and “90º turns” surely proved the Sheikh wrong. The IRL’s first 20 laps, on a far narrower track, had more overtaking throughout than that desert parade in its whole “race” – with cars which were never designed for road/street course racing in the first place!

    The subsequent IRL 50 laps, rain delay inclusive, was just a bonus. Watching the IndyCars skating through those undulating Brazilian streets, making genuine overtaking manoeuvres for the lead using those hated “long braking areas”, and into those hated “90º turns” was a perfect antithesis to the Ferraris slowly pulling away from Vettel’s limping Red Bull.

  93. Andy3E says:

    Hi James

    Love the Blog, given the option in the poll i dont think any of them are going to fix the fundamental problem about the cars finding ot far to hard to follow each other.

    Could a Ban on the double diffusers be brought forward? we saw team introduce double diffusers within 5 races of them being declared legal last year, if the FIA mandated the teams get rid of them could that finally allow the cars to follow one another and pass?

  94. Simon says:

    The British press in over-reaction / headline grabbing shocker.

    I don’t know why Kevin Eason writes about F1, I’ve never read a positive article or comment from him yet on the sport. I was stunned when he returned to the role as motor racing correspondent for The Times.

  95. F1Outsider says:

    As long as Alonso doesn’t win the next 5 races, it can’t possibly be as dull as last year. It was one race in a venue that is really quite dull and the problem was exarcebated by the change in track configuration. We also may have been robbed of a more exciting finish were it not for Vettel & Massa’s reliability problems.

    Australia should be a bit more interesting, but I fear Malaysia & China will be hard to stay up for, but I will persevere, for I love this sport too much.

  96. Matt_2745 says:

    It’s crazy how many rule changes there have been really, no wonder nobody can keep up with it. As a snooker fan I’d compare it to the governing body changing the colours of the balls every season.

  97. JW says:

    If the media wants the races to “be more exciting” they could start by actually covering all the action.

    From all of the absolutely critical moves in the first two laps only a couple were shown on live TV or in replays.

    Where was Hamilton’s move to get past Rosberg? Weber gets past Button. Chandhok spins off. Sutil spins. Great on track action and none of it made it on screen.

    Granted I only went into the first two laps but before we change the Forumla again or switch the cars to have 3 wheels or something can just get enough cameras out there and a decent director.

    Viewers been going on about this for years, here we are in 2010 and TV viewers still miss out on over half of what happens on track while the cameras follow the 1st place car around and around.

    The action is there, show it.

  98. TG says:

    Just told a mate about Jenson’s comments in The Times – “You don’t have traction, you can’t exit a corner quickly. I’d be eight car lengths behind, catch up on him, but there was no way I could go past.” – and he’s just told me its the most depressing thing he’s heard all day. From now on he’s only going to watch qualifying and the first five laps, but that’s it.
    That turbulence issue has to be solved to stop F1′s broader appeal ebbing further away.
    But artificual tinkering in the sporting regs (compulsory second pitting) will just make the sport seem more confused than it already is. And as for short cuts, someone please remind Ecclestone that regardless of what he thinks, F1 isn’t a Barnum & Bailey’s circus. If he didn’t own the commercial rights everyone would be openly laughing in his face right now for suggesting such a thing. Instead of just laughing behind his back.

  99. Ross Price says:

    Hi James,

    Personally I wouldn’t choose to do any of the above (regarding your poll).

    The simplest and possibly easiest option is to ask Bridgestone to bring/develop softer compounds. I know it would prove difficult in-season now that the teams have developed their cars around the tyres they were presented last year but from what I can work out, it wouldn’t need to be ratified by all the teams which mandatory pitstops would. There is almost no way all of the teams would agree on that.

    The only way they can “make up” for the horrendous amount of aero reliance they have is to develop tyres that are exceptional at giving out grip but only last for a handful of laps. Perhaps the super soft could last 8-10 laps, soft 10-15 maximum, and the hard definitely should not be able to last as long as it can.

    After which, the grip levels should fall of a cliff. Those cars/drivers able to look after their tyres wouldn’t be punished by having to pit. As a result tyre management and strategy becomes key, whilst still providing the spectacle. You’d probably see more overtaking moves. Additionally, Bridgestone should not put steps between the compounds between tyres taken to the races. As far as I can tell, for the next few races only super-soft and soft should be taken.

    What say you?

    Oh, and by the way. I feel I should mention that I met you in Brazil in 2006. Albeit briefly. I had travelled to Schumacher’s final three races for Ferrari. I shouted down to you from the grandstands to ask if you could mention me during your commentary on the race. Which you duly did. Thanks for that! :)

  100. Will Jordan says:

    I don’t often agree with Bernie, but this time I do. It wasn’t that much worse than plenty of races last year – although at that time the press made no issue of it because they were happy to report on the sensational Button/Brawn story. I suspect had it been a British McLaren 1-2 this weekend there wouldn’t have been such a negative reaction. but because the main stars were Alonso and Ferrari – neither entity the British newspaper press or their readership have much affinity for – they needed to find their story elsewhere, particulary seeing it was their main sports writers, the guys who make their bread and butter by writing that something was either sensationally brilliant or sensationally awful. There’s no middle ground for a less than brilliant race, and it makes things worse that writers are being sent out to these races who have no vested interest in F1, don’t have the same insight or depth that enthusiasts like yourself or the other specialised journalists have – they are only interested on reporting on how the British drivers did, and nothing exceptional happened for either man this weekend (although I believe Hamilton drove a very good race). It certainly was no worse than Abu Dhabi last year, or Bahrain last year, or Turkey etc. Lets pass judgment once we get to proper race tracks, like Melbourne, Monza, Spa, interlagos etc, which almost always serve up crackers. F1 can’t bury its head in the sand over this issue, but the sky isn’t exactly falling in like these writers (what on earth is Oliver Holt doing at an F1 race, what happened to Byron Young?) are trying to sensationalise. Its not a new problem.

  101. Gareth says:

    I personally don’t see why the pre-2003 format is not reintroduced. The “show” was fine then – yes there were dominant Ferrari’s, but hardly an argument when Ferrari score an (albeit gifted) 1-2 with these regs.

    Think what you will but it certainly couldn’t get any worse than this.

  102. Andy says:

    There are 2 or possibly 2 issues that have the overall effect on racing:
    1. Pit stops – this could be though either the reintroduction of refuelling or a compulsory 2 or even 3 stops so the drivers aren’t having to save tyres.
    2. Aerodynamics – the cars just can’t get close enough to each other to overtake. I understand that double diffusers will be gone next year but something needs to be done sooner or else it could be a boring year.
    3. Track layout – some tracks lead to processions others normally produce exciting racing. Whenever Oz has been the first race of the season I don’t recall the first race being boring.

  103. Howard Moon says:

    In all honesty, it’s not about the pitstops. We’re rapidly losing classic circuits that promote overtaking, at the same time as exploiting aerodynamic grip; both of which are hampering drivers’ efforts to overtake. It’s going to take alot more than simply changing the nature of pitstops to spice up the ‘show’.

  104. Iain Mellows says:

    Hi James,

    I have loved F1 for many years, enjoying watching at Mosport park seeing Denny Hume in a McLaren. Walking through the garages &watching the mechanics. Watching Gilles Villeneuve win the the firs Gp in Montreal. This really isn’t F1, this is a very expencive organized show. Watching the IRL in there “crates” was mor interesting.

    I really hope they can somehow get back to racing. I.E. Gilles vs Rene, could we ever see that kind of racing again of is it time to find something else to do on Sunday afternoons?

    After all the hype building up last weekend is it really any wonder real fans are dissapointed? WE can only hope!

    All the best!!

  105. James Leaver says:

    You know what the worst thing is – if it wasn’t just the rule changes but the dull track layout then we’re in for a long slog until it gets interesting again. Australia (Albert Park), Malaysia (Sepang), China (Shanghai), Spain (Circuit de Catalunya), Monaco (Monte Carlo). Some seriously dull tracks there, with Monaco being my only must-watch for the amazing spectacle. And there’s no overtaking there either!

  106. HowardHughes says:

    Good analysis.

    I think F1 has suffered the same fate as the UK has in recent years from politicians. You get something that works just fine thanks, but people with a mandate to rule believe that they should change things for the sake of it, only it’s never an improvement. Oh I’m sure in their own silly, warped way the FIA have genuinely believed that they were enhancing the ‘show’, the same way that some politicians no doubt truly believe that they’re improving society by implementin numerous ridiculous byelaws and regulations that we somehow got along just fine without for centuries.

    But nothing ever gets better, does it? Hark back to the halcyon days of free-for-all 12 lap qualifying on slick tyres. I’m sure some people felt at the time it could be improved, but seriously – is there a single person reading this who wouldn’t wave a magic wand to take the sport back there if they could?

    Too many meddlers with too many stupid notions (the fans prefer F1 as a ‘chess game’? Really Max?!) have screwed up the basic template of grand prix racing for too long. I genuinely wonder if it isn’t too late now to redeem it…

    (Also – I have to say I don’t like Eason at The Times; he’s way too cocky and irreverent, like he’s secretly looking down on the sport and its drivers and can barely conceal it. Edward Gorman was much better.)

    1. James Allen says:

      Gorman is now on the Foreign desk at the Times now

  107. Ross Dixon says:

    James the answer is simple. Go back to what worked.

    Overtaking is all about variables. If cars qualify they are naturally in order of speed. If they then start on the same fuel level and tyres there are very few variables to allow overtaking. It’s not aero that is ruining overtaking its the forced restrictions.

    1st get the tyres sorted. Have a soft and a hard compound. Drivers must choose 1 or the other.
    Next Qualifying. Low fuel, my preference being the old 12 lap one.
    Then no park ferme
    Cars can then fuel the way they want. This way cars on the 3rd row could be on a totally different strategy to the one on the 1st row. If the viewer doesnt know what fuel load is in the car then the interest builds until the last stops. Not only that but overtaking will increase due to different copound tyre and fuel levels. The Ferrari may work its tyres more so they need the hard tyre to get round on a 1 stop. Mclaren may need the soft to get the tyres up to temp so go 2 stops.

    F1 has tried to artificially alter the show 1st with qualifying then with tyres and now with fuel. Im blaming Max. F1 is about and should always be about the limit. Coasting is for Sunday coast roads.

    FIA PLEASE LISTEN!!!!!!!!!!

  108. JD says:

    The worst thing to do is cave in to a knee jerk impulse afte one race. Basically, the die was cast when double-diffusers were deemed legal last year. There’s not much drivers can do when their cars can’t run closely behind another slightly slower car.

    If Vettel had not had engine troubles, we likely would have seen a shoot out between him and Alonso for the win in the last 10 laps. Then the fans would have said how great the race was.

  109. Monica says:

    Will the Celebrity Cheeserolling be shown in hi def?

  110. cc says:

    I think the race would have been a bit more interesting had Vettel not had a problem. Then again I can understand where people are coming from.

    That said, I think fans expect too much sometimes. People have high expectations of what makes a ‘race’ and are dissapointed when it doesn’t live up to it. Those in F1 are saying they need to improve the ‘show’ but there’s only so much they can do, we are still going to see dull races. Fans are important but I think some need to realise F1 isn’t entirely about them.

  111. f1mikey says:

    One race and let’s blow the whole thing up!!!
    Such is the day and age of instant gratification.
    F1 has never had a ton of passing, I get the race was not a hum dinger but..
    One change, add HD already.

  112. Hyperion says:

    I agree with you James- many people have been too quick to say that this formula is boring. I can think of many races last year that were just as dull.

    We need to give it time, and see how the situation develops before making any changes.

    The removal of KERS and the proliferation of double diffusers and all going to make overtaking much more difficult- refueling or not.

  113. Moira says:

    None of the above options actually addresses the cause of the problem. The new diffusers create too much dirty air for drivers to get close enough to the car in front. Any driver making an attempt to pass risks going through his tyres or overheating his engine. IMHO Additional pitstops, shortcuts etc would simply be a case of damage limitation until the real problems are sorted out.

  114. Duncan says:

    James, I’m not sure any of the suggestions in the poll will necessarily help. The issue is twofold: don’t let large gaps form between the cars on the track; and ensure cars experience varying pace at different times during the race. That way the speed differential enables overtaking.

    I think that tire rules which ensure the front of the grid are all on the same strategy ensures the speed differential stays the same, which ensures processions. I think the best way to fix the issue would be to have Bridgestone provide different tire options which will provide the same overall race pace; but will vary the speed differentials between the cars. Couple that with rules which allow teams to use whatever compounds they want will create the speed differentials needed to allow overtaking, I think.

  115. Mark SYD says:

    It’s quite simple – Make Bridgestone bring all 4 compounds to each race and let teams use any tire on any corner of the car at any time.

    Why should one driver suffer in comparison to another because of their driving style? I’m drawn to comparisons between JB Vs LH, classic oversteer driver in LH vs smooth undertsteer style of JB.

    By banning refuelling we are creating a situation where a driver can go through the whole race without stopping – drivers can’t even try this because of mandatory pitstop rules already in existance.

    If the FIA allow any compound and scrap the link between qualifying & the race, we will see drivers trying to pace themselves through a race with slower race pace with the aim of no pitstops. These drivers will be in direct competition to those on a 1 or 2 stopper running softer compounds.

    Strategy will be directly connected to driver skills \ racecraft & reflect a throwback to the late 80′s.

    PLEASE – No mandatory pitstops. The root cause is no overtaking due to A) tracks & B) existing tyre rules.

  116. Steve W says:

    I don’t think any of the options are a viable solution. They are all artificial measures which would just paper over the cracks. It’s the cars that are the problem, and to some extent the tracks. There needs to be a huge re-think over the aerodynamics on the cars for next year. And with Bridgestone leaving at the end of the year, the FIA needs to allow tyre wars amongst competing tyre manufacturers, as the racing is always better in these circumstances.

  117. Rafael says:

    Great site as always, James!

    Although I’m still skeptical, I find myself agreeing with you about everyone else jumping in the bandwagon that called for immediate change.

    I suppose what made me miss refueling wasn’t necessarily because I hated the new rules, but rather the race was just boring. The lap times were simply too long!

    And yes, there have been too many major rule changes over the years. I hope the people behind the scenes remember that this is a sport not a “show”. Us real F1 fans want to see a laissez-faire athletic environment where people are allowed free use of whatever it is they (legally) have to maximize their skills. Who cares if a race can sometimes can get boring due to one team’s domination (Ferrari 2001 – 2002)? I mean, most recently Pacquiao dominated Clottey in boxing but rather than dwell on calling the fight a dud, people also chose to look the other way and praised it for underlining the PacMan’s billing as “best fighter of the decade”.

    Also, could we stop with all these cost cutting measures already? I mean for crying out loud, if they really wanted to stop cutting costs then the FIA should ban teams from building and developing their own cars and just contract chassis manufacturers to sell ready made cars to the teams, a la IRL/CART FedEX!

    I miss the old days of F1 (1998 – 2002) where the smartest people in the planet provided these athletes with the best equipment possible to maximize their skills . If people keep prioritizing “the show” then why not just pull out of the Laureus awards and compete in the Emmy/Golden Globe/Academy awards instead? I’m sure F1 can notch up a couple of awards due to all the tension/excitement brout by political bickering and the drama of off track controversy.

  118. Ifor Bielecki says:

    I wouldn’t choose any of the suggestions you make in the poll.

    F1 doesn’t need silly tricks and fiddling to make it exciting again. The simple fact is that it is the silly enforced tyre change (having to use both compounds) and the over-reliance on aero performance.

    Giving the cars another few hundred horsepower might liven it up a bit too.

    The last thing F1 needs is more restriction or enforced rules. Open it up, allow the human element to come back into it and all of a sudden things will change. Mistakes will be made and opportunities created.

    Bahrain wasn’t a race, it was a procession and a dull one at that.

    How can cars with so much power and so little weight be quite so boring? It’s mindboggling to think how moribund F1 has become. Thank God for the MotoGP and World Superbikes…

  119. Baktru says:


    It worked for Rallycross after all.

    As far as the spectacle goes, last Sunday was not that much more dreadful than many other races we have seen before, it’s just that the new system doesn’t look like it promises much better in future races and THAT is a problem. If everyone goes for soft-hard and switches tires within 3-4 laps of each other, I don’t see it getting much better.

    And Bahrain historically has been a track that is actually good for overtaking. In fact, there were 19 overtaking maneuvers at Bahrain yesterday, which was the average last year, and three more than we had at Bahrain last year so the numbers show it wasn’t THAT bad? Well no… Three of those passes were a broken car getting overtaken, and fights in the back of the field for the rest. NONE of the front runners got in any fights and that is bad. Seriously.

  120. Nilesh says:

    I’ve felt for a number of years now that the crux of the problem does not lie in the rules. Changing them will have a temporary effect of reshuffling the order; think 2005 and 2009. What needs to be done is to change the tracks. More grandstands are put in and justified as being done for fans at the venues at the cost of compromising it for the several million more fans watching the race from home. James, why do we just have Hermann Tilke as the designer? Why is no one else brought in for the task? Also, are drivers, present and former, consulted when designing a new track or modifying existing ones? I was surprised to not find that as one of the options in your poll.

  121. monktonnik says:

    Picking up on what was said on the BBC f1 forum I think that the issue is not that we need a certain number of stops etc, but that we need more marginal/racey tyres. I think Martin Whitmarsh mentioned that the super soft was actually ok to drive on for 20 laps. The prime was even better.

    We were all led to believe that we would see cars on damaged tyres being chased down people who had looked after theirs.

    To be honest the last time we saw that kind of thing was when we had Michelin and Bridgestone.

    Perhaps the answer is to replace Bridgestone with two tyre suppliers 2011 and bring back that element of competition.

  122. Peckers96 says:

    Prior to my honeymoon, I’d never been to the USA – bear with me here, I do have a point that I’m getting to – and my only exposure was the television. Hours spent watching glamorous people in even more glamorous locations around Los Angeles had me convinced that it was heaven on Earth … then I got there. Never have I been so disappointed, or wanted to leave somewhere so quickly, as I was then.

    This is what Formula 1 – the sport, the fans, the media, even the drivers – are all experiencing. The race itself wasn’t that much worse, if at all, than some in 2009, but with so much expectation, it was a disastrous “first impression”.

  123. TecnoFormula says:

    Please, we don’t need additional contrived strategic elements (such as a mandatory 2nd stop, or tires that ‘degrade quicker’) in order to *attempt* to manufacturer on-track drama. I agree it was a relatively poor race…but having the season opener at the uninipiring Bahrain circuit was always going to be a let down…

    As for ‘no-refueling’, it definately ‘worked’ pre ’94. So I welcomed it – but perhaps we’ve been spoiled a bit recently. Fact is the cars looked dog slow at the start, and much of the usual slash and dash drama of the first lap was indeed lacking. Perhaps it should be re-introduced for 2011…

  124. f1aroo says:

    Saving money has become so important in F1 that any rule change modifying the cars or restoring refueling could be disastrous. The cheapest and easiest way to spice up the show would be to have a computer randomly select areas around a track for high-volume water sprinklers to be turned on at random times. Rain always changes a race dramatically. Rain within reason, that is. Just a thought.

  125. Remove the engine rev limit and control costs simply by banning exotic engine materials. At the very least allow an overtake button to be used a couple of times per lap.

    If the above isn’t enough then provide 30 seconds of Nitrous Oxide per race. The guy behind can make the guy in front a bit trigger happy and when he uses up his 30 seconds then he’s a sitting duck.

    Remove restrictions on how many race tyres can be used. Keep limits on practice and qualy.

    Make tyres much less durable – 20 laps or so per set for the average driver. That alone will mix things up a great deal.

    Above all, embrace innovation by relaxing the rules in certain areas where safety is less of an issue.

    Relax the rules for wheel to wheel racing and only apply penalties in the most extreme cases of disregard for safety. Maybe implement a points system instead where the more points you receive for racing infringements means you carry more ballast during the race. You would then have points and thus ballast removed for each race you keep your nose clean.

  126. AlexBookoo says:

    It didn’t help that the first race was at such a lifeless track. I don’t know why people respect Bernie Ecclestone so much. F1 had more hype and attention for the new season than ever, and he goes and moves the first race to Bahrain thus ensuring a dull race whatever the rules. They should start in Brazil like they used to.

    Having said that, the overtaking committee must be the most ineffective committee ever. After years of work and through huge rule changes, we’ve ended up with drivers saying it’s totally impossibe to pass. You can’t drive in turbulent air especially now there’s less grip from the front tyres. If you dare try it you’ll overheat the limited engines and probably wreck the limited tyres. They’ve managed to come up with a set of rules that does precisely the opposite of what everyone wants.

    If they really can’t figure out a way to build cars that can pass each other and we have to resort to silly ideas like short cuts, then they might aswell put sprinklers by the side of the track and have them come on at a random time during the race. At least that would test the drivers. I mean, short cuts? Seriously?

  127. Baktru says:

    In fact, I’m convinced bringing back refuelling is NOT the answer either. The amount of overtaking in F1 dropped the most dramatically in 1994, when refuelling was introduced. I still believe that no refuelling should be better, after all if you got a slower car ahead, there is no option but to pass on track. Refuelling just gives too many pitlane overtakes…

    Anyway, I still think yesterday was a bore (and not having Kimmi any more doesn’t help obviously).

    Oh, overtaking statistics at:

    And 1994 was the year when:
    1994 Ban on all electronic driver aids; active suspension, traction control, launch control, ABS. Mid race refuelling permitted. Rear wing height reduced. Front wing height increased. Wooden plank fitted to the under tray

  128. Alex says:

    Thank you James for giving us the posibility to express our opinion by voting on possible ‘cures’ to future dull races. But I’ll give this vote a pass as I don’t feel that any of the four choices – if implemented – would have the desired effect and turn the rest of 2010 into what the fans were expecting.

    Engines and gearboxes will still have to be preserved and the cars will continue to run heavy for most of the race without being able to follow eachother closely.

    Aggresiveness went out the window in favor of conservative consistency. 2010 will be remembered as ‘the endurance season’.

    All pessimism aside, I look forward to the wet races and hope for as many of them as one could imagine. In fact, if I could veto one change for this season, it would be to artificially wet some – if not all – tracks on race sundays.

  129. brian nicholson says:

    The parade was boring, the worse race in four years ( and I’m up at four am to watch australia and china every year ).
    The FIA has been slowly destroying F1 for years, I thought getting rid of Hitler ( opp’s I mean Mosley ) would fix things but hey the SS is still ruling the roost. The only disrepute in the sport over the last four years is the FIA’s rulings and iron fisted power play to take over completely.

  130. Nick says:

    The race was very processional, from my point of view, a quick fix, knee jerk reaction for 2010 would be to re-introduce refuelling, do not publish fuel weights and have a minimum of two tyre stops. Qualify on fumes.

    F1 to me is about technology, strategy, speed and driver skill.

  131. smc says:

    Fans and journos who blame banning of refuelling are missing the point ENTIRELY.

    Its aero, tyres and the need to conserve the car over a few races that is contributing to a “boring race”

    I didnt think it was bad as the majority seem to think.

    We had a fair share of uneventful races last year.

    The vettel, alonso, massa battle was shaping up until the redbull developed problems.

    In this respect i believe the fundementals of non refuelling are there.

    What dismays me the most is the kneee-jerk reaction of fans blaming non refuelling alone.

    Why this attitude? has the viewing demographic shifted so much that we dont have any fans around anymore who remember epic races before the reintroduction of refuelling in 1994?

    1. Martin P says:

      Before 1994 the cars were more fragile.

      We had in-season engine development, which meant we had spectacular blow ups.

      We had immense power and less grip, making it easier for a spin off the kerbs.

      Up to about that time we also had the chance for a driver to miss a gear.

      We also didn’t have the same pit wall or in-car technology, so it wasn’t as easy for the driver to give or receive instructions about strategy or to tweak engine settings.

      And when was the last time you saw a driver locking the brakes and driving on a 50 pence piece until his scheduled stop?

      All of that meant that there were plenty of variables at play.

      Now though all of those things have gone. As we saw on Sunday, the only remaining elements are driver error, which with the cars being “easier” to drive only really happened because Sutil was driving into a could of Webber’s smoke and mechanical failure, which Vettel suffered but it’s much rarer nowadays.

      And of course another big difference is the tracks… we now have ridiculously boring Tilke circuits designed for what seems to be glamour rather than racing.

      Basically it’s a different era and the cars are too good now. I have a lot of respect for Prost and I understand what he means about it being a thinking driver’s game with no re-fuelling. But without the other variables it undoubtedly gives us boring races because once they’ve got round the first corner in one piece it’s pretty predictable.

  132. Kevin says:

    Well, I’m really dating myself, but I’ve been a fan of F1 since the days of James Hunt, Niki Lauda and Gilles Villeneuve. The problem, to me at least, is the attempts at cost cutting. When you need to preserve engines, preserve tires, preserve fuel, and the engines can’t be increased in horsepower, you’re not going to have all out, wire to wire racing.
    Like Alonso said, whoever is leading at the first corner will win, unless you have mechanical problems, like Vettel.
    F1 needs to decide if it’s a racing series or an entertainment spectacle. If it wants to be the pinnacle of motorsport, it needs to get rid of the cost reduction measures and let the teams race.
    If it wants to be an open wheel NASCAR, tell us so I don’t need to get up so early, every second weekend.

  133. malcolm.strachan says:

    I think no compulsory stops, and teams can choose the prime or option tire.

    The more variability, the better, as that will promote dashes to the finish with some cars trying to do the full distance and some stopping later on to try to dash to the finish on fresh tires. With the “option” tire being mandatory, that cuts out a LOT of variability, and therefore removes a lot of possibilities for overtaking.

  134. Rudy Pyatt says:

    For once I have to agree with Bernie – not the shortcuts (Please. No.), but to give it a couple of races to see what happens. That he’s said this is an admission, intentional or not, that the modern “ooh-ah infrastructure” tracks are not conducive to racing (as opposed an autocross/time trial. I think the UK term is “sprinting”) with modern F1 cars.

    How will they run on a “pre-modern” track, something less like a go-kart track? I don’t think we’ll get the answer that we want to that question. I fear that the changes to most of the older tracks on the schedule – Silverstone and Hockenheim for two – will give us more of the same. They’re now kartodromes. I can’t just blame Herman Tilke out of hand, because he’s only done what he’s been asked to do. I suspect that his hands are tied and he can’t go all out as he might otherwise do.

    The usual hue and cry over aero issues will be heard. Until and unless wings, period, are dispensed with by some team willing to go way out on the limb; or outlawed by the FIA, every team will continue to seek fastest lap through downforce, without regard to whether or not this turns a supposed “race” into a time trial. Enforced uniformity of engine design surely doesn’t help.

    Whatever the cause, it’s not good when the most thrilling part of the weekend is qualifying, and the race itself is an anticlimactic afterthought.

  135. Nick says:

    James, do you not think this is all a bit premature? Reading the press you’d think this was a boring Ferrari clean sweep with no competition. But if it hadn’t been for Vettel’s problem, we’d have had an on-track battle for the lead in the closing stages. Isn’t that what we’ve been missing for the last few seasons?

    The fact that we were denied that due to mechanical failure, and Bahrain is a dull track at the best of times, aren’t the fault of the new rules.

  136. Brace says:

    James, for the first time, I must say this: I’m disappointed in you.

    Here you are stuffing us with another poll where we are supposed to choose between dumb and dumber solution for “improve the show” save for reintroduction of refueling which is just going back to the old system.

    My message for FIA and FOTA would be to stop with damn rule changes if they don’t have the guts to see them through. Just get the stupid compulsory 2 compound rule out. Sack the rule about same tire compound for Q3 and race. And all other artificial rules. There are lots of those.

    Take for example football. It’s one of the lowest scoring sports in the world, if not THE lowest scoring one. And yet, it is the most popular. Noone complains if you get draw and no goals at all. There are interesting matches and there are boring matches, but they don’t run to change the rule book after first 0-0 result.
    They don’t make players use two different type of shoes for the same game. They don’t make cenerfore play goalkeeper for one half.

    To put is simply, none of the nonsense we are getting in F1. And still no one is complaining about it.

    Just sack the damn stupid artificial rules and it will get better. But give it time. It needs time!

    Let everyone use whatever compound of tire they want. Let them setup cars separately for quali and race. No one ever complained about that. No one ever complained about 12 laps quali system. No one ever complained on the fact that teams can pick the compound that suits them best because it only common sense to do so!
    I’m getting tire of “improving the show”.
    I know that cars got more dependent on aero in the last 20 years, but if they can’t find the way to address that through some sensible methods, I’d rather watch them race for real even with less overtaking then watching some fake race where everything is already planed out. If it goes this way, in the next few years they will make a rule about compulsory victories so that at least 10 drivers can make it to the last race with the shot at the title.
    I tell you, I won’t be watching it.

    F1 should care more for it’s fans and less for average Joe who watches every other race, because he has nothing better to do.

    1. James Allen says:

      I was just wanting to hear the fans voice in numbers. These are short term fixes because now the problem is acute.

      1. PaulL says:

        I respect your intention in that, however I’m sure you’re aware a return to refuelling is a long-term solution, not a short-term fix for this year.

      2. Martin P says:

        I’ve also read reports that re-introducing re-fuelling is expensive and can’t be done this year, but to be frank, I don’t believe it.

        Last year four cars came to the grid with double diffusers. All the others went back to the drawing board and brought them on stream by europe.

        If they can do that, they can cut a hole in the tank and put pressure fuelling caps back in. It’s established and common technology so there’s no way it’s harder and costs more than the double-d’s did last year.

        To reduce cost, I’d personally just allow it at European races, so there’s no costs of flying fuel rigs around the world – just a couple of trucks pootling around Europe.

        I also think that re-introducing re-fuelling this year would be more exciting than it’s EVER been – simply because the tanks are already big enough to take the fuel for the full race.

        This means you could have some cars on zero stops and others on three stops. Now that would not only give us overtaking, but it would probably give us the same battle between any two drivers two or three times a race if one was two stopping and another non-stopping as they keep coming across each other on track.

        The only additional factors I’d add are;

        – qualify on fumes and add the fuel in parc ferme

        – fuel loads are confidential, so strategy is more reactionary after the race start

        – fuel consumption is still limited to the capacity of the tank. e.g. you can’t two stop and use more fuel than if you went the whole race on one tank (to preserve the engine economy element).

        In short though, I don’t believe for one second it couldn’t be done by the first European race, This is F1 for god’s sake!!

  137. elephino says:

    Track changes affected the poor racing more than the lack of refuelling. Wait for Melbourne and Sepang before making in dramatic pronouncements upon refuelling.

    Mind you, refuelling was introduced to improve overtaking…

  138. PeteJ says:

    Oh, so the lack of refueling is the reason for a boring race?
    So there hasn’t been a boring processional race in the last 15 years or so? Does no-one remember the years of schu-ferrari dominance?
    Typical knee-jerk responses.

  139. Graham says:

    Hi James, maybe if the fuel tank size was smaller and the same for every team, with a limited amount of fuel able to be used for each race, then refuelling stops would have to happen, but the total amount of fuel available to each car would be the same, still acheiving what they are trying to acheive with no refuelling stop??

  140. Bob Q says:

    None of the above.

    NO compulsory pitsops
    They do NOT have to start on tire on which they qualify
    They do NOT have to use both compounds.

    1. Rene says:

      Totally agree with this – then it’d be like the late 80′s glory days :) No cost to implement either. Bring back qualifying tyres!

  141. Terry says:

    Another way to improve F1: Fire Herman Tilke.

    1. PaulL says:

      Here here!

      1. thef1geek says:

        I forward the motion! Bulldoze all his ‘creations’ and start again. Use Spa for all F1 track blueprints. Fingers crossed Korea don’t have their Tilke track ready in time!

    2. Brace says:

      Hahahaha! :D

  142. JohnBt says:

    Too much negatives from fans can’t be wrong. But let’s just throw boring Bahrain away for a start. There has always been mayhem in Melbourne which gives us a weekend to look forward to. Before bending the new rules, I guess we’ll have to compare the next 3 races until Spain comes along. Cars have been designed around the no-refuelling mode, so that’s sealed, don’t think re-fuelling will be possible at all. Maybe compulsory 2 pit stops might help, ermmm, but teams already have geared themselves for long runs. Using only one compound of tryes which suits set-up best, so don’t need to change for the sake of changing. Then Bridgestone must provide much more durable tyres so drivers can be agressive, no need to save tyres. Just my thoughts as a fan. FIA at all cost had better stretch their ears wide open before F1 loses more and more fans, which they are succeeding evidently.

  143. Nadeem Zreikat says:

    I still love F1 and will still watch no matter. However I do agree with Whitmarsh with the tyres. I thought we would see tyres starting to go off towards the end and the ones who saved a bit mid race would be able to attack in the last 10 laps or so similar to Nascar. With Nascar those who put on new tyres with a few laps left and other stay out creates good overtaking all the way to the end. I was not a fan of a 2 stop strategy before but am now.

    James could you also explain that teams are looking to adjust ride heights during pitstops. martin Brundle commented during the race that this was or going to be possible- similar to changing front wing angles?

    As well do all teams have the adjustable front wing?

    Great job with the uni laterals and on one HD in Australia as well thoroughly enjoyed.

  144. Williams4ever says:


    With all respect to you, I am disappointed, to see you have skirted around the core solution,
    doctored pit-stops, doctors tyre compounds, refueling and Bernie’s crazy idea of shortcuts simply doesn’t cut it!!!

    I had commented yesterday, the heavy dependence on aerodynamics was pretty much in line with philosophy to drive fast and consistent sprints between fuel stops and hope that team will help you beat the competition on strategy.

    F1 cars are all about engineering prowess and fans want to see innovative ideas as well as close racing. Its for FIA/FOM/FOTA to find the “sweet spot” to make fans happy. Racing can’t be compromised by doctored solutions that you have suggested in poll to make a “Great spectacle”..

    Take off the aero bring in mechanical grip and all your problems are solved.
    Everybody knows about the elephant in the room but no one wants to talk about it.Instead they offer polls which makes no sense. FOTA sent out poll recently and FIA sends out every season. I wonder what happens of that poll, or are these polls only meant to build hope of the fans and then do nothing about it :?:

    1. James Allen says:

      These are short term ideas, the longer term stuff is important but cannot save this championship

      1. Craig D says:

        Exactly, James. Of course aero wake is the big gremlin, and of course there’s freedom of speech to discuss it here, but I would have thought that if there was a Topic of Discussion to this ‘thread’ it would be about the possible, realistic immediate solutions that can be made (if they are needed after a few more races).

        I’d rather have comments focused on that than have to wade through comments moaning about the aero. Everyone knows about aero. Nothing can be done on that front for this year’s championship, so leave it out.

        If FOTA do indeed read these comments, right now they’ll be interested in seeking out immediate solution ideas and not have to scour through impertinent whingings on aero.

    2. Alex Petrov says:

      Couldn’t agree more!

  145. Derek says:

    The reason there is lack of overtaking is due to the aerodynamics of the modern cars. Therefore overtaking in open racing is always going to be difficult.

    Processional races can still be exciting. I still have a video of Adelaide 94 Hill v Schumacher which was great with both drivers racing at the limit.

  146. Fudce says:

    I think part of the problem was the circuit that we started on. Bahrain isn’t the worst circuit for racing, but it is far from being the best. When trying to sell yourself at a job interview you wouldn’t go in wearing your casual everyday clothes, so why should Formula One sell itself with an average circuit? I’d have rather waited two weeks and started in the unpredictable roads of Melbourne.

    I don’t think more tyre stops is the right option, since we’d just see teams following the same strategy again, just stopping twice not once. The problem we have is that if a driver pits for fresh rubber he’ll never make up that time. We need tyres to last less time, so that drivers can’t cruise to the finish with 3/4 race distance to go on one set of hard tyres. Don’t force them to stop twice, invite them to try to stop only once, but make them struggle with slower tyres.

  147. Bayan says:

    I voted reintroducing refueling but also, there should have been “reintroduce tyre wars” or “multiple tyre suppliers”. Why doesn’t the FIA just let the teams get tyres from whoever they want? I just don’t get it!!

    1. Martin P says:

      At the moment they don’t even have one tyre supplier for next year, let alone two.

      The technology and cost of F1 tyres is immense and no manufacturer wants to go to the track and have blow outs, for the same reason that Bridgestone aren’t going to marginalise the tyres for this season – it’s not good PR to have 100 million people seeing your tyres fail!

      1. Bayan says:

        Bridgestone has no competition at the moment so there is no motivation to even try to “marginalize” anything.

        And the reason there is only one supplier is because the FIA wanted it that way, not because they couldn’t find anyone else. I’m sure they could have found a replacement for Michelin. Do you think they would be in this position if there were at least two tyre suppliers???

        I think that the companies that are able to produce a good product will remain given the chance and the others will eventually exit.

      2. Martin P says:

        If that’s the case, why can’t they get anyone to replace Bridgestone next year?

        Before “snore-gate’ that was the most pressing issue to resolve. At the moment the only hope appears to be lashing down the cash and hoping Michelin or Bridgestone will play.

      3. Bayan says:

        How do you know they cant get anyone to replace bridgestone?

        Do you really think formula 1 will have no tyre supplier next year?

  148. Peppers says:

    I don’t think we should be rushing into anything rash at this stage.

    Yes, the race was a bit of a dud, but you get those from time to time. It is far too early to decide that the lack of refuelling was the main cause for the dull race. Lets see what happens over the next couple of races.

    Even if they wanted to change, I think it would be difficult, as the teams have designed their cars entirely around the rules as they stand.

    Oh well, am heading down to Melbourne next week, so lets hope Bahrain was just a bit of a glitch.

  149. Andrew (in Melbourne) says:

    We have had some great Championships the last few years and like Bernie said there were some boring races along the way. Everyone gets so excited about the first race and when it turned into a procession we were probably more dissapointed than normal. If we had already seen 2 or 3 good races before Bahrain we might of viewed it differently. My only hope now is that the Bahrain race doesnt reflect whats to come.

  150. Racergil says:

    Dear James:
    In my post here yesterday, I said that Alonso would be glorified. I guess I was mistaken. I should have said canonized.
    The real question is, how will the races play out in Australia, Montreal, Belgium, Britain, Brazil. I have a feeling that all Tilke tracks will provide a show similar to Bahrain. We know that Barcelona, and Monaco are processional at all times. Best case scenario, we can maybe have 5 races this year. I am an optimist, I know

  151. Stephen says:

    Unfortunately, the poll above misses the point. The lack of refuelling had NOTHING to do with the lack of action – passing in pit stops was always just a band aid to cover up the fundemental problem with F1; the effect of turbulent air on the following car and the consequent lack of on track overtaking. Shortcuts and mandated tyre stops are more gimmiks that don’t tackle the real issue.
    But judging by the bland, non-atmospheric opening round in the middle of the desert, F1 hasn’t cared about your average race fan anyway.

  152. Ste says:

    The reward/penalty ratio for making a pitstop needs to be looked at. When there was refuelling to be done then obviously pitstops were well worth making but now they don’t gain you enough in performance to be worth the 20 seconds you lose pitting.

    If it was possible to make the pitlane shortcut part of the track, or put a couple of slow chicanes in the part of the track the pitlane skips, then a pit stop might only cost 5-10 seconds in total, and suddenly there’s a whole range of strategies that come into play. I guess that’s unworkable but it’s something I’d like to think is being considered for new tracks under construction. Is that something you’ve ever heard talked about James?

  153. MikeW says:

    I remember that, last year, I found some races to have been “exciting” because of the favourable result – so I can understand Alonso & Ferrari fans liking the result here.

    But as a race, hand on heart, this was nothing other than dire. The one part of the weekend that Crown Prince Al Khalifa couldn’t make exceptional.

    It seems that this race followed each team’s scripts, and everyone was fooled into thinking they need to preserve their tyres more.

    So for the next race, will this get someone to be more daring, and go all-out to overtake, and pray the tyres will still stand up? Will they take a risk?

    Undoubtedly the strategists are assimilating both the quali & race performances, and shifting plans. Will it allow anyone to take more of a risk?

    If not (and I don’t think they will), then the race will be decided by qualifying. Expect to see some cars shift their entire focus towards performance in quali, at the expense of race-day, knowing that no-one can get past.

    The race will only be made exciting by variability. If we don’t start getting cars & drivers willing to take adverse risks, then we will just see a herd mentality set in, and a repeat of “race number one”.

    The exception to all this is, of course, with the new teams. Because they’re not yet at the bleeding-edge, we get to see variability in their setups, and consequently some good racing. If nothing else changes, lets get FOM to keep the camera focussed on Lotus & Virgin!

  154. KNF says:

    I vote for “None of the above” in the poll…

    I’d suppose the reason why races from 1993 and earlier were more interesting was that the cars then were less dependent on aerodynamics (and the disruptive effects of). Wasn’t Button commenting that he lost a lot of grip everytime he got close to Schumacher?

    It’s rather telling that of the frontrunners, two were passed in the pits and one had to concede due to a spark plug failure for any change of position to occur…

    Now that the engineers have gotten back most of the downforce they lost at the beginning of 2009, I’d expect the next few races to be just as processional… :(

  155. thaicook says:

    What can be done?

    Are the engines limited? I mean is there a physical ‘cap’ on each engine to prevent it going over a certain RPM? If so, couldn’t this be ‘uncapped’ and unleash the beasts? That could spice up the show…

  156. Steve (Cape Town) says:

    Refuelling and tyre changes etc are surely only artifial ways to try to fix a fundamental problem?

    The fans want to see overtaking (and not through short-cuts) – it’s as simple as that.

    Surely levels of downfoce, turbulance behind the cars, braking distances and track layout are the real issues???

  157. Guy says:

    I cant remember what the saving was on those fuel rigs but is it worth it. Especially the occasional leaky one that created some fireworks.

    So if they come back then where do they save?

    Question by varying the fuel stop stratergies how much could a slightly slower team gain?

    How much closer did it bring the racing?

    At least it gave us time to sit and calculate who was going to end up in the points instead of being able to see it, after a quarter of the race distance.


  158. jocker12 says:

    In my opinion it’s all about the tires… Nobody takes any risks of overtaking because the tires need to be taken care of no matter what. All you have to do is to wait in line for the last 8 or 10 laps, because the first goal is to bring the car home. If you choose to pass by working your brakes and your tires too much, the risk is to loose everything 5 or 10 laps later.

  159. PaulL says:

    The problem, as I saw it, with refuelling was that appreciating a driver performance seemed harder because a lot of the pace differentials seemed to swing on fuel-loads and team strategy. A part of the head-to-head racing felt contrived.

    I do agree however that it sucks to have drivers nursing their tyres and machinery instead of attacking.

    We can’t reintroduce refuelling until 2011, so why not try something like points for a fastest lap under the following conditions:
    - The driver must be a classified finisher (to exclude the possibility of a car filling up with 3 laps of fuel).
    - The driver must not stop for fresh tyres within 10 laps of the chequered flag.

    Could this work? I am trying to advocate teams/drivers doing an extra stop AND pushing harder for a greater portion of the race distance.

    *PS one more suggestion, 2008 spec chassis designs minus winglets/appendages. 2009-2010 aero config has NOT allowed cars to follow one another.

  160. George says:

    It is obviously out of the question that refuelling be reintroduced right now, maybe even far fetched for 2011 considering the resources poured into the current herd of cars in a financially light era. We have lost the wild card of varying fuel and tyre combos’ which so often have provided the spectacle.

    For me the best thing so far is light cars maxing out for quali’.

    Maybe a single tyre compound rule would compel a soft 2 stop vs a hard single stop? but one or the other would be a clear winner…

    As for short cuts? are we looking for respectability here or some A1 pokes from a sceptical media – field day – imagine the headlines!

    Overall, backed into a corner comes to mind…
    p.s. well done Lotus..

  161. Prateek says:


    This post of yours really got me thinking. As a fan who’s fed up with the over-regulation in F1, and who’s very sad to see the extremely dull opening race of this season, I’ve just put together some thoughts about where I think F1 should head.

    I wonder if these points have any merit and would love to know your opinion about them.

    1. Restrict the ‘amount’ of downforce a car can generate at different speeds and give the teams freedom to be creative and decide how they go about achieving it. This could perhaps be tested by placing the cars on a wind tunnel and checking the figures at different speeds but I’m sure there are many great minds who can figure out better ways to test this.
    2. Budget cap/resource restriction to limit spending, and not creativity or efficiency.
    3. Bring back more tyre suppliers to F1 – remember the time when there were days when Michelin was superior to Bridgestones and others when it was the other way round – it used to turn the whole race around. There were different race strategies, different pace of different cars at different stages of the race. I’d even go as far as to say, let the teams pick the supplier of their choice and let them also choose the best compound for themselves for every race (subject to certain regulations such as restricting use of sticky tires, etc.) to help improve mechanical grip and reduce reliance on aero.
    4. All energy recovery technologies should be encouraged – teams should be let to choose themselves which technology they want to exploit (be it KERS or something else) while limiting the amount of energy passed on to the wheels at any given time (not over a lap, as was the case with KERS) and/or the amount of fuel consumed by a car in a race, etc. As well as making F1 more relevant to today’s world, this way teams could also be innovative about which technology they deploy based on what suits them best (so one team might aim at maximising the power to weight benefit while another might choose to maximise the amount of time it can apply the max allowable power over a lap/race distance). This will also be a nice move back towards the times when F1 used to pioneer developments applied to road cars (like Honda’s Vtec, Toyota’s VVTi and many others).


    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that. All things that have been discussed at length within FOTA and with the FIA. Some will reappear in time, like KERS

      1. me says:

        and i always thought banning refuelling would help in road car stuff … they could formulate fuels that are efficient , also engines that are efficient ( if only they took off the engine freeze )

  162. Chris C says:


    I did not participate in the vote as I feel none of the 4 actions would do any good in the long run and probably not even for the duration of this year’s championship. I think the answer to more action in the race would come by first looking at the circuits (it is no wonder that we see quite a lot of overtaking in places like Canada, Spa, Suzuka and Monza. The second area would be change the rules in terms of aerodynamics that seem to create unstable air for the following car.

    I would like also to comment on the race we have seen. I have to agree with Bernie’s comment here. It was not more boring to the majority of the races we have seen in previous years. I have been watching now fanatically for about 20 years and what we have seen the past weekend we have seen very often in the past years. Personally, I have enjoyed the race due to excitement of seeing the new teams racing, due to the excitement to see how MS would do, due to the excitement to see how reliable all cars will be in the first race, the excitement of seeing a lot of new drivers and how they would perform, but also enjoying quite a bit of overtaking (I think there was more than usual)

    I think F1 is paying its success in increasing the following of its franchisee. it seems to me that F1 has attracted people who to be happy they want to see drama, like crashes or fires in the pits. But this is not the roman arena, it is a sport that is based on technology and this is the area that should fascinate viewers.

    Finally, I can not help to think that all the negativity coming from the British press could be partially be attributed to the fact that Maclaren, which is the main British team seems to be quite behind both from Ferrari and Red Bull. Something tells me if it was either Lewis or Jenson in the front we would have seen different headlines.

    Perhaps I am biased as I support Ferrari but this is my two cents

    1. Al (21prods) says:

      I completely agree. Circuits and aero need rethinking so as to allow passing moves. Good bye DD-diffusers, for example.

      If two pitstops become mandatory, engineers will adjust their cars to match the rule, so within a few races they would be procesional again (though pitting twice instead of once). It’s like KERS last year, those who had it installed used them at the same points, so it made no difference (in fact, non-Kers cars were more competitive as they could use the ballast in a better way, look Brawn and RBR).

      Moreover, we cannot blame Red Bull and Ferrari for going faster than the rest both in qualifiying and race. A change of mandatory pitstops would unfairly penalise them as they did not design their cars for two pitstops (those were not the rules).

      Finally, I have to say that I found the race very interesting. Maybe it is because I like Alonso and Vettel, but I suspect British press would not be so agresive should Hamilton have won from P1 on the grid.

  163. paxdog 57 says:

    We need wheel to wheel battles and overtaking. Lewis had to jump Nico on pitstops because the aerodynamics of a following a race car makes overtaking impossible. Fuel stops allow race strategies but excitement is drivers fighting it out. Can not a sub-delegation of designers (i.e. Brawn/Newey/Head) come up with some rules to limit aero on the cars too allow cars to follow? The KERS may also allow power boosts (raise it to an extra +100 bhp) for race situations.

  164. Jewel says:

    Quite frankly, there is nothing at this stage of the season that can be done to spice up the show. 2010 can pretty much be written off. It is really too late, and FIA risk loosing face if they were to implement an emergency measure which if implemented immediately could turn out to be a rushed and badly decided idea. Then again, if we were to wait for 4 races like Bernie suggests, by then it will be too late. I just do not see unanimous 100% vote coming from
    all teams for changes to be legally made.

    My suggestion is this. Do damage control this year and put experience from learnt mistakes of past years and change the reg for next year.
    I am assuming that none of the teams have started to design or build 2011 cars, so let FIA use the ample time wisely, plan ahead and make changes, which should be…

    1) 2 (or maybe 3) compulsory pit stops. It depends on how much cooperation can be attained from yet to be announced tyre supplier.

    2) It is obvious that

    1. Jewel says:

      2) Aero is the culprit. I cannot specify a percentage, but reduce aero performance by over 50% I say, which would bring the the importance of mechanical grip higher up in the agenda.

  165. Erico says:

    There isn’t a single good option on the poll. The only quick fix is too somehow convince Bridgestone to make tyres that simply won’t hold up long enough and force the drivers into gambles.

    Good luck with that…

    For 2011 onwards, right a decent rulebook which puts grip above downforce. Just do it.

  166. ozzmosis says:

    All refuelling did was reposition the field artificially. Now that it’s banned we will see F1 for what it really is – processional. This is not new.

    Something desperately needs to be done to the car aerodynamics to improve drivers ability to closely follow and overtake each other. If two tyre stops is made mandatory it will have absolutely no effect on the show if nobody can overtake on the track.

  167. Dom Leste says:

    All those proposals in your poll wont change anything, its the Aero dependency that needs to be lessen! Give us the option of less aero in this poll and you have the winner! No point of having different tyres if you can’t do the most simplest thing that is to follow the car ahead of you to pass him! Either get get rid of the diffuser and have limited tunnels underneath or a simplier diffuser and more changes with less aero, less wake.

    That’s the problem not bring back H shifters, steel brakes, different tyres etc…. The problem is too much aero!

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes but the items in the poll are things that can be done short term as that is the pressing need

      1. Francisco says:

        Reverse grid is another short term solution

      2. Jodum5 says:

        Short term solutions are simply stupid. None of the above guarantee any exciting races and will only make the sport look more ham handed.

  168. Alex says:

    It seems that no matter what F1 do, people still think that it is boring. It wasn’t boring for me, as I watched with fascination how Fernando Alonso and Vettel fought on track, trading fast laps, even before the accident. Granted, I loved the race mostly because of the result, but I remember fascinating races in Bahrain, which were still bashed by journalists. In my opinion every race besides Spa and Silverstone is branded as dull and this is simply not true. This race for example was far more interesting to me than the 2009 British GP!

  169. Ashley Hughes says:

    Here we go again! More knee jerk reaction from the powers that be in F1. Don’t make two stops compulsory, please. I don’t watch this sport so that I can see people change tyres quickly….I watch it to see people race cars quickly.

    When I heard that refueling was to be banned for this season I was over the moon; finally I thought, they had seen what I had been seeing for the last fifteen years…. All that refueling did was discourage risk taking and wheel to wheel racing on the track because the drivers always had the mentality of “I’ll wait and pass them in the pits”. That is not racing.

    Unfortunately they obviously hadn’t given it more than a passing thought (as usual) for if they had they would have also got rid of the sheer pointless stupidity of the ‘use both tyre compound’ rule which in effect makes one stop compulsory. What is it with these people that they believe that the world is interested in watching mechanics change tyres? This is supposed to be a sport, not a geek fest.

    If one compulsory stop detracted from the spectacle why introduce two??!!

    The show does need to be tweaked but not by introducing more overly complicated and pointless rules but quite the opposite; by stripping the sport of the layer upon layer of complicated rules that have been slowly destroying F1 since the late 1990′s.

    The answers are in our sport’s history. Ask anybody who has been watching Grand Prix for any length of time and they will tell you that the sport’s Golden period was in the 1980s and early 90s. The depth in the field of drivers was immense with the likes of Prost, Senna, Mansell, Piquet, Lauda, Rosberg and Berger.

    It was more than this though; there was a wonderful simplicity to the formula. Qualifying was in the form of two and laterly one, one hour sessions where the guy who set the fastest lap qualified on pole; pure and simple with none of this convoluted knock out rubbish we have to sit through today. As for the race, they started with enough fuel to see them to the chequerd flag and they chose which ever compound of tyre they fancied for the conditions and they went racing.

    Some would bolt on a harder compound in the hope they could gain track position by making fewer or even no stops for tyres, while others would go with a softer compound knowing that they would have to push in order to be able to make the extra tyre stop(s). Who can forget the sight of Mnasell returning to the track 30 seconds behind his Williams teammate Piquet with 20 laps to go after making a late tyre change at Silverstone in ’87 and using his sticky new tyres to chase down and eventually take the lead on the last lap. Pure drama.

    There were no stupid geeky rules then; no green stripes around some tyres, no grid penalties for using too many engines or gearboxes, no starting the race on the same tyres as Qualifying….hell you had special one lap quali tyres that would shred if they were forced to do two!

    What needs to happen then, in the words of former British Prime Minister John Major, is for F1 to go back to basics. Bridgestone needs to bring a choice of compounds that will provide a very real choice for the teams; one that will, if treated gently, get to the end of the race and a softer one that will give more grip but will fade after 10, 20 laps and then let the teams use them as they will. And to keep it interesting Bridgestone should bring different compounds to different races to keep the teams guessing.

    Give Alonso, Hamilton, Schumacher, Massa, Vettel and Rosberg the same simple 1980′s formula and I’m sure they can serve up another Golden period with all the excitement given to us by their predecessors.

  170. Graham says:

    As a west coast Canadian fan – a lifelong one I may add – dragging myself out of bed at 0400 to watch this debacle was a bit much, even for me.

    The people in F1 never cease to amaze me, they have the collective memory of a herd of goats.

    They introduced fueling in 94 FOR A REASON. We all know aero is the root cause for lack of overtaking, yet nothing is ever done. The tracks that make up the Championship are deteriorating in the most sickening way, yet we’re about to go to India? Abu Dhabi? Are you kidding? China? Anyone?

    I can only hope that this serves to wake up the people running the show in both a regulatory and commercial capacity, and some meaningful change is made to make this worth watching again. The money-mongering decade is over, it’s time to get back to innovation and racing.

    Mosport 1976 this certainly was not. Where is James Hunt punching out marshals??? LOL We all know “the team did a great job,” but for god’s sake, someone say something worth my 0400 wake up call for a change!

    F1 has lost something very critical in the last 10 years, something that made it the sport of reckoning in the 70′s, 80′, and even much of the 90′s. They need to get it back.

  171. JC says:

    We’re back to the 70′s, but with so much better engineering that a change in the order from qualifying is not likely: no breakdowns on top teams, can’t gamble a no-stop strategy due to regulations, and a brave outbraking move can be too costly (flat spot your tires and no chance to recover).
    Either let the teams choose whether to stop for tires or not and we will see some tire management skills, or through out everything and let’s get back to refuelling again !
    James, thanks for your insights, head and shoulders above all other f1 sites !!!

  172. William McCone says:

    Im not sure introducing refueling again would have that great an effect. All we would of had was the same tedious race only with a few passes while a car was pitting. Forcing the teams to pit twice would remove the need for this tyre management that seems to be this years buzzword. Everything is about “making it last” in F1 atm, engines, tyres, gearboxes. If your mind is constantly on saving teh life of something then you arent pushing it as hard as you can and thats not racing.

  173. gavin says:

    It was made boring by drivers being conservative due to the new rules. Make 3 stops compulsary and its gives the driver the ability to push all afternoon without the fear that his tyres are going to be had it at the end. Someone need to remind Bernie that a dog can’t chase a ball if he’s tied to a tree!

  174. MichaelC says:

    When I was listening to the commentry, the opinion seemed to be that the race would take place during the opening corners (which was evident when the early part of the race was shown after the race) and the last 10 laps or so. Events conspired to mean this didn’t happen, it is possible that there will be other races where the end of the race is exciting. However fans will have to sit through an event that is processional to get to the good stuff and that is wrong.

    If the tyres are sub-optimal then drivers would be forced to make extra pit stops and this is probably the easy solution, unfortunately it isn’t one of the choices given here. The trouble is F1 is supposed to be about the cutting edge of motorsport not one where the cars are given sub-standard equipment.

    They broke F1!?

  175. arvi says:



  176. stedevil says:

    I don’t like that poll, because I think all the options there are bad. Especially 2 compulsory stops. Forcing people to eg make 2 stops, because they have to for rule reasons, not because the tires are shot, is the wrong way to go.

    We need tires that last ONLY 20-30% of the full race distance with normal driving, and/or we need drivers to be allowed to not change tires at all. THEN we have a situation where we might see 0-4 or 1-4 stops by the field of drivers. When everybody does just 1 stop (0 being forbidden and 2 just losing you time) there is almost no room what so ever for team strategy and driver tire conserving skills to play out properly.

    The good part though, we don’t need a rule change to make this happen. We only need the tire supplier to bring tires that lasts a lot less. There is no tire war going on with only 1 supplier, so make use of that fact and make sure people need to change tires, a lot, and let the team & drivers them selves make the choice of how many times they need to come in.

  177. kristian says:

    Reintroducing refuelling is as reactionary as reactionary gets.

    It’s the tracks. Tracks should be interesting for the driver. Most, Bahrain included, are not interesting. Any driver who says otherwise can be traced to their emirate related sponsor via a string of money. It’s like watching a band that isn’t having fun playing on stage. The audience feels it. Make it a challenge, make it fast, make it (dare I say?) dangerous. Induce mistakes – include elements that reduce aerodynamic influence on lap time. We still race on a few tracks that have good races year after year. Not necessarily because we see an abundance of overtaking, but because those tracks take drivers to their limit. That’s what we enjoy. Whether that is an audacious passing maneuver, correcting a 4 wheel drift, overcoming mechanical difficulties to pull a result from nowhere, choosing a 4 stop strategy to win or stuffing your car into the wall of champions.

  178. richard hughes says:

    Who thought that making the cars like buses would encourage over taking??

    1. Martin P says:

      Oh I dunno, have you never had a National Express up your chuff on the M1?

      No matter how fast you’re going, you can always be overtaken by a coach!

  179. AlexD says:

    I think people said enough and I will not complain more…

    The biggest problem now is that there was F1 and it was surrounded by passion from inside and outside the paddock.

    It is not so easy to accept that there is nothing there that can make people passionate about it. I only hope that there is going be someone who will know how to change it and make people chose to watch F1 because it really excites them and not because of the legacy.

  180. Andrew S says:

    Maybe Bernie is right we should give it 4 races before slaughtering F1?

    I wonder if teams were a little over cautious – particularly the front runners where points are better than no points? Given that engines also have nore Grand Prix to go through its not just about conserving tyres.

    I would be fearful to make any snap changes after one race but cerrtainly 4 intpo the season if this continues it will make hard watching on a Sunday afternoon.

    I do have a fear that the top ten Q3 shoot out will see teams on the softer (faster) tyre then switching around 1/4 or 1/3 distance into the race onto the harder tyre (or vice versa depending on which compound suits which track conditions).

    I was hoping Rubens in the Williams might make a few places at the start as he was on fresh tyres but that didnt happen.

    Roll on Melbourne and lets see if someone thinks differently and comes up with an innovative strategy that gives us something different to talk about.

  181. I think there’s too many rules i F1. Let the teams have more freedom to do their own things (like McLaren’s new blown wing). And let the drivers have the freedom to drive the whole race with the same set of tyres if they want to. And by the way – ban carbon fibre brakes. Then we should see some overtaking.

  182. David Jerromes says:

    None of the above for me James!

    Although making the drivers use only one tyre type could be better IF that was also used in QUALI.

    I would add another option…, take off the teams wings and have the FIA supply controlled wings.

    At a stroke of the pen ALL the teams would be equalised, with the designers and engineers then left to focus on mechanical grip!

    Job done, racing back, ALL happy and a huge saving for the teams.

  183. A.K. says:

    I think there was overtaking but the TV director wasn’t always on to it.

    We shouldn’t jump to conclusions so quickly. I think there were lots of positives from a racing perspective that hasn’t been mentioned much, like the fact that the front three cars were running within no more than six or seven seconds of each other through most of the race. It could easily have been four or five cars if Webber hadn’t bottled the quali and Hamilton had not lost a place at the start. How many times in the last few years could we have said that about the front of the grid?

  184. lordstaffy says:

    Unfortunately the mantra seems to be “preserve the tyres at all costs”.
    The drivers in this regard will not run too close to each other as this has the opposite effect in so far as it seems to increase tyre wear.
    It was sad to hear Button state that he was not racing flat out and yet this is surely what F1 is all about?

  185. Jani Posta says:

    One type of tyre at all – which longs only 1/3 of race distance.
    Bring back KERS with unlimited usage.
    And down with the wings. :)

  186. Daffid says:

    What’s the point of a poll with 4 options – none of which I nor any F1 fan I know of agree with. Can we have a “none of the above” option please? Where are the options for softer tyres that degrade faster to be introduced mid-season after the next test, or for reduced massively aero next season? Or best of all, a ‘scrap terrible tracks’ option!

    Jumping on the ‘reintroduce refuelling’ bandwagon after one race that was just as dull last year is absurd. No-one was able to get close in the last 1/3 of the race, when fuel levels were identical to last year, the problem is the aero packages combined with harder tyres and smaller front wheels, it has nothing to do with refuelling.

    Compulsory stops would be as bad and as artificial as compulsory refuelling, and would change nothing. Everyone would just stop at the same time and races would be decided by who was held up on release in the pit-lane – which with the new over-cautious 50m rule will likely happen this season anyway.

  187. Ali Unal says:

    “I don’t think it (the Bahrain GP) was much different to some of the other races we had last year to be quite honest with you,” he said.

    The motive behind rule changes was to spice up the show. If it was not different from other races in 2009, then this very comment would only approve that rule changes didn’t work. Self explanatory.

    1. stedevil says:

      There was actually more race passes 2010 than in 07, 08 or 09, even though the track was made a lot longer with a section where passing will never be an option. Also, we lost Kers, something that, love it or hate it, did add passing during races.

      Also, making front tires more narrow, how do you make that out to be about spicing up the show? It might help balance, but definitly not durability against degrading while having the nosecone next to the gearbox of the guy in front.

  188. Dale says:

    The solution to F1′s woes is simple, maybe too simple for those within the F1 world (including you James).
    The answer is less regulation, set F1 free and in a very short time F1 will start to get better and we’ll see what we all want to see, i.e. OVERTAKING!
    The way F1 has been muzzled during the Mosley years is what has led us to this sad state of affairs for what should be one of the most exciting sports in the world.
    Ecclestone rightly state that he thought the Bore-rain race was not so different to a number of others and this begs the question: If he knew this then then why wasn’t something done about it? (as if he really cares so long as his money keeps rolling in)!
    The teams and the FIA were well aware that making the double diffuser legal, even though it went against everything they were aiming for, but what did they do?
    Had either Ferrari or McLaren come up with this last year I don’t believe for a second that Mosley’s corrupt FIA would have ruled in its favour.
    Again the answer is simple, 1) make all teams, before the next race block off their diffusers and 2)other than safety and weight remove all the regulation that hinders F1. Simple.
    Just a note on any cost implications, the blocking off of the diffusers would cost next to nothing in F1 terms and setting the teams free would quickly start to improve the show and in so doing more will watch and more companies will want to get involved with more money flowing into the sport so it would be almost self fueling.
    What has F1 got to loose by doing what I suggest?

    1. James Allen says:

      Within a restricted cost base, you mean?

    2. Trent says:

      I would stipulate single element front and rear wings (as used in Monza in the 80s and 90s), and bring back full ground effects.

      Ground effects cars were banned at the end of ’82 for safety reasons – things have changed now, not least the safety of the circuits.

      The teams don’t like the idea of small wings because of lack of advertising space – but hey, they’ve got the shark fins now…

  189. David Jerromes says:

    None of the above in my book, although possibly with the exception of one tyre, but that should be for QUALI as well.

    My vote would go for the introduction of FIA controlled front/rear wings, then the teams engineers and designers would be forced to concentrate on mechanical grip.

    Competitive and exciting racing with an abundance of overtaking, out-braking moves.

    Good for the teams, saves them a lot of money and for once we’d see the emphasis on drivers not the best aero!

    Just my tuppenny worth James!

  190. phil says:

    The only way to improve the show will be to reduce the affect of the diffuser. We all know this causes the problem with overtaking.

    That isn’t going to happen until next season so this year will all be down to qualifying (unless we have rain or mechanical breakdowns during the race)

    Roll on next season!

    1. As far as I understand the double diffuser simply increases rear grip with minimal impact to the aero wake off the back off the car. Therefore banning double diffusers won’t fix the issue.

  191. Martin Huse says:

    Can anyone explain what happened to Webber’s car at the start? There’s been no media coverage of this episode!

    It strikes me that it caused a potentially dangerous situation just when everyone is trying to gain places. Shouldn’t Redbull have been penalised for this?

    1. James Allen says:

      Oil got sucked up through the fuel system and put out a cloud of smoke on two occasions. The teams who lost out as a result, like Force India, are very angry about it

      1. Estophile says:

        Well, Sutil would most likely have crashed into someone else at some point during the race anyway… At least Force India still scored points. If anyone should feel aggrieved it’s Kubica and Renault.

  192. Mike C says:

    James – the organisers in Bahrain did emphatically not put on a good show. It doesn’t matter what the show is like at the track when the capacity is less than 40,000. That is a tiny fraction of the worldwide audience for the race. It was lovely to see Nigel Mansell sans tache here at home on the television, but I would rather have seen a good race. The same goes for the well tended palm trees in the paddock. Ok, the cars didn’t help them but the pointless track extension made the track less of a challenge and hindered overtaking. The track itself is so characterless on TV the cars may as well be racing around a carpark with cones marking out the track.

    There is only so much that can be done to sort out the potential for processional races within this season, as we can’t really change the technical regs. To make the racing more exciting, we need to introduce the possibility for 2 or more divergent strategies to be about the same pace over the whole race. I.e. a 2 stop race on soft tyres should (with the car going faster on the track) should be about the same amount of time as a 1 stop or a no stop race on hard tyres (with the car going much more slowly on track).

    So if we look at the regulations we can identify what we need to change to make the above situation possible. Please pass this comment on to those “in power.”

    1. no mandatory pit stops whatsoever
    2. bridgestone should bring tyres that are much, much less durable. The hard compound should be marginal for 75 % race distance, and extremely marginal/almost impossible for a 100 % race distance.

    this is a really simple solution and easily achievable quickly and cheaply.

  193. zidane the great says:

    How about let FIA measure amount of “dirty” air behind car in wind tunnel? Ok, we’ll be more flexible, let you play around with exploiting gray areas of rules, let you be smart and so on but… if your car produce X amount of turbulent air 10 or 20 meters behind car you can’t go on with it. I don’t know is it possible to measure this things exactly but I’m sure that they must have had some kind of numbers they wanted to achieve when they were discussing how to improve overtaking. This way there would be less controversy with “illegal” parts of cars, aerodynamic progress would not be stopped but limited with specified value of turbulent air and cars could follow each other closely. And they really shouldn’t make tires that last for 50 laps. If they go off after 30, 35 laps drivers will push because they know they’ll have to pit and drive on fresh ones after.

  194. Mike C says:

    I wanted to further add that making more stops compulsory is only going to change the form of monotony we have. Stops in themselves are not exciting, it is the possibility for varying strategies that is interesting. Therefore let teams run any tyres they like and do as many stops as they like. Just control the life/grip of the tyres to create the possibility that different strategies will result in similar overall race times but with cars running at different paces during the race. that is what creates overtaking.

    long term the technical regs should move to having most of the car’s downforce generated in ground effect and a small amount from upper bodywork, which is the opposite from what we have now. ground effect downforce is less sensitive to wake turbulence. We could do with more mechanical grip compared to aerodynamic grip too.

  195. Colin says:

    Bit disappointing alright. The diffusers are causing most le the trouble along with the conservative tyre compounds. 2 stops would have allowed a bit of passing at least. I think we’re in for quite a few trulli trains this year, and not just from jarno!

  196. Peter Freeman says:

    I am amazed that there is surprise that the racing is now a tire saving procession rather than a fierce fight of men and machinery pushing and being pushed to the very limits. How could it be anything else?

    Heavy cars on soft tires followed by light cars on worn tires..?

    Who’s genius plan was this and how did such stupidity get to govern F1?

  197. Mike C says:

    I am spamming but another way to make F1 more exciting for any new tracks to be built like the traditional tracks we have. 1. fast corners. 2. grass next to the track so if you come off you crash 3. gradient change. IS it a coincidence that the most exciting racing happens at spa, silverstone, monza?

    1. Trent says:

      Great question. The new tracks are not the worst for overtaking but they certainly don’t match the likes of Spa.

      Why are new tracks not based around the Spa model? They take up too much land?

      Sadly, the one criteria circuits are NOT judged on is their ability to produce an entertaining race. If this was the case, Barcelona would have been dropped years ago.

  198. Rasco says:

    The need to get radical with the aerodynamics, maybe even have a standardised front and rear wing so cars can follow closely to each other.

    They could look at Kers again but rather than use it every lap, make it so the longer it’s not used the more benefit it is when it is used. Drivers could throw dummy moves to opponents to trick them into using there kers boost, then plan an attack where they use all the saved up energy to make an effective passing manover.

  199. Shane says:

    I must admit, as a ‘hardcore’ F1 fan, I found Sundays race very boring. The problem with all this is F1. Other forms of open wheel racing don’t suffer like this. But then if we make wings standard, and loose the ingenious designs to get round other issues all standard, you may as well watch a1gp.
    There is no way to ever fix this. Back in the days before front and rear wings drivers could be minutes apart. Now they are seconds and we still aren’t satisfied. The easiest thing to do from now is standardise the brakes. Longer breaking zones = bigger opportunity. It still won’t fix the problem, but it might help.

  200. Steph says:

    For a change there’s little controversy for the press to pick through, and no carnage, and no fairytale, so they’re trying to create a sensation out of the unsensational. I mean, really, was this race more a procession than any other race I’ve seen? No. It wasn’t as bad as people are saying.

  201. HD says:

    The key has to be to allow the cars to draft one another. Reducing the turbulence behind cars will enable more overtaking.

    It has to be said also that the cars looked very slow of the line on Sunday.

    1. Hendo says:

      Does McLaren’s trick to stall the rear wing and reduce down-force mean that there is less ‘dirty air’ and therefore easier for a car behind them to draft?

  202. I don’t think any of the poll answers would actually help. People forget that the Bahrain GP last year was pretty dull, so we shouldn’t judge on a single race – that kind of knee jerk reaction is precisely why F1 keeps getting itself into these messes.

    Removing the double diffusers next year will help, but the long term answer has to be making the cars harder to drive. The reason most races where it rains are so exciting is that the cars are difficult to drive on the limit, the drivers make mistakes, and the drivers can really make a difference.

    So reduce downforce, make the tyres less durable and less grippy, increase engine power, whatever it takes to make the cars more difficult to drive and less predictable on the limit. Sort the men from the boys and help them put on a show.

  203. Alistair Blevins says:

    I’ve spent a considerable amount of time and energy trying to convince friends that F1 is worth watching, arguing against their comments that it was dull and processional.

    It’s pretty hard to argue my case now.

    Unless something positive happens I fear I, and many other armchair enthusiasts, will lose as much face as F1!

    I’ll keep the faith for the time being and supplement my viewing with MotoGP. I need to get my overtaking fix somehow…

  204. Mark Edwards says:

    I simply see no point in lobbying for refueling to return this year! It simply won’t happen – it would be yet another own goal for F1 in eyes of the man in the street!

    Best solution would be to bring in the mandatory 2 stops in the hope that drivers push in the 3 stints as before.

    Maybe another viable option would be to only use the s-soft and soft compounds at every race without a mandatory 2 stop policy. This would be a sure fire way to liven things up. Although Bridgestone would probably be anti as their tyres would be falling apart at some circuits!

  205. Rusty0256 says:

    I honestly think the problem for me was that the sense of anticipation before this race was like nothing I had experienced in my 20 odd years of waiting for the opening round of the F-1 World Championship.

    The excitement generated was almost a ‘Perfect Storm’ with closely matched driver pairings (and pairings that appealed to many in an unusually Nationalistic way), the Schumacher and Massa comebacks, Alonso’s fist drive for Ferrari, the apparent closeness in testing of the big four teams and the first race for 3 brand new teams. This race, so it seemed, had it all.

    However unrealistically, what we wanted to see was an almighty close battle between 2 or 3 of the top drivers. We wanted to see Schumacher using his wily experience to wear down one of the young stars (Vettel or Hamilton or Rosberg) diving through a gap that wasn’t there to grab a late podium. We wanted a satisfaction that was a reflection of the anticipation that has been building for months.

    And of course, with the way the rules have been framed, the way the cars have been designed and with the circuits they race on (especially the new ‘improved’ Mickey-Mouse Bahrain track), such expectation was never likely to be realised.

    Nevertheless, the cold reality of such an uneventful, processional race, one that was so far removed from what we hoped and wished for, left a feeling that at some level, we had been cheated.

  206. Nic W says:

    I think the format we have now is based on the presumption that it was the drivers fault there was no overtaking, they didn’t want to risk it. If the truth is that they actually can’t overtake in the current cars, after all this is what they have been saying for a number of years, then we are doomed to a number of processional races.
    I really hope not, the internet has been the only inprovement to our enjoyment of the sport for a number of years (and the rise of Brawn last year). Surely we must be able to find a way of allowing good racing too. Unfortunately the rules being made up by the competitors is always going to hinder this.

  207. Ben says:

    Will Buxton commented on the saturday how the GP2 race, which is normally a cracker and a category which gives close racing, was dull as dish water. And he said that it probably meant the F1 race on the sunday would be likewise dull. The changes made to F1 weren’t necessarily the cause of the dull race, there was something else which made the GP2 dull as well. That is the track.

  208. Hendo says:

    There’s no way known that re-fueling can be introduced this year. Short-cuts and compulsory pit-stops are gimicky. The only practical solutiion to improving the ‘show’,(that fits in with the rules) is by using soft tyres that only last about 1/3 distance. If you conserve your tyres or your car set-up preserves them, you might get away with 2 stops but if you go hard you might need 3 stops.

  209. Dave Walker says:

    I’m not a fan of the new section of the Bahrain track as I felt it disrupted the flow of the old circuit which I felt was fine and one of the best circuits on the calender. It was a shame to hear Martin Brundle not be as enthusiastic about this circuit as he often proclaims it as ‘the best of the new circuits’.

    I do think we need to give this format a chance. Melbourne often throws up freak result and Shanghai/Sepang usually has a chance of rain. Once we reach Barcelona, then we can maybe question these new rules.

    In my opinion though, I think they should re-introduce refuelling but not have the fuel-adjusted grid rules for quali. Quali in Bahrain was what it should be – the fastest man on pole position over a single lap.

  210. alex m says:

    Hard to describe how bad it was, as you say James, “the inescapable conclusion that all the races are likely to follow the same monotonous pattern”.

    Key words, inescapable and monotonous, I cannot see how we are going to escape from the worst year of F1 ever. I have only missed one race in the last decade, but may well now just watch the edited 2 minute version on the News, that should easily capture all the action and leave plenty of time for interviews.

    How could something that seemed to promising turn out so awful ?

  211. Phil E says:

    Given how much the season had been bigged-up beforehand, I suspect this was the inevitable reaction. It seems people were expecting two hours of wheel-to-wheel stuff when it was quite clear from winter testing that the current aero regulations in F1 would stop that – and anyone who can remember the years BR (Before Refuelling) will know that’s generally not how aero-dominated F1 racing worked anyhow.

    It’s unfortunate that the season opened in Bahrain in many respects. The track was not helpful to the teams in their efforts to get to grips with the new regulations. Presumably the new track section was built on the assumption that the cars would have far less downforce by now – although if they had, I shudder to think what the lap times would have been. 2 mins+ is far too long already.

  212. Road of Bones says:

    It’s all very well for the Bahrainis to put on a fabulous display of former champions etc, but what did we, the punters see of it on TV? A bit of footage of DC trundling around in an old merc. Gosh.

    I laughed out loud when the Crown Prince said the new infield section was to improve the spectacle – any F1 fan could see it was going to kill the racing. Has anyone told him the old engineering truism: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? I firmly believe the circuit was at fault for the dreary procession we had to endure on Sunday – the schizophrenic nature of the slow & twisty/fast & flowing layout meant there were car set-up compromises & over-conservatism with the tyres.

    Roll on Melbourne, and a proper circuit! The season starts properly next weekend, IMO.

  213. Andy says:

    I think everyone has been too quick to point the finger at F1.

    Yes, it didn’t help that like every year it was hyped up with statements like “This F1 Season will be the most exciting ever!”. However, the key word in that statement is “Season” – one race is too quick to draw conclusions, and Bahrain has always been a dull race anyway and not a good place to hold a season opener.

    I don’t find myself agreeing with Bernie very often, but in this case he’s right – there is no point jumping to a quick fix for the show, the new regulations will need a bit of time to bed in before teams are ready to take a risk.

    Unfortunately we were denied a potentially exciting fight between Alonso and Vettel towards the end, hopefully Australia will provide a more exciting show.

    Is it any coincidence that F1 has once again been branded “boring” when we have a Ferrari win, just as we used to have in the really boring times with Michael Schumacher winning week in, week out?

    Don’t panic… as a great man once said: “Anything can happen in Formula One, and it usually does!”

  214. Leon says:

    Hi James, do you think it would help to bring softer tyres to the races? These will go off quicker than the medium tyre did at Bahrain and will force teams to make another stop, without making it a rule. Some teams might even try to push for one stop, while the rest 2-stops. By having more wear on the tyres, different strategies could emerge.
    Making a 2nd stop compulsory wouldn’t change anything, as everyone would still be pitting at the same times. You need the different strategies.

  215. Ronnie Stone says:

    refuelling, refuelling, refuelling!!!
    I want to se people like Shumi fight through in a light car for position, not waddle around in a big fueltank behind another fuel tanker. 1993 or whenever it was, was a million years ago so sure, have a ‘classic race’ for the old timers who invent these rules to ruin a so called, sport, but leave F1 along for Gods sake or we’ll all ‘vote with the remote’! It’s gonna have to be the US car series until this improves. Bernie & the FIA, you just about lost one of a million fans, plus the rest will follow, then the TV contract.

  216. Jonathan says:

    It’s all in Bridgestone’s hands… they just need to bring softer compounds to races so that the tyres will degrade faster.

  217. Tufty says:

    As much as I love F1 the race was a total bore for me, nothing happened no overtaking, or any other action, hope it improves in Australia.

  218. Josh says:

    No refueling always meant that race strategy would focus purely around tyre degredation. So with Bridgestone making ‘soft’ tyres that last 25 laps of a 2 minute circuit it’s no wonder there’s a lack of action. Add to this skinny front tyres, double diffusers, adjustable front wings, engines that have to last several grand prix and Bahrain’s twisty nature and you’re left with a dull Grand Prix.

    As you say James the most depressing thing is that with the engine, driver’s survival cell, roll structures, all impact structures and the front and rear wheels effectively design frozen can we expect things to change? Probably not.

    It seems to me the temporary answer for this season would be for Bridgestone to soften their tyre compounds. Someone starting on Softs would need to pit early for hards and possibly still pit again. Likewise someone starting on hards would need to pit again for hards/softs. Kill this silly ‘must use both types of tyre for the race’ rule and get the teams to pit more than once because they have to.

    Amazing that in 1997 Ferrari made several big revisions to their car throughout the season, tested heavily at Maranello/Mugello, were allowed to design and use as many engines as they wanted and it produced a very entertaining world championship. We were all complaining about the lack of overtaking then but by Sunday’s standards 1997 was an absolute stormer! The cost of the ‘wasteful’ but entertaining 1997 F1 season to Ferrari? around £130 million. Williams won that season spending less than £70 million!

  219. Andrew Halliday says:

    I don’t think any of the suggestions to spice up F1 are any good. When I first started watching the sport there was an hour for qualifying where teams could do what they wanted within 12 laps then a race where mechanical changr and type changes were allowed before and during. F1 has gone too far down the road of silly rules designed to make the race interesting but it creates a false economy. No fuel restrictions for qualifying is a step in the right direction, now we need to get rid of this business of starting the race on qualifying tyres and absolutely avoid any rules that bring in enforced pit stops or anything similar.

  220. Paul Mc says:

    Too many rule and regulation changes over numerous years has left the sport in bad shape. What exactly was wrong with F1 back in the early 2000′s? I want to see a return to the 12 lap Quali format and of course re introduce refueling.

    At the start of the race the cars should be at their lightest, allowing for quicker action and more overtaking.

  221. Matt W says:

    After attending the British GP in 2006 I became aware that being at a GP gives a totally different picture of how a race looks on the TV. I thought that British GP was superb but on the TV it was one of the dullest races of the season.

    Bahrain was a very weak start to the season James. Obviously they do need to test the current format at a few other circuits, to see if the track makes a difference but the FIA shouldn’t shy away from change where needed.

    One thing that I’ll never understand is why they changed the formula after 2007 and 2008 when the seasons were as exciting as we could possibly hope for.

    1. James Allen says:

      Can you imagine how dull Valencia will be with these rules?

      1. Mattw says:

        Just as dull as it has been the last two years?

      2. Flintster says:

        Am I missing something! I know the race was boring at the weekend but we have had a fair share of boring races over the years! I actually feel asleep during Abu Ahabi GP! I think were all over-reacting to this. Yes I would like refueling back but the teams wont agree to anything this year so its all a nonsence….!

      3. thef1geek says:

        Part of the reason it is getting so much mention in the press is because it was the press who were billing it as the best season in years. Now they realise they had hyped it up so much, they would look idiots if they kept up the story by writing about how exciting race 1 was. So now they point fingers at the FIA, teams, tracks etc., so the press can fill column inches with yet more moaning. It is no surprise that most of the coverage on dullness has come from the British press. I love the other extreme though with the Italian press telling us all that Alonso is a special one! Brilliant!

    2. PaulL says:

      Exactly regarding your point about 07 and 08, I would add 06 to that as well. We had 3 consecutive seasons where the championship was decided at the last race.. I didn’t see the need for wholesale changes to the formula either.

      1. zvoni says:

        Yes, championships were really decided in the last one or two races, but this still does not mean the races were terribly interesting! So, what would we like to see more? I would rather see action packed races with lot of overtaking for the leading positions and championship decided in September, than this!

      2. Jonathan says:

        Most of the changes we’ve seen have been to cut costs, not to improve the show. Some were on the recommendation of the OWG, which was well-intentioned but failed utterly.

  222. Brad says:

    I thought the 8 engine per year, and 5 races per gearbox rule, had more negative effect on the weekend than no re-fueling.

    Everyone was in endurance race mode all weekend.

    How many times did we hear “think about next week with that engine” or Sauber dropping out for fear of damaging a gearbox and losing 5 grid spots in Melbourne.

  223. Girts says:

    Actually Bahrain Grand Prix was not that boring if you look at the overtake statistics. There were 19 passes after the 1st lap, which is more than in most of 2009 season races. I, however, also had the feeling that the race was pretty dull. And I have been a fan for around 13 years. The reasons?
    1) Passes happened mostly in the middle / back of the field.
    2) Cameramen probably did not do their job good enough ie. we did not see all the passes on TV.
    3) The expectations before the race were unreasonably high.
    4) The rulemakers underestimated the role of refuelling and how much the “old” pit stop strategy contributed to the action. Moreover, they have not managed to fill the empty place that arised due to refuelling ban.

    And I believe that 4) is the most important point. The fans were used to refuelling as an exciting part of the race and FIA could not replace it with something as much thrilling. For example, much more overtaking.

    I remember the European Grand Prix in Valencia last year. There was no overtaking at all (except maybe in the 1st lap) but the amazing fight between Hamilton and Barrichello in the pits saved the day. This is probably not the way that motorsports should be but it is anyway better than the funeral train that F-1 grid is now turning into. Do you think that Bahrain GP with its 19 passes was boring? You have not seen the real snore-athons yet. Just wait until Circuit de Catalunya, streets of Valencia and Hungaroring…

    Of course, one should wait for a couple of races before making the final judgement. But I tend to believe that return to the refuelling pit stops will turn out to be the only way to keep F1 alive.

  224. Steve says:

    I don’t think you can necessarily blame the dull race on the lack of refueling. After all, over the last 60 years there have been plenty of races without refueling and without any pitstops at all. So a return to refueling, with almost almost all of the ovetaking happening in the pits would be an improvement? Surely we want overtaking to happen on the circuit, so give the engineers complete freedom to solve the problem and it will happen. For example, why is the front wing adjustment limited to manual and a few times a lap? Make it fully automatic to help when following and trying to overtake. Also, I remember years ago, Patrick Head saying something like we spend two days determining the fastest cars, and then we start them in front. Should we expect much overtaking? I find qualifying, except for the last five minutes, extremely dull anyway, so how about something really strange. Qualifying at the first race only, then subsequently determined by championship position with the first ten inverted. So in summary, make it possible to overtake, don’t start the fastest cars in the front, and then you might want to consider banning pitstops altogether, to insure all overtakeing takes place on the circuit.

  225. Tom says:

    Why is there no option for, and seemingly no discussion of the real reason the racing is suffering?…

    Aerodynamic grip vs. mechanical grip

    Isn’t it this that causes most of the issue? Cars can’t follow closely because of their reliance on downforce which means once they get close their performance suffers and you end up with a faster car that in practice cant pass….

    Why (other than banning double diffusers) is there apparrently no disscusion on this aspect?

    shortcuts, mandatory stops and other fakery are not what i want to see in the sport, therefore i have no voted in your poll James.

  226. Steve says:


    I cannot agree with any of your options in the title.

    If anything, there should be a freeing up of the tyre rules. Make Bridgestone bring all 4 compounds to a race, (I know that this would increase costs, so in order to prevent this increase in costs, the FIA could allow teams only 3 sets of each type of tyre, so the total number of tyres brought to each event would be exactly the same).

    Further to this, remove the requirement to stop for tyres, so that teams have the option to not stop at all, so some drivers could believe that they were able to run the entire distance on one set of tyres, and others could run but NEED to stop. This could be combined with still requiring the drivers to start the race on the set of tyres they finished qualifying with so that if you decide to start on hard tyres and try to run through without a stop, you are unlikely to be on the front row of the grid. However, if you start on the soft tyres, and intend to stop, you’ll have more chance of being on the front of the grid, and then can go faster at the beginning, but will need to stop, almost certainly meaning that they then have fresher tyres, allowing the possibility of overtaking!

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s not Bridgestone’s fault that we are in this position and they are not about to take risks with their brand to save the day

      1. Jason C says:

        But that’s part of the problem, James. We want excitement; the sponsors and suppliers want a marketing opportunity. Those goals aren’t the same and sometimes are directly opposed.

  227. SPCoulson says:

    Hi James,

    I have added a comment on your poll. However, something just struck me.

    This is probably an easy one to work out actually.

    How many overtakes happened during the race (compared to last year). Take out all the car failures, I mean RACING overtakes.

    I wonder if the real problem we have now is that drivers not testing the cars as much and with the engine restrictions means that so much is going into the conservation of the car rather than racing it.

    In the meantime – I think the real winner of this Grand Prix was the commentators who managed to keep F1 alive.



  228. zidane says:

    How about let FIA measure amount of “dirty” air behind car in wind tunnel? Ok, we’ll be more flexible, let you play around with exploiting gray areas of rules, let you be smart and so on but… if your car produce X amount of turbulent air 10 or 20 meters behind car you can’t go on with it. I don’t know is it possible to measure this things exactly but I’m sure that they must have had some kind of numbers they wanted to achieve when they were discussing how to improve overtaking. This way there would be less controversy with “illegal” parts of cars, aerodynamic progress would not be stopped but limited with specified value of turbulent air and cars could follow each other closely. And they really shouldn’t make tires that last for 50 laps. If they go off after 30, 35 laps drivers will push because they know they’ll have to pit and drive on fresh ones after.

  229. John says:

    The show of 17 World Champions was a great effort and I’m sure the paddock atmosphere was a special one for this Grand Prix.
    However, for those of us who are not lucky enough to go out to these countries, these things just don’t matter.
    I’m a massive F1 fan, have a geeky amount of trivia in my head but even I was bored. We’ve been spoilt with a succession of exciting seasons which has boosted interest and that has to be kept up.
    And don’t get me started on the points…

  230. David Emlyn says:

    Hi James,

    there’s been enough comments on your previous stories so I won’t go into too much detail. interesting that the majority of people (at the moment) have voted for reintroducing refueling. I’d have to agree with a comment from an earlier story and say that banning refueling has merely highlighted that its almost improssible for F1 cars to follow each other these days. Yes overtaking used to happen during the refueling era but most of it was done in the pits – persoanlly I’d rather see it on track and don’t think that bringing refueling back is the answer.

    Until the issue of ‘dirty air’ is looked at I don’t think any of the above options will make this season any more interesting.

  231. Johnnyboy says:

    If you’re regularly logging in to this website, then I guess that like me, you’re an F1 enthusiast who tunes in to as much TV coverage as possible. For an enthusiast, there’s much more than just a race going on in F1, and that’s what helps me to maintain my interest. However, what concerns me is that the casual observer….the guy who watches from lights to flag only….will very soon switch off if we continue to have processions like Bahrain. F1 analysts and journos, viewing things from their comfort zone, will say that it wasn’t as bad as everyone is making out and that lots of technical stuff was going on. We know that the ‘hardcore’ fans will watch whatever is happening, regardless of quality of content. I’ve seen plenty of tedious football nil nils and drawn test matches and I don’t expect every F1 race to be a thriller. But those ‘casual’ observers, who I guess are the majority of viewers, will soon drift away if things don’t improve quickly. And we all know that less viewers = less sponsors = less money = less TV = less teams = less racing etc etc. Other sports seeking sponsors must be rubbing their hands at seeing Sundays race. I don’t claim to have the answers, and Bernie may yet be proven right….only time will tell. But something needs to happen very, very soon.

  232. parafone says:

    All of these poll options are unfair – the only one really worth consideration is ‘Make drivers use only one type of tyre’. They should pick a tyre before the weekend (out of say, 3/4 choices) and stick with it in every session. Some will get it right and some wrong.

    But really, I’m not going to vote, because the refuelling ban did not show us the implication of not refuelling, it showed us, yet again, that the problem is the aerodynamics of the F1 cars of today.

    If you add an option called “Get rid of most of the downforce” that would ACTUALLY be enforced (unlike 2009), I would vote that.

    2 compulsory stops is yet more artificial flavouring to a soup that right now, tastes disgusting.

  233. Hendo says:

    Its too late to introduce re-fuelling for this year. The only solution without changing the rules is to run really soft tyres that will need to be changed 2-3 times during a race. Also reduce the number of pit crew to 4 like in ALMS.

    (sorry not sure if previous message went through or not)

  234. Rob Jackson says:

    OK it may not have been great but any F1 after a four month gap is better than no F1.

    I can remember post refuelling races being thrilling so that on its own isn’t to blame. I think we need to give the new format time to bed in and for the teams to adjust. We had a lot of conservative race strategies on Sunday and that will changes as things develop over the year.

    Finally, I think anything would have been an anti-climax after all the pre-season hype.

    F1 is back and needs out support not a further twist of the knife.

  235. James D says:

    I don’t much like any of the options on the poll at the bottom of this article.

    What they should have done is banned double diffusers for the ’10 season. Brawn et al used their innovation to their advantage, now everyone has it, it is pointless. Much like McLarens cool rear straightline aero. When it becomes ubiqitous it becomes un-necessary – for now let them enjoy their innovation.

    Regarding tyres, all four compounds should be available every weekend, the teams can select what they want, divise their own stratergy – different compounds on different corners if they fancy it.

  236. Rob Jackson says:

    OK it may not have been great but any F1 after a four month gap is better than no F1.

    I can remember post refuelling races being thrilling so that on its own isn’t to blame. I think we need to give the new format time to bed in and for the teams to adjust. We had a lot of conservative race strategies on Sunday and that will changes as things develop over the year.

    Finally, I think anything would have been an anti-climax after all the pre-season hype.

    F1 is back and needs our support not a further twist of the knife.

  237. Adam says:

    I’m going to reserve judgement and not jump on the “change the rules” bandwaggon right away.
    Jenson was firt to admit he was looking after the tires a bit too much and being conservative. As the season progresses and the need for big points becomes greater we may well see a few do or die overtaking moves and drivers thrashing the tires making for exciting closing laps.

    But I agree with the press on one aspect, that was one of the most boring races in recent memory

  238. shaun says:

    When I posted my vote the largest option was to reintroduce refuelling (at 44%). Why? The reason it was banned was because people were bored of overtaking in the pits and trying to keep up with strategies created by some of the greatest strategic minds (and computers) on Earth! Try to out-think or second guess Ross Brawn? I don’t think so.
    It was hoped to push the spectacle back to the track and banning refuelling was a response to the greatest share-holders ie us, the fans. In some way we are responsible for the constant changes but I also think that the decision makers are not the best for the job either. Trying to get FOTA or OWG to agree on things is proving ineffective as it is trying to run a sport by committee (I sound like Bernie I know) but they also carry their own agendas. I heard Martin Brundle and DC say that bringing in any changes that would disadvantage a team would be like asking a turkey to vote for Xmas. The group comes second to the individual, as you would expect in a sport as competitive as F1.
    My point is that the rules need stabilising but they need to be created by those who have a thorough understanding of the sport but no inherent bias, which rules out FOTA and possibly OWG.
    Oh, and move away from the aero-engineering which buggers up the chances for the guy behind.

  239. zvoni says:

    Sorry to say but none of the proposed measures would change anything! All this talk about two pit stops and other fire extinguishing ways and methods is useless! Overtaking Working Group took almost two years and produced nothing! Why? Because they were probably too constrained by preserving already established interests.
    There is a fundamental question we have to answer first. Is the F1 predominantly competition of drivers or constructors? All the changes in the last 15 or so years 1) increased the role and importance of the technological gadgets and breakthroughs 2) launched the costs sky high 3) made driver skills practically irrelevant 4) introduced some incredibly boring and sterile tracks and 5) and consequently produced boring, completely uninteresting races.
    If the answer to the above question is predominantly constructors (“pinnacle of the motor sport technology, green F1…all of that make me puke, huh”), then this trend is going to continue without any realistic chance to be reverted.
    If the answer is predominantly drivers then ban all the gadgets, diffusers, automatic gearboxes, millions of buttons on the steering wheels, make flat bottoms mandatory from axis to axis, allow front wing and rear wing only, with no winglets whatsoever in any form, and preferably return some of the old classic tracks in the calendar. And then within these margins make the regulation permanent for a few years. For heavens, do not change regulation every year!!!
    Costs will go down, drivers will gain importance, there will be more fight and overtaking, more spectacle, more interest and more fan satisfaction.And constructors would still be able to benefit from this.

    1. shaun says:

      Spot on.

  240. All those options are horrible and contrived. The sport must lose much of the aero on the cars, otherwise poor races will continue. Another issue is the fact that the “upgraded” Bahrain circuit was a dreadful mistake – it is awful, just awful in every way.

    A quick note to the viewers out there – there was just as much overtaking on Sunday as there was at the last few Bahrain Grand Prix – you simply didn’t have the fuel stops to distract you from what most motor racing is really like.

  241. Nigel says:

    I was really excited before the race but now I feel a sense of anti- climax. Watching drivers manage their tyres is not exciting. Prost may have been the master of strategy but we all loved Mansell’s “balls out” approach. They need to change something or else this season may become one of the most over-hyped sporting events of all time – serious egg on face for FIA

  242. Just A Bloke (Martin) says:

    I don’t want to vote for any of those things.

    I would like a push to pass button, maybe that could help people get round the aero problem. You need to be able to follow closely to overtake unless you have a power advantage.

  243. M Li says:

    Crazy idea but how about banning rear wings. They cause the turbulent air that cars have difficulty following. It will also massively reduce downforce and reliance on aerodynamic grip. This will create higher straight speeds and lower cornering speeds therefore increasing the braking distance for overtaking. But it will require both bridestone and the car designers to refocus on mechanical grip.

  244. David Hodge says:

    James, I am sure the display of living world champions, their cars and the atmosphere in the paddock was great… but I was sitting at home watching on the telly like the vast majority of people. It was boring – no other way to describe it.

    Sadly, I don’t think that tricking around the odd rule (for example two mandatory pitstops) will help either. The fundamental problem is that there is no incentive to race. And the only way to address that is severely limit aerodynamic grip and make mechanical grip the holy grail for all teams to seek.

    Unfortunately, we are likely to have these processions for some races to come in what should have been a classic season, given the driver/team combinations. What a waste.

  245. I chose to spend Sunday down the allotment and watch the race on iPlayer. Boy, did I choose wisely!

    What a bore. I had hoped that with the tyres going off that there may have been some incidents and up and down in performance of cars – hopefully leading to a very interesting last 10 or 15 races. Didn’t happen did it?

    My girlfriend’s neighbour, Margaret, in her 70s, bumped into me down at the allotment the next Monday morning and it turns out she is a die hard F1 fan (to my great surprise, you would never guess) and that is why she wasn’t there on her allotment. I don’t think she was too impressed either.

    She doesn’t read your website James, she doesn’t have t’internet.

  246. Doug says:

    The Formula is broken.

    Two tyre stops won’t solve this problem. Nor will refuelling – it goes much further than that. Exacerbated by the fundamental problem of cars not being able to get near enough to overtake – partially caused by aggressive diffusers , which will be gone next year – and as Sutil stated, getting close means burning out your tires, so, basically, don’t try, it will ruin your overall positioning, there is no real incentive to race this year. That is the problem.

    Sure, there is incentive to get near pole, or be eleventh, but the whole thing is screwed up, from a logical perspective.

    It has really been over-engineered.

    Terribly sad to see, but this year, unlike last, will be a bit dull.

    Still, we’ll probably have something to really look forward to in 2011, when the DD’s are gone and, perhaps, perchance, there will be a homogenised compound for the entire race.
    Just like the good old days, eh Bernie!

    Who said Kers was a bad idea?

  247. Imoldgreg says:

    There is no way that they will re-introduce refuelling. Its too expensive and time consuming to start messing with the cars after the season has started, as far as I can see the only sensible idea is to make 2 tyre changes compulsory.

    It was a pretty dull race, but BE is right to a certain extent, you will get dull races sometimes, and Bahrain has never been a classic. Although I detest the shortcut idea, I assumed BE was joking when he first mentioned it, now I am beginning to think he is serious. That is worrying!

    Shame there wasnt more coverage of the World Champions and thier cars, would liked to have seen that.

    Im looking onto Australia in a positive mood and will give it a couple more races before I think something has to change.

  248. Adrian says:

    The Bahrain GP reminded me of F1 of old. Nothing wrong with that in my view but F1 has to adapt itself to todays low attention span audiences. Showing cars going round with nothing happening will make people switch over. So can I choose two of that list. (1) Only use the supersoft tyre and (2) make 2 stops compulsory – drivers will never be in ‘tyre conservation mode’ and might push a bit harder

  249. Deutz says:

    I love the concept of watching the fastest cars and drivers racing for victory without the interference of refuelling however the current cars still do not allow for close racing or passing as there is too much aero disturbance to the following car. Webber was clearly faster but could get near button to pass.
    Although I found Sundays race boring I’d like to see a few more races before any changes are introduced.

  250. AP says:

    Dear James,

    i believe you that the show was great in Bahrain, but for me as a TV viewer it made a dull race even duller! It felt weird to watch a race taking place in the middle of nowhere with virtually no spectators — that was my impression from the TV…

    Regarding the race itself, i think the failed spark plug in the Red Bull robbed us of some exciting 10-15 last laps and a great fight between Seb and Fernando.

    Had the plug not failed, maybe we would be taking now of a race as exciting as Imola 2005 or 2006.

    All in all, we should be a bit more patient before judging the new system.

    keep up the good work!

  251. Steve dearsley says:

    Hi James, thanks for the website..it’s brilliant.

    I’m gutted by the weekend, I’ve spent the while winter period looking forward to the start of the season….and fell asleep half way through this procession !!

    I ended up watching some old moto gp on you tube just to show the wife what racing should be like !!!

  252. Fergal says:

    Hi James,

    I was so disappointed by Bahrain it actually makes me question why I bother watching… there are so many other motorsports that have gotten it right!

    We need to remove the reliance on aero downforce and get back to good old mechanical grip let the cars draft and who ever has the biggest balls gets the apex!

    Imagine the cost saving too…

    fingers crossed for Oz,

  253. Gunner says:

    More time for family life, food, gardening, running, sex, drinks and so on this year. No need at all to watch races live. Thanks heaven för my hard disk equipped box!

  254. Gareth Jones says:

    I think everyone is over-reacting. Yes it was a boring procession, but we have had boring races in the past (with re-fuelling) and we will have boring races in the future. I think everyone felt let down because of all the pre-season hype. The drivers and the teams seemed to be playing very conservatively, and the new track didn’t help. I think it is wrong to make knee-jerk changes after just one race. Give it a few more races before making any changes, although it is hard to see what can be done mid-season.

    I haven’t voted as I am not convinced that any of those ideas will work. Allowing short cuts is the most ludicrous idea I have ever heard.

    The fundamental problem is that it is difficult for drivers to get closer than 1 second to the car in front. My understanding of aero is that the flow from the diffuser is quite smooth so that isn’t the problem, but the flow off the rear wing and the rear wheels is very turbulent. A couple of years ago there was a proposal for something called the downwash generating wing which was supposed to address this issue. I don’t know why it was taken forward, but maybe we should look at this again.

  255. Derrick Coonghe says:

    The teams put a lot of effort into race simulation in testing. Do the FIA carry out any race simulations – real or virtual – when they dream up these rule changes?

    If they did might they not immediately see the flaws in their plans and adjust the rules accordingly before committing he teams to spending millions of their budgets.

  256. Glen says:

    It wasn’t too bad of a race. There were three drivers at one point fighting for the lead. I think the internet and web2 have changed the way people respond to things. It is very easy for people to call things boring and complain. In my armchair opinion there was too much money being spent and as Radio4 once asked ‘what is the point in F1?’. This resource restricted and more sustainable sport, probably reflects generally where culture is heading in society. Maybe the sport has grown too big and the loss of some audience isn’t a bad thing.

  257. jonas says:

    I cant think WHAT box to tick in your poll.

    I was shocked this weekend when I heard someone say this was the 7th Bahrain GP … I struggle to remember any details from any Bahrain GP except for the moment Schumacher and Alonso met briefly at turn 1 in ’06 (?), so I’ll begin panicking if the next two or three races are just as bad.

    Do you think the lack of testing can be blamed? I got the impression that the tyres had lasted a lot better than everyone expected them too … perhaps if the drivers and teams knew just how hard and fast they could go on each set over a race distance would have allowed them to go for it a whole lot more ….

  258. Buttoneer says:

    All the nice positives you mention in the article were only available for the very few people who appeared to turn up to watch the race at the circuit.

    I think you may have been blinded by the WDC and historic car bling.

  259. Craig says:

    Simplify the front and rear wings. No winglets. No barge boards and wider front tyres

  260. Ginger says:

    An own goal was scored at the very point when F1 could have attracted many more fans. The build up to the season has been great with the return of MSC and the new teams and 4 WDC.

    Whilst I agree that we shouldn’t have a knee jerk reaction F1 one should also act swiftly if the racing doesn’t improve.

    If we had a classic to start the season the excitment would have grown…

    I was thinking about Spa 2008 the other day and how I couldn’t sit down in the closing laps and had my hands on my head. I know that this just isn’t possible every race weekend and that was due to the weather and Lewis dropping it at the start but we have to do better than Sunday.

  261. Jason C says:

    Hang on, wasn’t it prediced by, hmmm, everyone in the whole effing world that the refuelling ban would make things more dull?

    I don’t know what was that wrong with the show in previous years, because I certainly enjoyed it.

    Yes, let’s give the new format a chance. And I agree there has – and is – too much rule tinkering in F1. But if this format turns out to be worse than the one before it, then we shouldn’t be afraid to go back to that. However, I think too much egg will be on too many faces for that to happen.

  262. parthi says:

    I think Bridgestone just need to introduce grippier, less durable tyres that go off after 10 laps

  263. xenny says:

    I think part of the problem is that qualifying is too efficient.

    Think back to non elimination qualifying, and it was fairly frequent for some faster drivers to not get a perfect lap, and have a fast car with some slower cars in front of them. The 3 stage qualifying does too good a job of selecting the fastest drivers.

  264. Paul says:

    Sorry James,
    I love F1 and have for the last 40 years but this race was dreadfull.I never even pressed the red button afterwards for the post race discussions, becuase for me thier was nothing to talk about.Again as usual J Leggard was awfull. As for Bernie’s comments well we only have to look at the Gold medal system idea, its alright for people to say give it a chance waite and see after another 4 races but if I had paid good money to fly out thier to watch that race I would want my money back. Best thing they can do to spice things up is get rid of Bernie!!

  265. Ohm says:

    I can’t believe I’m about to say this but I agree with Bernie. Some races in previous years were also alittle dull e.g. Valencia and Singapore so give it a few races to see if patterns emerge.

    But James, there was something I thought would’ve happened but never did and that is some drivers opting to go for it but trash the types but pit maybe 2 or 3 times. It would’ve probably added abit of spectacle. Any idea why that didn’t happen? Is it just because teams fear they won’t be able to overtake and wreck the strategy?

  266. Andy W says:

    Hi James

    I would go further and introduce 3 pit stops so 4 sets of tyres are used, let them work tactics out then, the race was not so bad, problem was that everyone was covering everyone else’s changes. Now that they have data from a full race i expect the tactics to differ and proper racing to start. Hard to see how thet round the problem of passing with dirty air on full tanks though.

    great site, keep up the good work.

  267. Scribe says:

    http://bit.ly/9Cy2Ls great discussion there of why refueling isn’t going to save anything. To be honnest I think the new Formula requires more tweaks than whole scale change.

    First of all get rid of the quali tyre rule. This’ll mean long first stints leading to sprints on the soft tyre at the end. Loosen the Parc Ferme and ride hight rules, these seem there purley to put turbulence on the cars which hinders further the difficulty in overtaking.

    Don’t be to sure about mandatory two stops just yet, we have till china. Basically my veiw on the subject is thus, the new formula didn’t work in Bahrain which is not to say that it doesn’t work. So use the flyaways to judge what needs to be done. Then implement it for Spain.

  268. Joe Consiglio says:

    The ban on refuelling is not the problem here. The ban on refuelling PLUS the silly 2 tyre compound rule is the problem. It has simply forced the teams to all go the same way with the strategy, hence processional races.

    With the tyres the way they are, at the moment the optimum strategy for all teams is to either 0 stop or 1 stop. Of course the teams are not allowed to 0 stop so everyone is going for a 1 stop. With the tyres being so durable 2 stops just isnt a viable option.

    To fix this, either:
    a) get rid of the silly 2 compound rule, therefore allowing 0 stops.
    b) force Bridgestone to make the tyres more marginal, which in turn will switch the optimum tyre strategy to 2 stops (with 1 stop or 3 stop both viable options depending on circuit).

  269. Mosq says:

    Isn’t it stupid to talk about reintroducing refuel – teams invested $$ and so much time to redesign cars!
    I think compulsory pitstops is a kind of artificial, while usage of one type of tire may work. At the same time all leaders may switch to medium in this case…

  270. Med says:

    Perhaps now’s the time to bring back more tyre suppliers (or for me to duck and cover for suggesting such a thing)

    Since Bridgestone have no competition, they’re under no compulsion to build marginal tyres and give themselves an image of having tyres that fall apart – especially if this ends up being their final season and thus the one that stays in the memory.

    If there’s tyre competition then I’d imagine it’s more likely the tyres are going to be more marginal as the manufacturers try to out-do each other, if that got thrown in with the compulsory use of both compounds, there’d be more room for variety.


  271. DaveF1 says:

    Refueling is just an artificial way of creating ‘excitement’ in a race. I want to see drivers racing not pit stop crews.

    Racing should take place on the track not in the pits.

  272. Geoff says:

    Hi James,

    An interesting article, as always. I was going to vote in your poll, but didn’t like any of the answers! My preference would be to leave the whole concept of pitstops open, and let the drivers stop and choose whatever tyres they want. Or drive straight through the race with no stops at all. Or mix tyres (eg three prime and one option) if they want to

    As for short cuts, it is surely possible to design corners with wider braking areas, allowing more than one line through the same piece of tarmac, without the need to introduce artifical rules that allow a driver to skip a chicane for a certain number of times during a race.

  273. Francisco says:

    I have to agree with James and also for the overall opinion. With James because for the eagle fan that follows the times every lap on the internet still it is great show, for the overall opinion because for the average viewer it is as boring as it gets (excluding the first lap).

    Here it goes my 2p contribution.
    I have watching the show for a number of years and by far the best GP are the ones with rain or when the top drivers are coming from the back of the field.

    For rain not much we can do, however for the second issue we could penalise the winners with some time for the next qualification.

    To make up an example, for the next GP in Australia:
    During Q3 we add a second to the best lap for Alonso.
    Add 9/10 ths to Massa
    Add 8/10 ths to Hamilton
    Add 7/10 ths to Vettel
    …and so on and so forth
    The 11th gets no penalty in time.

    With this we make sure that Alonso will be 7th or 8th on his best lap. The Rubens, Kubica, Sutil,.. have a chance to start from pole. The time penalty has to be fair against your result in your last GP. It might be a 1/10th or maybe 2/10th to be more dramatic, the point is to see the top drivers coming from the back.

    Nothing new here, but any other measure will not work in my opinion.

    What to you think? James should you add this option to poll.

  274. Jenny says:

    The guys that work in F1 are clever enough to design cars that exploit the regulation and take performance to the edge of what’s possible. Surely the same guys, or people who used to do the job and are now in positions of impartiality, could come up with some regulations that would make it difficult (impossible) to make a car that is so hard to follow and therefore overtake?

    I seem to recall Ross Brawn suggesting that the FIA should come to people like him with a set of proposed rules and ask them where the loopholes were so that they could close them.

    The race was boring, I didn’t need the best sports writers in the country to tell me that, and maybe it was no more boring than some of the races last year (good grief, they may have even hit on rules that make Valencia more of a snoozefest!) but the point is that the new rules and the fantastic driver and car lineup promised so much more. Big fail.

  275. jude says:

    How could Bahrain have been boring? Alonso won !!!!

  276. Ron Colverson says:

    The answer, of course, is none of the above.
    Mandated pitstops and the rest are all just ways of mixing up the order so as to put faster cars behind slower ones and artificially generate a few overtaking moves. Once the cars are back ‘in order’ there is no more overtaking. Genuine excitement comes from action on the track. In other words, dicing and overtaking. The all-time classic is Villeneuve and Arnoux, Dijon 79 but there are many others.
    Sometimes you get some great overtaking when a driver is out of natural position and fights back through the pack. We rarely see dicing though, as overtaking is only possible in curent F1 when there’s a significant performance difference; once overtaken a driver has almost no chance of getting the place back.
    Some of the most exciting racing I’ve ever seen was a Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch in the 90′s – countless changes for the lead with the pack bunched unbelievably tightly. When the cars can follow each other all the way through a corner with the nose literally under the back of the gearbox in front, then you get racing excitement like you wouldn’t believe. If you want another example look at kart racing.
    Which brings me directly to the root cause of the problem – aero. If it was up to me, there would be no more wings and defusers. Period. The agreement against getting rid of the huge wings used to be that the teams didn’t want to lose the sponsors’ logo space but having got the budgets down, there’s now no requirement for them. Also front and rear wings have little relevance for road cars so in the modern politically correct green F1, getting rid of them is another bonus. It’s a win all round, the tyres will have to be larger which will stop a spinning car more quickly. Braking distances will be longer providing more overtaking opportunities.
    Fiddling with the aerodynamic rules as in recent years is pointless as designers will always get most of not all of it back as has been proved. Fundamental change is the only way the resolve this. And it’s not too late to do it for next year if there is a will.
    As to what to do this year – who knows? Maybe getting Bridgestone to just bring a single super-soft tyre. Artificial yes, but desperate measures are needed.

  277. Rayhan Omar says:

    Is everyone just missing the point entirely?

    The reason that Bahrain was boring is because there was no incentive to push due to cars not being able to follow each other closely and therefore there being little to no chance of overtaking.

    Therefore the solution isn’t this ridiculous tinkering with more stops or reducing the quality of the tyres. They will not solve the problem.

    The solution is to ENSURE that there is less turbulence behind the car, so that a following car can indeed follow and get into a position to jostle, overtake and therefore excite not only the audience, but the driver.

    Michael Schumacher said it best with his comments and facial expression: he was bored.

    The double decker diffuser needs to go, the rear wings need to be higher and most likely protuding appendages on the body that create rearward turbulence (but help balance the car) need to be looked at.

    Reduce the turbulence behind the car = increased overtaking opportunity to excite the drivers into action

  278. Will says:


    This is all very sad and disappointing given the anticpation surrounding the forthcoming season.

    Are the people who devise the rules ever held accountable for the nature of races? Is it likely that meetings are being held behind closed doors this week with some people getting a severe telling off?

    I often perceive that the F1 ruling body or ‘powers that be’ are rather out of touch with F1 fans and that they don’t expect to have to answer to anyone for the decisions they make.

    Do you have any thoughts on this?

    Thanks for a very insightful blog.

  279. rafa says:

    Off topic James: there are talks of Mercedes, McLaren and Renault having to change the diffusers because their design is found to breach the spirit of the rule, i.e. far to extreme interpretation. Any thoughts on that and how it might affect the coming races?

  280. Frankie Allen says:

    For me, this was the straw that broke the camels back. We have seen the introduction of new tracks where racing can never be described as the main aim. One Monaco is far more than enough for the fans, but the fans are not very high in this pecking order, nor is racing. Happy to schedule races in a probable monsoon just to increase the one off ratings a fraction. Bernie can squabble and screw as much out of the venues as possible, happy to accept the exorbitant costs the fans are left with, if they want to watch their sport live.

    As a sport, F1 has clearly demonstrated that it has been permeated with corruption to every corner. With everything looking so bleak after manufacturers start disappearing like rats from a sinking ship, a ray of light shines through the clouds. Todt, though having to still clear Mosley’s dunny, looks a breath of fresh air. Then the unbelievable happened and Schumacher decided to come back to the sport. All of a sudden things did not look so bleak, only to find it’s about as exciting as watching your granny stuck on the M25, during a bank holiday weekend.

    Even the slowest of village idiots could see having to carry round an extra 100kg of luggage is not going to improve racing. You may as well start putting sumo wrestlers on race horses, to see what effects burst blood vessels have on the spectacle.

    This one act of no refuelling and it’s effect on racing is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything bad that has happened within the sport over the last few years has culminated in this one act, with fans treated as the total mugs, happy to put up with any crap put before them. Enough is enough, recording grand prix’s will be the order of the day from now on, fast forwarding through the dross that is presented until that becomes too monotonous.

  281. Quick Nick Rules says:

    I dont know why FOTA dont look into reverse grids – it can be implemented as soon as the next race, costs no money at all, means no changes to the cars and would improve the standard of the racing massively.

    Award points for qualifying (as this is pretty much what is happening at the moment anyway, with Sunday’s points going to those who qualified the best) and let the proper racing commence – imagine if Kovalainen and The Hulk’s quality battle on Sunday had been for the lead rather than for 19th, it would have been epic.

    The novelty of the gap between the leading car and those at the back decreasing as the race went on rather than vice versa would be tremendous.

    Some may call it artificial, and say it isnt for the purists, but judging by the hugely negative response to Sunday’s yawnfest, the purists might not hang around for much longer, let alone the ‘man on the street’ that the FIA seem so desperate to appeal to.

    1. Stevie P says:

      I’ve long thought this was an answer, but people would simply sand-bag in quali, ignoring the incentive to qualify 1st, because the reward for qualifying 18th (before the reversal) and then sauntering through to 1st in the race would be greater.

      But working upon that theme, why not start in reverse position from the previous race? So Alonso would start last in Oz and see if he could make it through.

      Ok, so that means no qualifying session… how would people feel about that? I dunno. But keep the practise sessions, maybe move them to a Saturday? Would reduce costs too!

      1. Stevie P says:

        Oh damn! I forgot they can’t over-take can they? They get too close to the car in front and ruin their tyres, over-heat their engine etc, etc…

    2. Rich C says:

      Because the last 2 minutes of Qualy is the most exciting “racing” of the weekend, lets try this:
      1) Give full race points for qualy positions;
      2) *Randomly reverse *most but not all of the grid.

  282. James W says:

    I dont think there is a lot that can be done in the short term to fix the problems. It’s obviously something that needs to be considered for next year’s championship and beyond.

    I’ve said this a lot of people on other forums and to a few mates, but what the cars need is KERS or some form of turbo to generate that little bit extra speed, excitment and overtaking opportunity. With KERS, Alonso could probably have overtaken Vettel, the Ferrari was clearly faster over the race distance.

    It’s still in the regs as well, so I cant see why Mclaren and Ferrari dont bring it back. They’ve both developed good system, so much so they’re going to be using them in future cars. It just seem’s like a big waste of money. KERS and double diffusers cost the teams an absolute killing. No doubt there will be something similar next winter when the teams search for the next exploit.

    I’m a little nervous about F1 at the moment. After the last 5 seasons it cannot afford to have a lull. It needs to keep up the tempo or risk losing a lot of fans. I will never stop watching, but I fear others might.

  283. PaulL says:

    Bring back skirts!

    1. Rusty0256 says:

      I agree.

      Formula 1 has never been the same since Lella Lombardi lost her drive.

  284. Dominic Beesley says:

    I really think much of the blame for the poor show this weekend goes to FOM’s TV coverage.

    When they took over the coverage for a while it was great. But this weekend it was absolutely woeful. The director was too slow on every change. We’d quite often be treated to five seconds of heat haze off the tarmac after a car had just gone past (and been mostly missed) when elsewhere there was an exciting battle going on.

    There was a fair bit of overtaking and it was ALL MISSED! if we got a replay it was of the actual pass.

    Also far too many closeups of drivers helmets going round when what you want to see is a wide shot of the three cars that are racing each other!

    To make it interesting more wide shots, follow a battle for a few few laps to let us get excited. NO CLOSEUPS or artisitic shots please! And start using the on-board in the main feed. I know it’s available on the interactive but I want to watch the race! I don’t want to do my own directing…though if I did I couldn’t make a worse job of it!


  285. Peter L says:

    None of the above! The answer is to make whatever changes are necessary to the aerodynamics of the cars so that they can actually race each other. I would take the 1985 McLaren-TAG as a starting point:simple wings, front and rear, no raised nose, no barge boards: clean and simple. Or maybe no wings at all. And when the clever designers find a loophole in the new regulations, the FIA should simply say: it’s bad for the sport, so it’s banned. As Ecclestone says, F1 teams are in the business of serving up entertaining racing; they do not exist so that brilliant engineers can indulge themselves by finding ever more absurd ways to make a car go round a track a fraction faster within regulations that are poorly drafted and feebly enforced. For this season? Very soft tyres would help, but, as you say, why should Bridgestone agree to that?

  286. Aaron Maas says:

    Hi James

    I’m a very passionate f1 fan who has not missed a Grand Prix since 1994. Indeed the first race of the year was a bit disappointing for its hype, however let’s not get too carried away!
    Bahrain is not the most exciting venue to host a season opener. In fact, I can’t really remember a cracker of a GP ever being fought out at that deserted dust bowl!
    I might be a little biased as I live in Melbourne, but the season opener should have been in my home city, not staged in the desert.

    Melbourne has produced some interesting GP’s over the years and never fails to create incidents and safety cars to mix up a race. It’s also a city with a warm and exciting atmosphere, has a great back drop for TV and is filled with fans that have the passion for motor sport.

    I believe Bahrain, with its rubbish new section, is largely to blame for the processional first race. I agree with Mr Ecclestone, that we should give the new rules 4 races before we crucify them!


    James I’m a bit fan and it was great to see you on One HD, I’m really looking forward to hearing your comments throughout the season, I’ll be at Albert Park and I hope I get the chance to meet you in person. One day the BBC will come to their senses and put you behind the mic with Martin where you belong….

    Cheers Aaron Maas

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks – we’ll be busy in Melbourne with lots of live TV on all three days for Network 10. See you there

  287. Pierre says:

    I’ve just seen Ecclestone comments on Autosport. I completely agree (for once!) with him, and it is exactly what I posted here yesterday morning.
    Do whatever you want (even do nothing) for the 2010 championship it’ll just be a patch, but please, go and really worry about the true and real problem for 2011 and the future, problem which is only that cars are so efficient and creating so much turbulences that it is not possible to get close to the car ahead and try a move. It’s not new, we have that for years and years. It they don’t solve this problem whatever the solution is, we’ll still have boring races.
    I still love F1, but I’m also looking Nascar’s Cup since a few years. There are things I do not agree with (Chase format for example), it’s true the cars are standardised, I will never compare it to F1, but at the end, it’s still the best drivers who are winning! And we can see some great battles and moves on the track.
    Why Formula 1 does not move to longer races (maybe 400 or even 500 kms)? As a fan, I’d love it and I think it would really improve the show.

    1. Steve W says:

      I totally agree with Bernie Ecclestone on this. The efforts need to be put into finding a long term solution – ie. making it easier to cars to follow each other more closely. Any short term artificial fixes will only paper over the cracks. Introducing a mandatory 2nd pitstop is a classic example of this. If there is an early safety car, a team could make it’s two pitstops on consecutive laps, and then complete the rest of the race without another stop, so you would still have the same problem as in Bahrain. Bernie’s suggestion of just using one tyre compound in the race, the super softs, is the most sensible short-term fix I’ve heard yet, as at least it would be difficult to make these last for the half the race.

      1. James Allen says:

        That is one of the options on the poll

      2. Pierre says:

        Agree for the short-term fix to use only one kind of tyre for the race. This is also what Alain Prost said. He also complained that FIA once again (with the new rules) didn’t do as deep as it should have.

  288. Matthew Hopson says:

    I don’t think the return of refuelling would make much of a difference. Overtaking (outside of the pits) has been gradually decreasing for a number of years, with 2009 featuring one of the lowest amounts. There are some statistics floating around the Internet that show as much and it makes for sad reading.

    I don’t think any solution can be found through strategy. One strategy is always going to be more advantageous than another, which means the major contenders will always do much the same thing. Nor are pit-based overtakes much fun either as you know when and what will happen.

    Perhaps a ban of computer-generated strategies and pit-to-car radio (except for safety related communications) would help spice things up a bit as it would put the emphasis back on the driver come race day. Rather than Alonso being told to back-off and save his car, it would then have to be his decision alone. Would he have backed off Vettel had he not been told to?

    And it is something that could be implemented this season should things not improve in Australia.

  289. David T says:

    Every F1 fan knows the problem is the turbulence caused by the aerodynamics of the cars. Everyone involved in the sport knows it. They’ve just got to get on and solve the problem otherwise stories of ‘processions’ and ‘dull races’ will continue.

    It’s not like Bernie and everyone else in F1 don’t know, its that they continue to ignore the issue and deflect it by introducing petty rules and regs which still and will never solve the problem.

  290. Johnnyboy says:

    Why has refuelling been banned anyway? I remember being at Brands back in the 80′s when, on race morning, Brabham announced their intention to re-fuel during the race. Sadly, I think the car broke down before it got far enough into the race, but the prospect of another element made the atmosphere fantastic. My point is that the tension created on that day remains today. People will say its dangerous etc, but so are lots of other aspects of F1. I can only remember 1 serious fire (Verstappen), and the occasional fuel hose being dragged down the pit lane just adds to the show. No-one wants to see people getting hurt, but removing the risk equals removing the spectacle. Bring back refuelling………..possibly twice during the race!!

  291. Trent says:

    This race has truly exposed the laughably inept efforts of the ‘Overtaking Working Group’.

    I truly hope you can grill them about this at some stage in the very near future James – they should be totally embarrassed by their output.

    Unless I’m mistaken, this group consists of members of the Ferrari, McLaren and Renault teams. There’s too much self-interest for these guys to ever produce anything for the good of the sport – and the proof is there for all to see.

  292. ozpom says:

    Seriously, as far as delivery on expectation, the weekend was truly appalling in terms of action, spectacle and excitement. Viewing from Australia I’ll be considering seriously whether I bother watching any of the late nighters we have to endure (haven’t seen Bernie leaping at dropping more European events for more even spread of time-zone friendly ones for this side of the world).

    And if the Melbourne GP is as boring I don’t think my wife and I will be attending in future years, having attended annually since 2001. It’d be hard to continue to justify the budget spend for corporate hospitality if there’s nothing of note to watch. There are enough other sporting events on the annual calendar, after all.

    I know it’s only race one of the season, but for Bernie to say they should wait until after the flyaways before doing anything seems to me to be quite telling in terms of his disregard for the paying public who may be up for another three of these non-events. Interesting to see how things play out. A shame really.

  293. tobi-wan says:

    I’ve followed F1 for over 30 years and rarely missed a race.

    The poll doesn’t have the choice for less aero which is fundamentally the problem.

    Forget re-fuelling, but make the tyre choice open, i.e. the teams can make a few or as many pit-stops as they like and the tyre supplier has be to less conservative. No soft tyre should last as long as it does.

    I still think F1 is bizarre in that the competitors can veto rule changes and the governing body is not as strong as it should be. However, I hope Martin Brundle is correct and this race was just down to a Micky Mouse track and everyone being too safe. Let’s hope the drivers and teams go for it in Melbourne.

  294. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Won’t just changing tyre compounds lead to a return to simply more overtaking done in the pits?

    What about improving brake performance to aid overtaking. Drivers have to be very careful on the brakes with heavy cars at the moment, and have to carefully preserve brakes throughout the whole race.

    I understand that Williams blocked any increase in brake thickness for 2010. Would longer life brakes lead to drivers being more adventurous out on the track and result in more overtaking?

  295. Chris R says:

    I am a little frustrated. A great majority of the comments are all pointing to the real problem, but it seems F1 is trying silly little rules and not dealing with the real issue head on.

    Someone needs to take control and bring the overtaking back to F1. The fans know this, im sure every team knows this, and hence the “overtaking committee” knows this.

    And what answer do they come up with, more pitstops… I thought these people were meant to be smart.

    My question to you James. Who or what is stopping the regulations being changed to clean up the air a car leaves behind them? It’s the blindingly obvious problem.

  296. Freespeech says:

    With the greatest respect James but your ‘pole’ is just another example how those really close to F1 cannot see the bigger picture, I would vote for none of these!
    The solution to all F1′s woes is simple, take rules away and let the teams and brains shine – they will given half the chance.
    If the teams were let loose from the over bearing rulebook we may even start to a few cars that look different as well as perform differently.
    Free up the sport (sport now there’s a joke) and the teams will sort it out.
    As DC writes in today’s Telegraph, Max Mosley has a lot to answer for.
    How F1 can claim to be the pinnacle of motor sport after Sunday’s race is simply crazy I bet Montoya is having a laugh :)
    I’d bet all I have had F1 been set free the likes of Honda would never have left F1.

  297. Alex Petrov says:

    David Coulthard has hit out at Max Mosley, blaming the former FIA President for Sunday’s boring Bahrain Grand Prix.
    “Revs limited to 18,000rpm, the ban on in-race refuelling, standardised gearboxes and engines, a single tyre supplier; all initiatives introduced during his tenure at the FIA, all of which appear to have done little for the show if Bahrain is anything to go on.

  298. SK says:

    I think it’s not a matter of tires, re-fuelling or any of these. The problem goes way back. The sport started declining since Max Mosley decided that Ferrari’s domination in the first part of the Noughties had to come to an end. Therefore he did everything he could to remove advantage from Ferrari, while inevitably affecting other big teams such as Mclaren, and the competition between them.

    Since then it makes no difference how succesful a team has been in the past, its history, its technological knowledge & capabilities or the revenue that it generates.

    There is a budget cap, an engine cap, there is a cap for everything in F1 nowadays therefore making all the cars virtually the same. All these make overtaking almost impossible, for obvious reasons.

    It’s sad that the fans rely on technical failures as the only way to give a twist to a race. If it wasnt for technical failures there wouldnt be a reason for the race to take place. Qualifying will turn out to be the exciting part of the race weekend, or dare I say the least boring?

  299. Ali Unal says:

    What we have been experiencing in last four or five years (maybe more) is that people now couldn’t watch the races without Live Timing. As there have been barely an action on track, hardcore F1 fans who wants to see some racing were forced to look at numbers instead of cars, because they tell more than those machines could tell.

    This is because team principles watch numbers doodling in their huge screens instead of cars circulating around. Cars do not promise action or racing any more, it’s just the numbers that matter, that could tell what’s happening, who’s fast or slow, or who could pass the other.

    This has to stop. Enjoy of Formula 1 fans shouldn’t be dependent on live timing. This is only due to aerodynamic refinement over refinement, which doubles (even triples) the effective car length on straights.

    Brakes are also very efficient in these days. Guys are able to brake very late into corners which also lessen the chance of overtaking. That said, brakes are necessary for security, an important aspect which shouldn’t be compromised.

    So, bring back mechanical revolution, more different tyre compounds, and trash the aerodynamic development. I don’t want to follow numbers any more, just wheel to wheel cars.

  300. Shane says:

    And why wasn’t he penalised for not sitting in his start box correctly?

  301. dulait says:

    I’ve been an ardent F1 fan for 24 years.

    I, like many others was eagerly anticipating the start of the new season last weekend. I had an uneasy suspicion beforehand that the borefest that subsequently materialised was highly probable.

    I honestly have to admit, Sunday was the first time in 24 years, I considered changing the channel mid race. The Ferrari dominance of 2002 was entertaining in comparison to Sunday’s tripe.

    But the salient point is, if fans like myself and others like me could foresee this happening how can the powers that be continually fail to see not only this but all other shortcomings? Double diffusers should have been outlawed for 2010 as soon as Brawn’s were declared legal. I distinctly recall Mario Theissen stating at the time that if double diffusers were declared legal, it would prove hugely detrimental to overtaking prospects. And so it has proved.

    After 3 races in 2009, double diffuser or no double diffuser, it was clear that the overtaking committee hadn’t gone far enough and more action was required, but the establishment just chose to ignore it. Now with marque 2 of the double diffuser design, it’s acually worse than it ever was. But guess what? Instead of banning them for 2010, they’ve been banned for 2011 instead. More wasted investment in a time of economic depression. Utter madness.

    Further eccentric measures along the lines of the last minute medals proposal which was thankfully vetoed at the 11th hour in advance of the 2009 season, coupled with the most recent measure of prohibiting driver physios on the grid, all lend further credence to the state of disarray F1 currently finds itself. Need I mention KERS and BMW’s insistence against all others to persist with it in 2009 only for them jettison it mid season? It’s still legal in 2010, but FOTA have agreed not to use it? Rules within rules. Total convolution.

    So where to from here? Martin Whitmarsh’s proposal of marginal tyres is unlikely to come in to play. It’s highly unlikely Bridgestone would accede to demands to develop a tyre to intentionally lose all grip in an attempt to improve racing. It would be marketing suicide. Mandatory secondary stops might improve matters slightly, but it only promotes off track overtaking in the pitlane. The blunt reality is, with the cars in their current configuration, its’s simply impossible to pass. Witness Nico Rosberg reeling in of Vettel on latter stages on Sunday. Even though he was lapping 2 to 3 seconds faster than Vettel, as soon as he got into the dirty air he simply lost all grip preventing him from launching an overtaking attempt. Ditto Alonso on Vettel, pre engine malady.

    Perhaps we’re judging to soon, but in my view 2010 is already a write off from an organic overtaking perspective.

    But 2011 can be saved. Please let those in authority realise this before it’s too late. Let’s just hope F1 still has a fan base to play to by then.

  302. Mac says:

    You can’t line up cars in speed order and then expect slower cars to overtake.

    2 things need to happen:

    (1) reverse grids (in blocks of 5 or 10 cars)

    (2) to create more than one racing line and to insist that every driver uses both racing lines at least XX times in each race. You could do this with a pot of white paint and a few sensors, or at some tracks you could construct additional/alternative track space to allow for 2 racing lines. Could you imagine an inner and an outer Spoon or 130r in Japan?

    1. Alex Petrov says:

      Sorry, but the idea with reverse grid is complete rubbish. Do you really imagine Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton easily overtaking Button, Schumacher in Barcelona, Monaco and so on? Instead of fastest one let’s the luckiest win all the time!

      Racing lines with sensors… Maybe it’s simpler just to through out all diffusers and go back to mechanical grip – no sensors, no alternative racing lines – just pure racing like Alonso outside Schumacher in 130R.

  303. Vik says:

    With the exception of 2007 – which was, admittedly *mental*, but due, in large part, to the on and off track clash between rookie Lewis and and WDC Fernando, there are really just a handful of races a year that are edge of the seat stuff. Most of the action comes from first lap clashes, spectacular offs, the odd refuelling blunder, Adrian Sutil and the political chicanery of the FIA, FOTA and Bernie.

    Think back to last year, for instance. What was the best race? Spa with Raikonnen and Fisi? Was there ever really a chance that the Italian would edge past the Ice Man? Wasn’t it really just two cars following each other closely for successive laps in the charming Belgian countryside? Ok, then, its Brasil. But, Brasil is always good, because its at the end of the season and drivers are desperate. Like Button. He was desperate and we enjoyed the spectacle.

    Nothing has changed in a generation. F1 stopped being about overtaking years ago. But, because the mainstream press got interested, due to two British champions and the return of Schumacher, the cracks in F1 have become evident to a much wider audience. And its embarrassing for everyone who loves the sport.

    I mean, how did the pinnacle of motorsport become about nursing cars around the track for 2 hours to protect tyres?

    1. Rich C says:

      The pinnacle of motorsport these days is LMP.

  304. Richard says:

    In the short term I think the only choice is for Bridgestone to only bring softs to the track, and then introduce a really super soft tyre.

    James, I disagree with your comment that it would damage Bridgestones reputation.

    Call it the ‘Supersprint’ tyre – designed for the fastest possible lap time – ‘the ultimate speed tyre’ etc. It just needs marketing correctly, not exactly a hard job.

    Bridgestone should think why people buy their tyres. I’m sure a focus group will say ‘long life’ is the most important feature of a tyre – but in reality for the place in the market they occupy people buy their tyres for their grip.
    Either the BMW/Sporty drivers who want grip for speed or people like me who want the car to stick to the road for safety as it has my wife and kids in it.

    People who want long life/economy buy mid range tyres from quickfit.

    1. Rich C says:

      If bridgestone thought that F1 does anything for them they’d be staying in, not leaving. And you may not have noticed, but ppl who buy tires for the performance of their performance cars are in the vast, vast minority!

      1. Richard says:

        If you read up on Bridgestone you will discover that in the car tyre market they specifically target the high end of the market. They hold a large share of that market and are not actively targeting the lower end of the market (if you are bored try reading the european rubber journal or some of the bridgestone strategy documents). The market for performance tyres is 1) larger than you think and 2) significantly more profitable.

        Now bridgestone are well known, I assume they think they don’t need F1 any more. So in that case it doesn’t matter if they produce a fast wearing tyre or go out with a bang with a really high performance soft tyre.

        Bernie could even offer to pay for the tyres!

      2. Rich C says:

        As if Bernie would pay for anything himself!

        And – correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this already the last season for Bridgestone? Hardly seems lkely they’d be spending anything on R&D.

  305. MikeR says:

    With F1, by definition, the pinnacle of motorsport, the performance tolerances and differentials for the front-runners at least are always going to be marginal. With the current aero packages, overtaking is therefore always going to be difficult in the absence of mistakes or car failures.
    Although other contributors have rightly identified aero as root cause, diluting this also dilutes the whole formula.
    The only way around it is to increase the opportunities for strategy and driver skill to make the difference. This could take the form of any or all of shorter life tyres, smaller contact patches, refuelling options, short-cuts around traffic, maybe even maximum fuel allowances for the eco-warriors. Mandating two stops or specific tyres does nothing to increase teams’ strategic options – there needs to be more flexibility not less to allow a greater variety of approaches to the race.

  306. DK says:

    Can we find another sport that changes rules every year?

  307. piotr says:

    I think the promise of a great season can’t be reviewed straight after the first GP. Especially if it is the first one in the post-refuelling era. We all know how big a promise all the winter brake news made of this new season. We also know how short the winter testing was. If you look closer at some of the drivers’ or engineers’ comments on Bahrain GP results you will notice that they’re all still in a learning phase of gathered data. I am watching this sport since 1989 and frankly there was always some dull races among those epic ones. There was some dull seasons as well in the past, for example the four consecutive seasons from 2001 to 2004 with Michael Schumacher breaking sport’s all time records and then breaking them again (hope all Schumi’s fans will forgive me this as it wasn’t his records that made the sport dull but lack of competitiveness). The luck factor played always big part in this sport, especially in the past when cars weren’t that reliable as they are now. Jean Alesi knows a bit about it just as Fernando Alonso benefited greatly from it last Sunday. More often it were the DNFs (not the format of racing regulations) that made this sport unpredictable thus less dull.

    I totally agree with you James, that the Formula One supremos went too far and made all those constantly introduced changes look like a sport in it’s own right, never mind the whole tradition of F1. They spit on sport’s continuity and tradition very recently by setting new point-scoring system. How on earth any contemporary or future F1 driver will be able to compare his own achievements in the sport with those of his great idols from the past, when even scoring system ain’t the same any more? Isn’t it enough of a blow to hear them all champions saying that Formula One nowadays is much less demanding on drivers than it used to be “back in a days”? Who the hell wants to see green Formula One? This sport should stay as arrogant and blind to world’s problems as daring and fearless it’s drivers should be. This would only make it unique thus more interesting to all of us – future owners of a all-electric road cars. We need Formula One addicted to the raw speed not to the technical regulations’ chaos. Would anybody like to see boxers being asked to fight using little pillows instead of their feasts? The reality is for now at least that we are witnessing the championships that are being won not by the driver on track but much earlier by his engineers back in the factory, exploiting unclear and constantly changing technical rules. Last season proved that quite clearly. There always will be some ingenious engineers with their ingenious designs no matter how old and rusty the rules are, but do they really need all that mess with changing regulations? Do drivers want to see their championship chances being ruined in the middle of the season, because just revealed rules for next season are so fundamentally different that their teams need to shift their resources completely to stay competitive come new season? My answer is NO.

  308. F1 Dave says:

    Mandatory pit stops would make things worse!

    Look at other series that have adopted Mandatory stops in the past,
    The racing in DTM has gone down,
    likewise in V8 Supercars,
    The racing in A1GP went down a lot with the introduction of a 2nd mandatory stop.
    ChampCar went with mandatory stops in 2004 & the level of racing decreased & they ended up scrapping it.

    Mandatory stops add nothing & take a lot away, looking at every other series thats ever added them shows us this!!!!

  309. Karl says:

    Perhaps we should take a different approach and make the two tires even more different. Different enough that you would “want” to use the soft tires for the most part of the race (say 3-5s faster than hard). Considering the total pit time observed from the first race (30-33s it seemed), the actual cost is probably around 25s on average (JA you’d know better than me..). If soft can pull off 30s in 10-15 laps over hard everyone would use it, we would have multiple pit stops back, everyone would be a bit more adacious b/c you can change the tires soon if you make a mistake.

  310. fausta says:

    Maybe they should make starts where the drivers have to run to their cars first. Didn’t they have this style somewhere in the past?

    1. Rich C says:

      WOuldn’t work: it takes them about 5 minutes to get into the cockpit these days!

  311. Peter Hotston says:

    Why can’t one of your options be no compulsory tyre changes. It would add some variation, if everybody must use both tyres then everybody must do the same and variation is lost.
    Variation means strategy can make a come back as well as skill in using the tyres. No refuelling is not the problem. Enforcement of being the same is…. that is why GP2 is boring. Yes I did sit in the main stand for a few minutes on Sunday to watch a little bit of the GP2.

  312. Michael Prestia says:

    The race was a typical F1 race. Most of the races are processions. The first 6 races last year were a cake walk for Jenson and Brawn. Didn’t hear a single British paper calling for a radical rule change or a ban on double diffusers. It is one race and there are 4 teams with the ability to win any given race unlike last year where Brawn dominminated the first half and red bull the second half. So give it a chance. It is a long season with some races that will be processional and some races where attrition is high and there are more opportunities to attack.

  313. Rodrigo says:

    More marginal tyres or a single (softer) compound would do great things for the show.

    About the pitstops spetacle: why did FOM not show the cronometer instantly??? Commentators from TV looked rather stupid: “lets see how quick the red bull changes the tyres… well, was that quick? Lets wait for FOM to show the times AFTER THE CAR LEFT THE PITLANE.” By that time most people would have already changed channels!

  314. Brace says:

    What’s the point of that? Eh? Go watch superbike, they have more overtaking. They all seem to forget that the most important thing is the F1 itself. And it goes further and further away from itself by adding all this stupid artificial rules.

  315. shawn says:

    Formula 1 cars are designed to run perfectly in clear air, so they cannot follow each other.

    As it is now, ideally the fastest car will win every race – the designers design a car that is fastest in clear air to get pole position, then can lead the entire race in clear air. This is what all teams are currently striving to achieve, as this is what the regulations demand.

    Teams do not use any wind tunnel time to improve how their car works in dirty air as it takes away recourses from creating the fastest car in clean air.

    Therefore, the long term solution should be to scrap qualifying and have the grid as the reverse championship order (i.e the driver leading the championship stats last)

    This will force teams to design a ‘racing car’ rather than just a ‘fast car’, as to win the championship a car will have to come through the field at most races.

  316. Tony says:

    Agree with some of the commentators that
    (a) expectations are too high – and nothing inherently “wrong” with a marathon like race vs a spring race. Its like one-day cricket vs Test cricket – different disciplines, but each has its own merits (and viewing attractions).
    (b) that the key problem is the dirty wake – and not solving this for 30yrs is the main issue.

    If you look at F1 in the “modern” era – ie after Bernie took it over in the early 80s and “fixed” it – alot of the stuff Bernie did to make F1 so exciting for viewers – a simple points system; simple rules etc have been diluted since the mid-90s.

    And the reasons for the dilution, I think, stem from 2 main incidents:
    (1) Senna’s death – led to a massive increase in safety. Whilst obviously hugely beneficial from a driver viewpoint – alot of these changes also compromised the purity of the racing car (and, there is also a debate about whether making the cars safer is just leading to poorer driving because drivers have no incentive to be careful).
    2) Schumacher/Ferrari dominance – the period from 2000-2005 saw a huge number of debates, controversies and rule changes – mostly due to the fact the Schuey/Todt/Brawn/Ferrari combo were the best combo out there – and in order to eliminate this ‘boringness’ alot of ridiculous rule changes were brought in to try and slow Schuey down (including by Bernie). Its like if Wimbledon changed the rules to make it less likely that Federer wins.

    The main point here is not that these changes should not have taken place (some should, some should not have) – but that these changes were done in a ad-hoc, haphazard fashion – with each succuessive change compounding on top of the other (part of the problem is the team politics in action – like in all systems where you need some form of majority voting, the solution that gets adopted is the “least worst” lowest-common-denominator one).

    And these changed did not address the fundamental issues –
    (a) lack of real overtaking opportunities;
    (b) what does it mean to be a F1 race driver – where is the line where robotics/technology (auto clutches, speed limiters, paddleshift,etc) ends and “pure” driving takes over? – and where on the spectrum does F1 want to sit?
    (c) the link between F1 and commercial road vehicles (should F1′s main technical objective be pushing road technology R&D envelope?) Without commercial relevance, then manufacturer link is severed, which means long-term financing issues for the sport.

  317. Johnnyboy says:

    What do we want from overtaking? And is on track overtaking actually that exciting? What tends to happen is that car 1 comes up behind car 2 and passes it, usually with ease, either on a long straight or under heavy braking into a corner. Then car 1 pulls away. When was the last time we saw car 2 being able to fight back or bang wheels etc? Is that exciting? The days of Arnoux / Villeneuve are long gone. So we have to look elsewhere for the overtaking and that comes from pit stops. At least then you have the prospect of a driver completing a few banzai laps to jump his opponent in the pits or racing him to the first corner from the pit exit on the edge of cold(er) tyres, as we have seen many times. A stop just for tyres (3 secs?) is not long enough. A 6/7 second stop for fuel and tyres gives a team the opportunity to save a second and might just give their driver the edge. Tyre technology will always follow the regulations and the manufacturers will not want the bad publicity that ‘marginal’ tyres bring, so they will be relatively conservative. Refuelling has to be the answer.

  318. Tom Powell says:

    Hi James,

    Do you not think mandating two pit stops is slightly artificial? We’re in danger of becoming an expensive GP2 here it seems. Where is the sense in making cars pit if the tyres are ok? I don’t believe this will improve the racing because all the leader has to do is immediately follow his rival into the pits to cover any fresh rubber advantage.

    The idea of picking only one tyre may not work either, particularly if one tyre is the clear choice – they’ll all be on the same most durable tyre.

    The simplest solution would be for Bridgstone to supply tyres at the softer end of the scale, to ensure they degrade. Even this has its problems – a) Bridgstone will want to protect their brand image and b) if running in turbulent air still causes the tyres to overheat, the drivers will just back off to conserve them.

    What do think of introducing tyre rules as per Moto GP, whereby the teams can use different compounds front and rear? It could still be compulsary to use both compounds, just not all at once. Is that plausable?

  319. Jeff Pappone says:


    The problem here is not whether the cars are refuelled or not, it’s the cars themselves. They are too efficient. As soon as the sport realizes that you can’t fix a problem that has built up over two decades with a simple rule change, the quicker we will be back to exciting racing.

    Take a look at the IndyCar opener in Sao Paulo. There were several passes for the lead and mistakes by front runners because the cars do not have the same efficiency nor the upsetting effect on the air behind them as an F1 car. Unllike F1, an IndyCar driver can put huge pressure a foe to force a mistake AND be right on his tail to capitalize when happens.

    All the F1 expert journalists notwithstanding, a ban on refuelling is not going to change the fact that an F1 driver cannot get close enough to a rival to pass due to the huge amount of turbulent air created by the leading car. That’s the problem.

    In my humble opinion, the FIA needs to write rules that force F1 teams to design cars that allow close quarter racing and then we will see something change. This will also mean that the cars will work their tires more than they do today. This will bring more skill and strategy to racing hard and still getting to the finish line in the quickest possible manner. And that too will create opportunities for overtaking.

    Bottom line: If the sole solution to F1’s troubles is only having passing happen when the cars are stationary in the pitlane, then the sport is in really serious trouble.


  320. Rich C says:

    Bring back the off-season circus!

  321. Ibrahim M says:

    Dear James,

    One of the options in your pole was to re-introduce refueling.
    Surely the teams would want to redesign their cars. not just get a smaller fuel tank. But the whole concept of weight distribution and suspension geometry might need looking into.

    How realistic is this option in your opinion?


    1. Martin P says:

      Why re-design it?

      Leave the big tank alone… that means some teams could choose to fuel for the whole race and just take a four second pit stop for tyres.

      That’s going to give more overtaking than we ever had under the fuelling rules before because of the different weights.

      1. Ibrahim M says:

        Why would a team want to keep a sub-optimal car design for the rules applied??
        Bigger tanks = longer cars = heavier cars = slower cars
        The cars are so much slower with a full 160 Litre tank that it wouldn’t make sense to race this strategy.

      2. Martin P says:

        We’re talking about what they can do this year to fix the perceived/immediate problem.

        A wholesale re-design of the car is crack-pot. Cutting a hole in the tank isn’t.

  322. Andy C says:

    I don’t see banning refuelling as the problem as all it has hidden over the recent past is just how difficult to pass it really is.

    To me the solutions are simple:-
    * tyres which can be nursed to a 1 stop if very careful (therefore allowing some 1 stop strategies) but where the majority take two stops with quicker lap times.
    * ban double diffusers
    * lower downforce wings
    * increase mechanical grip
    * track amendments (a driver working group to gain concensus on what needs to be changed to increase overtaking opportunities)

    There is no way all of these could not be changed for 2011 but the formula would have to be communicated with 2 months before people start looking at next yrs cars.

    All of these great aero developments are killing racing in my view.

    any thoughts?

  323. Martin P says:

    James, I might have missed this somewhere, but why don’t they just lift the engine freeze?

    Let them boost the power to whatever they can and then at least we have an engine war to create a differential this year.

    What’s the downside to the manufacturers and teams?

  324. Eric Weinraub says:

    What else could they say? I think this was the most boring season openser since I don’t know when. Bernie is in a very difficult position. He can’t slame the changes nor is there a good workable one for the next 2 seasons. All he can advise is patience.

  325. Unless they change the rules this season is going to be ridiculous! No one wants to watch cars going round in a procession, saving tyres and not going flat out. How did the FIA think one pit stop would improve overtaking???? I do agree though, it is only the first race and Bahrain is not known for excitment but if things don’t improve at Australia…….

  326. Bayan says:

    James, maybe i’m missing something. How would the shortcut solution work in places like Monaco?

    Plus, none of the above would be fair for teams that have built cars that work fantastically according to the 2010 regs. This might hand the advantage to other teams whose cars work better with lower fuel.

    1. James Allen says:

      Dunno, I’m not for short cuts. My kids do that kind of thing on Mario Kart on the Wii. It’s not F1 to me

  327. Richard says:

    How about “stop going to tracks where overtaking is more difficult”? Except Monaco, of course.

  328. Alexis says:

    Kevin Eason for The Times is notorious for complaining about the spectacle rather then actually reporting.

    He’s been doing it for years, and reading his reports I could be forgiven for thinking it was 2002 or 2003.

  329. Bruce says:

    Boring, boring, boring! How about a loud siren through the TV speakers every 30 minutes to wake me up?

    More adjustment (and a different spec) for the front wings might allow closer following through the corners.

  330. Nicollers says:

    F1 cars would have oil slick buttons and flame throwers if Bernie had his way…

  331. stephen says:

    the race wasnt as bad as people make out. the pit stops were pretty immense. mclaren did a very good job with their speed. and the new section to the track was okay. e specially turn 6, but surely it didnt need to be almost 1km longer? couldnt they have just added on a small seection to the end of the back straight? if the new section was faster then lots of people wouldnt be complaining.

  332. Tom says:

    Boremula 1. I was so looking forward to this season with the return of Schu and the Button/Hamilton partnership etc etc. Sunday’s race was absolute crap! No excitement at all, no overtaking and 3 or 4 second pit stops..
    Bernie says give it 4 races…I think the rest of the season is doomed and the TV stats will show it as many switch channels after the start.
    Also, Martin Brundle’s grid walk on sunday was too short and hardly worth it. Who is the bright spark that had the idea to ban the drivers physios from the grid? What a complete load of muppets!
    Boring race, boring pit stops, boring track and boring result…

  333. Olivier says:

    here’s a quick fix to save 2010:

    make three pit stops mandatory and increase the number of tires/weekend from the next race onwards.

    This way drivers will be more inclined to not look after their tires and to race each other.

  334. Dez says:

    What really struck me as the problem afterwards is that the DRIVERS seemed bored by the race. They should limp from their cars, tired and worn down by the intensity of the race. Not spend their afternoon nursing rubber for a couple of hotlaps.

    The refuelling ban has changed the role of the driver from aggressor to protector and whilst they may interest some, it will generally bore most audiences as the dramatic element has become pre-planned tyre strategy rather then seeing which drivers can consistently be “on the edge”.

    Think back to Monza 09, Hamilton was putting in a series of unreal lap times to chase down Button, on the limit. And he eventually pushed it too far and slammed into the wall after the 2nd Lesmo…this kinda thing is unlikely to happen with the rules as they now stand, but its exactly what audiences want.

  335. Dez says:

    *not that audiences want Hamilton to hit a wall, I’m purely using an example when someone was persistently pushing “on the edge” of course no-one wants to see crashes*

  336. Graeme of Arabia says:

    Olivier makes some good points. Forcing the drivers to change tyres is a very good way of making them actually race rather than join ina procession. I would also reduce the downforce generated by the cars and remove driving aids, such as the auto gearbox.


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